X Factor 2014 Week 5: Was Paul Mauled?

At the start of his VT, Paul Akister found himself seated in the Jack Walton Memorial Make-Up-Chair-Next-To-Ben-Haenow Of Doom. If he departs on Sunday, as he is now odds-on to do, the other acts should start refusing to be filmed there.

Reaction in the comments to Paul’s treatment was mixed, some feeling it was the anticipated hatchet job, others seeing positivity and wondering if producers had done enough. We felt that it was intended to be a silent kill. The VT set up the question of whether he could put on a performance; he managed to smile and move around a bit, though Freddie Mercury-esque stage presence it was not; and he was duly praised for it. But there was no real motivation to vote in any of the judges’ praise. To us, it had a bit of an end-of-journey vibe: Paul had done what was asked of him, why would we bother voting to keep him here next week?

Then Simon compared him to a Dementor, and Dermot repeated it for good measure; we expect some thought will have gone into that one.

Next up was Jay NAVY REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY HELP FOR HEROES James, in a VT that seemed intended to help send Paul down the memory hole. Jay had a Frankie Cocozza-esque walk on from backstage; his throat problems showed when he tried to hit the high notes, but essentially he did what he does. The harshness of Mel’s criticism seemed pitched to drum up sympathy votes, while Simon urged everyone to “pick up their app” for him.

However, the act performing in trap two has been in the singoff for the last three weeks (admittedly, with no Strictly crossover this week, it may be less of a disadvantage). Some have questioned whether the show would dare to send a veteran home on Remembrance Sunday; well, of course they would. Although, that said, we had no real sense that Jay was in the crosshairs. It’s understandable that punters backed him down to clear second favouritism for elimination during the show, but that was more to do with other pre-show elimination contenders getting better treatment than expected. By the end of the show it was rather easy to forget that Jay had performed at all.

The ramping of Lauren continued apace, with a family and home support VT, gold-themed staging, Simon picking out for special praise the part of her vocals that had seemed shakiest to our ears, and “popstar” and “finalist” shoutouts from Louis. Praise for her uncomplaining attitude to tonsillitis did seem calculated to make Jay look bad by comparison.

There were plenty of mixed messages on Only The Young, who went into tonight only marginally behind Paul in the elimination betting. Their staging screamed colour vomit, with shades of Miss Dynamix in the graffiti and distracting rollerbladers behind them. But comments were highly positive, and both Louis and Simon explicitly called for votes.

It does have to be borne in mind that it generally takes something special to prolong a sympathy bounce for longer than a week. Was that special enough?

Ben Haenow’s staging, with the word CHANGE in large letters, sparked plenty of speculation in the comments. Change away from Ben? Change to Ben? Or just the result of a time-pressed production meeting in which they couldn’t decide what to put on the screens, and settled for some of the lyrics? Again there was motivational criticism from Mel, and Simon told us we were seeing a star being born.

Stevi served up exactly what we want our Saturday night entertainment to be about, and he drifted in the elimination betting on the basis that enough other viewers would feel the same. In his post-performance interview he said he hoped to be able to surprise us again, after which Dermot immediately mentioned it was big band week. It seems the show wants to keep him around, and if he hits the singoff against Paul they would just about be able to do so on the basis of choosing between performance skills and vocals.

The stage invader during Stereo Kicks provides a fascinating test of how scripted we think this show is. Was that staged to give them a talking point and allow them to be praised for their professionalism in carrying on? It certainly prompted some polished-seeming lines from the judges afterwards, but things can go wrong on live TV, so it’s one on which we’ll happily keep an open mind.

There was a four-judge standing ovation for the group, and explicit calls for voting to get them on the tour (although, of course, if they left tomorrow there’s no reason producers couldn’t take them anyway, if it was felt that they’d boost ticket sales). On a negative note, the VT of the boys playing football in an empty field felt slightly underwhelming to us, but perhaps that’s something their demographic would appreciate.

Fleur got her moment as expected, with praise for her vocals. She is now challenging Ben and Lauren for second-favouritism, with markets going 33/1 bar the four.

There were shades of Sam Bailey’s week 4 pimp slot about Andrea’s pimp slot and subsequent four-judge standing ovation – the moment it was commonly felt that producers had decided a deramp was pointless and they should run with the thought of her winning it. Against that, it would be possible to point out that there was – again – the hitting of the themes we’d identified might be “journey completed” warning signs: the reminders of his Italianness combined with assurance that Brits now love him, which came from both Cheryl and Simon.

But this felt to us like a good night for the Italian – not least because none of Ben, Lauren and Fleur really felt like they delivered a gamechanger – and it’s no surprise at all that he became an even hotter favourite.

If Paul appears in tomorrow’s singoff, we’d expect him to go – but beyond that, it feels fairly open to us after tonight’s show. What did you make of it? As ever, do let us know below.

159 comments to X Factor 2014 Week 5: Was Paul Mauled?

  • I thought OTY were positively pimped. Best VT they’ve had and really positive comments from judges. Simon even saying he wants them in his category. I think they must’ve done well enough on the vote last week that Syco think they’re worth thinking about to sign after the show.

  • Natasha

    I don’t get the love for Fluer? Her vocals aren’t that strong? And nor was Lauren’s??

    • Martin

      Nor me – they seem to be trying to make everybody happen instead of Andrea. Lauren was good, nothing amazing and (personal opinion aside) I thought Fleur was average. Had her performances not been so strong up to now, that one tonight wouldn’t be going down so well.
      Their best bet, if they want to challenge Andrea (which looks unlikely at this point) would be Ben. He covers a lot of bases votes wise and seems like the most reliable performer. Commercially I can’t see either of them being particularly successful in all honesty, I don’t see the point in playing them off against each other.

      • Natasha

        The judges keep praising them and i’m just like ‘ I don’t get it?’
        I personally feel OTY had their moment last week and I thought they did well tonight too. I would love to see them doing something simple and harmonic to showcase their vocals properly.

