X Factor 2013 Week 2 Staging and Lighting Watch

“I can’t believe I’m wasting mental energy thinking about this stuff”, says eurovicious in the comments to last week’s staging and lighting post. He was referring to a debate with tpfkar about whether it helps or hinders an act’s vote to end on a plinth having started off at stage level. (They agree that coming down off a plinth is good, and staying on one for the whole song is bad).

We fondly imagine that somewhere in X Factor HQ is a book of lore containing the accumulated wisdom of staging effects on voting support (“Plinths, when unhelpful: (i) when very high – see Masson, Melanie; (ii) when isolating group members – see Vibe, Nu”). We further fondly imagine that producers read these posts and chuckle about how little of that lore we’ve yet guessed.

As the comments to the last post indicate that many of you share our enjoyment of wasting mental energy thinking about this stuff, here are some observations and speculations on week 2’s show.

Up first, Old Bailey (courtesy of Dean, there’s Louis’s line written for this week: “Hey, Screwbo! Screwbo! I’ve got a new name for you. Old Bailey! What, what? It’s a compliment!”)

The cogs are whirring, as if inside a giant clock:


Is the suggestion that time is running out for Sam?


Now where have we seen red-and-black cogs and time imagery before? Ah yes:


That was Christopher Maloney in week 9 last year, when time was indeed running out for Sam’s fellow former cruisehip entertainer.

Sofabet’s resident wordsmith Dug described Kingsland Road after their auditon as the “acid trip hipster quintet of doom”. Their staging recalled the first part of that description:


On the whole, despite being under the Strictly bus and sandwiched between two big hitters, we thought the staging was pretty positive. Those spotlights are shining in the right direction, at least. And the overall effect was fun.

Now, what on earth are they up to with Nicholas? Two lines of black-clad women shuffle past him like zombies. On the big screen behind him, throughout his performance we see more people with their backs to him, walking away.


I know this was setting up the love interest at the end – the one Sharon called the “pediophile” – but, but…

There’s one time before on Sofabet when we’ve referred to a striking visual of dancers turning their back and walking away on an act:


Wagner! It was only a brief moment in the overall routine, but – surely not coincidentally – it was the one they chose for the reprise. That was one of the 28 tactics we spotted that producers used to get the much-missed Brazilian out in week 8. (That was a year before Richard Betsfactor went public with his red and black theory, or – as you can see from the above shot – we could have added a 29th).

On the other hand, great lighting again for Nick, as it was last week – drawing viewers’ attention to him, rather than scattering it away from him:


If we had to bet, we’d say the thinking with the zombies and turned backs wasn’t to plant any negative ideas about Nicholas, but rather a cool high-concept music video type idea. It was a demo-delighting song choice, perfectly delivered, and Nick remains catnip to all ages of female demographic and the act we find it hardest to envisage falling short of the final.

Before we leave Wee Nick, let’s rewind to Sam’s VT. Now, who’s that enthusiastically celebrating an England win at Wembley?


Wonder how many people noticed that north of the border?

On to Abi. It’s funny to think that less than two series ago, we’d not yet been enlightened to Richard Betsfactor’s “star crazy” theory, and now we’re debating in the comments whether Abi’s week 1 dress was decorated with stars (connotation: she’s a star) or flowers (connotation: she bloomed briefly in late summer but, as the nights draw in, she’ll need deadheading). Many thanks to Lake for settling the debate by finding the actual top.

Abi this week got pink umbrellas and giant raindrops. Pink umbrellas and giant raindrops. Um… does it mean that Abi’s wet? That she’s as much fun as a rainy day? I suppose you could link it to last week’s imagery, with a roof of light over her head, as hitting a theme of shelter – but that’s a bit tenuous. We’re not sure what to make of it, other than it overshadowed the vocals:


In the comments, Tim B reckons “She was TRAPPED/suffocated by the pink umbrellas for a good proportion of the song. This reminded me of Jade Ellis caught in the spider’s web last year”.

