X Factor Week 3 Staging and Lighting Watch

The debut of a new Richard Betsfactor theory is always a red(-and-black) letter day, so do head over to betsfactor.com for Richard to explain the thinking behind his latest insight: colour vomit.

We like it. We know last year’s acts deduced that messy lighting was a sign of producer disfavour, and messy colour makes equal sense. The underlying thinking is that viewers are less likely to feel motivated to pick up the phone for performances that come across as visually incoherent. Sounds plausible to us.

More on that in a moment, but as usual let’s begin this week’s staging and lighting review at the beginning, which means Rough Copy.

Presumably the thinking here went something like: “okay, song’s from Robin Hood. Robin Hood… um… Sherwood Forest. Trees? Trees, that’ll do”:


“Trees aren’t very uplifting, though. We’re trying to help these guys”. “Okay, how about we make them golden halfway through, and send on a choir dressed all in white?”


Sam C was an interesting one this week. Put on in the Strictly overlap zone and criticised by the judges, he also seemed to be getting red-and-blacked. But on second viewing, that’s not quite right; it was more amber-and-black, the effect of which was often to bathe him a warm, deep-golden glow:


That doesn’t seem unhelpful. Nor did the visuals – some kind of pixellated spinning globe, with pulsing map outlines. And the spotlight is right where you’d want it to be:


All in all, the staging seemed helpful enough for Sam.

Not so for Hannah. Regular readers will know about the theory that staging using fire depresses an act’s vote. There are a couple of pathways by which we can imagine this working. Possibly, fire pushes subliminal buttons that say “Danger! Stand back! Stay away!”; possibly, depicting an act in any kind of context suggesting death – like Belle Amie’s coffins, and Janet Devlin’s face being vaporised in the respective weeks in which they departed – has a demotivating effect.

The charitable interpretation of Hannah’s staging would be, akin to the Robin Hood line of thought above, simply that ‘Skyfall’ is a Bond theme and Bond movies tend to involve explosions:


But then they chose to dwell on this camera shot suggesting Hannah is being consumed by fire (now, what mental connotations might we have for the image of flames lapping around a woman?) – and to choose it for the reprise:


After last week’s walking dead, Wee Nick McScotland gets some people writhing around on chairs for reasons that elude us. They’re a bit distracting, as are the spotlights:


On the other hand, Baby Buble gets a hint of halo lighting  – befitting the theme of the song – right at the end:


On to Abi, and as Jscouser puts it, “The staging this week was massively helpful, a video image of her on the screens on both sides for the long shots, nice lighting”:


She also seemed to get quite a lot of close-ups:


Which backs up the theory that producers were hoping to steer Abi clear of the bottom two this week – or, alternatively, perhaps they thought it didn’t matter if she had nice staging because everyone would be off making a cup of tea.

Before we get to Miss Dynamix, remember this?


Evidently, when the show is investing in you, they commission some nice, tasteful lettering to spell out your name. When they can’t really be arsed, they spraypaint it on some corrugated iron:


Without wanting to pre-empt Richard Betsfactor’s promised 10pm post tonight, we’d be surprised if this performance from Miss Dynamix didn’t count as one of the three examples of colour vomit he’s promised from this year. We were also tickled by how the word “dreams” in the background kept being splattered or shattered:


Onto Sam Bailey, and initially her staging has a slightly strange feel – floating bubbles, ghostly violinists, almost as if we’re underwater. On a sunken CRUISESHIP?


The colour palette becomes much warmer and more triumphant towards the end, though the ballroom dancing still feels like something you might encounter on a CRUISESHIP. Not sure what the ancient monument backdrop is supposed to represent. Maybe the kind of thing you might see on a day trip from a CRUISESHIP?


Kingsland Road get a fun, cartoon cityscape as they’re lowered on a crane arm:


The red and black question has been chewed over at length in the Sofabet comments, with the consensus (with which we concur) being that it all depends on context. And this feels fine to us – it’s sexy red, red light district red (this is ‘Pretty Woman’, after all), not danger red:


Luke starts out against a backdrop of flying debris:


The debris clears and becomes swirling rose petals (‘Kiss From A Rose’, of course), which then disappear, leaving Luke in a room with an deep red empty chair, lampshade and rose. Any ideas what this is about?


Tamera opens with a halo of golden fireworks. Connotations don’t get much more positive than that, do they?


Last week we debated whether it was supposed to help or hinder an act if they end on a plinth having started at stage level. As we can surely assume that everything about this staging was supposed to be helpful, our answer appears to have come in the shape of a grand piano:


What struck you this week? As ever, do let us know below.

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137 comments to X Factor Week 3 Staging and Lighting Watch

  • Could the knives be out for Kingsland Road aka the Acid Trip Hipster Quintet of Doom this week? I’ve heard rumours that they are singing Vogue this week. They will look utterly ridiculous.

  • Forget the staging on Sam Bailey, her outfit makes her look like an old lady trying to be youthful!

  • Also, this may be hindsight, but the first impression of throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Sam Callahan might have made people miss the job on Hannah.

  • Credit to Richard, his theories are excellent. Really like this one, I didnt even notice “Miss Dynamix” on the box when it aired, just thought it was random colors! Would say “good spot” or perhaps its Lazy Viewing from me 🙂

  • Very kind words Andrew!

    Just out of interest – what were Miss Dynamix wearing this week…. Ewww.

  • Fudd

    Could clothing be another example of coloured vomit? Rough Copy and Kingsland Road’s clothing complimented each other but Miss Dynamix clashed horribly.

