X Factor 2013: The Midway State of Play

“So where do we go from here?” asks Dean, in relation to finding the 2013 X Factor winner. Good question! Especially as we approach the halfway stage of the live shows and it still looks like a wide open contest. By this stage last year, the panel were already name-checking their preferred finalists and signposting that Chris Maloney was the fly in the ointment. This year there were no such comments during week 4.

Instead, the acts we thought went into the lives as Plan A (Tamera) and the most likely back-up (Hannah) have already been in the bottom two. Sam Bailey’s storming pimp slot has JScouser marking her down as a winner; she’s the new 9/4 favourite. Andy agrees, Caro is inclined to agree, whilst Kevin plays devil’s advocate, Heisenberg thinks it’s far too early to say and eurovicious doesn’t think so despite being one of her biggest fans.

There’s a lot to get through here. I feel the need for some sub-headings.

1. Can you come back from an early bottom two appearance to win the show?

James Arthur broke the bottom two hoodoo last year after his week 7 singoff save; Little Mix broke the groups hoodoo the year before; could we see someone overcome an early bottom two appearance this year?

It’s worth bearing in mind that Little Mix only received 6.0% in their week 3 poll, Alexandra Burke got 8.82% in her week 4 poll and James Arthur received 7.7% in the week 5 poll. This was no more than 2% above the bottom two in those weeks and probably a similar amount above the percentage polled by Hannah Barrett in week 3 and Tamera Foster in week 4 this time around.

In other words, a lowish early vote doesn’t preclude a winning run, and James Arthur showed how rapidly one can go from singoff to poll winner. Furthermore, I don’t think an early bottom two appearance automatically makes an act irrevocably “tainted”. That’s because the narrative spun by the show makes its excuses: the public thought you were going to be safe; or the public is getting it wrong.

A bigger problem is that those examples of eventual winners starting slowly came with acts that were under the radar, whereas Hannah Barrett and Tamera Foster had plenty more exposure in the early stages. Despite this, they still haven’t connected with the public – yet.

We do have a precedent of a pimped yet divisive act bouncing from an early bottom two appearance (in week 3) and falling only 0.6% short of making it to the final. That’s Danyl Johnson in 2009 – a comparison Roxie also makes. The show was able to turn his shock singoff appearance into a journey of redemption, from arrogance to humility.

Watch them try this with 3/1 second favourite Tamera Foster. In fact, her narrative from the last two weeks sets up this storyline perfectly: she’s been too young to be sure of her identity, hence imitating the likes of Beyonce and her immature behaviour reported in the press. Expect Tamera to “find herself” pretty sharpish in the next few weeks and that new self to be incredibly humble.

Trouble is, will enough viewers buy it? As Tim B pointed out, the bad press that was a feature of the first few weeks, continued today. Jessica and Natasha summed up Tamera’s image problem with the vital female demographic. My own view is that the damage is bad enough that only extreme nobbling of other acts will be enough to see her win this show; if they’re not willing to do that, the question is whether they can push her into the final.

20/1 shot Hannah doesn’t seem to be winning round viewers despite her bottom two appearance. The lack of nuance in her performances, and a sense that “she is losing her likeability factor” is nicely summed up by Lolalola and Kevin. Her other problem is Tamera. Producers may view pushing one early singoff survivor towards the final as a misfortune; pushing two early singoff survivors towards the final as carelessness.

I can’t believe they won’t give Tamera the chance to rebound in the nation’s hearts – and the bad press this week can be seen as further setting up a redemption storyline. That leaves Hannah looking highly dispensable, sad to say given that we tipped her in our 1-12 prediction, but it’s foolish to cling to your initial views in the face of evidence to the contrary.

2. What about the current phone vote frontrunners?

According to the Daily Star, who have a very reliable record in this department, Nick McDonald won the week 2 phone vote. Otherwise it seems safe to assume that Sam Bailey was the week 1 and week 4 winner and possibly managed it in week 3 too.

It’s worth reiterating the obvious point that in recent years, Matt Cardle was the only early frontrunner to keep his lead right through to the final, whilst James Arthur showed us just how things can turn around in the latter stages.

Last week was obviously a great one for Sam Bailey. It’s interesting that they gave her the pimp slot for her disco number this early on, if it turns out they deny her another opportunity with a belting ballad later in the competition. Also, judges’ comments focused on her performance, rather than making any point about her prospects for the later stages of competition or the charts. The Powers That Be may hope that this way her momentum is not unstoppable.

I’m with Boki that much depends on how producers treat her from this point onwards. They applied the brakes sharply in week 2 after her stellar week 1 performance. Will they do the same after her winner’s staging pimp slot for ‘Enough is Enough’? Heisenberg reckons, “I can only see Celine Dion’s appearance working as a negative for Sam B…. it would signal an end of journey vibe.”

If they don’t deramp her this coming week, it will be very hard not to check her momentum towards a place in the final, and it could indicate what Ben Cook says about prodcuers, “throwing their weight behind Sam Bailey if they still want a female winner”. By week 4 in 2010, the less versatile and half-as-impressive Tesco Mary was already being gently pulled down against a stronger field before her semi-final elimination.

The Powers That Be have been careful not to turn Wee Nic, a 7/2 shot currently, into an unstoppable force from the begining of the live shows. After an early slot in weeks 1-3, his better position in the running order for Disco Week heralded an underwhelming performance that, “started to reach a level of uncoolness that threatened to morph into Eamonn Holmes,” as put by Monk Seal’s blog.

The forthcoming weekend feels like an important one for Wee Nic, who is being marketed as the “Baby Buble”. If producers want to see a return on their investment in him during the audition stages, they should give him a chance to shine with the Big Band theme. Especially as, like Sam Bailey last week, it’s still early enough in the competition to bring an act back down to earth in the later stages.

If, on the other hand, they allow Nicholas to be overshadowed once more by Luke Friend, it will suggest to me that he’s lost his alpha boy status.

