X Factor 2014: Is Ben Haenow a Matt Cardle or a Marcus Collins?

Arthur: “I think Ben is just casually flying along under the radar – picking up votes left, right & centre. Very Cardle-esque”. Jif: “If Fleur wins it then its Little Mix again every single one of the sods nuked to high heaven”.

In the run-up to this year’s live shows, there was much discussion on Sofabet about the resemblance to 2010. There were wildcards and 16 acts. There was a Katie Waissel in Chloe Jasmine, and a Wagner in Stevi Ritchie. And there was a manufactured boyband producers seemed determined to foist on an unsuspecting world.

But there was a difference: in 2010, Matt Cardle had the mid-20s male niche to himself. This year they crowded that niche with Ben, Jay, Paul and Jake. The theory bandied about at the time about producers’ thinking was that none of them would be able to run away with the popular vote to the extent Cardle did in 2010, topping it every week from the second week onwards. That would allow time for the boyband to find their feet and establish some popularity.

Well, now we know how that worked out. But where does that leave the 2010 comparisons?

Of our four putative Cardles, Jake left in week 3, Paul in week 5 and Jay in week 6. In the Sofabet comments there has been much speculation that free app voting will be tempting more people to vote for their second preference where in previous years they might not have bothered, and that Ben might be hoovering up a lot of those votes.

It’s a plausible theory. As we said before the lives (in a speculative 1-16 prediction that otherwise makes for some painful reading), we thought Ben might go furthest of the four Cardles as he ticks a lot of X Factor boxes – he comes across as likeable and humble, he can sing, and he has looks that will appeal to a wide range of female demographics.

We mentioned last week that while there had been some negatives around him in weeks 6 and 7, they seemed calculated not to do him any real damage – all the criticism was around the song choice, rather than him personally. One possible reason for this is that Ben had started Cardling the public vote.

We reckon that kind of “you know I’m your biggest fan, but” treatment is how you would expect producers to treat an act who isn’t their Plan A to win it, but is popular enough that they aren’t confident they’ll be able to get their Plan A past him. Indeed, Matt Cardle himself got similar comments at times – after Bleeding Love, for example. Nothing negative has been said to Ben that can’t be swept aside with a “that’s more like it, now you’re singing the kind of songs you should be singing!”

Contrast, say, the “boring” tag applied to Lauren in week 6, or the fun-poking at Andrea’s face-pulling. These are more direct hits on the act themselves – it’s harder in the space of a few weeks to acquire an interesting personality or to stop gurning than it is to choose songs that are deemed more suitable for your voice. We’re not saying that means they can’t win – naturally, the judges will still ramp either of these acts if they happen to be leading the vote unassailably in the winner’s song round a week on Sunday. What we suspect is that producers try not to say too-damaging things about an act they suspect they might ultimately end up having to heave a sigh and back for the win.

Whatever producers were trying to achieve in weeks 6 and 7 with Ben, they must have been happy enough with its effects as much the same script continued in week 8. Mel again said Ben lacked “light and shade” in his performance of ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and should be singing rock songs, while Cheryl said it sounded different from how Ed Sheeran sang it. That’s hardly the most damning thing you could say. (There were also some staging negatives for Ben this week. We’ll address those in the regular midweek post, in a day or two).

Those whose books are green on Ben will have drawn comfort from the reaction this criticism provoked from the audience, Ben and Dermot sharing a smile as they struggled to speak above the noise of the audience booing Mel. “Sounds like 700 people agree with you,” Dermot told Ben, adding “partisan crowd in here tonight”.

On the other hand, here’s the concern for Ben backers. Producers’ treatment of him is – as we also noted last week – also entirely consistent with the idea that Fleur is performing strongly enough in the vote that they simply don’t feel the need to go after him with all guns blazing. So could we be in 2011 territory? That would make Fleur into Little Mix, and turn Ben into a Marcus Collins instead of a Matt Cardle.

ben-matt-marcus[Image courtesy of Sofabet commenter Heisenberg. Many thanks!]