      • Fudd

        Oops, sorry! Thought you meant backing dancers and stage lights. 🙂

        One other thing – I haven’t read anything to support this but it may have been mentioned before… does constantly altering camera shots have any impact on the vote? When I was watching Christopher Maloney’s Fame performance I noticed than the shot continually changed which was a bit disorientating and off-putting.

  • Boki

    Little bit off-topic but still X-factor related – 13yr old standing ovation Balkan style – only for EV 🙂

    • eurovicious

      OMG, I totally need to catch up on X Faktor Adria (and all the Swiss web selection songs) but I have a ton of work at the moment… job for the weekend! Thanks for posting this – love it, she smashed it. She looks older than 13. Sign her up to Grand and book the plastic surgeon. 😀

      Did you see the wee lad who did Crno i belo on Ja imam talenat? Brilliant. I love the Ginger Serbian Dermot on that show too, I forget his name but he’s smoking hot. If he gave me a Serbian Dermot hug it’d take 4 firefighters and a tub of Swarfega to prize me off him again.

      Zeljko > Gary
      Kristina Kovac > Sharon
      Emina Jahovic >>>>>> Tulisa/Nicole
      Kiki Lesendric >>>>>>>>>>>> Louis fecking Walsh

    • eurovicious

      You have to watch this – Scott Mills made a video report about his trip to Serbia for judges’ houses: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO63rzgp4AU Typically orientalist in approach, but more entertaining and less ignorant than it could have been under the circumstances… nevertheless, file this one under “foreign countries are weird and hilarious and there to be sneered at and don’t deserve our basic respect”. Pink could teach Syco a thing or two about how to put on a good show that good music comes out of.

      • eurovicious

        And: Cool Radio Belgrade > BBC Radio One. So there, Scott 🙂

        (And JK > Jessie J, natch.)

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Any time I’ve watched Scott Mills he’s made a favourable impression on me, so I’m disappointed to see the angle he took for his video report.

        I guess the Serbians were as impressed with Scott’s command of their language and party spirit as he was with their culture. Except they didn’t advertise their feelings.

  • Saoirse

    Hi guys,
    Love all your great work here!
    Just wondering what you think of the order in which the results are called out on the Sunday show? I noticed Sam C has been announced last in weeks 2 and 3, and Nicholas has also been called in the second half of contestants for weeks 1, 2 and 3. Does this suggest that the boys are not doing as well in the voting? Luke Friend, on the other hand has had very favourable running slots on the main show, performing 2nd last, 3rd last and last, but has been announced safe in the first half of contestants for weeks 2 and 3.

    • I also noticed that Abi has been called quite early in weeks 2 and 3. Is this a tactic to make fans lazy?

      • Dean

        I think it confirms my point that in the case of Sam C, I think he is barely escaping B2 while with Abi she is doing rather ok mostly due to judges comments being OTT negative. I think they are happy for both to go through up until now (Abi creates a little controversy)

  • Saoirse

    Meant to add that I realise it’s in no particular order but does calling an act safe last encourage more votes the following week? Also in calling an act safe first, does it lead fans into a false sense of security that they don’t have to vote as much as they didn’t ‘ have a scare’ last week?

  • Lia

    GREAT theory and I do enjoy going back to the performances to check things out as I am one of those people who doesn’t notice these details at all, except maybe for something like Wee Nick’s walking dead. That was atrocious and sometimes I really think the person in charge of the staging has few too many drinks before the “big creation”. Missing NotLouis!!!
    Case of sack the stylist: whoever dressed Miss Dynamix and Sam Bailey.
    And as we thought last year, Union J were the favoured group. They are everywhere now, had a single out which performed decently, have another and an album coming and X Factor is still giving a hand having them on Xtra Factor a couple of times already. They are getting better treatment than some winners.

  • Saoirse

    Thanks for the reply Andrew and the link to the former article.
    Rough Copy have been announced safe first in weeks 2 and 3 so maybe there’s something in it. I think they have always been Plan A for the groups as a sort of replacement in the market for JLS, especially since their style has softened greatly in the Live Shows.

  • EM

    I’m not so sure colour vomit is a specific tactic, it’s more one of the arsenal of effects used to give a distraction during a performance. The more distracting it is through variety of colours, amount of dancing, rapid back stage visuals, crazy lighting, fast cutting camera shots etc the less the performance stands out. In fact it’s the exact opposite of hypnotic induction.

    Have a look here http://www.saturdaymornings.co.uk/archive.sm?cat=Scripts at some old scripts for Saturday morning tv shows. See how carefully planned each camera shot is for a song. It’s the hidden language of TV and you can bet whoever is calling the shots on X Factor knows all the tricks.

    • Cheers for this EM, and for your links Guildo in the posts above and below – have been enjoying those.

      As you guys know much more about cinematography and media studies – the “hidden language” of television stuff – than we do, can you indulge me with a basic question.

      I’m assuming that when people study this stuff, it’s basically with a view to wanting to retain the interest of viewers, keep people watching, right? So how much of a conflict do you perceive there is between this and demotivating votes?

      I mean, clearly there are times when they’ve decided they had to bore viewers to demotivate votes, Wagner’s ‘Creep’ being a classic example. But the things you describe, EM – rapid visuals, crazy lighting, fast cutting camera shots etc – would they be seen as techniques that are positive or negative for keeping viewers’ eyeballs on the screen?