3. And then there are the “dark horses”.

Let’s start with 7/1 shot Luke Friend. He was called the “dark horse” enough times last week to make him no longer the dark horse (though I do like the concept from Monk Seal that it’s “reality tv slang for ‘4th place'”). As eurovicious puts it, Luke “has an underdog narrative, one of an ordinary relatable lad finding his feet on the show”.

Chiggs sums up nicely the state of play with Luke. Having worried about his similarities to last year’s winner James Arthur, he adds, “‘Dark horse’ means yes Luke you can win but you’re not the chosen one. And I think this is the message behind the [week 4] staging.”

Rough Copy have come back down to 8/1 in the win market since their continued ramping in week 4. As Chiggs (and EM) pointed out, beyond Tamera, Rough Copy have been treated the kindest, “because TPTB believe they have the best chance of selling records”. Louis Walsh made the point again last weekend, explaining, “there has to be a place in the charts for Rough Copy,” a compliment that hasn’t yet been given to anyone else.

Chris Bellis, who thinks they can go all the way (as does Donald and, at a pinch, Jessica), points out that, “Rough Copy has one singer who is flat, but we’ve heard what a bit of sound engineering can do, as well as clever harmonies from the backing singers.” That has certainy been the case so far.

A bigger problem may be how well Rough Copy are actually connecting with the public. eurovicious sums this up: “RC’s narrative ended for me when the group were made into a threesome again. Since then, it’s just been the same-old-same-old every week.”

One way producers may try to overcome this is making Gary the de facto fourth member of the band now that they are his last remaining act. The show can appeal to Gary’s fans to support them for his sake in his final season.

Some of our commenters, such as JScouser, are suggesting that 40/1 shot Abi Alton is back in the game after her moving rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ last week. For her too, this coming week is a crucial one in telling us whether this is the case. Dean sums it up nicely, “This goes 2 ways for me now. Her narrative has ended… Or her narriative is just beginning.” I tend to agree with Dean that, “I feel it will be the former still.”

It’s always possible that they’ll have had a rethink since Saturday if Abi did particularly well in the phone vote or shifted loads of sales on iTunes, but I’d be surprised if that’s the case and I didn’t see anything in their treatment of her last week to indicate that they had any long-term interest in her.

She got everything her own way, but producers still only gave her a middle slot in the running order, whilst judges’ comments did more to suggest it was the end rather than the beginning – focusing on how “brave” she was rather than a “you can sell lots of records” narrative that would indicate a push into the later stages. Only a surprisingly good result from her ‘I Will Survive’ performance will change that.


Things are up in the air, aren’t they? The volatility is fascinating and good for traders who like build reds and greens in the win market. I’m suggesting that this coming week will tell us more, and here’s a reminder of my views on the most likely scenarios for week 5.

Having invested plenty early on in Tamera and Wee Nic, I reckon producers will be as positive as possible for both this coming weekend. The former may be significantly bounced, and the latter may be allowed to play to his strengths.

I think brakes may be applied to the runaway Sam Bailey train – but to what extent will be fascinating. Rough Copy and Luke Friend fall into an interesting middle. Because they are commercially viable, most likely they will continue to be treated favourably to boost them into the later stages, unless either are not polling well enough and may need a singoff appearance to bounce there.

I agree with R that the narrative for Abi, Hannah and Sam Callahan is likely to determine which of these are eliminated over the next few weeks. There seems little doubt that Sam Callahan is emerging as this year’s annoy-Gary novelty act, but I’ll go into more detail on that in this weekend’s podcast and elimination market post.

What do you think of the views expressed here, and how do you call it from this point onwards? Do let us know below.

134 comments to X Factor 2013: The Midway State of Play

  • Chris Bellis

    I wonder if the super-sympathetic treatment of Abi was to make up for the shoddy treatment previously? In which case the performance could be a bit of a swan song, with all the pimping going to more commercial acts from now on. I can’t believe they won’t try to slow down Sam B either. They won’t want her to win. They’ve a problem in that she’s a much better singer than Tesco Mary, but I’ve already seen plenty of hints that they can knock her off her confident stride. The odd strained note, the key that’s a little bit too high etc.

    • This is the argument I have against “They wont want her to win”

      Why wont they?

      If they didnt why give her a 4 judge standing ovation this week, why give her the pimp slot, why give her any momentum? Why put her on Audition week 1 (first show advantage) Why give her a VT about how much weight she is losing? I am sure the weight loss will have been down to the producers helping her, hiring a trainer etc, why do all this if they dont want her to win?

      Got into a debate this week where someones arguement was they wont want her image, well why do all of above. Plenty of successful singers over the age of 30 too. No problem with her having kids there will be a few on the record label that have kids, Rebecca Ferguson being one, she didnt win, but she was given an album and slots on Jonathon Ross show the following year.

      Why is everyone so certain they wont want her to win? Past years yes, they wouldnt want her to win… we all assume the image isnt one they want, but things do change. If they didnt want her to win, why give her such positive treatment.

      • I say why give her the pimp slot.. this is on the back of 3 liveshows where if we are all honest she has been impressive and only pushed herself closer to a contender as a winner… yet they continued and even did more for her this weekend.

      • Chris Bellis

        I suppose I’m pretty cynical about the judges. But you are right abut the push she has been given – makeover, special praise etc. She’s been getting the votes too, so maybe you are right. The judges will go where the wind blows. I hope she does win: as the best singer in the contest she deserves to. Except I find Rough Copy to be more credible as a commercial act, but I have been wrong plenty of times before.

      • R

        I agree wholeheartedly that we shouldn’t rule out Sam B just because of her image.
        Craig Colton’s early positive storyline was based on his diet and losing 2 stone. This came to an end when his VT showed him sneaked food behind Barlow’s back.
        Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but both Jahmene & Richard & Adam (BGT) have had number 1 albums this summer. If Samsung the same genre of songs she would appeal to a similar demographic.
        Although the same type of album could be made by Nick.

