X Factor 2014 Judges Houses: Nasal Officer

Thanks to those who posted the leaked judges’ houses picks on Friday. The portraits of the final 12 had the obvious look of the pre-lives makeover, and so it came to pass. They will be joined by the four wildcards – one in each category – next Saturday.

As a result, there was a certain predictability about the weekend’s events, with one notable exception: the harsh treatment meted out to the previously pimped Jay James, which has been extensively covered by our ever-alert commenters.

It’s traditional for judges to offer a note of doubt about each act they go on to pick, as a way of building suspense. But the edit went much further about JJ. Was this just a misjudgement that producers will put right in the live shows or a sign that Simon’s golden boy has lost his sheen for good in the competition?

There was no need to showcase JJ’s deteriorating rendition of ‘Everybody Hurts’ with its jarring last minute at all, given his decent performance of ‘Desperado’ and the good comments that followed, seen only on Xtra Factor. Beyond Simon’s repeated Saturday-night criticism, (“you’ve got a habit of singing through your nose…awful… awful”) the pimping of Ben and previous gamma fodder Fleur suggested a possible reordering of priorities in the overs category.

On Sunday, there was a sense of it being brushed off as a bad day at the office when JJ was put through. It also gives him a redemptive storyline beyond the naval injury. Is the show trying to do for Jay James at judges’ houses what it did for Lola Saunders at bootcamp: knock-em-down with a too-bad-to-be-true audition, only to see them rise like a phoenix?

Lola’s rejection in the climax to Sunday’s show was the second big talking point of the weekend. It had wildcard written all over it, as was confirmed by the blooper on Xtra Factor, showing her in the background of the contestants’ lodgings. Many thanks to Saoirse for the screengrab posted on here last night.

The redemption storyline works beautifully for Lola with her youth, nerves, humble job, rejection and return as the wildcard. The worry for JJ’s supporters is he doesn’t have any of those advantages. What’s more, Simon attacked the way Jay has sung in general since after the first audition. And whilst the other overs were being bolstered, the inclusion of gamma fodder Steph makes the girls category look weaker, and Lola’s place within it stronger when she does return.

The rest of the weekend panned out pretty much as expected. We started off with the groups: Blonde Electra are through but still under-utilised and again repeatedly tagged as “annoying”; Only The Young had the misfortune to have Louis of all people worry that they “lack edge”; whilst the eightpiece boyband were namechecked and have viewers helping them choose a name. No prizes for guessing the alpha in this category. If another set of lads do get the wildcard, expect some pretty obvious nobbling.

Paul and Andrea impressed for the boys. The concerns expressed about Paul were his inability to draw out his personality, and that will be his journey in the lives. Andrea is still making anyone with ovaries (and many without) cry every time he sings. Jake has looks and charm but this is still constantly prefaced with the worry that he’s not a strong vocalist, even by his mentor. Jack looks like the most obvious wildcard and one they’ll want to discard quickly to avoid fishing in the same pool of votes as the boyband.

As mentioned, they seemingly tried the mantle of alpha over on Ben this weekend, and it looked like fitting. Amidst all the praise, even Simon’s doubts lacked consistency (on Saturday it was “bad habits”, on Sunday it was “do you know what kind of artist you are?”). Fleur, previously treated so cursorily as week 1 elimination fodder, never sounded better, and her fortunes now rest on whether this is maintained. Stevi still looks like novelty wildcard mayhem, in a good way.

Of the girls, Chloe-Jasmine sounded almost suspiciously stronger than she had in the arena, but is Waissel-esque TV gold. Lauren was as vocally adequate as before, the worry being that the whole package she offers is rather beige. Steph goes into the lives with less audition screentime than anyone else. It was no coincidence she was pitted against Lola at the climax to maximise the controversy.

The Betfair win market is now open for the current final 12, though it doesn’t include the wildcards. It has been a tradition to showcase the wildcards at the start of the first live show, but we can’t help wondering if it’s better to introduce them only when it’s their turn to sing. That way you draw out the suspense, save precious time in a long show, and don’t have four similar “I was so happy to be brought back” VTs. Basically, we want to see Simon surprising Lola by asking for haddock at her fish shop given its rightful plaice (ahem) towards the climax of the show.