      • EM

        Actually I’m not massively well versed in the TV vision world! I was basing my theory a bit more on hypnotism which I know much better.

        I’ve mentioned before that Derren Brown once said he could see all the tricks X Factor played. DB is primarily a magician but is also an accomplished hypnotist.

        Hypnotism works as follows. Induce the subject into a state where they’re very suggestible, give them the suggestions, bring them out the state, watch the suggestions work.

        It doesn’t necessarily involve going deep into a sleep-like or Zombie-like trance and forgetting everything that happened. Hypnotic techniques are used all the time in advertising for example.

        The induction part is achieved by getting the subject to focus solely on one thing. It can be a voice, a light, their breathing, even a swinging watch!

        And that’s why the messy chaotic visuals around acts would work at dampening or not engendering a vote. You never get that sole focus, you’re always disrupted so any talent, attractive body language or any respect you feel for the performer never builds in your mind. The suggestions aren’t planted.

        Compare with a performance that has all the focus on the singer, lights pointing right at them, long steady camera shots will help you focus, you’re softened up to take in the voice or performance. You’re maybe even more open to judge’s comments about how good it was and how to vote.

        I’m sure there are times when fast cuts and flashing lights convey excitement and energy which is addictive and drives adrenalin which creates a positive effect but that would involve lots of close ups so there’s still a focal point for your attention not those far away shots of sweeping lights pointing you in all directions.

        It’s mostly basic psychology rather than hypno-mumbo-jumbo! As always it won’t be the only trick they’re using but I’m sure it’s one of them.

        Also when you’ve been induced and open to suggestion you’ll be much more susceptible to any subliminal icons like burning faces, ticking clocks, song lyrics etc.

        To deal with the Wagner “boring” performance in this light they gave you sole focus on him, you were susceptible and paying attention, you noticed he wasn’t great at singing, you heard the lyrics “I’m a weirdo”

        Essay done!

      • sistermym

        Fantastic article on the ratings and the staging analysis are great. I haven’t been on here much due to over-business but I do have as my husband tells me a morbid fascination for the Xfactor that is verging on the psychotic.

        A long time ago, I used to work in TV, namely part of the production team for a French music programme, part live part pre-produced. In my experience, live is scripted to the second and shot by shot and if something goes wrong, just go with it.

        The pre-production i.e. staging, lighting, VT and so on is frantic running around for a few days to make things look good on the live. Most of the menial stuff will be given to do to production assistants usually 18 years old media students that are probably unpaid and really glad to be there; obviously they will be recycling stuff that has been done previously (this is why we are getting staging that is similar to last year) and every now and then coming up with new ideas which probably won’t fly in the live. The Powers That Be may have other plans but if you have very little time, they tend to go with what they have been presented with.
        Also, favoritism rules in a big way and is changing rapidly. So Monday morning, someone will be favoured, let’s shoot them a great VT and by Friday there might be a negative story in the press and they have been diva-ish in the backstage, let’s assassinate them in the judges’ comments. Working in TV is all gossip and politics.

        • Cheers sistermym. “Morbid fascination” just about sums it up 🙂

          It’s a really good point about how frantic it must be and how much can change. I think maybe that’s something we’re guilty of forgetting when we get puzzled over mixed messages, as you say it may just be that some elements (eg VT) have to be locked in early while others (eg comments) are more easily changeable late on.

    • eurovicious

      Wow. 100-page scripts for crap kids’ Saturday-morning entertainment shows. It’s amazing the things people put effort into in a post-scarcity society.

  • Danny

    From the still of Luke:

    You’re in his house, it’s a huge house (high ceilings, two staircases) with a huge garden. You are looking at successful person. You see his big comfortable chair .. it’s his own personal throne, it’s not the throne of a King, but it is the throne of a successful person. Two chairs would look like his girlfriend had just run off, lots of chairs would indicate all his friends had run off too, so it’s one chair. The chair is empty because he has just got up out of it to come and perform for you (because you’re special enough for the successful person to make an effort for). The colouring and the heart is showing that he’s trying to romance you ..

    Kicking myself for not getting something on him at 40/1 or more a few weeks ago when I posted about him winning a nationwide talent contest in the summer and being stalked by The Voice.

    • Thank God The Voice didn’t get him. 😀

    • Love your thinking, Danny.

      I suppose in this context (important Luke, successful Luke) we could interpret the whole settling-of-the-debris thing as a kind of “Luke’s singing calms the storm”, “Luke brings order out of chaos” effect?

      • Danny

        Good question Andrew. I can’t make my mind up whether all those graphics (for all acts) are custom made for the individual performance or if they’re from some kind of stock of images/animations that the producers pick the most appropriate from. If the latter, there’s never going to be a perfect overlap with the intended message, if the former, then yes probably something like you mentioned.

        If I observed it right, the animation for Luke was a time-reversed sequence of a whirlwind appearing inside the mansion and ripping all the books off the shelves and the petals off the rose. Maybe it was meant to show Luke having special time-lord powers, but more likely that it’s much better message-wise to have the rose (not heart as I said earlier) reassemble and be perfect at the end of the song, not get smashed to bits and scattered during the song. (I did chuckle when you reminded us that the producers actually vaporised Janet Devlin’s face at one point.)

        After viewing the performance again – if you’re looking at Luke, the books in the maelstrom have the look of ticker-tape flying around his head.

        • You’re absolutely right, a time-reversed whirlwind sequence was exactly what it was.