  • Natasha

    Apparently week 6 is Great British songbook. Read it on DS so how reliable this is i do not know

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    I find both the X Factor and Strictly outright markets confusing.

    With the Strictly market, I have a serious doubt about every celeb contestant’s ability to win the dancing-cum-popularity contest.

    With the X Factor field I’ve found it easier, all series, to pinpoint singers that I strongly feel wouldn’t be winning, for example, during the initial XF audition process, I was by far the most vehement (vicious and lengthy) naysayer re Joseph Whelan, Tamera and Abi.

    Sometimes my natural bitchiness gets the better of me. And I often wonder if my flair for naysaying and mocking is a serious flaw in my evaluative capacity (which could be a costly indulgence for a gambler?). But what I should remember is that I am far from alone in having a bitchy streak. For confirmation, I could point to Daily Mail writers, their articles and often-times the majority of the comment dumpers on their site.

    In the following article link (from a month or so ago), the readers-cum-commentators are fairly even-handed, but the article writer is clearly one jealous b***h.


    As with other commentators I’ve noticed that XF are finding it easier to stop a contestant than they are at boosting a contestant.

    For instance, I posted this link…


    …before that Saturday’s show. For me this was confirmation that XF were going the full-Jahmene with her. I was pleased as punch…but it didn’t help her much,did it?

    It’s been noted that Gary Barlow’s outrage over Tamera’s B2 appearance mirrors last year’s Bulls**t from Tulisa re James Arse Face B2 appearance.

    Perhaps the Great British Public is developing a resistance to being guided into supporting acts, supporting people, they wouldn’t normally like?

    But many, many people, such as myself, still respond to the negative drip-drip-drip effect of stories such as these…


    Negative press ALWAYS has influential power.

    It’s a funny XF year. Supporting acts with big producer love isn’t necessarily going to be enough (re Hannah and Tamera) but betting on acts without any remains a probable folly.

    Luke Friend is an interesting proposition in that he is blandly likeable and seems to enjoy enormous exec love. I did get stuck into a match bet a couple of weeks ago (Luke vs Sam C) but I’ve never been able to bring myself to back him for the outrights because I find his vocals only a bit better than average.

    I hope they XF gets behind Sam B and don’t dampen her like they did Mary B or crucify her like they did Chris M.

    Otherwise, there is no point in the thousands upon thousands of contestants over the age of 30 who dreamily/delusionally take their place in the queues each year seeking to get through the series of auditions and win the XF title.

    They may as well save their time and money and stay home..and watch Strictly.

  • Chris Bellis

    Honestly, most people I know see through all this BS. The only ones who don’t are females and some males under the age of 16. Mind you, they are the ones who waste their parents’ money on votes. Nobody who reads DS or the DM is going to take this seriously, surely? I hope I’m right, but if I’m not, I need to get even more cynical than I already am.

    • EM

      Get more cynical! Over 25s are more likely to vote on X Factor than under 25s according to YouGov

      • Chris Bellis

        Good debate EM – I’m always ready to be proved wrong if it means my bets are more intelligent.

        • EM

          Typical voter has been described as 35 and younger, female and slightly better off than average. Loves the show, votes, follows the ads.

          Obviously not all voters fall into that age but remember the winner tends not to be the cute boy thing. One D, JLS, Olly all didn’t win but went on to mass heartthrob status

  • Heisenberg

    Here are the Matrix Mechanics Formula rankings leading into week 5:

    1. Sam Bailey 31 points
    2. Luke Friend 30 points
    3. Tamera Foster 27 points
    4. Nicholas McDonald 22 points
    5. Rough Copy 21 points
    6. Abi Alton 20 points
    7. Hannah Barrett 16 points
    8. Sam Callahan 13 points

    Nicholas in today’s press:

    Sam C in today’s press:

    Message received loud and clear!

    If it is a Hannah/Sam C sing-off – is Hannah doomed?

    • But you had Tamera on 31 points last week and Sam Callahan last. Do you adjust them between the Saturday and Sunday shows?

      • Heisenberg

        Only on a Thursday Tim, sufficient time has passed since the previous weekend shows and data hasn’t been influenced by song choices which are revealed on a Friday.

    • kinski

      This week I see Hannah as surplus to requirements and if she falls into b2 I can see her going against most anyone.

      Sam’s voice may be crap but he has the tension factor that gives the show some much needed drama and potential for witty banter (although his qupping ability a la Rylan seems to be far inferior…)

      I wouldn’t be surprised for another shocker vs Hannah b2. That said I am still not pulling the trigger on any bets. My gains last week on Tamera nicely covered the following 2 week loosing streak and I am afraid I may not have that again!

    • eurovicious

      Sam C is getting the “non-threatening boy” vote, the one it’s safe to have a crush on and project your fantasies onto, so the best way to depress his vote is to make him threatening by a) making him look arrogant, just as that story about him flogging homemade merchandise does and b) have him flirting with seductive dancers, which looks like it may also be the case.

  • Danny

    Ahh, week 5 aka “relight the controversy week”. Lets look at some recent history:

    (S6) Jedward saved against Lucie Jones
    (S7) Waissel saved against Treyc Cohen
    (S8) Kitty saved against Johnny Robinson and The Risk voted bottom
    (S9) Rylan saved against Kye Sones

    We already know who the weakest singer in the competition is this year (thanks Gary!), the only blank on the script (should they choose to deploy it) is which beta (or even alpha) is getting unexpectedly fed to the lions.

    Luke is probably least suited to big band week and would make a decent shock departure after last week’s praise.

    • Kevin

      The week 5 data is intriguing!