Shelley now, and what goes up (on an articulated lift) must come down (on a giant diamond ring):


In the comments, JScouser reckoned “that silly white box he was on” wasn’t good treatment for Sam Callahan. We have to disagree. As plinths go, it was about as small as you could imagine – it didn’t feel like it was disconnecting Sam from the audience, but making him stand out:


And everything else in that staging looks like it has positive connotations. Guitar cases surrounded by fairy lights: authentic musicianship meets Christmas. What’s not to like? That big-screen image of golden guitar strings and frets stretching away to a sunrise was gorgeously evocative, too, especially when the strings started slowly moving and shedding golden sparks. Helpful, surely:


We mustn’t forget that last year’s acts apparently considered camera angles to be as important an indicator of producer favour as lighting. Generally, the thinking is that lots of close-ups are good as it helps you to reach out through the camera and make an emotional connection to the audience, while lots of wide-angle shots are bad. Short of sitting through performances with a stopwatch – rather too much of a waste of mental energy even for us – this is hard to assess with objectivity. But it did seem to us that Sam got quite a lot of opportunity to do this:


Tamera gets a backdrop of smoke. PCP-coated marijuana smoke?


Perhaps next week’s visuals will involve teenagers sneaking furtively out of Boots.

In theory, so many negative connotations you could draw about Luke’s staging. Sunset – it’s the end of the day for him. Boat – stranded, beached, adrift, “sailing home” as joeohouna said in the comments. Lighthouse searchlight – he’s lost at sea. And yet, the overall effect didn’t feel negative at all. Quite the opposite – it felt warm, welcoming, languid, relaxing. And the main lighting is directly on him:


We’re not sure what to make of the fact that the judges hung a lampshade on the boat in their comments, just as they had with the walking dead after Nick’s performance and did repeatedly after some of the more entertainingly absurd Christopher Maloney stagings in 2012. Does that undercut any subliminal effect? Is this kind of thing always scripted or sometimes ad-libbed? Theories welcome.

Hearts for Rough Copy. It seems pretty clear what that’s supposed to convey:


Not so for Hannah, who had the most intriguing staging of the night. We open with a shot of four Hannahs created by a corner of mirrors. We then widen out to take in another two mirrored Hannahs, this time ghostly and distorted:


Then they stick her on a big, long box:


And give her a backdrop of spinning shards of broken glass:


Here’s a positive way of reading that as a visual representation of the song’s lyrics: initially self-conscious, surrounding herself with mirrors and not liking what she sees reflected back, Hannah gains confidence in her beauty, symbolised by walking down a fashion catwalk. The spinning shards of glass are shattered mirrors, indicating she no longer cares about what they reflect back to her.

On the other hand, the effect of the opening mirror scene felt like the opposite of what you would do if you wanted to convey the idea of someone being authentic, whole and real, while the shards imagery backs up the sense of fragmentation, with hints of danger. The fashion catwalk, meanwhile, reopens the plinth debate.

What are your thoughts on the above, and what else did you spot? As ever, do let us know below – and do also listen to Richard and Daniel on the new episode of the Betsfactor podcast, which Richard has just now uploaded to iTunes. Don’t be deceived by episode 3 not yet being visible in the iTunes store – apparently it can take a while, but if you go to the iTunes website, click “view in iTunes”, and then subscribe, it should download. For those of you without iTunes on your device, alternative instructions here.


71 comments to X Factor 2013 Week 2 Staging and Lighting Watch

  • Carla

    The Sam B thing really puzzled me, it did seem like a bit of a deramp. However thinking outside of the box, I’m wondering if the egg timer thing could actually have been an attempt to help? After all in the montage of the acts when Dermot gives the numbers the egg timer would have been looming behind Sam, could it be intended to remind viewers of the short time to vote before the flash vote? Or am I way off the mark here?!

  • Chris Bellis

    Or what the egg timer symbol means to most Windows users – the OS is hanging prior to the Blue Screen of Death.

  • Boki

    I think the egg timer should remind the voters not to overcook the eggs.

  • AnnaC

    I noticed quite a few back shots of Sam C and I was surprised by how ugly and unflattering Hannah’s dress was; after her VT I expected to see her come out in the sort of outfit that Tamera was wearing. The boats staging was memorable and fits in with Luke’s general beachy vibe.