          Intriguing question about the graphics. I’ve also wondered if they have some kind of more sophisticated version of Microsoft Clip Art (especially for generic kinds of backdrop like Sam B’s monument and Sam C’s globe). How much work would it involve to custom-create an animation like Luke’s backdrop, how feasible would it be for the show to commission given the short timeframe? Is there animation software that allows you to create the scene (chair, rose etc) then apply some kind of “whirlwind” feature to it, as you would a Photoshop filter? Would be great to hear from anyone who knows how this works.

  • Heisenberg

    From the still of Kingsland:

    Watch the backdrop, repeated animation of ‘this plane is leaving’


  • Guildo Horn Forever

    I remember when my girlfriend decided to restyle me and my wardrobe.

    One of the style guidelines she introduced me to was the “3 colour rule”. A well known concept in fashion. I actually already knew it but was just resistant to applying it to myself, for a number of reasons.


    The next time we went out shopping she had me note how most of the women we observed on our travels also followed that rule. The few women who were featuring 5 or 6 colours looked uncoordinated (with a few talented exceptions). Wearing 4 colours seemed to be stretching things, but again it depended on the styling talent of the woman and her ability to carry it off. It seemed it wasn’t a hard and fast rule, but I appreciated the overarching principle. The fewer the number of colours can equate to the classiness of the look. Most of the blokes just looked like slobs. I defended mankind by postulating that the blokes were dressing down on purpose, wearing brown shoes with black pants, sporting socks and sandals, having their shirts hanging over their jeans etc out of protest at being dragged out to spend their Sunday afternoons for a trek around a bloody retail park.

    She further explained to me about how accessories fit in with the look. Blokes tend to have knowledge-gaps when it comes to such matters, as generally we don’t wear / carry as many accessories.

    We also chatted about refinements such as this:


    And also talked about the limitations of that approach.

    I used to house-share for a number of years with a house full of Media Studies students. Sitting watching television with them opened my eyes to the palette of techniques used in programme construction. They made watching television boring and entertaining simultaneously for me, as they would deconstuct the programmes with running commentaries that were far wittier than any of the fare on offer.

    On the subject of the meaning, or language of, camera angles, try the following link on Wiki for an overview of some cinematography techniques. The page contains hundreds of other links, it’s like a gateway page.


    More tech-minded fare can befound here for instance:


    There’s dozens of demonstrative videos of you can quickly find: such as:





    This site does remind me of a Media Studies instructional course, sometimes.

    Which partly is why I love it! 🙂

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Ah! I’ve popped in too many links again! Moderation awaits.

  • eurovicious

    Caught up on the rest of this weekend. Thoughts, FWIW:

    – Tamera was brilliant. Also slightly baffled by the comments. An attempt to generate sympathy? Make her look humble? Performance spoke for itself though.
    – Luke highly competent. It still could have been better but he did a strong job of it in his own style. Good song choice. Hit even note.
    – Kingsland Road forgettable and irrelevant with dated song choice.
    – Sam B amazing, her voice is so good – incredibly professional. There is the slight cruiseship element with regard to the songs she’s being given (especially this week of course) but they’re highly demographically appropriate. Titanic and that song were huge. I think she’ll have easily won the week given that Nick’s song was much less well-known. People love My Heart Will Go On, especially sung as well as that. I wish she’d smiled at the end instead of looking uncomfortable, I’m surprised she didn’t with her experience.
    – Both Miss D and especially Hannah were excellent in the singoff.
    – Lady Gaga hasn’t had a good song since 2009.

    Colour vomit: I buy it.

  • Dean

    Honest opinion on Abi. Maybe they are trying to make her this years kind of villain? As you say a lot about her staging/lighting and camera work was very favourable. Her comments were insinuated to make her fans pick up the phone and vote (as the negative comments were OTT).

    She is no Katie Waissel or Chris Maloney by any means as she seems very low on self confidence, but perhaps they are trying to turn her into this years WTF contestant in terms of how far she goes. Despite thinking otherwise before and just after week 1, I do think she actually got a good amount of votes, and perhaps TPTB after seeing Shelley flopping thought she could be their chance for controversy on this years show.

    As I continually say, we know Abi’s time is up when the judges comments are so-so… kind of ok performance sort of thing. At the moment they are just making Abi’s fanbase (she seems to have a decent one) pick up the phone and ensure she stays in. This could normally work up until week 6 or 7. IN Chris’ instance all the way to Week 10. What we know is they have done enough to poor Abi’s confidence to ensure she doesn’t pick up floating votes, but she got enough support from auditions/bootcamp to ensure she has a firm fanbase.

    What do you guys think? I would honestly not be backing Abi to go until I see her performance and judges comment.

    • I’ve backed her to go at 2.88 and 3.50 this week and will have top up on Saturday (probably)

      For the simple reason I don’t see her price getting much bigger, or bigger at all. If she sings in the 1st three, her price should get shorter.

      I donubt she’ll sing to a level where people will sit up and take notice, but think she’ll get the ‘so-so’ comments. “that was better Abi, you looked to enjoy yourself more etc..”

      She’s the target this week and like Miss Dynamix in the weeks before her, the price should get shorter when that becomes apparent.

      They probably could have given her so-so comments last week and she would have landed in the bottom two v Miss Dynamix. If that had happened then whichever one they saved would, in theroy, get a bounce to a tour slot. It was obvious they ddin’t want Miss D on tour and I don’t see why they’d want Abi.

      Luke, Kingsland Rd, Sam C would all attract more ticket sales than she would.

      • Why do you think there are 8 people on the tour? It’s varied between 7 and 9 depending on the year as far as I can see.