    • eurovicious

      This is why I’m all about Sam B being saved against Hannah, as I mentioned in an earlier comment. It’s bordering on fantasy to try and predict something like that but it’s fun. We know Hannah is coming down off a bounce while Tamera is on one, and Tamera is commercially far more important to them. As the theme is well suited to Sam C, getting him into the B2 might be hard.

      • eurovicious

        I mean Sam C.

      • Tim B

        I agree it will be difficult for Sam C to fall into the bottom 2. The vote transfer from Kingsland Road will be worth a few %, and if they let Robbie Williams appear in his VT then this will be a positive. I struggle to see how he would be saved over Hannah though, unless they start giving her negative comments – remember she hasn’t received a single negative comment yet. Abi vs Sam C is a more difficult call for me.

        • eurovicious

          It would require Sharon having to save Sam C. The justification could be that she’s already saved Hannah once. Not unimaginable.

        • Hi Tim,

          Do you not think that now both of them have been B2, they’ve got to a point where they have to accept losing one of Hannah or Tamera sooner rather than later? There’s circumstantial evidence they may be poaching votes from each other – Hannah B2 after Tamera’s pimp slot, Tamera B2 when Hannah bouncing. Surely they can’t hope to push both to the final with multiple singoff saves? And if they give up on Hannah, does it really matter if she goes out in week 5 or 7 or 8?

          Against that, you have the prospect of lovely controversy from Barlow’s apoplectic reaction to Sam C staying over Hannah.

          It would be easily enough done, always assuming of course (as Boki says) that Hannah is last – Gary and Nicole save Hannah, Louis saves Sam, Sharon agonises before resorting to the time-honoured “I have to ask myself who the public will want to see again, Dermot… the fair thing to do is to deadlock it”.

        • Kevin

          Of course they will justify anything anyway they please. In fact if trying to stir up controversy and chatter they may even make it look somewhat contrived. I suspect Sharon would be last to vote if this comes about with Nicole & Gary up in arms. Nicole storming off would generate column inches given her recent profile. She could even do a live advert for some succulent chocolate bar during the break maybe then.

          I am pleased I took the 9/2 on Hannah going anyway, 3/1 best now. It’s no cert of course but a lot of factors point to it being reasonably likely.

          • lolhart

            I wouldn’t put it past them saving Sam C over Hannah for some much needed controversy. However, I think the difference with previous “shock” results is that Hannah has been consistently praised by all the other judges. Lucie Jones and TreyC for example had been received mixed comments from the judges more or less since the live shows started.

  • Heisenberg

    Sam C Big Band week staging clue:


    That old chestnut – dampen the tweenie vote by having seductive girls dancing around him.

  • Heisenberg

    I think Sam C would be saved against Hannah or Abi – 4/1 for him to be saved by the judges looks decent value.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I wonder what Sam’s going to do with 5,000 Future Mrs Callahan mugs. Landfill? I can’t imagine there will be a lot of demand once he gets the boot.

  • tpfkar

    I always felt that Tamera was a tough sell and Hannah an impossible one, and the B2 appearance for both of them in four weeks shows TPTB have over-stretched themselves. Much depends on Hannah’s vote last week. They couldn’t have given her much more help with those gold records with her name on it. If the bounce wasn’t enough to suggest she could fly from here, she will have to be sacrificed to try to give Tamera a clear run. Otherwise Sam B & Nick M will be out of sight by the time the alpha girl is left standing and going for the win.

    Sam C being saved over Hannah works on many levels, but it does depend on Hannah being bottom; hard to see how Gary could find a way of voting for Sam C to stay, even if he wanted to. And if the producers tried I imagine he’d go rogue and the producers know that. So Hannah’s task may well just be not coming bottom in the votes this weekend, with a good song and helpful slot she’s got every chance but 4-1 or so is value.

    Rough Copy and Luke are the acts I can’t get a handle on – how are they doing in the votes? I called Luke totally wrongly and he’s very comfortable on the stage, but I’ve still got nagging doubts over who would vote for him en masse. And Rough Copy don’t seem to be going on a typical alpha group push to the final, we don’t know their names or much about them as individuals (Photo Copy, Copy Cat and Teles-Copy??) or care about them very much. They need a breakthrough VT sooner or later or I can see them heading B2.

    • eurovicious

      Z-Rocks, Hugh-L8 and Packard. And I agree.

      Getting Hannah bottom is easy, all they need to do is keep doing what they’ve been doing for weeks: praise her to high heaven after a poor performance, with the gulf between how good we’re told it was and how good it actually was thereby opening up a window through which the show’s hyperreal nature is revealed to even the least jaded viewer. Hashtag empreror’s new clothes. Either that or stick her on early with an obscure song choice, an unmemorable judge reaction, a “found my place” VT and another act straight after her, innit.

      Like you I always felt Hannah was an impossible sell, but though I won on it, I was still slightly surprised Tamera was B2. I tend to assume people pay no heed to the tabloids, as I and most people I know don’t, but that’s not a representative circle.

  • Curtis

    If they were to push Abi for a bottom 2 with Sam C I’m pretty sure they could save Sam C without too many eyebrows raised. My eyebrows would be raised, but then when I’m watching the X Factor it would be surprising if my eyebrows were not raised!

  • I just want to put this debate out there? How certain and easy are the “bounces” lets take into account that Tamera is not a typical early week bottom 2, this is the early fav.

    This isnt Janet Devlin, Janet Devlin was harshly treated in the early lives. Tamera wasnt, she was pimped, repeatedly? Right?

    Normally someone lands in the bottom 2, by getting poor/average treatment, then gets a bounce by getting better treatment the following week. But Tamera already has been getting pimped and better treatment?

    Can someone remind me how Danyl was treated in the Live Shows when he ended up in the bottom 2? thanks

  • Dean

    It really is difficult to call, but for me I still think one of 4 could land in B2. I think Abi and Hannah are disposable now. Sam C is disposable if need be, but ideally would like some controversy against Hannah or Abi by not coming last in the vote and saved on deadlock. Then Rough Copy, just the feeling they have not connected totally, percentages can’t be that high and could land in B2. No chance of going though unless against another real shock B2 which I find doubtful.