We will see. You can expect our playful, traditional first-to-last prediction later this week. Do try to hold off giving your own until we have posted it so that they are all under one article, but please add your other thoughts below.

47 comments to X Factor 2014 Judges Houses: Nasal Officer

  • Natasha

    As it stands, I see the top 3 spots being taken by Andrea, Ben and the 8 piece boy band. Looking forward to the lives this Saturday and seeing what treatment these 3 in particular get both then and going forward

  • I think it’s rash to conclude that Ben is the new Alpha Over, or even pushed to that direction. He just lacks star quality and doesn’t seem to be the one who can overtake JJ, just as Jamie Archer didn’t stand a chance to overtake Danyl in the long run. Fleur looked fabulous on Saturday (and had the most buzz) and if she weren’t female, I’d think she can sneak past the halfway mark.

    CJ was confusing. They gave her a lovely edit (although she looked like a cold bitch for not even trying to cry like a baby after going through to the lives), but now there are many articles about her past. It’s like what Cher Lloyd got mid-competition, rather than Katie all the way. Pairing Steph with Lola makes her the “why is she even here”

    Not sure if Paul’s lack of all things other than the voice is a journey for the win, instead of a weapon for TPTB to use against him. Jake’s 2012 fail was not mentioned at all so he is operationally the Gamma Boy (although it may look like Beta2 as the wild card will be tossed first). The winner in all this is Andrea whose only “flaw” mentioned is being Italian.

    The Groups are rather obvious and unless the Overload as WC rumors are true (and a ploy to push them and sink the 8-piece because why not), we don’t need a WC at all because they’re probably on their way out in Week 1. Shame because Only the Young could really be something.

  • Jessica Hamby

    The thing that strikes me most about it so far is how dated it all seems. Power ballads, The Monkees, Motown….

    Fleur and Blonde Electra were the only acts to do anything that might annoy the wrinklies, and to my ears Fleur is the best female singer left. If she can keep up that level of performance I can see her being pushed above Ben to the alpha spot in the overs because she’s more likely to sell music than he is – it’s young people that buy in volume. The irony is that in the x-factor a break out performance will have to be a Whitney or a Celine diva style performance from the last century. The good thing for her is that this year I’m not sure any of the other girls could do it.

    Blonde Electra are the only act to bring sex to their performances in the Miley, Gaga, Rhianna stuyle. They move really well and their vocals suited Goldigga (and imo Do It Like A Dude) very well. They want to be taken seriously but they ‘annoying’ message isn’t going to go away. They’re actually accomplished performers but destined for an early exit. Imo that’s a shame because Only The Young seem might as well be a barbershop quartet. Their only concession to modernity is that two of the barbers are women. I honestly can’t imagine who would buy their music. Mums and dads will doubtless love them so they may achieve a mid season exit but I honestly can’t see what all the fuss is about. They should be singing at tables in a restaurant on valentine’s day and that’s it.

    Paul Akister is an enigma. Voice of an angel, social graces of a chimpanzee. In the Telegraph review the writer noted that he confirmed Mel’s opinion that he didn’t connect with people when, on hearing he was through to the live shows, he hugged a pillow and not a person. I’m surprised he didn’t formally shake Mel’s hand. It’s shyness, not snobbery, but that won’t make any difference. People have to know him in order to like him and right now he’s not really letting us in – not a problem that Andrea has.

    I’m can’t get enthusiastic about any of the girls. Lola is a risk in my opinion. Her failures in the arena and the six chairs remind me of Tamera who forgot her words in the early rounds and then went on to do the same thing at the lives.

    I can barely remember a thing about Lauren. Steph seemed nervous and waver. I don’t expect her to hang around long. CJ was a pleasant surprise. Her voice is different and she certainly has presence. A weird hybrid of Waissell, Lloyd and Ferguson from 2010 I wonder if she’ll be last girl standing. I do think Cheryl will be the first judge to lose all her acts.

    I haven’t mentioned Little Prix because there’s nothing new for me to say. Still expect them to be strongly pimped. Jake/Jack/gamma boy, whatever his name is, pretty but doesn’t really do anything for me in terms of the competition (plus I’m not a fan of that many tattoos so I prefer Blonde Electra ;)).