        • Jessica Hamby

          I got bored during Fleur and mentally switched off half way through. Only tuned back in when I heard the applause. Couldn’t be bothered to comment on her. Didn’t feel like there was anything to say.

  • Jon

    Agree about Fleur’ voice. Not strong enough to win imo. Lauren tends to do a portion of the song very well, but that ain’t enough. When she let’s go a bit, I think she is stronger. I think Andrea has it sewn up to be honest. I detected some resignation from Cowell and I bet he is evens by tomorrow night. I have taken a punt on OTY and Paul bottom 2. I don’t think OTY performance was big enough to bounce. I appreciate the judge’s comments were strong, but I found the performance very distracting personally and I did switch off halfway through.

  • Face

    less than an hour after the show… and the acts on the UK iTunes chart are;
    – Stereo Kicks at 59
    – Ben at 66
    – Fleur at 76
    – Lauren at 80
    – Andrea at 81
    – OTY at 169 (and 165 with Monster Mash from last week)

    – no Jay, Paul or Stevi…

  • Jessica Hamby

    I think Paul’s an absolute goner. He’s not wanted anymore. The treatment was completely unmotivating and the staging and musical arrangement stank up the place (as Louis Arnstrong mifht have said). The feel was just weird and grating. I like Paul and I didn’t like it at all.

    If they can’t b2 him with that lot then nothing will put him down there.

  • EM

    Some quick thoughts:

    Paul – nothing says fun like a bulky black leather jacket, shirt and trousers.

    OTY – messy staging and a production which really didn’t match the potential of the song

    Der Kicks – I’m always cynical but the way the director took a very safe option and cut to the coverage long shot suggests it was not a planned invasion

    Andrea – the VT all in Italian was just bizarre. More like BBC4 on a Saturday night than ITV, the staging was distracting and odd too but he can sing and the ovation was positive.

    Paul and OTY the likely bottom 2 for me

  • Jon

    Jay in the press today as part of Remembrance wkd and I thought this would get him some votes. Stevi will never break itunes, but his act isn’t designed for that imo! Agree that Paul is likely to go this week, but can’t bring myself to back him to go at evens when he hasn’t been in the b2 before.

    • Jessica Hamby

      If you get the chance tomirrow, watch it again and listen to what they did with Paul’s song. It should power forwards lile an unstoppable force of nature but the way they programmed the drums made it stilted and jerky and almost like a march.

      • Jon

        Just listened to it again. I see what you mean about the jerky/jarring nature of the arrangement. I was actually watching the show with a delay, so I was rushing through the performances at the start. While I noted at the time the show was ‘changing it up’ a bit, I kind of let it wash over me and I missed the subtle deramp, which on a second hearing is quite obvious.

        To be fair I think Paul sung it pretty well, but his card was marked last week, and I would assume its the end of the road for him. Unless he has some sort of a voting base of course, but I assume he has been targeted as a weaker member of the X Factor flock.

        • Jessica Hamby

          You’re not supposed to notice it. 😉

          The point, I think, was to make it impossible for him to give an exciting, energetic performance. Sure he sang it well, but overall it was just a bit meh really.

          The sad thing to me is that he either isn’t enough of a musician or else lacked the confidence to say he’d like to try it without the drums. Mind you perhaps after last weeks mauling by Cowell and his VT he was scared to say anything that could be construed as negative.

          • Jon

            Ha, true, but as someone who reads this site and who is betting on the show I should be!

            I think the contestants have been cowed into accepting what is given to them. Any dissent has been treated less than sympathetically (see Ben, Jack & Paul).

            I do believe the contestants (or at the very least some of them) are aware of the manipulation. I know someone who is close to one of the contestants and they said he had been asked to make particular comments on the show. There is a script to be followed after all…

  • A very strong show. I think OTY are in big trouble – what was the target group for that song choice and performance? Which demo did it delight? They just come over as a bit naff, and the blonde girl’s voice doesn’t gel at all with the dark-haired girl’s (who I think is great). In terms of a “surprise” B2 appearance at this stage, I think Lauren and possibly Fleur may also be in danger. Lauren was good but early in the running order, seemed a bit exposed on stage, and her vocals went slightly off towards the end. I also wonder if they went overboard with the gold and the “popstar” comments because they’re worried. I think she’s great but I don’t think she’s a popstar. Fleur’s vocals weren’t super-strong.

    The biggest worry for Paul is being on first – I thought he slayed, and the comments were extremely positive. There was perhaps an element of end-of-journey to it, but nowhere near to the extent of, say, Abi week 5, plus his performance was obviously much better than hers in that instance. Paul basically delivers an outstanding vocal every time and one hopes that commands a solid vote.

    The stage invader was Simon Brodkin (who I hate), so not staged.

  • Fudd

    Couple of things interested me about Paul’s performance watching back:

    1) They sent him ‘up in smoke’ (his chances?) during the bridge
    2) He had a touch of green about his performance including the backing light. I’m surprised they didn’t go with the safe colour vomit/red-and-black approach.

    • Martin

      The smoke was very overpowering – you are right, he disappeared at one point.

      I think Jess is bang on about the arrangement of his song. It was very jarring, it stunted the flow of the performance and the whole thing was very uncomfortable. Plus, he has been doing classic arrangements of songs up to now – I’m guessing his demo is a little older and appreciative of a more soulful sound. How did they appeal to that? By EDMIng the shit out of it. The opposite of delighting Paul’s demo. If JJ had done that they’d have eaten it up, but no mention of it for Paul.

      • Fudd

        The drums were pointless and were obviously there to effect the performance – as alluded to prior to his performance when someone (I’m sorry, I can’t recall who) said that they basically drowned his vocals out in the itunes recording. And exactly the same happened in the live show.

      • Jessica Hamby

        It wasn’t a dance beat though, it wasn’t drum and bass, it wasn’t a James Brown style 4 bar pattern. It was more like a teenager’s first go on music software who doesn’t really know what she’s doing so can’t get the beat quite right.