    Looking back at Simons client of the 3 ‘stars’ I’m willing to put my money on him meaning Tamera, RC and Luke. Not to say they will win, but I’m sure ideally they would want them at least in the final 5. If it takes a bounce to push them there then so be it.

  • Jessica Hamby

    The song choices are published tomorrow aren’t they? Saw a tweet suggesting Sam C is doing Sinatra. Not sure which one though.

  • Jessica Hamby

    As an aside proof , red and black alone will not destroy an act’s chances.


  • Jessica Hamby

    Colour vomit, disjointed camera work, vampy women, no chance.

    Or so you’d think.


    • Guildo Horn Forever

      My favourite series, Jessica!
      The thrusting sexual heat of that performance has near melted my laptop screen!

      XF have engineered a maximising of the ‘so bad it’s good’ appeal, haven’t they? Two earnest/arrogant/delusional performers at the centre of a production spoof heightens and sells the comedy. It’s a calculated farce – to place it in it’s genre. Which demonstrates that XF have always known what production decisions are of a service or disservice to an act.

      One exception (that proves the rule) to Richard’s Colour Vomit theory is that of the carnival or samba experience. Though even here there may be cultural perceptions at play.

      • eurovicious

        Jedward? “Thrusting sexual heat”? Guildo, I’m worried…

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Oh eurovicious! If their Carlos Acosta level dance skills, smacked arse faces and cliffs of hair weren’t enough, letting loose this pair of modern Elvis pelvis thrusters to the up-tempo pumping baseline (144 Bangs per Minute – How gross!) and sexually charged lyrics of She Bangs (with her strap-on) gets me in a whirl of tizz and lather.

          Then there would be the post-performance pillow talk from those two Irish charmers, who redefined “witty banter” (and “sense of entitlement”).

          Whose tummy could not feel yummy, yummy yummy, I ask you?

          Well worth eliminating Lucie Jones for them! 🙁 🙂

      • Jessica Hamby

        NThrusting sexual heat? Not the description that I’d have used but whatever floats yer boat….. :p

    • Chris Bellis

      Agree about the vampy women, but this is the kind of vamp I like (but I am not normal)

  • Saoirse

    Josh from Kingsland Road said ‘She’s not the most agreeable person in the world. She’s just got expectations and not everyone lives up to them’. Jay added ‘She’s not sweet and she’s not innocent – she’s very opinionated.’ Have a guess who Kingsland Road are having a pop at here???

  • Heisenberg

    Probable Big Band songs then…

    ‘Ain’t That a Kick In The Head’
    ‘That’s Life’
    ‘All That Jazz’

  • Saoirse

    Paul Potts also commented on themes not working for contestants..’You get an artist like Abi Alton and it’s very difficult for her to fit in with how that works, and sometimes people can get criticism – and this isn’t just Abi, it’s anybody – for not fitting in with the theme of the week…’

    Here is the Kingsland Road article..

    I think Abi has enjoyed the sympathy for 2 weeks now and she will be shown as being more difficult and inflexible. Don’t know if she will get away with a comment such as ‘ Classic Abi’ again!

  • Dean

    Would have thought it to be fair in that she seems similar to Janet Devlin. Haven’t read article, but surely not a bad girl? Anyway if bad press starts coming out it means it could be curtains for Abi.

    • Dean

      Reading the article helped me translate as ‘we liked to prank people, but Abi didn’t always take kindly to it’ and ‘there were a few arguements in the house and Abi stood her ground’

      Fair play.

    • Jessica Hamby

      They dicked about and now they’re out. Abi took it seriously and she’s still in. That’s how I read it.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    …and although they don’t know him and have never met him, they have also found Christopher Maloney to be a nasty piece of work.

  • Abi gets That’s Life! For the other “that,” it’s Sam C with Aint That a Kick in the Head.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Further to Daniel’s tweet:

    The song choices for Big Band Week:

    Abi Alton – That’s Life

    Hannah Barrett – This Is A Man’s World

    Luke Friend – Moondance

    Nicholas McDonald – Dream A Little Dream

    Rough Copy – Hit The Road Jack

    Sam Bailey – New York New York

    Sam Callahan – Ain’t That A Kick In The Head

    Tamera Foster – Cry Me A River

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Mixed feelings about Abi’s song. Has a I Will Survive sentiment, but the more fatalistic-cum-philosophical finish of ‘I’m gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die, my, my’.is a bit depressing. Whenever I’ve sung that song, I’ve always hated that lyric.

      Luke Friend’s got another flipping corker of a song, another song that suits his voice and vibe. I love Nicholas’s song too. They both share a nocturnal theme. Will be interesting if the production choices favour Luke over Nic.

      Yet another song with a theme that allows for Hannah to be made smaller (and not threatening). Hope she doesn’t start shouting the chorus lines.

      A victim song for Tamera. Haha! We’ll see if that can turn the tide for her.

      That could be a great song for Sam Bailey. She has the show-stopping voice for it. Will this signal her launch into the North American market! It is interesting that she gets the only song that directly references a transatlantic destination. I hope the panel don’t wheel out any karaoke slurs or diminishers.

      Think Hit The Road Jack might suit Rough Copy, for some reason, but am bit concerned that they are singing about a guy.

      • eurovicious

        Sam B is gonna top the vote with that. Agree on Abi’s song. You sing?

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Yeah, ‘these little town blues’, ‘brand new start of it’ etc are cracking lyrics for her, and it’s a popular, storming belter of a tune. That song HAS to be placed in the pimp slot, be last song of the night? If not, I pity whoever has to follow Sam Bailey tomorrow. Ah! unless they use her as a squeezer in a big-hitter sandwich to take out an unfavoured act?