    • KaraokeSauron

      OTY are aimed squarely at the kiddie/tween market, ie: Hannah Montana, rather than Miley Cyrus. This is possibly new ground for an XF act, and fills a niche in Cowell’s musical portfolio which is otherwise vacant. I think they’ll do pretty well, personally – both in the show (fifth/sixth?) and afterwards. The blonde girl, in particular, is pure pop: a ready-made all American sweetheart in the Mouseketeer mould.

      Totally agree about Blonde Electra… My favourite act in the comp.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Aaaah. Now I get Only The Young. And yes, in that context they could do very well indeed.

      • Face

        OTY are this years Same Difference

        • Qwerty1234

          I was going to say that – Same Difference were syco’s Disney act and they did nothing commercially. It makes me sad that they’re turning OTY into some sort of cheesy steps for 2014, they’re a lot better than that and I actually think they could be good. Unfortunately I think they’ll last about half way if they are lucky.

          • KaraokeSauron

            To be fair, I think that’s exactly what they want to be… They won’t need much development/mentoring. They’re a ready-to-go tween act tailor-made for the US.

            They have far greater commercial potential than Same Difference, imo.

      • Chatterbox5200

        I see what you mean by the blonde girl in the group being in the Disney mould. Her name is even “Betsy-Blue English”. You couldn’t make this stuff up!

        • KaraokeSauron

          I think it’s Betsy Blue, but I may be wrong.

          Her Instagram account is interesting: full of hyper-sexy selfies and scenes from her seemingly glamorous existence wholly at odds with the OTY cuteness. Without a doubt the most naturally beautiful woman in the competition (including the judges!) – and bound to have a career of some sort post-XF.

          Couldn’t understand why some commenters were writing OTY off early doors… They were always highly favoured, clearly a scouted act and probably snapped up by Syco already.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes Blonde Electra. The thing that makes them appealing for me is that they’re sweet as well as sexy. The slightly antagonistic vibe that you can get from Rhianna and Beyonce isn’t there. They’re just having a fun time without ‘running the world’ or being ‘good time girls’.

        • Chatterbox5200

          Doesn’t this just look ready for the “I’d like to see it a bit stripped back, without all the gimmicks and stuff going on around you” request from Simon, after a few OTT performances (courtesy of Brian Friedman)?

          Blonde Electric Say Something: http://youtu.be/pwqgT5vm2Xw

        • KaraokeSauron

          The black lipstick (on ‘Jazzy’) and poorly dyed roots at JH wasn’t a good look, however.

          But yeah – fun and sexy, with cracking dancers’ physiques. I do wonder how self-aware it all is, and to what degree they’re just playing along. In interviews and on stage, ‘Ruby’ (younger) seems more grounded and serious than ‘Jazzy’ (older) – ‘Jazzy’ seems more genuinely nuts.

          Do I really believe they’re ‘single pringles’?? ‘Jazzy’ – maybe. There’s a lot of sexuality in their performances though, pent-up or otherwise. I think they would be dynamite in that sandwich you’ve been dreaming of…!

  • qwerty1234

    It was an interesting weekend. The boys were as expected – I’ve expressed for a few weeks my feelings about Andrea. I loved that we were told Jake couldn’t sing, Paul was boring and has no personality and in contrast – Andrea is Italian. I’m interested in his treatment going forward, there has been such little negative treatment of him I’d love to know their intentions with him.

    The overs was the best segment of the show I feel. We had Sinitta constantly telling us how awful the overs were and Jay’s wrecking ball of an edit. Ben was treated favourably, but I don’t feel like they’ve switched over. I think they’re just trying to give them both a fair deal and see who sticks. The solo male edits will be fairly similar for the next few weeks I feel, to try and spread the votes as much as they can.

    Fleur was interesting. She’s like a mixture of all the females who don’t appeal to voters who have ever been on the X Factor. She’s been dressed terribly up to now, singing inappropriate songs and even now, although she was good (I feel that is by comparison with a) all her other ropey auditions and b) everybody else being awful in her category on Saturday) she was given a song that has only been released a week ago and the rap wasn’t particularly good, and I feel that a rap never goes well with viewers. Anybody that it did sit right with may have been put off that she copied the rap word for word and didn’t do her own.