        • Jessica Hamby

          I also think they slowed it down – not a lot but enough to remove the possibility of any excitement or energy in the performance. No singing his way out of trouble if they can possibly stop him.

  • Fudd

    The producers do show a sense of humour at times. Jay sings the lyric:

    Another hero, another mindless crime
    Behind the curtain, in the pantomime

    The camera pans to his back so we see the doors dressed in curtain material which open to reveal the stage. Behind the curtain in the pantomime…

  • Face

    this may be my new favourite sentence…

    ‘Paul Akister found himself seated in the Jack Walton Memorial Make-Up-Chair-Next-To-Ben-Haenow Of Doom. If he departs on Sunday, as he is now odds-on to do, the other acts should start refusing to be filmed there’.

  • Donald

    Thought show was weak enough overall, had a feel of going through the motions week about it. Andrea nailed his vocal and yes they may give in de-ramp but doubt it yet. He sang his way above all their games in a way no one has done before but that his pimp slot gone for now.

    They certainly had real good scrape at Paul again, maybe they have done enough but with the two groups in so much trouble maybe just not. Would not be 100% sure, he avoided last week.

    OTY are bottom two and SK could very easily be there too, stage invader and all distraction from votes relying on second bounce, what song did they sing again? Would you really want the eight of them on tour at this stage?

    It will no doubt be close but at the prices OTY and SK bottom two and be ironic with 1D on tomorrow. The stage invader comedian has more social coverage than them now, that could be just enough to kill the bounce and keep Paul from final mauling for another week.

    Who would go OTY v SK ?

    At the prices OTY OR SK to go and keep covered with Paul. Steady stakes weekend for me though.

    As a Lauren fan will say this, thought tonight was her weakest performance so far.

  • FB likes has OTY, Paul, and JJ in the bottom. On a relative value scale, that’s bad for them because when they do well, they’re high. Heck, Paul had many likes on the bashed performance last week.

    • Natasha

      Who is at the top re facebook likes?

      Re Andrea, he is without a shadow of a doubt the best singer left in the competition and he will win, I have no doubts about that. In comparison to the takedown of Nicky McDonald last year, Andrea is far more likeable, he sings with so much more passion and he has way better stage presence and IMO, unless they get Andrea singing something similar to ‘Candy’ in the final then he is unstoppable.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Did you see xtra factor? They showed a vt of him being visited by Aldo Zilli, anglophile Italian and long time resident. They talked about how they loved the UK and british people and the warm welcome they haad received as they cooked together. It was charming and positive. I suspect last weeks numbers (and performance) made it obvious that the benefits of deramping Andrea are outweighed by the costs. Also, for all his faults I don’t believe Cowell is a racist and it’s possible he and his team would find it quite uncomfortable to attack someone on the basis of nationality.

      • Boki

        Facebook likes (copied from bf forum):
        Andrea 10,995
        Fleur 10,433
        SK 12,181
        Stevi 6,604
        Ben 16,671
        OTY 5,452
        Lauren 8,491
        Jay 5,121
        Paul 5,620

  • From how I see it, Andrea’s pimping was less Sam Bailey week 4 and more Nicholas McDonald week 6. That week, TPTB wanted Luke to bounce and Sam C to leave, so they pimped Nicholas, only to bring the big guns for the rest of the series.

    You have been warned.

    • Face

      agree… I think it was a tactical Andrea-fest… doing it now may help get rid of Paul… and is still 5 weeks away from the final… so they have plenty of time to de-ramp Andrea further… if they chose to…

  • DannyCraig

    I think we can all agree that we now have a final 4 in Andrea, Lauren, Ben & Fleur.

    If they dropped the fact he was Italian, he’d win the competition. As it stands, the value looks like in opposing him with one of these 3.

    Ben looks the likeliest at this stage to be pip Andrea. He’s likeable, can hold a tune and epitomises the exact opposite of Andrea (ladies man / man you’d want to meet your gran)

    Personally I’m still hoping Lauren can have another big performance in the next few weeks to cement some votes for the final. She’s had some great song choices/staging in the last 3 weeks but hasn’t taken the opportunity for that moment yet. Apart from one high note that she struggled to hit tonight, I thought she was ok…but not special.

    Fleur just isn’t THAT good a singer unfortunately, otherwise performance wise she’d have this competition sewn up. It’s a very similar demo to Alexandra/Leona but they both had powerful voices which Fleur definitely does not.

    This has led me to look at who each act would be performing with in the final – what do the others think? I’m going for:

    Andrea / Il Divo (international, big voices, signed upto Syco, perfect fit)
    Lauren / Bruno Mars – (younger, contemporary, can picture her singing his songs already)
    Fleur / Alexandra (same demo, similar styles/attitude)
    Ben / Nicole (he has a similar tone to James Arthur – interestingly she also sang with Sam Bailey in last year’s final too so she’s the pimp celebrity duet partner!)

    • Face

      good god, I certainly hope none of them get forced to duet with Nicole Scherchenberger… her career is hardly at it’s peak… and even when it was at it’s peak… it was as part of a trashy girl group that made Girls Aloud look classy and super talented…

      as for who they sing with… hasn’t there been talk of Madge performing on the finale?

      so i guess it depends who is available and wanting to flog their latest release…

      who would’ve thought during S7 in 2010 that… Xtina doing her Burlesque promo, was a good fit for shy, timid Liverpool lass Rebecca Fergusson… or even more bizarrely… that Rihanna would do a ‘sexy’ duet with Essex painter & decorator Matt Cardle…

      • Martin

        I’ve heard rumours that Taylor Swift will be on the final, if that’s true then I’d assume we’ll get Lauren with her.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I remember that. At the end of their duet Xtina gave Rebecca such a filthy look I thought there’d be nthing left of her but a pair of smoking shoes.