        • Boki

          This is a good question, I also thought top8 is touring but actually have no idea if that’s correct and where number 8 comes from. Are there any rules for the tour Sofabet team please?

          • Hi Boki, good question. As far as we’re aware there are no rules about who they take on tour, and we assume they’re basically free to take whoever they want to. In principle I’m not sure why they couldn’t take, say, the 1st-7th and the 9th if they felt that combination would sell more tickets than the 1st-8th. Happy to be corrected.

          • Boki

            Thanks Andrew, that would mean that the argument “to secure a tour spot” for someone, which people tend to use, is not entirely correct.

          • They had 7 on the tour last year, and 9 the year before. The rumoured figure of 8 for this year seems to have been plucked out of thin air/an educated guess, depending on how you want to look at it.

            I think it would be unlikely that they’d take 1-7 and 9; but it’s possible it’s any number between 7 and 9 that go on the tour, and until they announce otherwise, I’m very open to the possibility that they haven’t even decided how many acts to take and will do so based on who is 8th and 9th.

        • Usually TOP 8 got on tour.

          Seasons 7 and 8 they took 9 because in season 7 there was a petition to take Aiden Grimshaw (9th) on tour and in season 8 adding boyband The Risk seemed like a good idea because the season lacked straight males.

          Last year they took only 7 because Lucy Spraggan declined their invitation after she left the competition because of her illness.

          But yeah, usually TOP 8.

    • Hi Dean, I was actually thinking along exactly the same lines recently. If I were a producer, and if I were scratching my head about how to try to create some interest and controversy this series given the general agreement that we have a fairly dull and mediocre crop, and if I had no qualms about reducing a teenage girl to tears, I might be thinking “prolong for as long as possible the slow-motion car crash that is Abi Alton”. The poor girl just looks so wrong for the competition, she’s starting to resemble someone who’s been randomly dragged in off the street and forced to get on the stage.

      For obvious reasons she stands out as the most likely target for this week, but I agree with you, I just wonder if they’ll be tempted to give her something comically unsuitable followed by really OTT harsh comments again – criticism, tears, sympathy, votes, repeat. Clearly there’s a risk they could push it too far given how fragile her self-confidence seems to be, but I don’t see many other obvious ways they can use the remaining contestants to get people talking.

      • But if this was the case, I think we’d be seeing more about Abi in the papers. As it stands, we’ve barely seen her in the press at all. It would therefore be better for ratings to ditch her now that Miss D have gone so the audience don’t have to endure more of her snoozy performances. Also, it will be more achievable to get rid of her this week, because she’ll be slowing down a song, Ella Henderson style, rather than singing it in the same way as the original arrangement.

        • Dean

          It is something that could build momentum. I agree Abi doesn’t fit the role of the controversial character, but you go on XF Facebook or twitter posts on a Sunday and most say they think Abi should be B2. It gives a storyline for some to watch the show. It’s only been 2 weeks. I honestly think if she stays this week there will baby really upset as it this week where people’s faves will start to go. The Sams or KRs of this show.

          In a series that lacks something it needs a storyline to boost it.

          Of course I’m prob wrong and she’s out this week.

  • Dean

    Yep not saying she won’t be targeted this week, but I think they could use her as the fishing bullet type of contestant week ok week.

    Hannah will bounce so it may well be a Abi v Sam C B2. Don’t be surprised to see Kingsland go back to B2

  • eurovicious

    Apologies if people have already seen this, but just been alerted by a friend to this stellar Guardian article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/11/x-factor-rightwing-cinderella-dream-relley-clark-2013

    “It’s self-evident that there’s always been a Cinderella element to The X Factor: on one hand it’s a singing competition, and on the other it’s a rags-to-riches tale of ordinary people trying to make it in this cruel world; but never has that narrative been more dominant than the in the last couple of years, where it has virtually eclipsed the singing altogether. Last year’s shows featured montages of contestants working in Asda (Jahmene Douglas) and living in a bedsit (James Arthur), each one consciously positing The X Factor as their only route out of the poverty and mundaneness of modern working-class life.

    I’ve always thought that The X Factor represents a kind of rightwing wet dream; elevating neoliberal values such as individuality, competition and self-improvement over the socialist ideals of collectivism, community and common good. Indeed, the show straightforwardly appropriates working-class traditions which promote togetherness, such as working men’s clubs and karaoke; and turns them into a competition for prosperity arbitrated by judges who are members of the super-rich. […] The overarching message seems to be a familiar one: if you just keep your head down, work hard and be very grateful, some glamorous millionaires might choose you above all others to join them in the lap of luxury.”

  • Guys, I do think this series is all about simplicity and going back to basics. Just like Shelley was never Wagner in TPTB’s heads, I don’t think they are thinking of Abi as a Waissel either. I think we are experiencing a series where the most logical and straight-forward answer to any question is indeed the right one.

    • Dean

      Could be a nice thing but as it is proving it certainly does not get ratings. We like entertainment, controversy, underdogs etc. as a nation. Just a straight forward boring weekly song contest is not the XF 🙂

      • Chatterbox5200

        Maybe they’re trying to put Abi int the underdog role? The comments from the judges, her reaction/tears, and the feeling that she’s not being allowed to do what she does best.

        • eurovicious

          Can’t agree with this – you don’t make someone the underdog by making it clear you’re actively preventing them from doing what they do best. The last thing they want is for her to be the underdog, yet that’s exactly what they’ve achieved. They got the wind up them because she was supposed to be the gamma girl but is polling more strongly than Hannah.