          Don’t sing professionally but have sung in a number of amateur musicals etc.

          I also dance and act, and I have often thought someone should start a thread about the advantages and/or disadvantages of background/subject knowledge of that which you are betting upon.

          For elaboration, jockeys are notoriously bad tipsters of horse races (trainers aren’t…but then they don’t really publicise their true fancies, for obvious reasons).

          Yet there are many famous professional punters, over the years, who seem to have never so much as sat on a horse.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Further thoughts about Rough Copy’s song.

        The key ‘no more, no more, no more, no more’ lines allow for a variety of vocal arrangements / harmonies that can ideally suit a 3 voice singing group; but the danger is that any “weak link” voices could be exposed. However, if, for instance, the strongest voice is allocated the first ‘no more’ the two strongest the second ‘no more’ and all three voices combining on the last two ‘no mores’ it could work a treat. And surely anyone can cope wit singing a short and steady ‘no more’ lyric in tune.

        Am still confused who Jack (in relation to the three Rough Copy lads) is supposed to be. I know the track was popularised by Ray Charles, but how will this be staged?

        Will they have a bloke on stage who they are telling to go away? Which demographic is that targeting?
        Will they be being told to go away by three women? Erm…
        Will they be singing the song (directing it) at you the viewer at home? Yikes…!

        It could be that if the viewership are confused as to who exactly is being told to bugger off, they may pin that coat on Rough Copy and send them packing?

        Anyway, I do like to speculate, but I’m sure the XF production team have the answers.
        Am just very intrigued at their thinking, solutions and staging choices.
        As ever, all will be revealed Saturday evening…

        • eurovicious

          I think it’s a good song choice for them and along with New York New York one of the most fun and best-known songs on that list. It might potentially allow them to be less boring than they have been in recent weeks, it could even be a breakthrough performance.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Good read, ev – I hadn’t thought of that at all: it is a fun song. Plus I’ve just refreshed my memory of the ACTUAL (!) lyrics and theme of the song and I see I’ve misunderstood and misrepresented it.

            Certainly these guys are having fun…


            ..and they’re just plonked down on seats.

            Perhaps the female viewership will be meant to respond to Rough Copy’s rendition (and story-scene) with a I-wouldn’t-kick-them-out-of-my-bed response?

  • Nice, playful, flirty song for Sam Callahan, that should play to his vocal strengths. Very Olly/Robbie. Ahh poor Abi!

  • Jessica Hamby

    Rough Copy to perform steaight after Abi? Seems like the kind of thing they do.

  • I just noticed that Sam C is due a late slot. He’s had the worst running order after Nicholas and remains the only act who has never performed really late. Will it be now or next week after they save him?

  • EM

    As Alison R pointed out earlier this week doing That’s Life in big band week has lead to elimination twice!

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Could one of the problems with That’s Life as used as a song for XF contestants be that its lyrics are out of synch with the season?

      It’s now the second week into November, and so we are in Winter (by one reckoning) yet That’s Life talks about ups and downs happening in April, May, June and July. It doesn’t resonate. Nor does it lovingly capture those Spring and Summer months. It just name checks them.

      And that last line does make singers feel as though they are really depressives at heart.

      An arrangement where the song finished here…

      ‘And if I didn’t think it was worth one single try
      I’d jump right on a big bird and then I’d fly’

      …would much improve its vibe, I feel.

      Moondance is a much more fitting and uplifting song for November:

      ‘A fantabulous night to make romance
      Neath the cover of October skies’

      It’s also very interesting, I think, that it is Luke Friend, not Nicholas, being given a song that is known for its cover by Michael Buble.

      • EM

        Guildo I’m not sure if it’s the seasons but the song is just an acceptance of fate, it says I know bad things are going to happen and I’m cool with that.

        Couple it with long camera shots and she’s a fair bottom two bet.

        I’m also not feeling It’s a Man’s World. That’s going to be strident and shouty, not something that goes down terribly well.

        Moondance, Dream a Little Dream, New York New York all feel good.

        Hit the Road should intrigue the folk that love hidden messages and Cry Me a River feels like a classic post bottom two redemption song.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Hi EM,

          I agree with all of your descriptions and forecasts here.

          I see what you mean about the theme of acceptance of fate in That’s Life. It starts with a report of that common saying as said by ‘the people’ but definitely by the fourth verse that shrug of acceptance has been confirmed as internalised.

          Even the iambic punchiness and fun of singing: ‘I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king’ is set down in the past tense (and carries a slight echo of THE iconic Sinatra song).

          I still think it’s that ‘die’ finish though, imo, that is the killer.

          I have seen this song go down a storm performed for laughs but Abi Begley / Andrea Alton hasn’t shown evidence of that sensibility and skill yet. She’s an introvert and will go with the approach that worked for her last week.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            And that approach could be characterised as delicately earnest, aspiring for heart-felt.

          • EM

            That’s Life the perfect midlife crisis song for a forty-something guy. Sung by a young girl….

          • We’re still talking about someone that hasn’t been in the bottom two yet. That northern vote has held up well so far.

            She does have some hope if they give her a piano, as she could go out there and do a Raphael Gualazzi and perform it in quite a lively manner.

            If she Abifies it and sucks the life out of it, then I’ll agree with the arguments putting her in the bottom 2.

            Just on that note… if it goes to deadlock, I reckon Hannah goes vs anyone. And given the opportunity, why would they keep Hannah in the competition if she’ll eat into Tamera’s vote again next week?

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Yeah, EM, it’s going to be odd listening to Abi refer to herself as having been a ‘Pirate’. ‘King’ will be changed to ‘Queen’, but as you say that’s a strange thing for a young girl to have been (not a princess?).

