X Factor 2014 Bootcamp: Hello Boys

Here at Sofabet, we look for clues of producers’ intentions at every stage of the competition. The pantomime nature of this year’s bootcamp made things a little more difficult: much of the time we were watching audience over-reactions or Cheryl hiding her head behind her hands.

The contrivances had lost all sense of logic by the time Louis chose his final contender by ordering a singoff between three acts. But then it had all started bewilderingly by rushing through an initial cull of half the acts. This usefully meant we didn’t see the performances that got members of the eventual eightpiece boyband rejected before miraculously marvelling with their group audition.

Let’s go through each category in turn to assess the lay of the land.

Lola Saunders, with her previous alpha girl edits (5m40s and 6:44 in length, both pimp slots), fell down the pecking order in betting markets after a forced rendition of ‘Finally’. Once again she seemed beset by nerves, but unlike her arena audition, this translated into her performance which was almost too bad to be true. Could it be that once hometown mentor Cheryl takes Lola under her wing, a remarkable transformation will take place? It wouldn’t be the first time.

More entertaining was Emily Middlemas (0:54 and 2:42 screentime in previous auditions) singing ‘Anything Could Happen’. Able to play guitar and piano, neither of which were on display here, she has a certain level of versatility and a strong regional vote, but I need more convincing that the show has big plans for her.

That last comment can be also be applied to Lauren Platt (1:21 and 6:02 screentime in previous auditions), now matching Lola at 11.0 in markets after a reasonable rendition of ‘Man In The Mirror’. Kerrianne Covell (5:39 and 6:30) has previously been ignored here under the mistaken impression she didn’t make judges’ houses. She was impressive again with ‘Gravity’ but my doubt is that she doesn’t have a look the show wants in its potential pop stars.

Could the final judges’ houses showdown be between humble working girls Shoeshop Kerrianne and Fishmonger Lola? If it’s to be heartbreak for the former, producers may look for Chloe-Jasmine to be the villain of the piece. She certainly was on Friday, called back for a place in her continued Waisselfication. Meanwhile, Steph Nala got virtually nada in proper screentime once again.

The first to finally impress mentor Mel B was Jake Quickenden, who has shed more tears on our TV screens in the last month than we’ve had rain. This was another edit that suggests he makes the live shows. The same can’t be said of Jordan Morris and Danny Dearden, almost montaged in comparison, but both are in the final six. Treated slightly better was Jack Walton, who disappeared during the arena auditions having shown promise in the closed room.

The focus came down to the last two to perform, especially Andrea Faustini, who got extended screentime for his rendition of ‘I Didn’t Know My Own Strength’. He had the female judges in tears and got a standing ovation from all but Cheryl. I’ve always felt Andrea was an ideal act for the lives and find him very likeable as well as talented, but a best price of 6.0, which makes him joint-second best in the win market, seems short for someone who the show is presenting as “kooky foreign guy”.

Still, he overshadowed the shorter segment given to Paul Akister afterwards. After his rejection at judges’ houses last year, Paul came to this series with more momentum than anyone else, but this edit at bootcamp suggests a policy of gradually letting the air out of the balloon, hence his drift to 7.0. Simon Cowell may have stood up after the performance, but we didn’t even get to hear what he had to say about it.

Ben Haenow continued his profile as strong beta back-up in this category, wowing audience and judges with ‘Hotel California’. Simon Cowell once again reminded us: “This is what this show is all about …. Finding someone who for whatever reason hasn’t had a break.”

There’s no doubt who Simon’s alpha is, Jay James managing his third audition pimp slot on Saturday night. His position at the head of the win market – a best price 5.0 – reflects the fact that no one has received more preferential treatment so far.

The category is rather clear-cut with Stevi Ritchie seemingly an obvious novelty wildcard pick from Louis, whilst Helen, Lizzie and Fleur fight it out for the chance to be the gamma over. We’ve commented before that the live shows may contain a rather embarrassing lack of diversity, and Fleur would at least be a token way of addressing that.

The Brooks were first to get a seat, but were duly sent down the memoryhole by the extended explanation given to the formation of the eightpiece boyband. It may be Louis’s category, but it was made abundantly clear that Simon was pulling the strings, as he shepherded them through the process. He was the one who told the other judges, “I wanna do something crazy” in making them an eightpiece, then broke the news to the boys.

Their rendition of ‘Run’ went smoothly and was unsurprisingly followed by a four-judge standing ovation. Our commenters have largely been sceptical of an attempt to make a boyband of eight, and I have tended to agree. But in terms of looks, only Reece Bibby is incongruously baby-faced against some of the older members, whilst it will be easier to pretend there isn’t a chorus of voices on any backing track. They’re 6.0 joint-second best in the win market.