    The girls were more predictable. I’ve been a little unsure of Lola all the way through to be honest, I don’t actually think she’s that good but she’s a willing participant and that must be enough. It’s glaringly obvious at this point that she is being pimped to high heaven with regards to the wildcard – I’m not entirely sure how it will go though. The general response to her seems to be a bit lethargic, I’ve seen more outrage at Kerrianne not getting through.

  • EM

    Bring on the live shows now that the phoney war is over!

    I’ve got in my mind the following:

    1. I always maintain they want a good quality top 3 or 4 who they can make money out of rather than just the preferred winner. Sure they don’t want a Wagner-type winning but they want to get 2 or 3 acts with potential onto that podium springboard.

    2. Watch the cliche about will they or won’t they sell records. The music business revenue model is now multi media. It’s about video views, streams, downloads, CD sales, live tickets, sponsorship and merchandising now. For an act to hit that sweet spot they’ve got to look the part and either appeal to a large demographic with lots of disposable income (late 20s) or a huge demographic with some disposable income (kids and teenagers plus older women).

    3. The winner is always extremely likeable – not nice or neutral but actually a likeable person or persons. More so they need to be seen to be likeable and never be anything that frightens middle England.

    Some current trends worth looking at are that the music business has swung away somewhat from the Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce driven female sound which dominated for years. Sure they are still big stars but the artists selling at the moment are almost all male and have some credibility to their music such as Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Bastille.

    I haven’t formed many firm views yet but I’ll flag up that Andrea reminds me of Susan Boyle… and we all know what happened to her.

    • qwerty1234

      Andrea had the su-bo thing from the start. Bit of a whacky, kooky (almost deluded) personality, novelty dress sense, foreign… everybody expected him to be awful. It’s the same story, and that goes a long way. Grated, there are variables but Andrea is a very likeable person and everybody seems to be rooting for him. Plus, he does have a good voice.

      I don’t think there is that with any of the other males. I’d be surprised if the top three was anybody other than 8 piece, Andrea and Lola at this point, but I think that final place (that I have Lola in at present) could very well to go to one of the Cardle-alikes if one of them resonates. I don’t really see Ben, Jake or JJ having the capabilities though.

      • EM

        It is SuBo 2 in everything apart from he is actually likeable, SuBo was too weird to actually like whereas he seems more humble and rooted.

        I think Ben’s southernness will take him a long way, he reminds me of Olly Murs in that respect. A cheeky southern chap who isn’t an arrogant git.

        • Face

          I see Ben as a cross between Olly and Matt Cardle… He has the southern England Everyman quality, is good looking and likeable… Just like Murs
          Like Cardle he can also actually sing… And will appeal to middle England… Especially women who watch the show

      • Face

        Cowell has never not got one of his acts to try final 3… It helps cement him as being an expert in the biz… Plus it’s his show and his ego wouldn’t allow him not to have an act left in the competition come the final!

  • Dean

    The wild cards make this weeks elimination betting rather difficult. IIRC correctly in 2010 the first week saw the bottom 3 as Nicolo (eliminated straight away), FYD (eliminated in B2) and Katie all of which had been original picks and not wild cards. They may do a double elimination again and at this point without wild cards I’d guess at Fleur, Steph and OTY or Blonde Electric in B3 but difficult to know

  • Qwerty1224

    There’s ten weeks of live shows if I calculate correctly – if we have a four man final like 2010 that means three double eliminations? Id think week one is a cert and may play out as mentioned above, but I’d think they’ll keep the other two up their sleeves.

  • Nissl

    Steph is in 3rd, one vote away from 2nd, in the DS poll. Where in the world did all that support come from?

    Anyway, I just got my top 16 written up. Looking forward to everyone’s predictions!

    • qwerty1234

      I noticed this – she does seem to have a fair bit of support but thats typical the sort of digitalspy reader I feel. They always get behind the “diva” of the show – her and Fleur are the closest we have to that.

      I’d watch the impact that the free voting has on Steph though. That result alone may well carry her through the first few weeks.

      • Nissl

        Yeah, I won’t read *too* much into Steph’s poll placing given that DS is a selective audience, but that kind of support says to me that she’s going to survive longer than her worst in the competition treatment indicates. Another year, another troublesome gamma girl for the producers.

  • Nissl

    Pics of the wildcards entering the house are up. I’m fairly sure that’s one of the Overload guys in this picture.