            Here’s how a young girl, the ridiculously attractive Katherine McPhee, not introverted and with charisma and a flirty sense of humour, handles the song…


          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Hi EM, here’s how a young girl, the ridiculously attractive Katherine McPhee, a non-introverted (Abi: please take notes!), sassy, flirty sense-of humoured babe, handles the song…


            Here’s the two “Marilyns” smashing it out the ballpark…


            Noticing how the skill and tone of the performance (and in particular the interplay) lifts it to life-affirming and how the finishing line is altered.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Here’s a young girl, the stunning Katherine McPjhee, an extrovert with a flirty sense of humour, with style and pizzazz singing That’s Life:


            Here’s the two “Marilyns” smashing it out the ball park, with lovely interplay elevating the song into joyous celebration, and with the negative finishing lyric changed into a more positive affirmation:


            But introverted Abi will no doubt stick with what she always does.

        • Exactly, EM. The lyrics reference multiple past failures and phlegmatically envision future ones. Hard to imagine a message less likely to enthuse voters. No wonder it’s got 2 out of 2 eliminated before!

          Target in the crosshairs? Looks that way.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I think Abi is going to struggle to avoid b2 with that song, and if she’s in the sing off then she’s almost certainly out. Against Sam C she may survive, if Gary refuses to save him and she polls above him so deadlock can’t get her out, but I don’t think she’ll be saved above anyone else.

        For me it’s not the lyrics so much as that That’s Life is a bit of a medium-paced dirge with a forgettable melody and it’s utterly unsuited to Abi. I expect it to be painful to watch.

        I think Hannah will be shouty in her song. She doesn’t know how not to be and is still young enough to equate volime with intensity of feeling.

        Sam C is another candidate for b2. I wonder if his fans will mobilise for him again and if the merchandise story has damaged him.

        Given that Sam C is due a late slot and Hannah was late last week, and I expect Abi in a death slot of 2 or 3, a b2 of Abi and Hannah looks likely to me with Hannah being saved.

        Of course she may be great on the night or her fand may rally and keep her out of b2, but I think it unlikely.

        • Jessica Hamby

          I also expect them to continue to dress Hannah like she’s 50 instead of 17 and make her into a low rent Shirley Bassey.

          • eurovicious

            This is a really good point. Is she effectively coming over as a non-commercial Over singing dated songs, despite her age?

          • Jessica Hamby

            Well with the expulsion of Miss D, Tamera is the female glamour in the competition, notwithstanding your torrid dreams (DUUUUDE!!! Get some therapy!).

            Tamera gets the plum sheath dress with matching lipstick, Hannah gets to look like she should be on a cake.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Just realised I misread “nobbling Abi” as “nobbing Abi”. Maybe I need the therapy.

    • AlisonR

      Yep, Abi’s a goner this week.
      I actually think that’s a great choice for Hannah. It suits her style. There’s an ad on the telly using it at the moment (bet that will be on in one of the breaks). When Hannah finished bottom 2 a couple of weeks ago I bet there were only a handful of votes between the bottom few and I still think they are undecided on alpha girl between her and Tamera. I bet they will see how both of them get on this week before jettisoning one of them maybe in 2 weeks time (they have to get rid of a boy at some stage too. Sam C’s time is next week I bet).

      Actually, most of the song choices this week seem to fit quite well with the contestant. I don’t know Rough Copy’s, and I think they risk being bottom 2 with Abi, and then saved as they’re Gary’s last act. This means that they should be safe for a couple of weeks at least. They might then go up against another girl in 2 weeks and be bounced into the final 4.

  • EM

    A Hannah-Abi bottom two would be fascinating.

    Do they get Abi out while they can or dump Hannah so Tamera has space to be top girl.

    Not one I can call

    • Surely getting Abi out while they can would be sensible. Would they want her bouncing to week 7 or 8? Whereas if they save Hannah for a second time, they should be more able to keep a lid on her second bounce.

      • Or they know they can dump Abi any time by getting her to stand up and sing 😉

        I said earlier int he week I fancied an Abi/Hannah bottom two with hem getting rid of Hannah, thus transferring (they hope) her votes to Tamera.

        Abi should get more votes than Hannah based on past results, so Hannah would need a majority vote.

        If they still want to push Tamera it would be nice to see her putting her arm round the shy girl and trying to boost her confidence. If they could show that Abi and Tamera have become friends they may be able to transfer some of her votes in the later stages.

        • eurovicious

          Again not joking: just woken up from a dream in which I was involved in nobbling Abi. While she was prevented from performing, I had to go on stage disguised as her and murder her song. She was really angry and upset at me afterwards. I need to get a life.

          In a Habi B2 I think they deadlock and Hannah goes.

          • Jessica Hamby

            But why give her such a deadly song if you’re not going to get rid of her. If they want rid of Hannah surely give it to her instead.

          • To soften Abi up for the future…

            B2> Bounce> Come down and singing standing, B2, Gone

            Looks to be path for Abi

          • Jessica Hamby

            I feel that’s overcomplicating things. If she gives this song the Abi treatment it’s going to be a song to commit suicide to.

            That’s not to say she won’t survive. I hope she does. I’m on Hannah at 9-2 to go (pretend money). Is it Ockham’s razor – the thing about the most obvious explanation? That their intention is to boot her is the obvious explanation to me.

          • That’s the way I read it too Jess. They give Abi the song with the fatal history; occam’s razor suggests they want Abi gone.

            I also think it makes more sense in the bigger picture, if we assume they either can’t or don’t want to lose any of the big five until the final five.

            Tamera’s due her bounce comedown in week 6.

            If they save Abi over Hannah this week, it’ll be hard to stop Abi bouncing, so they’d be putting all their eggs in being able to get SamC B2 in week 6 to avoid an Ella-James situation.

            If they save Hannah over Abi, they have a reasonable chance of B2ing Hannah in week 6, given that second bounces are generally a lot less potent.

            I’d also guess that, befitting Sam C’s new novelty status, they’d probably quite like to keep him till week 7 for the controversy if they can.