The manufactured girlband got laughably shorter shrift by comparison, but at least they made it to judges’ houses after a farcical singoff. Blonde Electric were given an edit which suggests they’re in the live shows, and they’re just the kind of act Louis loves. I like what they bring to the competition, but the twins will struggle for votes.

The final two spots went to acts who may suffer in the shadow of the eightpiece boyband – they certainly did on Sunday. Only The Young showed promise in their room audition before failing to make the edit at the next stage. They weren’t given a huge amount of singing time here. The same can be said for Concept. If this neglect continues, both face an uphill struggle if they make the lives.

What were your thoughts on the dramatic bootcamp shows and what they mean for the future hopes of each act? Let us know below.

34 comments to X Factor 2014 Bootcamp: Hello Boys

  • The plans for the boy band are clear, but since it’s no sure thing, I can see them swapping the boys for OTY as Alpha Group if things fail to go as planned.

    The Boys were a bit dampened this week if only because Saturday episode did not end with them. The Girls were turned into a circus disaster and it seemed like the boos were made to sound louder for Cheryl than the others. Jay James may be hard to beat at this stage overall, but witch hunts tend to succeed in less than ten weeks.

  • qwerty1234

    I think the boyband being on so early was so that nothing was detracted from them by swapping them for somebody else. A smart move in my book – this boyband is all anyone is talking about really.

    Interestingly, my boss (a real hard man, ex truck driver now business director) came in this morning and the first thing he asked me was whether I watched the show, and what I thought of Andrea Faustini. He professed his love for him, said he was the only one he can remember and that he made his wife cry.
    I said in the comments on the previous post that he’d be the one to cause some trouble for TPTB – I’m not sure of their intention for him at this stage, but he doesn’t seem to have been factored into their plan of recreating 2010.
    I said last week that he might do a Sam Bailey, the only thing which makes me hesitant to put my whole weight behind him is the fact that he is Italian, and whether the country would get behind him as a winner. It’s been done before, but not on the X Factor.

    • Natasha

      I too like Andrea Faustini, a lot. Yes he is Italian but he is such a lovely, unthreatening guy and so very likeable, that is what makes me forget where he is from, like it doesn’t matter. He sings with integrity, so much so that every performance shown so far has made me feel really proud of him, I want him to do well. I guess I am not the only one watching the show that feels this way either. I don’t feel a connection with JJ performances and I really do not get the hype?
      I managed to back Andrea at 14/1 before his bootcamp performance and once the live shows have started will continue to back him, that is of course, unless they do a hatchet job on him! If TPTB do want to bring Andrea down then it’ll be pretty easy, just keep reinstating the fact that he is from Italy.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Did you go for an outright win or each way? It seems clear that the boyband are overall Plan A so they will deramp Andrea if he gets too popular and they have a lot of tricks, not just his nationality.

        Having said that I’m a big fan of his too and he’s one of my personal favourites.

        • qwerty1234

          They’d have to catch on pretty early. Sam B wasn’t really their plan A from day one last year, although that was changed fairly early on – there were no real signs of a deramp though.

          I think he could do a lot of danger – his voice is, in a traditional sense, the best one of the bunch so far and if they let him loose for the first few weeks to see what sticks, he could be a real trouble maker for TPTB. It will be interesting watching it though, I can’t wait for the lives.

          • Jessica Hamby

            I thought the week she did “My Heart Will Go On” in that ugly (purple?) dress looking all cruise ship was a deramp. Wasn’t that the week Louis called her “Screwbo” with that smile that doesn’t reach his eyes?

            The thing helping Sam B was surely that Tamera was failing (culminating in forgetting the words) and Miss Dynamix were over due to the pregnancy.

            If Little Prix don’t gel then Andrea may become Plan A but if they work well together and enough voters get behind them (and allowances will be made because they’re so new) then don’t be surprised if Andrea comes on in a clown costume singing Shaduppa Your Face.

          • annie

            Little Prix! That is brilliant wording!

        • Natasha

          I did an EW bet. It’s a bit early for an outright bet. I took 14/1 as knew his price would shorten dramatically after his bootcamp performance

  • Jessica Hamby

    Imo JJ occupies the same vocal territory as Andrea but Andrea is a better singer. I struggle to see either of them as ‘pop star’ but I think Andrea would be the better recording artist. A full album of JJ would be really wearing unless you were going thtough a bad break up or in mourning. Andrea has the likeability and vulnerability factor too, which means any direct attack on him by the judges would probably backfire. If he goes thtough, and it’s hard to see him not doing, he’ll be tough to shift. The force is strong in this one.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Also it’s easy to forget wildcards. If the reports are correct, four from each category are going through. Perhaps that’s the device they’ll use to make Stevie’s appearance look legitimate.