  • Chris Bellis

    I think maybe the egg timer symbolism is unconscious, but might indicate how the production team is thinking. I’d be more worried about the faceless ghoul dancers and the man in the background with what looks like a scythe.

  • Chris Bellis

    Plus I’d forgotten about the long coffin like box. Ghoulish imagery everywhere apart from Abi, who got Jackanory crossed with Teletubbies, only not as good as either.

  • Ben Cook

    I’m probably one of the least cynical readers here, but that backdrop for Sam Bailey was very odd indeed. It had nothing to do with the song so must be deliberate, but do things like that which regular viewers don’t notice have any effect on the voting? I find it quite difficult to believe. Perhaps it’s more for their own amusement than anything else.

    I don’t get the argument about plinths being negative. Surely when they use them it’s just to make the show more visually interesting. I cannot see why it would stop anyone voting.

    • Hi Ben,

      Our feeling is that all these little things add up to what overall emotional effect the performance has on viewers. I don’t for a moment believe that anyone says to themselves “well, I would have voted for Sam, but I didn’t like those cogs”. But I can believe that staging makes a difference to how many people think to themselves “ooh, that gave me goosebumps” or “I dunno, that left me a bit cold”. And that that, in turn, translates into motivation to pick up the phone.

      Imagine if Sam’s performance of ‘Make You Feel My Love’ had been put against a backdrop of, say, images of couples embracing in romantic locations, with warm golden spotlights on Sam, fireworks and a shower of confetti at the end, and so on. I’m willing to bet that more viewers would have found it emotionally affecting and that would have translated into more votes.

      Similarly with plinths, I can’t imagine anyone consciously not voting because they didn’t like an act being on a plinth. But I can imagine that, in some circumstances, an act being on a plinth may conceivably contribute – among other contextual factors – to that act making less of an emotional connection with viewers at home.

      Our guess is that in a lot of cases you’re right that the staging decisions will be done purely with visual interest in mind – the debate below about the significance of Nick’s zombies being a good example where you can make a case either way. But it would be surprising if they weren’t ever made with a view to boosting or dampening the vote.

  • Sam Bailey is drifting out to a decent price in the outright on Betfair. I can’t have been the only person to sell off all their Betfair green on her *during* the performance! Tamera looks like a huge lay whereas I’m tempted to buy more Hannah at 13.0+.

    • stoney

      Where are you finding the enthusiasm to carry on ploughing money onto hannah? Currently id say Luke Friend is gaining popularity quicker then Hannah

      • Tim B

        Because I think she has extremely wide appeal, credibility and a great story, for starters. I believe she’ll be in the final whereas I can’t say I feel the same about Luke (or Tamera).

        • stoney

          Hope your right, as Hannah top girl is one of my bigger investments this series, im unsure of that happening at the moment

        • Dean

          It’s ok to be enthusiastic as you put money on here but in a pure singing contest Hannah shouldn’t win . She gets way too shouts when it’s clear she can’t hit certain notes. It’s already annoying me and funnily enough my gf and work colleague said the same (without me even saying anything first)

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Hi Tim B,

          I agree with your list of positives for the the chances of Hannah and am encouraged by your faith in her.
          I don’t unconditionally love her voice but I felt the same last year about Jahmene’s vocal delivery.
          Jahmene was a endearing fellah and I also find Hannah a loveable soul. I’m always rooting for her to do well as she begins her performances.
          I think Hannah’s loveability factor overcomes the lack of greatness in her singing voice.

          I should bear in mind that had it not been for the extraordinary surge in popularity that was orchestrated and focused on James Arthur because of his survival from that B2 appearance with Ella, then Jahmene would have beaten James in last year’s X Factor.

          I keep on thinking about this episode when I’m eyeing that 9/1 for Hannah.

          • Boki

            I’m following X from 2011 and the only act ever who struck me emotionally (in the course of live shows) as a person was Jahmene. I was puzzled with the feeling and wasn’t sure what to do betting wise so did nothing and he went to the final. Next time I get this feeling I’ll know what to do but unfortunately it’s still not happening with Hannah or someone else.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            I remember welling up during Hannah’s first audition. Not to the depth that Jahmene could stir the heart…but still.

