X Factor 2013: Twist or Stick?

Usually, going into judges’ houses, a quick glance at Oddschecker is enough to tell you who’s on course for the lives: the others have drifted out to three-figure odds as bookies lengthen and lengthen and nobody wants to back. That’s the case this year with the likes of Jade Richards, Relley C, Giles Potter, Ryan Mathie, Xyra and Code 4.

Elsewhere, though, things are looking distinctly muddier than usual. Despite mounting evidence that Melanie McCabe is about to personify a new extreme in false hope, bookies have only just stuck their heads above the parapet enough to ease her out to double figures. Paul Akister and Joseph Whelan, both rumoured to miss out, are no higher than 14/1 and 16/1 respectively. Four groups trade at under 33/1.

Presumably, that means someone must still be backing them. And presumably this reflects at least some punters being unable entirely to believe, after the tinkering of the last three series, that we’re heading for a simple final 12 with no kind of returning-acts twist whatsoever. So if there is to be a twist, what might it be? Here are five scenarios.

1. The 2012 twist

Last year one of the rejects from each judges’ houses was put up for a public vote to be a 13th act, the momentum from his wildcard win propelling Christopher Maloney all the way to the final.

Producers must have learned the lesson that they could turn this trick to their advantage by engineering a wildcard win for an act towards whom they are better disposed than they were to Maloney. So the possibility of repeating of this trick was our first thought when Tim B alerted us to his information that Melanie misses out.

But by this time last year, the wildcard twist had been publicised. This year, so far, we’ve heard nothing.

2. The 2010 twist

This one they did keep quiet to the last moment, with news leaking out a day before the show that we would open with each of the judges knocking on the door of a rejected act’s home to offer them a lifeline. That twist reinstated Paije, Wagner, TreyC and Diva Fever. If they’re planning the same again, Nicole will presumably arrive at Melanie’s just as the bailiffs are repossessing the sofa.

However, the first live show lasts for just 2 hours and 15 minutes, whereas the 16-act opening show in 2010 ran to 15 minutes longer than that.

Added to that, there is the announcement of a flash vote at the end of the Saturday show. We’ve already expressed our doubts about whether this idea might make a damp squib of some Sunday shows; the additional chunk of time it will take up in the first live show presumably puts the kibosh on any hopes of squeezing in four extra acts.

3. A 2010 + 2011 twist combo

In 2011 they reversed the previous year’s twist, going unexpectedly from 16 to 12 rather than 12 to 16 as the first week’s show saw one of the four acts put through from judges’ houses eliminated by their mentor without facing a public vote. That twist did for James Michael, Jonjo Kerr, 2 Shoes (alas) and Amelia Lily (albeit only temporarily).

Try combining the 2010 and 2011 twists: bring back a reject from each category, then eliminate an act from each category before a public vote. That would dovetail with this year’s bootcamp twist of thinking you’ve got a seat before losing it to someone else.

The mention of the flash vote in the blurb for the first live show ostensibly puts the kibosh on this possibility, but televisual listings hardly constitute a binding contract.

4. A fifth judge

Here’s a twist they’ve not tried yet: get a fifth judge to mentor a wildcards category, choosing three or four acts from those rejected at judges’ houses. Cowell could do it via satellite.

Or: recall how, before the auditions, they teased a “fifth judge” this year and it turned out to be you the audience, via a “fifth judge” app? Could the app allow the audience to choose the rejects for a wildcards category, then “mentor” them by voting on their song choices? It would be a fun exercise in interactivity, though other acts might reasonably complain that those “mentored” by the public would have an unfair advantage in attracting votes.

5. No twist

Given the recent tinkering, this would be the most surprising twist of all. But there have been other back-to-basics elements to this year, notably the room auditions and Sharon Osborne, with which it would be in keeping to return to the pre-2009 formula of 12 acts and no mucking around. Perhaps they think that the “flash vote” is twist enough for this year’s lives.

This would surprise us, though, given how the last three years have demonstrated the benefits of having more than twelve acts. With ten weeks of live shows, if they want three in the final, they can’t afford to lose one accidentally Frankie Cocozza style, and they can’t afford to mix it up by throwing in a double elimination.

That seems like a waste of an opportunity, especially given the flash vote: it would add drama to have a week where we unexpectedly lose an act immediately on the Saturday night, then reopen the voting to detemine Sunday’s bottom two.

Do you believe they’re playing it straight with the final 12 this year, or is there something up their sleeve – and, if so, what? Do share your thoughts and theories below.


30 comments to X Factor 2013: Twist or Stick?

  • eurovicious

    For some reason I don’t think they’d want to lose 4 acts in one show the way they did in 2011. And now they know the effect the solo wildcard had on Chris, I doubt they’d use it on someone like Melanie who they don’t want her to win. They could get around this by Tamera (for instance) supposedly underperforming at JH, the other 3 being picked, then Tamera being given the wildcard, or something like that. (What I’d rather see is Melanie and Jade fighting with poison-tipped gloves for the last spot, but that might be a bit post-watershed.)