        • Fudd

          For me they simply played Abi up as the underdog to ensure that Miss Dynamix fall into the bottom two. As well as over-the-top negative comments she was given positive staging too which seemed to suggest they wanted to bump her back into the pack. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they looked to get rid of her this week; I think the rest bring something to the show which she doesn’t.

    • eurovicious

      I kind of agree Panos. The Abi situation is just a fiasco, nothing more. They should just let her get behind a piano and do her thing and let it run its course. You can’t make your meekest contestant into a villain so I can’t even consider that line of thought.

      Someone tweeted that Shelley should enter Melodifestivalen with a big schlager ballad. I agree.

      • Dean

        Funnily enough the moment Abi does her thing is the moment she’s going. 9/4 a big price then for elimination this weekend?

        • eurovicious

          I disagree – at her piano and in her comfort zone, she can captivate. Like she did in week 1 – there’s a reason they immediately started aggressively deramping her in week 2.

          • She may be in her comfort zone at the piano, but if she’s changing up the arrangement in any way then she won’t poll very well, as we can see from looking at countless examples from the past.

    • I agree Panos that the simplest explanation is usually right and that most probably will be the case with Abi. As Fudd says above, the simple explanation is they overcooked the criticism to avoid having to save her over Miss Dynamix, thus ensuring she’s not bouncing this week so they have the chance to kill her with kindness after a disco dirge.

      I just think it’s worth trying to consider other possible angles. It’s not unknown for producers to take a different tack with acts midseries as the landscape changes.

      EV, you say the meek contestant can’t be turned into the villain – but really it would just be another twist on the time-honoured formula of provoking controversy by having an act slated by the judges continually escaping.

      I’m not saying I think this is the route they’ll go with Abi, and I hope for her sake it isn’t, but I think Dean’s right to game the possibility.

      • Dean

        Indeed and if you remember Janet Devlin she started out as Plan A and yet by about week 5/6 there was many on Fcbk and Twitter slating her saying she should be going. Something they started in about week 3/4. If it was not for her large fanbase (much larger than Abi it must be said) because she was plan A to begin with she probably could have been got rid of by week 5 or 6.

        However looking back, producers prob overcooked JD criticism firstly to depress vote to floaters (which ultimately counts to show winners), but also to get her fans voting in numbers to keep her there for some surprise that she is still there between week 5 and 8 (JD was still topping the vote in week 5, 2nd in week 6, but we did not know this then, I think many thought she was already going in week 6). A lot of people hated her, and JD was the symbol of being a meek girl on the outside, just like Abi.

        talking of floating votes. I think Luke is picking more and more of these now. If anyone is breaking out from the pack it must be him?

      • eurovicious

        I agree that the simplest explanation is usually right, which is why I disagree that they deliberately overcooked the criticism. Abi breaking down into tears was not a foreseen factor. And I can bet they’d rather have had Abi B2 than golden girl Hannah B2 – which, far from deliberately provoking sympathy, is exactly why they laid into Abi in weeks 2 and 3 while giving Hannah golden treatment and massive songs. They’re doing a Janet/Chris job on her. Abi bouncing then leaving in week 5 is much less of a disaster for them than Hannah hitting B2 this early despite their very intense efforts to pimp her. Far from deliberately trying to creative a narrative around Abi underperforming but surviving, they had the wind up them after week 1 because their gamma girl was outperforming their golden girl, so in an (unsuccessful) attempt to reverse this state of affairs, in weeks 2/3 they went nuclear on Abi to try and depress her vote as much as possible while simultaneously giving Hannah the type of big-hitter songs and VTs we’d normally expect much later in a contestant’s journey to try and raise her vote as much as possible. It’s as simple as that. Abi’s treatment makes the show look terrible, but they don’t care, because as we’ve established, they’re sacrificing ratings in favour of naked manipulation to get their chosen ones to the final stages.

        I think we have to consider that the manipulation, while it definitely exists, is far more inept than many think. There’s more than enough evidence of this by now. I say this as someone who buys contextual red and black, buys colour vomit, and buys the majority of the other factors like song choice, lighting, close-ups vs wide shots, certain judges’ comments etc. (because they’ve proven themselves repeatedly) but there’s a danger of going too far down the yellow brick road and ending up in Illuminati land (though Sharon, Louis and Nicole actually being lizards wouldn’t hugely surprise me).

        • Hey EV, I agree they can be inept, but it’s hardly David Icke territory to suggest they’ll be well aware that unfairly harsh criticism motivates sympathy votes. If they’d wanted to minimise Abi’s vote last week, wouldn’t they have said “that was okay, you’ll definitely be here next week”?

  • Here are this week’s song choices for you to enjoy….

    At first glance I can’t call it – not sure many people have got good songs here. Luke, Nicholas and Hannah maybe have the best in terms of what fits for them.

    Abi Alton – I Will Survive

    Hannah Barrett – Somebody Else’s Guy

    Kingsland Road – Blame It On The Boogie

    Luke Friend – Play That Funky Music

    Nicholas McDonald – Rock With You

    Rough Copy – September

    Sam Bailey – No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)

    Sam Callahan – Relight My Fire

    Tamera Foster – Wishing Your Star

    • annie

      Abi is on the road. in front of a bus.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Would laugh if the Kingsland Road boys copied the dance moves of Big Fun for their ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ cover. Good times would be had by all.