            Jahmene’s voice, while a bit OTT sometimes, was a remarkable instrument. It’s true that Hannah doesn’t have the uniqueness of voice that Jahmene had.

            Also a bit concerned by the potential of vote splitting between Hannah and Sam Bailey.

      • Agree with Luke, been against him until now, judges comments too good to ignore.

        • I first thought the “sail through” remark was to get his fans complacent, but then I remembered that Louis is his mentor. With that in mind, everything seemed very positive.

          Hopefully, they don’t do some sort of a 180 all of a sudden and throw him under the bus.

  • Sam B quite obviously deramped but considering she probably polled at least 25% in week 1 and she isn’t Plan A, can you blame them? It doesn’t mean they want her gone soon, just means they don’t want her getting out of control as things stand. Whilst they still think they can get Tamera to win, a Plan B/C like Sam, who would be the easiest act for them to get to win if they wanted to, needs to be reigned back in.

    She has done nothing in between Week 1 and Week 2 to go from getting quite possibly the best treatment, with the Strictly pimp slot, to getting quite possibly the worst treatment. The producers long-term plans for her haven’t changed.

    • Tim B

      Plan B/C is probably a good way to describe Sam. She’d be a less desirable winner than Tamera (and perhaps Hannah?) but a more desirable winner than Nicholas, in my opinion. I strongly believe no one else can apart from those I’ve just mentioned.

      • There’s no doubt that Tamera is the act that they want to win, and who can realistically win (sure, they’d love Rough Copy, but they have no chance). I can’t decide whether they would prefer her or Hannah/Nicholas to win, but I tend towards Sam, and think Hannah is the least favoured currently (there is the potential that if Tamera is too much damaged goods that they will sub Hannah in and are keeping that option open). They definitely wouldn’t be against a final 2 of Sam vs Nicholas if they can’t get Tamera there, a nice lower-middle-likeable England vs Scotland battle at the same time as SPOTY…

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Hi Andrew,

    You made the observation that:

    ‘Tamera gets a backdrop of smoke. PCP-coated marijuana smoke?’

    Now you mention it, I agree. I think that’s the idea the XF production team had in mind when they creating the backdrop for Tamera’s song.

    I think they’re playing a clever, and risky, game for her.

    A future Saturday, I guess Tamera might be singing something along the lines of Vanessa William’s ‘Colours of the Wind’. (If they had a Music-from-the Movies themed show.)

    • Music from the movies is this weekend’s theme!

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Really? Haha!!

        Well then, I’ll have a bit of fun in predicting ‘Colour’s of the Wind’ from Disney’s ‘Pocahontas’ for Tamara this Saturday. I don’t think Disney have got around to organising a Broadway production of the story and song-book yet, but Tamera has the look, voice and athletic body shape to be cast as Pocahontas.

        Another option for her could be ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ from Sphinx-in-a-Sandstorm’s ‘Play Misty For Me’. I can imagine the styling of the backdrops.

        Would make for a stunning end-of-show performance.

  • Henry VIII

    I think we should try and leave our biaises behind when analysing this.

    I’ve read everything about Tamera including her drug tweet and I didn’t think drugs or “PCP-coated marijuana smoke” until I came here :0

    And think again about the idea that they weren’t planting negative ideas about Nick. In many camera shots the zombies obscured him, sometimes totally. The girl creeping up on him was just that – creepy. And then there was the “pedophile” outburst and “baby Bublé”.

    • stoney

      There has to be some form of de ramp taking place as he is likely to be doing a maloney at the moment with his regional vote. which is no doubt why he is getting early slots

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Hi Henry VIII,

      I’m not certain what you mean when you state that ‘we should try and leave our biases behind’ when analysing this.

      I should guess that you are saying that the shifting swirl images that floated upwards on the screens that formed the backdrop to Tamera’s Saturday night performance seem to be acting as a giant-sized Rorschach test for analysts on here; and the fact that those swirling images are being interpreted as smoke, as marijuana smoke, as “PCP-coated marijuana smoke”, shows that those analysts’ perceptions are skewed by prejudices built up from reading previous media stories regarding Tamera?