            I wonder if the B2 they’d most like to see this week is the one AlisonR points out at 12/1 (now 11/1) – Abi-Rough Copy? With Sam C last to be announced safe. That way they get rid of Abi, boost RC, don’t have a second Hannah bounce to deal with in week 6, and get an entertainingly controversial reaction from Gary to his act being B2 with SamC suriviving.

            Even if we can discern their thinking, though, many a slip twixt cup and lip.

          • eurovicious

            Andrew, who is the fifth member of your “big five” – Luke or Hannah? (Assuming the other four are Tamera, RC, Sam B and Nick)

          • Luke.

            On the assumption that Tamera B2ing this early means they’ll need to sacrifice Hannah sooner rather than later. (This assumption may, of course, be wildly wrong)

  • Heisenberg

    Hannah’s song choice intrigues me because Mary Byrne smashed it in 2010 – and that audience reaction was mega!


    I initially thought this would be a set-up for negative comments about shouting her way through the song, but it’s a great, well known number that connects well with both male and female voters and it could be enough to keep Hannah safe.

    Tamera has cause for concern, Cry Me A River is quite an underwhelming, dreary song from the same mould as last week’s Wishing On A Star. Crying rivers were effective for Abi but I’m not so sure of Tamera’s bounce chances here – others on Sofabet have already expressed concern about Tamera’s bounce position due to her high praise treatment so far, we’re used to hearing her lauded so we expect it to happen – it’s predictable and not vote inspiring. If she were doing an up-tempo song with a bit of choreography now that would grab your attention, but this song, long dress, not much movement – what’s different compared to last week?

    For Abi I expect at least one judge to begin with, “Can I just say how beautiful you look tonight, however…”

    If Sam can do even 70% of what Ray Quinn did with that song then he may avoid the drop zone (plus there’s the anti-Gary narrative still very much in play and we don’t know if Robbie has any part to play in Sam’s Saturday VT).

    Week 5 has a history of surprises and controversies and my view is that the girls category is currently most vulnerable.

    As such, I’ll be looking at B2 girl combinations – the 20/1 still available on Tamera for a shock exit is also very appealing.

  • Based on song choice, Hannah doesn’t seem targeted imho. She got a song that the judges can easily brand as “soulful” or “powerful” and delights the demo. They might try to drag someone else (not yet in B2) along with Abi. Who will it be, though? Will it be Sam C, which means losing their subplot again? Luke, if the ideal result for him doesn’t match the voting performance? Rough Copy, if only to piss Gary off? Or maybe we will find out that Sam B and Nicholas aren’t as formidable as we think?

    That said, they run the risk of losing someone they don’t want to lose (see: Henderson, Ella). Who can be fed to the lions?

  • cfahrenbach

    What I find extremely interesting this year is the lack of commercial characters.

    You could tell pretty early on, which kind of artist Cher Lloyd would be, we knew, what kind of music Rebecca Ferguson would sing, the same with James Arthur…

    But this year?

    They have the Rihanna-like Tamera Foster and what do TPTB do to her? They give her boring ballads and no urban vibe whatsoever. And letting her sing Listen just proved that she lacks the last 5 % in vocal ability.
    They have Rough Copy which could also tick the urban-vibe-boxes and what do TPTB do to her? Backstreet Boys! They sing in a rather mediocre and choir-pimped way.
    They have Hannah but they also don’t do a thing to give as a hint what kind of music they have in mind for her. Not in the visuals, not in the VT, not in the song choice. If they want to make her an Adele, then Skyfall showed how bad this idea is.
    They have Sam Bailey, who is very sympathetic and the best working-woman-contestant they ever had. But apart from Susan Boyle, which music would such an artist sing in the future? The time of the big ballad-belters is over…
    They have Nic and he also sings quite well but it doesn’t seem to me as if he’s portrayed overly sympathetic. He would only be in it for a Joe-McElderry-kind of career, anyway.

    To me, right now, there’s only two candidates with a visible character as artists: Luke and Abi. I’m not saying that they are in it for the final, but I have an idea how their records would sound like.
    I’m also not saying that this is an advantage, but I find it curious that TPTB fail so enormely at creating images this year.

  • Heisenberg

    Even if this guy showed up at my door wearing a Michael Bolton t-shirt and said, “Hello, my name is Michael Bolton,” I still wouldn’t believe him.


  • Chris Bellis

    Just listened to Gary Barlow on BBC Radio 4 (pushing his latest album). He said Tamera would come second or third, and often the best acts got a better career as a result of not winning. The interviewer was pressing him to admit Tamera was the best act. I’m taking this seriously as he’s one of the judges. It will be on listen again in a while.

    • Boki

      Does this mean he admits that this year they don’t care about the winner (so SamB can take that role) ?

      • Chris Bellis

        I read it that he’ll be pushing his own group, RC, but he really believes Tamera is the one with the best chance of commercial success, but hasn’t connected with the public. I hope so anyway.

  • sistermym

    Nice article Daniel and chocker-full of interesting theories.
    Mine is that it’s not about the acts this year and more about the judges. It goes like this:

    Back to basics
    Only 12 acts
    No wildcard or twists
    No controversial act
    The return of Mrs O
    Gary is leaving
    Same old tired songs
    10th Series
    The Overs have not won since the first series
    The show telling us repeatedly it is feel good Saturday night entertainment for the masses
    Ratings and votes are down each year since 2010

    So time to bring out a good working mum singer on a journey

    My finishing order goes like this

    Mrs O to win with Sam B
    Louis second and third with Nick and Luke ( or vice versa)
    Gary just edged out of the final with Rough Copy
    Nicole loses all of her acts one by one ( probably Hannah first then Abi and Tamera)
    Louis and Mrs O colluding to save Sam C for as long as possible

    Bottom 2 this week could be 2 girls: Tamera versus Abi?

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