    Also between the first and last pictures it looks like two different women. Is it possible Lizzy or Helen actually got in over Stevi? Hmm.

  • qwerty1234

    Surely they wouldn’t put Overload in?! Makes no sense to me. I can’t make head nor tail of those pictures, I wouldn’t read too much into them.

    I did my top 16 – I think I’ve got every wildcard apart from the groups, but whoever they choose for a groups wildcard will likely be out in the second or third week anyway.

  • Overload are going in, known this for a while

  • How will Overload’s addition impact the competition? Will they be the foil to the new boy band or is it the other way around? The only reason this would happen is if they are promised at least a tour slot.

  • Henry VIII

    Maybe it’s to create a battle of the bands scenario. I think it will take supporters from the 8 piece and therefore, whatever the intention, is a negative for the 8 piece, because Overload aren’t bad, better than a lot of groups that have made the Lives.

    • Nissl

      Yeah, that’s my theory too. It will give the boyband a narrative. But why Overload? Surely Concept, who are less cute and have half the supporters, would be an easier knockout, even if Overload is a bit poorer vocally.

      For those still looking for more evidence, the ITV writeup makes it pretty obvious at least one act is coming from outside JH:


      • Chatterbox5200

        Just a guess, but I assume the rationale that the show will use for allowing a judge to pick a wildcard from “ANYONE who got a chair at Boot Camp”, is that the only judge who saw an act’s Judges’ House performance live, was the judge for that specific category. Therefore, as the selection is made by another judge, they can only base their decision on the performances that they have seen.

  • Alen

    Def. Overload going in, why else would they post this article and share it on facebook a few hours ago? http://www.itv.com/xfactor/judges-houses/concept-leaving-the-x-factor (forgive me if they did that with everyone that didn’t make the live shows)

  • Stu

    I disagree with you Daniel that the girls category looks weak without Lola. While Lola has a fantastic voice, I don’t see a star when I look at her. She’s like a mix between Ella and Lucy from 2012. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

    Regarding Steph, there is still the possibility that she didn’t get much airtime prior to the lives due to her already high profile compared to the other acts. I definitely don’t think she is this year’s Plan A but I don’t think she’s live show fodder either. As Cheryl said “she’s a ready-made popstar”. I’d be shocked if Steph didn’t finish 4th or 5th after a healthy run of performances. Maybe I’m wrong and she’ll do a “Jade Ellis” but Simon is apparently fond of Steph.

    I’m still backing Lauren for the win. She’s not been overexposed but she’s had an extremely favourable edit so far – maybe because of age, maybe because of producer’s intentions. She’s very marketable and could be the cool kind of act that Cher Lloyd tried so hard to be yet failed. Chloe Jasmine will inevitably prove not-so-popular with the public and therefore being saved repeatedly by the judges until week 7/8.

    I really do think JJ will be another Kye Sones with maybe a bit more mileage. He’ll probably get further due to milking his Navy background but I can’t see big things for him – especially now that the far superior Ben is in the competition too. The JH edit of Fleur does little to change my mind that she’ll be out early and is only there to make up the numbers/to avoid the embarrassing scenario of either Lizzie, Helen or Stevi going through over her. She’ll be this year’s Lorna/Rachel Adedeji/Treyc sadly.

    I get the feeling Mel is going to struggle with the boys. Bar Alexandra Burke, the “comeback kids” rarely do well once they finally get to the lives – Rikki Loney, Rachel Adedeji, Treyc. I think Jake will make it to the middle stages off the back of his emotional edits and producer favouritism but he’s just a good looking guy who can sing pretty well. I can’t see him having a real standout performance. Paul will be a “Craig Colton” i.e. someone who has a great voice but is definitely not marketable. Unlike Craig, Paul lacks an endearing personality so I can’t see him going far. I can see Andrea actually doing very well and ending up in the final.

    As far as the groups are concerned, I can’t see this boyband working. It’s going to be more Futureproof/Hope and less Little Mix/One Direction. They don’t look like a group at all, they just look like a random selection of male solo artists. It looks less like a credible boyband and more like a novelty supergroup. I think (or at least hope) Only The Young will be the replacement Alpha group. God knows why they are being sidelined for a terribly produced boyband. Blond Electra will probably be out in week 1.