  • Sagand

    I think JJ is in trouble, he was in the worst slot, his VT would of been good if it had only been about Remembrance Sunday but the bit about him already having a record deal (which Simon then brought up again in the comments) can’t have helped.

    The comments ranged from ‘you’re consistent’ (not exceptional) to ‘the look on your face said it all’ (even you know that was bad).

    How many times did Simon smugly say he still had four acts in the competition? It must have been five or six. That could been to dampen to vote or prepare the public for the other judges getting rid of his act tomorrow.

    • Jessica Hamby

      When Simon mentions Jay’a previous record deal that doesn’t put me ofg him and I can’t see why it wiuld affect anyone. He’s getting a second chance and he hasn’t given up. A lot of people will relate to wanting a second shot at something and admire his persistence. His previous deal certainly doesn’t put me off him.

      Simon’s four acts thing is just banter with the other judges. As a viewer it doesn’t affect me at all. I get that some viewers do see it as a competition between the judges but does that affect their voting intentions more than their feelings about an act and her/his/their performance. I doubt it.

      I see the things you mention as part of the smoke and mirrors that obscure tptb’s true intentions. The vt and Mel’s comments
      may well have a hangover effect on Jay for future weeks butI think his core support will be voting for him because of it.

      • Boki

        What I don’t get about his banter is it looks like he’s teasing other judges to throw his act out on a first opportunity. So in Paul/Jay b2 it would look strange that they keep Jay – would work much better if Simon kept his mouth shut. Or do I see it wrong?

      • EM

        I saw Simon’s continued crowing about how many acts he had as an invitation to “take him down a peg or two”, it has hardly been mentioned up to this week and instead of being humble and making it all about how strong his acts were it was done in that boastful over-confident way.

        In previous years the shows been quite happy to utilise public the public’s dislike of judges and I saw this the exact same way.

  • Vülker

    It definitely is Paul vs Jay on tomorrow’s sing-off. I’ll print this comment on paper and eat it if I’m wrong!
    Both terrible slots, staging, arrangements and – in James’ case – vocals, not to mention they were stuffed in the boring part of the show with Lauren (I’ve gone off her so unsure of herself she always looks), and the whole throat problems comparison and Simon annoyingly repeating he’s still got 4 acts tells me they’re really gunning for Jay.
    I still say Paul leaves on Sunday but only marginally. I can’t see what he’d do on tour when they have Andrea there.

    Andrea who basically gets thrown any psychedelic dream Brian Friedman has for the staging and makes it work – everytime! Those ‘wtf’ dances behind him could only serve to distract us from his singing – Hi Lee Nelson! – but with Andrea is works with him rather than against him. And it’s a schtick that stems from his first audition with the pug jumper. You look at how cheesy bonkers it all is and love it all in the end.

    Only The Young are safe as houses, the staging wasn’t “colour vomit” at all. It was bright pink and disco-ey and I was right there with them rollerblading all around. It was fun as fun can be and I can seem them getting votes by the heaps. Simon’s sudden sponsorship tells me they gave up on Stereo Kicks as does the constant reminder they only want to go to the tour so when they go Bottom Two next week don’t be surprised to see them voted off.

    Fleur was stunning. She gave a powerhouse vocal (limited as it may be) and the staging was Final worthy. If she tips Lauren for final female standing I will not be surprised.

    Going out on a silly note and predict the next few eliminations:
    This Week – Paul Akister (vs Jay)
    Next Week – Stereo Kicks (vs Stevi?)
    Week 7 – Jay James (vs Lauren?)
    Week 8 – Stevi Ritchie (vs Only The Young?)
    Week 9 – Only The Young vs Lauren Platt (too early to tell how each of them will progress) but 4th/5th is as far as I see them.

    Ben, Fleur and Andrea look dead cert in the Final to me.
    Wildly speculative but I did once got a True/False questionnaire for which I did not study at all 100% right, so you never know…

    • Jessica Hamby

      Jay has a fan base (true/false)

      Jay has strong regional support in Wales (true/false)

      Criticism perceived as unfair motivates voters (true/false)

      Jay lost his voice before the show but performed anyway (true/false)

      It was obvious from his performance that Jay’s voice was not right (true/false)

      Mel B’s criticism of him was harsh and unfair (true/false)

      You like your paper with cracked black pepper and mustard mayonnaise (true/false)


      • Couldn’t agree any more with this. Controversy helps acts. Mission here was to send Paul totally into memory hole.

      • Vülker

        Really can’t see how any of that would motivate votes. On my viewing experience it made me agree with all Mel B said. If anything it made me not want to vote for him even more. And then the whole “Lauren has tonsillitis and sang like a professional” thing? How is that supposed to help drum up support for Jay?

        Also, black pepper and ketchup thanks. 😛

        • Jessica Hamby

          It doesn’t create any new fans but it does encourage existing fans to vote tactically in support / defence of their act.

          • Vülker

            I’m still not convinced Jess, that Paul-Jay section felt very much surplus on my viewing.

            Anyway we agree Paul is a goner so it should be a good night for betting. 😀

          • Jessica Hamby

            I’m on Paul but with a negligible stake. If he hits b2 I think he’s gone but he may not. Jay, SK and OTY are all possibles so I’m being cautious. My personal feeling is that Stevi is safe this week but after Simon’s comments I’m anticipating a takedown next week but, of course, anything is possible. That’s why it’s a gamble.

          • Vülker

            I struggle to see who Paul would be saved against. Only against Jay but I still think they’d want him in the tour instead of Paul. Paul has a large enough fanbase but surely so does Jay now, especially after that Nr 7 iTunes hit.
            They must be really kicking themselves of kicking off Chloe so early.

        • Jessica Hamby

          Having said that I have no evidence for a JJ fanbase except itunes downloads and the possibility of regional support. On the basis of performance alone he could be in a spot of b2 bother, and against anyone but Paul could be on his wat y home.