      Luke Friend defo has the hair (and ethnicity) for ‘Funky Music’.

      Am intrigued by the karaoke faux pas of two performers singing a song from the same artist (or as good as) – Kingsland and Nicholas.

      I’m thinking that ‘Survive’ could be a great song for Abi. She can perform that with confidence as she focuses in on Sharon Osborne. It’s a kind of response song to Sharon’ tear-inducing criticisms from last week. Continues and develops the narrative for Abi in a positive fashion.

      Think ‘No More Tears’ should have gone to Hannah.

      Richard – is Tamera’s song choice suggestive of another Star Crazy moment that we are going to witness?

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        It would be interesting if in the running order a strong Nicholas performance followed a poor Kingsland production. KR could be sunk.

      • Fudd

        Regarding Wishing on A Star – Austin (one of the early favourites) fell into the bottom two and was eliminated in series 5 after singing it so it seemingly isn’t without risk.

    • Take That covered Relight My Fire and Gary, part of Take That and not exactly Callahan’s biggest fan (wee it rhymed), is a judge. He could be in trouble.

      • eurovicious

        It is one of the better-known and more popular songs and on the list, as well as the most recent from a viewers’ perspective (as most will know it the cover, not the original). I’d provisionally he’s pretty safe (Luke too).

        • Carla

          I’d imagine he’s safe too if he echoes the styling for the Take That version it’ll be a very sexy (albeit ITV’s clean cut version of sexy) number. TT had devils, naked torsos and lots of writhing, so I’d expect it to be styled in the same way.

    • Dean

      I find it rather funny how at times the song choices mirrors their story on the show. That’s abi haha. Another song you could rarely see her performing out of the XF

    • There are obvious messages contained within Abi’s song. One wonders whether they’ll place a big door behind her ready for her to walk out of?

      SamC’s song suggest he’ll be lit up like a bonfire!? Bring your marshmallows!

    • eurovicious

      What is Tamera’s song? I’ve wikipediaed the others.

  • Boki

    It looks like another great choice for Luke. Will they try to push him to top3 to dampen the Nic vote and make more room for a female winner?

  • Jessica Hamby

    Abi is surely toast. Remember the chorus? Go on now go, walk out the door, just turn around now cos you’re not welcome anymore. All seems a bit Wagner to me. Abi and Kingsland b2 with Abi to go is my prediction, although I think Sam C is possible and would pick Rough Copy as a value outsider for b2. Still all in my head for now though….

    • Dean

      It is actually quite cruel. Worst of all is they will slate her for song choice when she clearly has not chosen it lol

    • The lyrics are so bad, its like it cant be true.. but it is!

      She has been stitched up here

      • eurovicious

        Before writing Abi off, folks, do note that she has the best known and most popular song in a line-up of extremely dated and outright obscure numbers. Do also note that in terms of votes, she is not the gamma girl. She’ll do it in her own style, of course, but it’s still a number people really like. With everyone diving on Abi to go, the value is to lay. We basically know she outpolled Hannah in weeks 1-3. In terms of lyrics, it’s completely open to subjective interpretation too – it’s a “come out fighting” song as far as I’m concerned.

        • It’s a fighting song and I think the voting public like that, but if it’s going to be slowed down to 1bpm, people might stop caring?

          Also, Hannah could be a Danyl and just had a huge drop in week 3. I think week 2 was strong so she was returned to an early slot in week 3.

          • eurovicious

            Her performance in week 2 was poor, and the fact she was pimpslotted with Beautiful suggests she didn’t poll as well as expectations in week 1 (when she was on first with a less well-known song).

        • Jessica Hamby

          That is a good point about her numbers eurovicious. I must admit if I were a voter, at the moment I’d be intending to vote for Abi. Of course her edit and comments will also play a part but I suspect last weeks tears have done more good than harm. I still thnk they’re gunning for her though. Running order will be interesting too.

        • sistermym

          I agree with eurovicious. Really popular song. Let’s hope she does the Cake version which is brilliant.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          ‘I Will Survive’ automatically reminds viewers of the criticisms Abi took last week, the criticisms that buoyed her vote and helped her survive. The song message will send out an anti-bullying statement, insisting that she will not be the crying victim this week.

          If I were a producer out to finish off Abi this week, ‘I Will Survive’ is one of the last songs I would choose.

          If you heard someone say ‘I Will Survive’, you would immediately wonder what kind of peril that person was in.

          Like many songs which become very popular it has become known as “cheesy”. I speculate that if the song had never been penned until today, and was released now, it would be a smash hit and people would love it, use it as an empowerment song and so on and so forth until, over time, popular sentiment began to consider it dated and cheesy etc.

          Am Intrigued to hear the arrangement and evaluate the staging, on performance night.

          • eurovicious

            Guildo as usual I completely agree with you. And yes, all of these songs like I Will Survive etc. that are hugely popular with ordinary (esp. working-class) people and that rockists and the overwhelmingly straight white male middle-class critical/media set stamp off as “cheesy” and “naff” are indeed awesome. ABBA were disparaged as uncool for years if not decades in the UK. But I could go on about classism in music criticism and the lack of a UK schlager culture for ages.

          • Nail, head. If they wanted to kill Abi, there are countless disco songs that they could have made bland, mediocre and given her faint praise. Abi is the centre of attention this week.

    • Well, Wagner was “I’m a wierdo, I don’t belong here”, this is “you’re not welcome any more” – as EV says, lyrically it’s a defiant, fighting song.