    I remember more about the girls’ backstories than I do about their singing so I don’t have anything to say about them at all.

    JJ is clearly plan A alpha but as I have said elsewhere I think he’s a torch song singer with a not particularly sweet or pleasant voice. He does know how to pace a performance though, which makes him stand out in this company. Unluckily for him so does Andrea.

    Paul was definitely overshadowed by Andrea on Saturday. If he’d gone through last year instead of Sam Callahan he probably would have made at least top three. This year the line up is stronger in every category so it won’t be so easy for him. It’ll be intrresting to compare his and Andrea’s treatment at Judges’ Houses. Unless he gets some variety in song choice I think his potential to win is limited.

    New Boyband are clearly plan A in the groups. Any others are makeweights. Personally I love Blonde Electric (yes I’m crushing on both of them *blush*) but the ‘annoying’ message from Simon and Mel B (excuse me – weren’t you in the Spice Girls? Pot and Kettle anyone) is bound to hirt them. Imo that’s a shame because I think they’re very likeable and could get a lot of female support.

  • Jessica Hamby

    According to a comment on the digital spy forum a Twitter account was created for the new boyband yesterday and it already has more than 19k followers.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Suggest a name for the new boyband.

    I ve got Cash Cow(ell), Eighth Blunder (anyone remember Patsy Kensit?) and Little Prix

  • Dean

    Bit of info is that it seems the 3 overs through are Ben, Jay and Fleur. Wildcard will obvi be Stevi.

    Also that Kerianne hadn’t made it as she has tweeted about doing a gig on 26th

  • anyone know when betfair usually open there win market?

  • Daniel

    Hi Stoney, it’s usually right after the Sunday judges’ houses, when the final 12 are known. Not sure what the impact of the wildcard will be. Back in 2010, we learnt the wildcard acts on the night of the first live show, the following Saturday. Betfair will most likely just provide a market with the 12 we know and ‘Any Other’ next Sunday night.

  • Chatterbox5200

    Now that the final six acts in each category has been announced, I can’t help but think back to the comments that Daniel’s made two weeks ago – https://sofabet.com/2014/09/08/x-factor-2014-auditions-week-2-her-name-is-lola-is-she-our-alpha-girl/ – when it was asked “is this not looking like the whitest set of contenders we’ve ever had?”

    Of the acts that we now know the live show contestants will be selected from, “two-fifths of the boyband Concept, one-fifth of the manufactured girlband, Fleur and Steph” are the only ones that wiIl provide diversity. Given the lack of screen time given to any of these acts – with the possible exception of Fleur – how many of these are likely to progress.

    As I can’t imagine they will want the possibility of Concept taking votes away from the 8 piece Boyband, and Fleur is tipped to make it through as the gamma act in the Overs category (probably followed by an early exit), I can see Steph making it through from Judge’s Houses. This could be at the expense of one of the more favoured acts that has received a lot more attention, e.g. Lola, who could then be brought back as a wildcard (by Simon – who would then state throughout the series that it has HE that put her though – if she is the Alpha Girl).

    My initial thoughts, before seeing the Judge’s Houses shows, are that those who will make it through to the live shows will be:

    Girls – Chloe-Jasmine, Emily Middlemas, Stephanie Nala
    Boys – Paul Akister, Andrea Faustini, Jack Walton
    Overs – Jay James, Ben Haenow, Fleur East
    Groups – 8 Piece Boyband, Only The Young, Electric Blonde

    Wildcards – Lola Saunders (Girls – chosen by Simon), Jake Quickenden (Boys – chosen by Cheryl), Stevie Ritchie (Overs – chosen by Louis) and Manufactured Girl Group (Groups – chosen by Mel)

    This is based on the assumption that the wildcard acts can only be chosen from those that have made it through to Judge’s Houses.

  • Henry VIII

    Cowell has played safe and included singers who are experienced with huge crowds – unlikely to have the X Factor but won’t clam up or fall apart when it comes to the Lives. Although the pretense that they’ve just been discovered is maintained.