          • Vülker

            I’m not sure of iTunes downloads count for anything when it comes to votes. And his last two performances this week didn’t really crack the iTunes Top 100 did they?
            Wales is not known for his voting power like Liverpool, Scotland and Newcastle are and coverage of his Navy past was very minimal.
            I’ll really baffled how he can gather enough votes after all that.

            [I might be biased because I really *really* don’t like him and his “falsetto” which is not a falsetto by the way just something you do when you try to mimic Kate Bush’s voice in ‘Wuthering Heights’.]

  • Boki

    It would be interesting if Paul escapes but I doubt it, I believe the odd song arrangement was sufficient to put him to b2.

  • Ronald

    Previously it was said TPTB had pushed Paul to take votes from Andrea. Well, if that’s true they reversed the trick last night but pimping Andrea and giving him the four-judge standing ovation. Did Louis say Andrea was the best singer in the competition? Sure that title was with Paul earlier in the series (or at least best boy).

  • Jessica Hamby

    Subliminals shout:

    Anyone else notice, during the recap from last week, as Dermott says and the act withe the lowest number of votes is, Paul’s photo started flashing?

  • Now usually I’d say Paul vs OTY B2, but I think a Paul vs Stevi B2 is not an unrealistic proposition…

  • Jessica Hamby

    Mel grinning and bobbing her head up and down in the dark was one of my personal highlights.

    On rewatch everything about that set up was unhelpful. Might as well have given him Maloney eyes.

    Poor Paul.

  • Stu

    So instead of blatantly targeting Paul this week, they’ve decided to pimp nearly every single one of his opponents. Both groups got extreme pimping – SK got the first full standing ovation from the judges this series, Simon name-checked OTY as the act he’d most like to steal. Stevi, Fleur, Lauren, Andrea and, to a lesser extent Ben, were all pimped in their own way. Either Andrea is running away with the vote and the producers have surrendered or they’re trying to make Andrea take away votes from Paul. Was that the thinking behind giving Andrea his second pimp slot in five weeks? I think so. Reminds me of the Craig/Marcus slot order of week 7 in 2011.

    I think the bottom two will definitely consist of Only The Young and either Jay or Paul with an outside chance of Stevi also falling there. In the unlikely scenario of Paul escaping, Jay getting sympathy votes and Stevi still getting enough votes, I can see a bottom two of Only The Young and Fleur. I just don’t think the latter’s performance was as WOW as the judges were making out and I think many agree.

    • Phil

      Completely disagree with you on Fleur. Not for the first time this series, I can’t get the song she’s sung out of my head. She performed it perfectly – controlled but with really slick delivery.

      Paul vs OTY (reluctantly as I love OTY) for me – Paul obvious to go. They haven’t really misfired yet.

      • Stu

        I watched Fleur’s performance back earlier and I have to take back my comment admittedly. She did a great job on second watch. I think I was just expecting more vocally but she gave a brilliant performance with some of the best comments of the night.

    • Face

      i’d say they did blatantly de-ramp Paul… song arrangement, staging, costume, VT, judges comments, Dermy comments… all point to end of the road…

      to make sure Paul gets less votes they did also seem to be overly enthusiastic about Andrea…

      all the other ‘pimping’… imo… isn’t Paul related… i.e. Lauren, Fleur, SK etc… it’s all part of what they have been doing with these acts for the last few weeks… they want them to do well, independently of what they want to happen to Paul…

  • uncalquera

    I think Paul performance shows how contestants are completely at the hands of the producers. Even if all the words filmed in the week are carefully thought by the act, even if he sings really well, they mess with the backing track and all the efforts to seem to have a fun time are thrown overboard. How is he supposed to convey excitation with such a boring track, FFS!?

    • Jessica Hamby

      And they dressed him in black and made him sing in the dark. If he’s had the red contact lenses it would have been last week all over again.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Weird to see OTY’s backing dancers all dressed in gray. Good performance from them though. It’ll be a shame if they fall b2 imo.

    • Fudd

      That’s why I have a nagging doubt about their performance being framed with colour vomit – with the backing dancers in gray it made Only the Young stand out more.

      Couple that with a good VT and positive comments from the judges and I don’t think they’re in trouble. They work well on a performance level so they’re definitely an act who they would want on a tour.

  • Phil

    Another comment on Fleur that has just come to me – not only did she arguably delight her own demo last night, I’d say she delighted Andrea’s and Paul’s as well, something I don’t think she’s done before.

  • I think people are really overanalysing Paul’s backing track, it was fine.

    • Face

      I have to disagree… for me it was sooo distracting from the performance…

      because a) it drowned out his vocals… and b) it made it difficult to get the sense of energy, fun and passion the song is supposed to convey …

      I had to re-watch to realise he actually sang it very well and quite soulfully… but apart from a sort of smile (which looked a bit creepy at times) he didn’t convey any sense of fun or emotion or passion… which I think the song needs to succeed…

      I agree with Jessica that the arrangement wont have delighted Paul’s demo, nor will it have delighted fans of the song… and there was no real motivating comments to get people to vote for him…

  • Just finished watching it now – as was out last night …

    Paul – bland – in trouble – out this week or next – cant add anything to what has already been written

    Jay – bland – in trouble – won’t make final 5 – cant add anything more to what has already been written

    Lauren – gave me a tingle – my favourite performance of her since her audition. Not sure why she has drifted from 5 to 7 in the market but i guess the uncertainty is where they would position her as an act if she was to win.

    OTY – not their best again; 3 weeks out of 4 now they have underperformed to what their YouTube clips suggest they are capable of. I like them but they are this years Same Difference – there really is no difference. Out in next three weeks unless they get more cutting edge…. failing that it is Haven Holiday Camps for them

    Ben – he has previously delivered each week but I didn’t like the first half of this performance tbh … too fast, and lost all the emotion from the song. Second half was better but there are now question marks over whether he can win. He remains my personal favourite performer in the competition and then again I really liked Jamie Archer and Danyl …

    Stevi – we still wait for his “shock” saving over a perceived better candidate. Will it occur this week. Possibly – that was horrid! He tried to leverage his musical theatre background but it didn’t come off. Excellent VT though and still may generate enough novelty votes to avoid B2 … however with JJ’s military background also getting votes, for me it is Paul vs Stevi … and the “shock” saving … which will mean they can bin him off in the next two weeks. I have hedged him with some of the 15.5 available though!