      For me it’s a fascinating choice that could go either way. Could be a helpful VT focusing on the tears and her determination. Or it could just be a dirge, faint praise, byebye.

  • Dean

    I believe a group could hit B2. I think Rough Copy has a chance. Maybe they need it to get a vote boost. If Abi is ok early she’s a goner.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I’ll be waiting for Louis to say something along the lines of “No need to worry about Abi – she will definitely survive this week”.

    I bet he loves playing the stooge. That impish, slightly baffled smile must have made him millions.

  • eurovicious

    I have Cowell’s tweet very much in my mind. It speaks volumes. What can we read into the fact that they’ve given Hannah the only song on that list that I’ve never heard in my life before? If you’re on Abi to go, the questions to ask are a) whether Hannah can be bounced above Abi given that Hannah’s singing the least well-known song and Abi the most well-known song and b) if yes, whether Abi will really come 8th or 9th out ot 9 in this lineup. An all-groups B2 or even a non-bouncing Hannah (although this is more an outside chance – if KR can bounce, she can) wouldn’t particularly surprise me.

  • Ben Cook

    There is absolutely no way that they would give Hannah a great song, a great VT, great comments but then deliberately use fire to ruin everything. That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

  • Heisenberg

    This week’s rankings derived from my proprietary Matrix Mechanics Formula:

    1. Sam Bailey – 32 points
    2. Tamera Foster – 31 points
    3. Luke Friend – 28 points
    4. Nicholas McDonald – 25 points
    5. Abi Alton – 16 points
    T6. Rough Copy – 13 points
    T6. Hannah Barrett – 13 points
    8. Kingsland Road – 12 points
    9. Sam Callahan – 10 points

    A Kingsland Road/Sam Callahan bottom 2 looks about right, especially after seeing the song choices. But…

    Here’s Hannah’s chosen song, Somebody Else’s Guy, as sung by Laura White in series 5’s disco week, also week 4 back in 2008. It’s a song that got her 7.38% of votes, only 0.52% above the bottom 2 threshold.


    So the song is a proven underachiever and one of the lesser known titles from Saturday’s list – if you want to give Hannah a good chance of bouncing, would you really go with this? In the Laura White video above take note of judges comments, “a very, very difficult song,” says Louis, “that’s a really, really hard song,” says Dannii.

    As someone who backed Hannah early, I’m hoping for a VT referencing her late father’s musical influences and how she’s determined to bring back ‘Happy Hannah’ this week. However, I think she’s desperately struggling for votes and they already have Sam B as the big voice act and Tamera as the alpha girl, so where does that leave Hannah?

    • eurovicious

      “the song is a proven underachiever and one of the lesser known titles from Saturday’s list – if you want to give Hannah a good chance of bouncing, would you really go with this? […] However, I think she’s desperately struggling for votes and they already have Sam B as the big voice act and Tamera as the alpha girl, so where does that leave Hannah?”


      Heisenberg, mail me re: your formula – it’s my name at eurovisionista.com x

  • Kevin

    I dont have a Skybet account but they appear to be 10/1 on Sam C being lowest on Saturday. Worth grabbing pronto.

  • Steven

    With all the speculation about whether I Will Survive is a positive or negative song choice upthread, I just wanted to point out that Beverly Trotman only got 10th place (of 12) with it in 2007’s Week 1, and she ended up doing fairly respectably after that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_X_Factor_(UK_series_4)#Results_summary

    The show has changed a lot since then, true, but something to keep in mind.

  • Jessica Hamby

    It’s a good job I’m still only placing imaginary bets.

  • Jessica Hamby

    People who bet during the show might like to know that one of the bottom two of show 4 has sung either 2nd or 3rd in every previous UK X-Factor series except 2, and one of those was series one where show 4 only had 6 acts in it.

    In that series the bottom two performed first and fourth.

    The other was series 6 when the bottom two performed fourth and seventh.

  • Fudd

    Has anyone listened to Enough is Enough’s lyrics? ‘Enough is Enough, I can’t go on, I can’t go on no more no’. Are they starting the de-ramp on Sam Bailey? Or trying for another shock bottom two? I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of switching camera angles and ‘red-and-black’ for her performance.

  • Fudd

    Nicholas has bizarrely come in to 19/10 on betfair to finish bottom of the flash vote tomorrow night. Has someone made a huge mistake with their bet or are insiders sensing blood due to running order/performance/staging etc.?

    Admittedly this may change come morning but that’s how it currently stands.

    • Hi Fudd, I did wonder about Sam B’s lyrics 😉

      Don’t read anything into Nick’s price on Betfair, it’s only because liquidity in this market is still very low so you get some randomly anomalous prices.

    • Boki

      Hi Fudd, it means only that nobody layed him so there is nothing to be backed (and that’s you see on oddschecker). Only amount matched is @55 and that you see when you log-in on betfair.

  • Morning all – new Betsfactor podcast is live! Usual instructions, courtesy of Richard –

    You can listen directly here.

    * iPod, iOS, iPad, iPhone users. Search for “Betsfactor” in iTunes or the Podcast App. The shows tend not to update on Mac/PC iTunes versions for a several hours, despite being released. Do refresh a few times on your iOS device.

    * Android, Windows Mobile and everyone else. Load up your podcast app and click “enter RSS feed” or “subscribe to feed URL” or similar; then enter: http://betsfactor.libsyn.com/rss

  • sistermym

    Thing is there is no one in the Xfactor this year who will go on to do this:

    James Arthur acoustic version of his new track.

    Just sayin…

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