    I was impressed by the 8 piece boy band. It may be autotune but it seemed to include some of the best vocalists. Much better than 1 Direction were at this stage. It’s also possible that no teenager passes Judges Houses from the boys and the girls categories (maybe Lauren will), which will help the bands. And then there is the five free votes from apps to encourage younger votes – may not make a big difference, but a factor, and would make a difference if voting is close. The wide age range of the new boy band may be to attract a bigger demographic of XF fans, but with plans to cull a few of the older ones post show – although Cowell and Co. play it by ear too, and follow social media etc.

  • qwerty1234

    I think the only teenager to get through (apart from the 8 piece) will be Lauren or Emily (at a push) to play our quirky young female. This sort of artist has never won before and it’s the producers seem to be able to dampen them when their work is done – plus I don’t think their demographic are exactly the same sort of teenage voter so they won’t detract from the boybands pool.

    Interestingly, it is heavily rumoured that Jack Walton is through as the wildcard boy. It does seem a possibility from their edit given how invisible the other two acts have been, that this is true however he does seem to fall into this god-awful WBWG type of artist which X Factor seem to have ploughed into this year – that may trouble the 8 piece’s demographic?

  • As Cheryl might say, I ‘thoroughly enjoyed’ boot camp – or I did once her episode was put to bed. I’m not sure what went wrong (it may have been the strangely lethargic judge herself) but the Girls category was almost completely decimated by Friday’s instalment. A few of the things I picked up on from the weekend as a whole:-

    1. Lola… What can be said about that? To paraphrase Mr Barlow, that wasn’t just the worst performance of the night… It was the worst performance of the series. It was wonderfully, knuckle-chewingly bad. Clearly nervous to begin with, but omigod, I thought I was going to lose it once she started throwing shapes. I’m not a believer in boot camp being a reliable guide to the Lives (having learned my lesson from Ella Henderson) – but she’ll have a job to repair the damage she did to her chances with this performance. The few seconds after the camera cuts to her granddad – which was a merciful edit by the producers, I felt – will play forever in my memory as one of the most spectacular ‘epic fails’ in X-Factory history.

    Just desserts, I’m sorry to admit, for a performer who has struck this observer as more contrived than perhaps anyone in the competition – including…

    2. Chloe-Jasmine. Hmmm, my assessment of her vocal talents have plummeted since her first audition. In the room she was good (I felt); just passable in the arena; and poor at boot camp. However, the surprising thing is the unrelentingly positive treatment she continues to receive: she was shown as gracious, even selfless, in her rejection; and humble when informed of her reinstatement. From what I can remember, Katie’s descent into the role of pantomime villain didn’t begin until the lives were well underway; and sprang from the producers’ realisation that she wasn’t popular with the public. I see a similar trajectory for Chloe-Jasime, quite possibly. For the time being we’re being invited to like her (‘mesmerising’ is a word Cheryl’s used more than once) – but I question whether people will.

    3. Lauren Platt. Again, I was a fan of hers initially. But her boot camp performance exposed some poor technique, and her styling was just bizarre. They’ve turned her into one of the boys from Hanson… Most unfortunate.

    4. Faustini has emerged as a strong candidate to win the series. His voice is strong and musical; his phrasing is very good (at times excellent during his boot camp performance); and crucially he is hugely likeable. Are we seeing the birth of another Frankel/Cardle? I think he might be hard to stop.

    5. Astonishingly, I find myself starting to like Jay James. I still question his talent, but I can see a pleasing coherence in his delivery and musical ‘intent’. To present yourself as a vessel for visceral, soulful performances which bypass traditional musicality to target the heart… is a brave move. He has the aura of the ‘Special One’; and if I’m starting to get on-side I think the public at large will be as well. He’s a finalist, in my assessment.

    6. Joining Faustini and Jay on my imaginary finalist’s rostrum is the Eight-Piece Boyband. Disregarding the machinations which surround them, I found myself moved by a curious excitement. I’m the kind of geek who takes notes, and my note to myself as I was watching their performance was simple: Wow. They’re blessed with the single best vocalist in the competition – James Graham – who I was very surprised to see leave the show during Cheryl’s episode. I’m not just a geek, I’m gullible too… I should have known.

    7. My note regarding Blonde Electric was slightly longer, and not for family viewing. But I commend whoever remarked that they may prove popular with male viewers. It’s a slightly twisted, Lolita-tinged raunch that they bring to the show, but I like it. They have a strange swagger which is urban-fused as well as pop; and possess something of the chameleon in terms of their ever-shifting styling. They’re charismatic, in fact… As is…

    8. Stevi Richie. Hats off to the man, Richie is novelty gold. He won’t win; no doubt the producers have his appeal well in hand; I hope he doesn’t need Maloney-ing with nasty news stories; but nonetheless I look forward to the joy the very definition of the X-Factor ‘trier’ will bring me for an estimated 5-6 weeks of lives.