    SK : Anyone who thinks the stage invasion was not planned is kidding themselves – it was not a joe punter – it was “Lee Nelson” – an act who has appeared on ITV who has a history of stunts and is capable of pulling it off. How did he get a ticket for the show for starters – in a seat with access to the stage (Assuming he came from the audience and not the wings) Also, look at the reaction of the SK’s – they were not shocked or gobsmacked by the invasion – they were very comfortable with it. It was all about creating a moment to give them a little extra kick in the voting. Weak Weak vocals though and they are not long for this world. Not this week though.

    Fleur: solid if unspectacular. Difficult to call top female at the moment. Without a doubt though Fleur is more polished/packaged for instant sales success – but Lauren may be the more profitable slow burner for Syco

    Andrea: *another* pimp slot? must be his last of the series now? Very interested in what TPTB do next week but on this performance have been forced to take some of the 2.5 available to cover my Lauren/Ben/Fleur profitable positions – knew i should have taken some 2.9 yesterday!

  • Stu

    What are the most likely the bottom two combo scenarios?

    OTY vs Paul – Paul goes
    OTY vs Jay – Jay goes
    OTY vs Stevi – who goes? OTY?
    Paul vs Jay – Paul goes
    Stevi vs Paul – Paul goes
    Stevi vs Jay – now THIS would be interesting. Cheryl would save her wildcard pick Stevi, Mel would save Jay, even if Louis sent Jay packing, Simon would have to save Jay for credibility and would have to rely on deadlock. Would Jay really poll lower than Stevi?

    I’m going to predict that it will be a Only The Young vs Jay bottom two with Jay going. I think Paul’s fanbase is still rather big and his fans will know that the show is out to get him. Jay definitely was being painted as the plan b for this week’s elimination.

  • Moon Gin

    If we go by Facebook lieks as indicator then the bottom should be a combi of Jay, OTY, or Paul

    It is interesting to note that FB likes has been accurate in predicting the bottom packe ach week with one exception – Stereo Kicks. They constantly have higher number of FB likes but have been in the Bottom twice. In other way you could say they are the anomaly of the FB likes. The other Bottom2/3 acts were indeed in the bottom of FB likes too at the time they hit the bottom of voting.

  • Caro

    Now that we know that the acts that survive tonight will be the ones on the tour (VT on the X Factor app) I think that supports losing a male, and I do think it looks like Paul. There’s another whinging story in the Star, and last night’s performance in terms of slot, song arrangement and his styling wasn’t designed to help him.
    Nothing to add re JJ – there’s no journey or development there, it’s just more of the same. I don’t think he’ll go much further.
    Ben – Mel’s criticism made me want to reach for my free voting app immediately and I think that was intended. Should be safe. (I hope – he’s my personal fave, but that’s an aside).
    Stevi – enough already. They clearly wanted him on the tour and should have done enough to get that, but I’ve had enough of the ‘joke’ now.
    Andrea’s treatment last night was a bit odd, I thought. I found the staging really weird and some of the remarks ‘all of Britain loves you’ (so there’s no one left to win over) sounded a bit end of journey, but once again he gave a fabulous performance and is just so likeable.
    I think it is Paul to go. I’m going to be a coward and steer clear of who else is in the bottom two. Good luck everyone!

  • Curtis

    I have a lot of trust in the producers now this year. People (including me) have doubted whether they’d hit their target again and again but they have every time. Paul is a goner.

  • Vülker

    Also, thinking about placing a bet for the first time today. Any tips for a first timer? Regarding amounts to bet. :/

    • Jessica Hamby

      I can only speak for myself. Gambling is not my livelihood or even a significant income generator for me. I’ve been quite fortunate this season and so far made a nice profit but having laid Ben (basically betting that he’ll lose), all that will be pretty much wiped out if he wins.

      I would say as a firm rule, never risk more than you can afford to lose.

      If I was you I’d just put on a token amount to give you a bit of extra interest in the result, small enough to keep it fun and no big deal if you lose. A fiver? A tenner? I’d suggest no more than that. If you win you can use it as the basis of a pool to fund future wagers. If you lose, no big whup. Even a quid will make it more interesting and still risk free.

      Just always remember the golden rule. Never more than you can afford to lose.

      That’s my approach.

  • Martin

    I’m sure Paul will be bottom two but I’m not convinced about Jay. I think he will poll badly but his sore throat, combined with Mel’s comments might motivate enough sympathy to clear him. Stereo Kicks and OTY are the obvious next choices – I’m not sure that a bounce will occur for SK – the concensus is that they deserved bottom two last week and they were ropey again last week. Their praise was overblown and undeserved and if it wasn’t for the staged-invader I’d be a lot more committed to saying them, too. That leaves Only The Young. It’s unfortunate because I really like them but they’re struggling on FB likes (which have been quite accurate so far), there was nothing wrong with their performance – the blonde girl was a bit off and she had an unfortunate case of bitch face, but it wasn’t outstanding and they’re off a bounce. They’ve been bottom two before, Jay hasn’t and SK are due a bounce (however dubious that may be) – I’d say OTY are the most likely b2 candidates unfortunately 🙁

    Although Jay will be one to watch next week. Paul survived a lot worse than he got in week 4.

    • Stu

      Completely agree – although I think a (small) bounce would have always occurred for Stereo Kicks, invader or not. Only The Young are the only “definites” for bottom two in my eyes. Once an act has already landed in the bottom two, it’s more often than not the beginning of the end for them. Obvious exceptions are the week 7 sing-off survivors and Danyl Johnson. While they were clearly favoured this week, coming down from a bounce with a song choice that wouldn’t inspire votes and performing 4th is not going to do them many favours. The more I write about it, the more I’m convinced that there is no way they’ll escape the sing-off.