    I think any wildcard is likely to involve app voting, but app mentoring is a step far too far – it’d automatically give viewers a much greater stake in “their” act and thus jigger up the show.

  • stoney

    TPTB would never give x factor viewers thay much power, ESPECIALLY free of charge

  • I also thought about the correlation of the #5thjudge promo and a possible twist. Maybe they could indeed create a wildcards category, e.g. by having each judge choose one of the rejects of another category (LOUIS + MELANIE = L.F.E.), and then have a different guest judge each week (or the guest singer of each week) mentor that category.

  • Alen

    I think the big twist this year is actually just the flash vote. As simple as that 🙂

  • Ben cook

    I reckon they will keep it as 12 but they could have got Simon to choose a wildcard.

  • tpfkar

    I think there was a graphic last week referring to us finding out *the final 12* this week – which does point towards a simple final 3 in each category. If there is a drop-out, they can always have a phone vote between a selected act from each category to return.

    The flash vote will change things though – any chance of a full discussion on that as I think it will change elimination betting plans.

    • Hi tpfkar,

      We had a stab at that discussion here when it was first mooted –
      (scroll down to item #5)

      In short, we don’t understand why they’re doing it, as what they gain in suspense on Saturday they will lose on Sunday with no scope for tense deadlock situations (as Stoney also pointed out on the last thread), when you already know who’s going home in the event of a 2-2 vote. Also gives them less room for manouevre in Rylan/Carolynne type situations – it would have been vastly harder for Louis to get away with deadlocking that one if everyone had already known that Carolynne was bottom of the vote.

      In terms of elimination betting plans, I suspect there may be a lot of weeks where we have a long odds-on shot for elimination as soon as the flash vote reveals who is bottom. Which gives a more leisurely window for punters who enjoy long odds-on betting, while those who prefer to look for bigger prices may need to make more snap judgements while the flash vote is happening. Although presumably we’ll also have a market on who will be the other act in the singoff.

      I fear it may take some of the fun out of leisurely Sundays reflecting and debating possible singoff permutations and picking over the bones of the show in the comments section. Would be a shame – but let’s see how it pans out. Interested to hear how others are anticipating it playing out.

  • Henry VIII

    [i]”But by this time last year, the wildcard twist had been publicised.” [/i]
    It would have been after Judges Houses had aired surely Andrew?

    As to the form of the wildcard I don’t know but if they don’t have a wildcard it means they are so desperate to get their chosen ones home that they’ve completely given up on making a decent program. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a wildcard vote and with Melanie and Souli Roots given a shot at it.

  • Slightly off topic, but I dont think anyone else has mentioned it? If they have forgive me.

    Ive just watched Nicholas’ bootcamp performance again.

    Please take note of his jumper he is wearing. In clear bold letter it has “JOCK” a nickname obviously for Scottish people.

    Imo this translates to “I am the Scottish boy, vote for me Scotland” If the producers have a slight say in what certain acts wear, and they suggested/encouraged him to wear this… he should not be overlooked.

    • stoney

      Good point. They certainly arent trying to hide his Scottish Roots. The polar opposite to last years melanie masson who I only found out was Scottish the other day!

    • Great spot, JS.

      As has been touched on in other threads, it is interesting to wonder at what point motivating a regional vote might tip into demotivating the non-regional vote (the old “everyone in Scotland, pick up the phone!” vs “everyone in Scotland is picking up the phone” dichotomy). Supposing they wanted to stop Nicholas, might they be able to make him seem so Scottish it actively alienates non-Scots? So, for example:

      – Nicholas declares support for Scottish independence. Following week’s VT shows him meeting Alex Salmond.

      – Nicholas sings patriotic song styled in a kilt, against a backdrop of Saltires.

      – Nicholas is pictured trying to hide a smirk as someone mentions England’s World Cup qualifying loss to Montenegro.

      Of course, giving him an audition show and boot camp pimp slot hardly suggests that they are anxious to stop him!

  • stoney

    Just seen nicholas’s judges house performance, he has louis and shane filan in tears, suprised the bookies haven’t responded to this yet although he is as short as 4’s with one firm. Ive just topped up with betfreds 6’s which is huge in comparison to Tamara the drug taking bullies 3/1

  • Natasha

    I saw that too, and sam baileys. Hers sounded a bit ‘nostrily’ if you get what I mean! I wonder why they have chosen to show those 2? Obviously we know they are the Alphas in their categories but why not show Tameras if she is TCO as we believe her to be?

    • Apparently it is the Overs and Boys tonight, so makes sense for those videos to come out first. There may be more videos tomorrow I guess.

    • But yes, Sam Bailey is the one they’ve been trying to big up the most, with previews of her performances at every stage. It’s evident that as well as being the best singer, she’s also the most consistent and reliable.