    The series is shaping up to be a good ‘un. Peace out.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I think that’s a shrewd investment.

  • qwerty1234

    “Jessica Hamby
    September 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I thought the week she did “My Heart Will Go On” in that ugly (purple?) dress looking all cruise ship was a deramp. Wasn’t that the week Louis called her “Screwbo” with that smile that doesn’t reach his eyes?

    The thing helping Sam B was surely that Tamera was failing (culminating in forgetting the words) and Miss Dynamix were over due to the pregnancy.

    If Little Prix don’t gel then Andrea may become Plan A but if they work well together and enough voters get behind them (and allowances will be made because they’re so new) then don’t be surprised if Andrea comes on in a clown costume singing Shaduppa Your Face.”

    For some reason I can’t reply to this post, but yes you are right it was a gentle deramp. It was fairly early on, wasn’t it? I’m thinking week 3/4? We had a very heavy handed VT in which we were reminded that Sam used to be a cruiseship singer, singing a song from a film about the most famous cruiseship of all. I think that all probably would have worked, had that song not have allowed Sam to showcase her flawless vocal and give her fans even more reason to vote. After that, Tamera’s word-forgetting (which I believe was engineered – first time Tamera was in on it, the second time sadly not) did cause the producer switch although I’m not entirely convinced that Miss Dynamix were ever entirely plan A? I have a hazy memory of them though, as they were largely terrible.

    I’m quite interested in how they will treat him to be honest. I truly do think that they have their all behind Little Prix (excellent name btw) with JJ in back up. After Lola’s truly awful effort on Sunday I’m not too sure whether she’s up to the job alpha girl – I’m not too sure how Andrea fits into how they are presenting things at the moment.

    But as you said, if Boyband and JJ stick I’m sure we’ll see Andrea thrown out in week six with a VT saying that he hates the UK and wants to go home to Italy, with a backdrop of the union jack ablaze, singing “Creep” with some italian thrown in.

    • Jessica Hamby

      To qwerty1234:

      I’m not so sure that the first time Tamera forgot her words it was deliberate? Why do you think that? What was there to gain from it? It doesn’t make sense to me, not even in the sense of some sort of redemptive performance the following week because Sam B was simply a better singer by a country mile. Short of making Sam sing underwater and in handcuffs and leg irons there was nothing Tamera could do. Sam’s experience meant that Tamera didn’t have a chance.

      • Qwerty1234

        I think the producers train of thought may have been to give her that lyric mishap to pre-empt a bounce the next week. It just seemed odd that the last thing in her vt was her saying ‘I hope I don’t forget my words’ and then, behold – she forgets her words. It seemed like a last ditch attempt for her to get some momentum. It didn’t happen, so rather than give her a chance the following week, they saw her votes weren’t going up and so the following week, for ‘impossible’ they tampered with her backing track to make it seem as if she forgot her words.

        • Jessica Hamby

          It’s possible I suppose but it seems unlikely. Surely if they have to resort to a contrived sympathy bounce they must feel she hasn’t got any public support so they must know she’s unlikely to sell records. That means there’s no point.

          And then there’s Occam’s Razor… In the absrnce of certainty the solution with the fewest assumptions is the one most likely to be true. By Occam’s Razor Tanerea forgot her words is surely the simplest and thus most likely explanation.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Another thing is that Paul and Andrea look like they couuld qualify for the ‘overs’ category. It will be interesting to see who joins them. If they have a similar look then the teen male performers will be monopolised by the groups – (shades of last year when 5 of the six solo females were diva / belter types). I wonder what the thinking is when they crowd a particular niche like that.

  • Marc

    Repost from mjsbigblog re: Overs spoilers. No surprises:


    SPOILER: Photographer Simon Webb tweeted about working with Jay James, Ben Haenow and Fleur East. He then deleted his tweet.

    Simon Webb @simonwebbphoto · 1h
    Great working with @TheXFactor’s @JayJames, @FleurEast & @Bhaenow this morning. Looking forward to the next shoot!

  • Due to the niche occupied by his voice/style and the fact that he is Italian, I think Andrea is one of those ‘malleable’ contestants whose fate depends on TPTB treatment, so the question we should be asking ourselves is ‘what do they want from him and what finish do they want him to achieve?’.

  • Andy

    Steph looks like a value bet in Bet Fred’s top girl market @ 16/1.

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