      Personally, I strongly think that the images were designed with smoke in mind. I think that what was informed the production decision.

      Of course, I couldn’t prove that hypothesis. But, I think I could make a stronger case for why that is so; than the case could be made for that it is not so.

      If anyone wishes me to do so: ask.

      This does seem an apt thread on which to trail theories and explore.

      I agree with you that they were deramping Nick. The signs are there.

      • Henry VIII

        Hi Guildo,

        I was mainly having a go at the flavour of Andrew’s bit about Nick – suggesting that there was no production negativity. Conversely production values for Tamera were impressive – the verticals leading the audience to her and then bowing away before she started walking towards the audience. And the starlight behind her head. I love this site, you just can’t keep me away, but it’s good to point out differences of opinion or analysis.

        I like Nick and have backed him (in my 1-12 prediction here I put him 2nd place) but I think he’s up against the machine. He may be their toughest nut to crack but they are starting, slowly but surely. He had big purposes for the show: an attraction for Scots and STV; and the “child” of the competition, but I have always thought that there is no way he can be TCO and that they see him as an impediment to Tamera.

        They’ve been subtle so far but I expect poor songs and silly costumes to come. Maybe after they’ve given him a pimp slot though.

        His little kiss of the blonde was masterful btw.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Hi again Henry,

          I agree that the ‘production values for Tamera were impressive’. The scene smouldered with class. Every detail of that production was designed to work to Tamera’s advantage.

          I also like Nick and have backed him. And yes I completely agree they’re not going to let him win. I’m still surprised they put him through to the lives. Maybe XF believe they have an ace up their sleeve with which they can play Nick out the game? Yeah, he sure will be a ‘tough nut to crack’.
          I wonder if an anti-Scottish vote can be mobilised and on whose shoulders it could be carried and delivered?

          Also, I don’t think much of Luke Friend, just find him a bit above average; but I wonder if there is any value to be had in him to be top boy?

          (Even with assistance) Sam C might be an even worse singer than Rylan. I don’t rate him full stop


        • Absolutely, Henry, I always get worried when we all agree with each other.

          We meant to be a little bit fence-sitty about Nick. First reaction was “whoa, this is negative”. Second reaction was “hmm, there’s enough overall helpfulness here that we’ll put this down to an arty concept”. We’re always a bit worried about disappearing down the rabbit hole with these kinds of post. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if you’re right, though.

          And totally with you on Tamera – nan, church, production, they couldn’t be trying harder.

    • Just to be clear, we meant that “pcp-coated marijuana smoke” line as a joke!

      We’re not really expecting next week’s Tamera VT to have a shoplifting theme, either 🙂

      • Guildo Horn Forever


        And there I was looking forward to Tamera’s performance of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’!

        • Chris Bellis

          Perhaps not the Nancy Sinatra song for the shoplifting theme with Tamera – that might go down quite well. What about being more obvious? Tamera’s version of “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest? I’d love to see that.

    • I think they’re leaving enough good bits so people vote for him, but create enough distractions so he doesn’t gain too many new fans.

  • Sam Bailey will have beaten him in week 1, of this I am 99% sure. I reckon he may have gained on her this week, as he was in the Strictly pimp slot and was better received than week 1 whereas Sam had a full-on Maloney-style nobbling and had a worse reception than last week.

  • Yes, this is one of the most positive things about Hannah. Viewers will already be emotionally invested in her from the audition stages.

  • Dean

    I think sometimes we look too much into things. The whole idea of Nic’s staging was that several women walk away while ‘the one’ walks towards him (and she was hot). There were plenty of close up camera shots. Only worrying thing was at one camera angle the zombie girls totally blocked him. Just a coincedence? Not sure.

    I must say though Sharon’s reaction was worrying. Rather than giving superlatives on a stunning and effortless performance she chose to talk about paedophilia. I mean is she saying no 20+ y/o should like him or something? When the vocals are faultless the judges will just spout crap to dermal someone slightly.