      • Blake

        It’s weird though. I can’t see them escaping it either, but then again both Simon and Louis appealed for votes. If they were happy for them to go bottom 2, then why would they bother with this?

        • Martin

          They should’ve tried harder. ‘Blame it in the Boogie’ is hardly the best song for them – the arrangement was dated and the staging messy. They should have given them ‘Somebody to Love’ or ‘I Want You Back’. Also they shouldn’t let the blonde one sing. No idea about the appeals for votes and simon wanting them, it’s all a bit mismatched. I just don’t think it will all come off. There was a lot of vote appeals last night though.

        • Stu

          I don’t think the producers want them in the bottom two, I just think they won’t be able to escape it after ending up there two weeks ago. Simon and the producers clearly would like them to stay in the competition, and especially to get on the tour, so even if they land in the sing-off, I’m sure they’ll be saved… if it’s against Paul or Jay at least. I wouldn’t know about a “vs Stevi” or “vs Stereo Kicks” situation.

          • Blake

            But if they didn’t want them in the bottom two, then there were such better ways to go about it. It was a horrid song choice, and the stage was so cluttered.
            I wonder whether they decided late in the week that they actually would like to push OTY a bit further, and the VT and comments were changed to reflect this, but the performance was already rehearsed and couldn’t be changed.

        • Stu

          Blake I don’t think what else they could’ve done with the theme. That song choice is probably the best for them since I can’t think of a more apt Jackson 5/Queen/MJ song. In order to sustain their bounce, they probably needed an emotional ballad to show off their voices but I can’t think of a suitable one for them from either of the two artists’ back catalogue. Plus the producers want them to be a fun act since this series is lacking in them (bar Fleur and novelty act Stevi). The problem though is that fun songs don’t equal votes in the same way emotional ones do. Therefore, the judges had to plead for votes and give positive feedback as the only way in which to secure votes for the group.

  • Face

    I wonder if all the appeals to vote last night… apart from for Paul… are because they (TPTB) are still figuring out the voting dynamics with the new App & 5 free votes it brings?

  • Stu

    I definitely think this is Stereo Kicks’ last chance to prove their popularity. If they survive this week with a poor showing on the voting poll, I’m sure they’ll be in the sing-off and out next week with the producers washing their hands of them. Their running order slots so far have been so embarrassingly desperate:

    8/16 – 7/14 – 11/12 – 10/11 – 7/9

    Ever since their first bottom two appearance, they’ve been constantly performing right near the end. Maybe next week they’ll get the pimp slot when they’re coming down from the inevitable bounce.

    • Donald

      Hi Stu, that is if SK avoid bottom two tonight, the really showed desperation last night resorting to setting up a comedian with a tour to promote as a stage invader. Paul likely to go tonight but SK joining OTY in the bottom two would not surprise me.

      All this appealing for votes to get them on the tour only enforced how desperate they are and the slots they have been getting as you rightly say. The slots have not worked though, wonder did last night work? Worth the punt against at the prices me thinks. Easy enough to cover.

      • Stu

        Hi Donald I think a Stereo Kicks vs Only The Young scenario would be really interesting. Would they back their original Plan A despite a third bottom-two showing and an inability to bounce for the second time? Or would they switch their support to a more authentic group who have more chance of bouncing the week after followed by a likely exit in week 7.

        I do think though that Stereo Kicks are safe this week.

        • Donald

          it is most likely Paul and OTY but the value seeker in me says chance SK also. I just don’t think they have the support in any decent numbers, it has got to the point amongst their demo that it almost un-cool to like them.

          They will send OTY home if it went to it I’d say. Controversy. Be great viewing if it did happen.

          I see Boki having few £ on Lauren, there is an amber light. Boki never far out, safe tonight but even though I am a fan also think has lost her way a little bit past two weeks, maybe mid season stuff. They might be holding back until Andrea de-ramp a bit more.

          • Boki

            I didn’t call anything right in this series 🙁
            Also, as a Lauren backer, I’m really disappointed in her performances last few weeks, maybe due to high expectations after week 1…

  • Dean

    I don’t see Lauren in danger of B2 to be honest. Once again she failed to give us the break out moment, but they were confident enough to put her in slot 3 which to me means they don’t see her in danger. The staging was very gold and sparkly…

    I was surprised Andrea got the pimp slot to be honest, they must be backing him again, at least for this week. Could be a possibility that his votes last week weren’t that great so they gave him the pimp as IMO they still want Andrea in the final

    For me Fleur getting constant late slots means to me she may not be polling that well and she didn’t really delight her demo this week, but she should still be safe.

    For B2 I feel Paul and OTY or Stevi. SK will be safe

    • Boki

      I don’t see it too but at the odds I’m prepared to take a small loss. Things don’t always go as planned and slot 3 was their mistake I hope. When all others are mobilized to vote ‘for the tour’ she could be forgotten since all rightfully think she is a tour certainty.

    • Stu

      I think they definitely want Andrea in the final if they are looking to take out Paul. Presuming Louis will have no acts in the final, it’d look ridiculous if Mel didn’t either. It’d definitely be the Simon & Cheryl show which many viewers dreaded. I’m sure Andrea was given the pimp slot in order to minimise support for Paul this week. Andrea will probably be on in slot #2 or #3 from next week until he leaves.

      Regarding Fleur, if you exclude week 1 (since the producers had no idea of popularity at this point), her performing slots have been fair – 6/14 – 9/12 – 3/11 – 8/9 – I wouldn’t be surprised if the unknown song choice in week 2 didn’t do her favours in the vote so a late slot in week 3 was ordered. With a great performance and feedback she probably polled quite a bit higher so was then put on early last week as a sign of confidence but because her vocals suffered, maybe she didn’t poll well hence the late slot this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if her position in the voting has moved around a lot up until now.