      • stoney

        Given the overs history she is most in need of prodecer help if thru want her to go far even though she is technically the best singer

        • Hmm yes, they have taken a different strategy with the Overs this year. Last year it was all about the strength and credibility of the category as a whole: “Melanie! Kye! Carolynne! And Christopher!” Now they’ve decided to focus very much on their alpha, Sam Bailey, by shoving her down our throats at every possible opportunity, and thus subsequently throwing the others (I’m assuming Lorna and Shelley, as per the spoilers) under the bus. Unless, of course, Shelley is indeed the novelty act in the lives, as I have been speculating over the last couple of weeks.

  • Andy

    Tellymix showed 2 Video’s last week, Sam & Tamera.
    2 Video’s this week, Sam & Nicholas.

  • AlisonR

    I never bet before JH, so I was looking at the prices this morning ahead of returning here, having been away a few weeks. There are still four girls under 10/1 – they can’t all get through – or can they? I was tempted to have money on Hannah but was put off by the fact I couldn’t be sure that she’d get through JH, as I thought Melanie was a shoe-in for lives (until I read the comments above) and Abi too, and the third place would be a toss-up between Tamera and Hannah (despite the odds marking Tamera as the favourite – why? I just don’t get it. Who is her demographic?). With both Tamera and Abi too short priced imho, I was going to have money on Melanie instead (until I read the comments above). I thought if she got to lives, despite probably being “Plan C” as some other commentators previously suggested, she would probably gather momentum, especially if Abi underperforms. Plus the British public like someone who perseveres. So now am very confused.

    I think only Nick McD has a shot from the boys, Sam ditto from the overs, but both are rather short priced at 5s and 6s respectively imho. Kingsland for me are value at 12s, I think they could go quite a long way. (They seem to have added “Road” to their name since I last saw them, anyone know what’s going on there?)

    • R

      Tamera’s demographic is likely to be the younger viewers who like “singers” such as Rhianna and who tend to vote in the latter stages of the show.
      If TPTB can keep her private life out of the show, she could do very well. The stories so far all seem to have died down very quickly already without much impact.
      If on the other hand, they repeat the Misha B bullying story line her votes will plummet.
      Either way, she does seem a shoe-in for a top 4 place to ensure the record deal.
      However, I doubt she can win as she won’t pull many votes from the older voters as Nicholas, Abi or Sam could.

      In Previous years James, Little Fix, Matt Cardle & Leona have all been able to draw votes from across the demographics, although LM did need a lot of “we love our mums” VTs and lots of crying to camera to help them along the way.

      It would be interesting to see a split of voting by demographic for previous years.

      • If the producers were aware of the negative stories (and I’d assume they would be) then the best thing for them to do, if they want Tamera to do well, was to get them out as early as possible, knowing that the press would publish as soon as they had the info. As long as its not brought up again, most people will have forgotten about it by the time the live shows are underway (the normal people who watch and vote on the show, not DS fanatics) – at the time it was “girl who looks good in auditions for X Factor” not “X Factor favourite” caught in the scandal.

        • Natasha

          Im pretty sure someone would come forward to sell their story to make a few quid, it’s just a question of when it will be. There is plenty of time from when the first live show is till the final. TPTB have no control over the press so think they will always have that possibility at the back of their minds. I think she is ultimatley plan A and another or more stories do come out in the press, then they will find a way of getting rid and focus on plan B.

          • I think your statement “TPTB have no control over the press” is wrong. Most tabloid journalism is stories traded – if you don’t want a story to get out, the PR person gives up an alternative juicy story about someone else. Depends how much they care about the target – XF’s pr people will have enough up their sleeve to bury anything they want, if they want to.

          • TommySauce

            I’d agree with Luke – while it’s not impossible that a story occasionally completely blindsides the ‘Factor publicity machine, I’d be surprised if they don’t have control over a large percentage of what gets out there. As Luke says, it’s pretty common knowledge about how it works – bad stories are kept out of the press with the lure of a different exclusive, perhaps about one of the other contestants TPTB don’t mind TUTB’ing. And as I’ve suggested in another thread I suspect X Factor operates much like parliamentary whips, sitting down with new arrivals and encouraging (or even in XFs case, contractually oblige) them to reveal all the skeletons likely to be unearthed, with the implication they can only defend against them emerging if they know the gory details, and will refuse to come to bat on any stories they weren’t pre-warned about. Needless to say, this gives the TPTB immense blackmail power when needed to force people to their will – or great material to trade off to protect chosen acts.

            I think JHs proved the producers are very aware of Tamara’s past and are already taking steps to counter any threat to her progressing to finals – or even to the win. Note the very odd and contrived chat she had with Nicola which gave her (an opportunity given to no other contestant) the chance to allude to mistakes she’d made “a few years ago” and how her music had helped her change as a person.

  • stoney

    Nicholas pimped again 🙂

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