    Other than that looking back everything seemed reasonably good for Nic though. 2 weeks running he had a quite laid back and funny VT which I find positive.

    Lastly I live in Scotland now as I moved up with my gf. I work in Lanarkshire where Nic is from. They love him up here. He will get a huge regional vote.

  • Dean

    With Abi looking like the 1 they are de ramping will next weeks VT about her hospital visit and nerves last week (sympathy) or a visit to Morrisons where about 3 people welcome here ( Habibis style). I’m going for the latter.

    It’s amazing how far this show can get average singing boys. However I fear for Sam next week. Mostly because he’s in the same demographic of votes as Kingsmill and they may get the sympathy bounce votes taking Sam’s away.

    I honestly believe Sam was in trouble week 1 because they gave everything to him last week, I feel he will be B2 this week.

    • I agree with Sam C. Luke is starting to become more than just the hair (and his odds are shorter now) and Kingsland Road will get a bounce. Abi and Miss Dynamix might get a sympathy angle for their incidents, and unless something crazy happens, the other five (Hannah, Tamera, Rough Copy, Nicholas, Sam B.) are safe. If he gets an early slot, he could very well be toast.

  • Andy

    I am quite happy sitting on Nicholas and Sam B, two very likeable contestants, Tamera may be plan A but I fail to see her being popular enough to actually win the show no matter what TPTB throw at her, she is talented but unappealing, she does not have the full package, winner’s of a reality show tend to be popular and I don’t see Tamera being accepted by the masses, Rough C and Hannah have been very poor vocally in the 1st two shows and unless there is major improvement they could well find themselves in the bottom 2 sooner than they think. we will need to keep a eye on the chasing pack but at the moment I am happy with my position.

  • Andy

    Off topic but I have dumped heavily on Laura Mvula to take home the Mercury prize award next week, she has made quite a impact with the debut album, Sing to the moon. there has been steady support in the markets for a few weeks since she opened up at 28/1, she is now best price 5/1.
    I am hoping this is the year for a return on the mercury awards after failing miserably for the last 3 years.

    • Boki

      Hi Andy, are you recommending Laura and why do you think you will succeed this year after 3 failures?

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        That’s Laura Marling you’re thinking of, Boki. I’m also on Laura Mvula, Andy, but I’ve been keeping quiet about it. (Am mindful of next year when all the sofabet shrewdies could be jumping on any value – he says only half-jokingly :-s)

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Also off-topic, “my girl” Simona Halep finally won me some money at the weekend (after that excruciating and crazily unfortunate near-miss she delivered at the US Open).
          Had 10/1 for her to win the Kremlin Cup.

          (The second half of) this year, her breast reduction surgery has paid big dividends for her.


          • Guildo Horn Forever

            This link is of a different picture in the gallery from off the same site:


          • Boki

            Guido, I was thinking of Laura Mvula apparently.

            Another off-topic: maybe we should ask sofabet team to create an off-topic post for all off-topic discussions and tips (I’m not joking). For example, I would be very interested in your tennis choices Guido.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Hi Boki,

            One of favourite ever value bets was a tennis wager from earlier this year. I piled the money on the 4/5 chance. Barring an injury, I failed to see how it could possibly lose.

            Luckily (sort of), I was waiting at my laptop for the markets to be offered. I got on early, before the price eventually collapsed (just after it was highlighted by a professional tennis pundit/tipster).

            I was aware at the time that if I’d flagged up my reasoning and research on here, to a community of very shrewd semi-pro and professional gamblers, wagering Lord knows how much, then, should the bet become available again at a future time, there would then be a number of very shrewd big-hitters against whom I would be playing faster finger first, trying to get the money down.

            If I were a rich person, this wouldn’t bother me, but as I’m not, necessity makes me cautious.

            Incidentally,one of the most interesting events on the tennis calender is coming up at the end of this month: the Paris Masters.

            The thing with tennis (and golf, of course) is that you need to watch a lot of the sport, keep on top of it (particularly the women’s game, I find), to be alert to any value opportunities. I haven’t been doing this lately, and I find it easier (and much more fun) to monitor the reality TV form and markets.