  • qwerty1234

    RE: “Overload” – with how they’ve isolated their boyband so far, I can’t see the point in them bringing another boyband for a “battle of the bands” thing, particularly with Overload’s apparent fanbase. Plus it took them ages to get rid of that other boyband when they had Union J on – you’d have thought they’d learn and just put a girl group through as early fodder. They’re not even that good for entertainment value!

    RE: Steph Nala as well. She does have a bit of a fanbase after BGT and Simon said numerous times on the show that he loved them, and singled out Steph at the time. He also said during the arenas that he loved her from BGT. I think he is a fan, but if he and producers truly wanted her to do well they’d have done a lot more for her up to now, rather than just leave it up to everyone at home to remember her from last year on a completely different show.

    From a personal view, she is my favourite at the minute. I liked her in Luminites and I’m generally always hungover when I watch X Factor (catch up on a Sunday) and she’s very relaxing! All of the others are a bit “done” in my opinion, apart from Only The Young, and Ben Haenow is attractive so they’re the ones I’ll be secretly willing along. From a sofabet view, I think they’ll all be gone by half way!

  • Donald

    While looking forward to Daniel’s predictions, few thoughts on next weekend shows.

    Simon back on a live shows will probably reduce chances of producers errors in eliminations.

    With 12 selected and they going to add four wildcards, means 16 performances amongst the drama of wildcard entries to the show. This is going to make for one long arduous show for viewers on Saturday night, the show could be well over for the later performers voting wise as has happened in the past and as we know very small margins can exist for bottom two.

    In the midst of all that mayhem where will the best spots be and where will they put where? That could give a few insights how they plan to go on.

    Will Raign get Simon wildcard selection to really upset Cheryl is the big question for drama on Saturday.

    I know we thinking of winners etc. but thoughts on first eliminations and who will survive Saturday is obviously not easy with wildcards, but will it be one of the 12 already in. Thoughts who will on first on Saturday?

    One thing for sure one or two of them will be going home on Sunday, after all the editing games and crying of recent weeks.

    Speaking of editing, this series so far has really been manipulated like none before up to now, they won’t really have the same power from Saturday so for example if Chloe as bad as boot camp etc. how they going to redeem. Might be worth a punt for bottom two as a mad bet. Don’t do mad bets thought also in mind and keep tight book until it settles in but bet it will be great value and the public not stupid. And they might make the big mistake of putting her on late!

    Finally what songs for Saturday? Song choices so far been very odd and dated overall.

    Good luck to all for weekend and series, will post selections later in the week.

    • Fudd

      In terms of the best slot it’s worth remembering there’s an hour long clash with Strictly Come Dancing this weekend – much longer than the live shows clashes of the past few years. This makes me think that they will announce the wildcards first in order to cut down the number of performing acts within the first hour.

      They’ll probably want an obvious public favourite going early on to try and pull people in – Paul would be my bet for one of the early slots. The 8 piece boyband will probably get the 8.30pm – 9pm half hour where viewing will be at it’s peak. There will probably be an elimination sandwich at some point but where?

    • qwerty1234

      I think the song choices will be really interesting this week. For a few years we had some original, different choices that we hadn’t heard done before. Last year was back to typical, boring songs on the whole.

      I posted a list of my predictions over on digitalspy – I can’t decide whether we will see Fleur thrown under the bus – I think a choice of “Ain’t Nobody” for her ala Tamera last year would compliment her, however I can imagine her doing a monsterous version of “Problem” by Ariana Grande. I think we’ll see usual suspects – Adele, U2 (I’m slating Lola for “With or Without You”), Robbie (Jake – She’s The One), Christina Aguilera (Andrea – Beautiful) etc. etc. I’ve also gussed JJ doing an emotional X Fator favourite “You Raise Me Up” and Lauren doing “Fast Car”. Steph being thrown under the bus with a slow version of “Rather Be” and Overload drawing direct 1D comparisons and doing an uninspired “What Makes You Beautiful”.

  • qwerty1234

    I’d think anyone going on in the middle would be in best stead. I think we’ll see Fleur on first, followed by a big hitter. The 8 piece will probably be the first on following
    Strictly ending. I think we’ll see Jay James on last.

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