  • Shraine

    @ShraineTumber: If the sabotaging of Paul has worked, he will go. If it hasn’t based on running order, OTY should of come down from their bounce and go.

    Paul akister
    Jay james
    Lauren platt
    Ben haenow
    Stereo kicks
    Andrea faustini

  • Fudd

    Nice piece of editing there – Simon saying ‘if you’re miserable we’re all miserable’ before the switch to Paul performing, even though Simon was referring to last week.

  • Joe

    Where was Stevi? I didn’t see him.

  • Lenny

    Hoping for a Paul-SK b2 with Paul to go.

  • Joe

    No 5 minute vote warning? I reckin botton 3 must be so cloae that they closed the vote early once they had their desired bittom 2. Call me cynical. That rememberance day tribute pushed Jay clear so they closed the lines…. thoughts anyone?

  • Martin

    Aren’t one direction meant to be on?! Did I fall asleep and miss it?!

  • Fudd

    Reveal order:
    Stereo Kicks

    Leaving Jay, Only the Young and Paul.

  • Stu

    Interesting that they’ve done part of the results earlier. Does that mean they’ve got the bottom two they want?

    So Only The Young, Paul and Jay left…

    I think OTY should be safe regardless. I hope I’m not wrong.

    • Fudd

      From a personal point of view I hope Paul is safe meaning Only the Young will be saved over Jay.

      I don’t think production wants that to happen though.

  • Blake

    Bet Stereo Kicks just made it out of the bottom 2.

  • Curtis

    One Direction are being red and blacked! Well we know who’s going this week!

  • Face

    1D looked so uninterested in being there… going through the motions much?!

  • Stu

    Bearing in mind the act saved by the judges will be going on tour makes me think even more that OTY will definitely stay over either Jay or Paul. I was thinking originally that Jay is the safe one but now I’m not so sure. Surely there has to be some reason why they are doing the results earlier than usual?

  • If Facebook likes are a correct indication (and they have been up till now…), it will be Jay and OTY in the sing off.

  • Fudd

    Jay v Paul bottom two.

    Does that mean Only the Young are next week’s target then?

  • Shit the bed! Well done to everyone who called Paul v Jay.

  • Stu

    Oh WOW. I’ve been shut up there. OTY safe! Maybe they’ll get the pimp slot next week. Producers might start to believe in them now.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Looking forward to the reason for saving Jay over this

  • Curtis

    Interesting. And this was the match-up I worried about. Could they send Jay home? But Paul being sent out first is good.

  • uncalquera

    Perhaps it was Paul who was clear and they waited until one of OTY or Jay surpassed him to freeze the votes…

  • Piresistable

    You could get better than even money with different bookies on the two acts which was quite interesting. But I think it was Paul all the way.

  • Blake

    Fantastic demonstration in how to hit your target and make it as dramatic as possible. Well done to the producers.

  • I hate that we can read this show like a book. Think I’ve reached the annual point where I’m too angry to watch this anymore…

    • Face

      sadly, I kind’ve of agree… poor Paul… showing some real emotion for a change…

      Mel B is such a good actress / two faced cow… crying in sympathy with Paul… yet she set him up to fall… just like Jack and Jake… and she still gets her £1m pay-cheque…

    • To me, Paul has never not shown emotion – he’s a “waters run deep” kinda person, I’ve always hugely empathised with him. Great voice.

      “How is Paul” is trending on Twitter…

  • Lenny

    Was a little worried for a bit there….needed Paul to go to keep this week profitable. Another aim and a hit from TPTB.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Textbook takexown.

    Quite extraordinary difference in quality between Paul and Jay becomes apparent when there are no vt or panel comment sections and you can make a direct comparison.

    SK v Stevi b2 next week with Stevi going home.

  • Curtis

    There was just half a second – half a second where I wondered if the show was going to throw us a curveball. And then Dermot went to Louis and I knew all was safe.

    • Fudd

      I wish they would throw a curve-ball now and again. Even the general public are seeing through the manipulation now.

      • The comical thing is that everyone on Twitter angry that Paul went (and there are a lot) is blaming it on Louis, as if he has some kind of independent agency and makes his own decisions that affect the narrative of the show…

  • Vülker

    Wow, watching this with a bet at stake is a whole different experience. Thanks for Ms Hamby for the sound advice to play safe on my first bet, Paul gave me £2.50 back whoopdiedoo!

    And I’m glad I’m don’t have to eat my words!

    Stereo Kicks out next? 😀

  • uncalquera

    This was painful to watch. He knew he was the target and probably bottom of the vote, they made Cheryl vote third to make him think he could be saved… just to make Louis take it to deadlock. Despondency-hope-realisation-anger-sadness to the point of crying. Just painful.

    • I agree but I’m not sure he did know. I don’t think he did. I think the extremely long wait between revealing the bottom 3 and the bottom 2 was extremely cruel though.

      Also, Simon – since when is “You’re a dad” a reason to save someone?

  • Just bet the house during that sing off. Arse going 50p/20p for a minute there!

  • Jessica Hamby

    Love the way they say it was a surprise.

    Mel B was struggling to keep steaight face on xtra factor.


    But profitable. :s

  • EM

    So…erm… The Facebook likes were wrong then? Quelle surprise

  • Vülker

    It’s not all bad news for Paul, his song came out yesterday:


  • Boki

    They should make a gesture and invite him for the tour anyway…

  • Curtis

    Let’s not to be too disgusted now. Having seen this at least 10 times before (and with far bigger quality gaps sometimes) I think we know what to expect from X Factor. It’s that knowledge of knowing what to expect that is why it’s so good to bet on.

    • Piresistable

      Agree, but this did feel particularly cruel. Paul was used as a vehicle for Simon to get at Louis and then last week Simon turned on him.

      But as you say, he’s not the first and he won’t be the last. The only thing is that the show is getting quite predictable (although the odds were generous on Paul). Maybe there will be some sort of shock next week.

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