            Also, I’m trained and experienced in a number of disciplines that relate to art and performance art and so feel I have more worthwhile observations to share on the goings-on re Reality TV shows then on tennis tournaments. In contrast to my other experiences, I’ve only played tennis a handful of times in my life – and lost each time! I would characterise my tennis performance as that of a ‘big girl’s blouse’ but for the fact that it was women beating me! Lol.

          • Boki

            I agree the Paris Masters is a very promising event regarding retirements/tanks of certain players, this year seems little different however since many of them are chasing the London race points. I’m not the specialist either and I don’t have time to actually watch the matches but sometimes try to anticipate due to stats/ilness/etc.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Hi everyone,
            Reflecting on the post 2 above.

            I know that I am happy to share (I do), but also know that pressing money worries can make me cautious/mean. If you’re up against it, sometimes it’s hard to go against your financial self-interest. I often feel torn.

            I’ve watched every episode of X Factor USA this season and am not surprised that the money came for Restless Road and for Lillie McCloud. (Some of that money was mine but I don’t think I caused the price contractions!) After Tito from last year, the three good-looking country boys that comprise Restless Road were an obvious pick; but 54 year old Lillie McCloud, on paper, seemed a less-obvious one.

            But, Oh My God, I’m not exaggerating to say that she might be the greatest contestant on any talent show ever. During the Over 25s, 4-Chair Challenge last week (interesting innovation: an attempt to dilute the iconography of The Voice), she delivered a jaw-to-the-floor performance. If you had inadvertently channel-hopped onto her performance, you would think you were watching a guest spot by a soul-gospel legend. She might be one of the best looking 54 year olds you’ll ever see too.

            See and judge for yourself:

            The one surprise of the Challenge series, for me, was the decision to send home Stone Martin. Either a) they’re saving him for next year, b) they have big plans this year for Josh Levi (perhaps), or c) they’re planning to re-enter him in the competition, a la Melanie Amaro or Diamond White. At times, imo, he came across as a little arrogant/entitled, so I think the knock-back might benefit him in the long run.

            The calibre of singers in X Factor USA (Lillie, Danielle Geimar, Jeff Gutt and so on) puts this side of the Atlantic’s X Factor to shame.

            With regards to Daniel’s tweet: @TM_XFactor
            XFactor 2013 ratings: Simon Cowell calls crisis talks over low numbers http://bit.ly/18JteYV

            I remember chatting with Eurovicious about the decline of the X factor last year on a thread and we chatted again on the same topic on another thread last week.

            There are problems with having acts such as Jedward and Wagner, but there’s the pantoesque fun of loving to hate them, or their so-bad-they’re-good qualities.

            The real problem with the X Factor is that they don’t provide a level playing field for everyone. And worst of all is their disgusting, yearly ‘garrotte the gamma’ campaigns.

            This year the most obvious on-going crucifixion (until the next one) is Abi Alton’s.
            They want to promote Tamera and Hannah. They do that. Ok. But they can’t stop at that. They feel they have to wreck the career of a hard-working, multi-talented young girl as well. The bastards.

            They seem scared of Nicholas, so they hide him in the Strictly overlap or provide strange choreography for him. And promote the heck out of Sam C and Luke. Sam C can’t sing a note, for crying out loud.

            Rough Copy could be a potential cash cow – so they’re fine with screwing over Miss Dynamix and Kingsland Road.

            Also, X factor’s promotion of sob story over talent has I think hastened a worrying trend.
            I’m noticing the number of contestants, lately, who seem to be having accidents and suffering injuries that require high-profile visits to hospital.

            On Strictly last year there were the rib and then neck injury scares for ex professional dancer Denise Van Outen; this year there has been the inflamed disc and sciatica scares for DVO MK2, Natalie Gumede. Both ex professional dancers, both otherwise suffering serious negative press.

            This last couple of weeks on X Factor, one of the members of Miss Dyanamix, favourites in the betting markets to be eliminated, requires a high-profile hospital visit, for an anxiety attack (and the group receive a bye); Abi Alton, aware of what the X Factor production team are doing to her, requires a hospital visit after a fall.

            Interesting (consciously or sub-consciously; real or exaggerated).

            If Simon Cowell wasn’t so in love with what has brought him his incredible success, spin and manipulation, he might realise that for X Factor to have a chance to “regain” any credibility, it needs to start providing a level playing field for contestants. That’s the only, sole way for the brand to shake off its “Fix Factor” nickname.

            Here’s a hypothetical:
            This week Abi Alton and Sam Callahan fall into the sing-off.
            And the judges vote 3 to 1 to save Sam C over Abi.
            Knowing the X factor, you know it could happen.
            And that’s what turns people off.

      • Andy



        As a rule Boki I do very well at music awards, yet my confidence at the Mercury awards has taken a battering over these last 3 years, I backed Laura at 10/1 and also got a very healthy green on betfair,
        The Mercury Prize has a reputation for being awarded to outside chances rather than the favourites and Laura has now
        unfortunately become favourite with a few bookmakers, I would love to tip her with confidence however my past experience with this award doesn’t bode well.
        I would like to hear if anyone else is involved in this market.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          I was very close to backing, and mentioning, the 18/1 for Arsenal to win the Champion’s League.
          Just checked the scores tonight and am relieved I didn’t!

        • Boki

          Thanks for the explanation Andy, I opened the wiki page and read there exactly those words about the Mercury reputation so I wanted to check why do you back a favorite. Nice you have it green on bf, GL.

  • Nugg

    I don’t know if its been mentioned already, but a good friend of mine has just made a formal complaint to ITV about the staging of Rough Copies song, the backing dancers all wearing football shirts emblazoned with 88. As anyone who has done any research will know, this number is used mainly by the racist community as a code for “Heil Hitler”. There’s whole websites for this racist sportswear, and some of will remember when Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon got into big trouble by requesting this number innocently (because he said it looked like four footballs).

  • Boki

    Fred has many new markets including some H2Hs, lot of value for Tamera haters (I’m not the one so I’ll skip).

  • Heisenberg

    Could be a good VT for Hannah this week – Nicole working at Greggs, priceless!


    The broken home reconciliation VT remains safely up the sleeve for another week.

  • Heisenberg

    Can they really be Über-Pimped 3 weeks in a row? I think not, it’s time for a reality check and 40/1 looks like early trading value to me.

    Damn, I knew these guys looked familiar:


  • eurovicious

    Did we see this? Lorna has been in the press talking about how the show is steered, the winner has already been chosen and she was set up to go in week 1 (via the combination of song choice, dated styling and the fact we didn’t see much of her before the live shows):

  • In this series, with its back-to-basics theme, it’s becoming more and more of a trend that the obvious is probably what will happen. With that in mind, together with the fact that KR will bounce into the tour slots, that RC are being treated as the last group standing and that MD are nothing but trouble now, if I were an x-factor producer I would do try my best to get rid of Miss Dynarod this week.

  • Heisenberg

    Article on X Factor and Twitter use/stats:


  • Heisenberg

    Fair play to Sam B, whilst all other contestants are gushing over going to a Thor movie premiere, she tweets…


  • eurovicious

    Is it possible an element in Shelley’s failure to thrive and failure to bounce is because she took Joseph’s place? Bear in mind he has a huge fanbase and was widely expected to qualify – Sharon choosing Shelley instead of him was a shock, even to Shelley herself. There was a lot of resentment and negative reaction when he was ditched at JH. I reckon that’s partly why a lot of people you might have expected to warm to Shelley (middle-aged women and gay men) never did.

  • Henry VIII

    About Lorna’s revelations – most viewers will already know there is an agenda. The problem XF have is that they’ve just gone too far this year by packing the show with poor singers. Suicidal really.

  • Dean

    I think ditching Joe and Melanir at JH may have been poor casting errors in ratings terms. However TPTab clearly felt they could be unstoppable trains if in the lives.

  • Heisenberg

    How stupid are these people? This is the Twitter profile image for Rielle (Miss Dynamix):


    Clearly nobody at X Factor or in the press cares enough to even bother with this.

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