Ben strikes us as a stronger all-round proposition than Reverend Sunshine, bless him and his inflatable pink church, but there are plenty of parallels in Fleur’s case. Like Fleur, in 2011 Little Mix went into the live shows as outsiders due to an unpromising lack of audition screentime and their status as the kind of act that hadn’t traditionally done too well – a girlband in Little Mix’s case, and an evidently sexually-confident woman in Fleur’s case (let’s recall she had been introduced to us at bootcamp, legs akimbo on a stool, as a “nightclub singer”).

Like Fleur’s this year, Little Mix’s odds shortened progressively until they became a short-priced favourite. Like Fleur this year, in mid-series producers seemed to decide to give Little Mix a push to see how realistic their prospects of winning might be: they sang second-from-last in week 4 ahead of a week 5 pimp slot, while Fleur followed the same running order trajectory a week later.

One possibly interesting difference is that producers mixed up the running order slots more with Little Mix than they have with Fleur. After their week 5 pimp slot, Little Mix were sent out third of seven acts in week 6; after they topped the vote for the first time from another late slot in week 7, producers sent them out first in week 8. In contrast, Fleur’s week 6 pimp slot has been followed by fifth of seven in week 7, and fourth of five this week. You could read that as indicating a lack of confidence.

Going into the final in 2011, only Little Mix and Marcus Collins hadn’t hit a singoff all series, something which seems likely to be the case with Ben and Fleur this time around. Marcus, like Ben, hadn’t really been full-on nuked up to that point, in a series notorious in these parts for its full-on nuking (“boring” Janet, “bully” Misha, “singing secretary” Sophie) – and in this case producers didn’t need to have nuked him, as he’d never topped a single vote. They’ll have been confident that saddling him with a couple of dodgy song choices in the final would be enough to stop him – as, indeed, proved to be the case.

So does this feel like 2010 to you, with Ben as Matt Cardle? Or does it feel like 2011, with Ben as Marcus Collins? Or would you like to go out on a limb and argue that it feels 2012-y, with either Lauren or Andrea as James Arthur, the only act to win so far after surviving a singoff? Do let us know which year you’re feeling reminded of below.

94 comments to X Factor 2014: Is Ben Haenow a Matt Cardle or a Marcus Collins?

  • Stu

    I think Ben is another Matt Cardle rather than a Marcus Collins. Marcus didn’t have the widespread appeal that both Cardle and Haenow have. Firstly, more women (especially in middle England) are probably more attracted to the white, masculine rocker types than the slightly camp mixed-race hairdresser – who was also gay which might have impacted his vote with some of the female demographic. Also, in terms of style, Marcus was soon pigeon-holed as a Motown/Swing performer whereas the soft-Rock sound has proved to be more popular with viewers.

    In regards to Fleur, the constant late running order slots would likely imply that she’s not topping the vote – or that it’s very tight at the top each week and no one is running away with the vote. A poster on Digital Spy (I know!) claimed nobody up to week 5 had topped the vote for two consecutive weeks and OTY topped it in week 4. As far as we know, it could literally be anyone’s game in terms of the vote…

  • Jessica Hamby

    My problem with Ben as Cardle is that although he’s a perfectly nice guy – in fact comes across as more likeable than Cardle – he’s not such a good singer. He’s does what’s expected of him. He has a nice tone, he’s in tune, he’s balanced with the music and his range is good enough to hit all the notes. But that’s it.

    Is that enough to win?

    Given that Jay stayed over Paul and Stevi stayed over Jay I suppose the answer is yes.

  • Dean F

    What was strange this week was everything seemed even. Almost like it’s now week 8 lets just give them all a chance. They all had positives and negatives. Maybe they do not mind who wins now, though up until week 7 it looked clearly like it was Fleur.

    • Natasha

      I agree completely with you Dean. They are all on a level playing field IMO. Each act has their flaws yet Andrea is the best vocally by a mile. All have had positive and negative treatment so far. If Andrea is allowed in the final, then unless they give him something similar to ‘Candy’ (like Nick McD last year) then I think he will win as it has been said on here before, the majority of people do no vote until the final and they usually vote for the best singer – which is Andrea

      TPTB’s intentions are somewhat confusing still

  • DeanF

    Only thing not mentioned is would it not be better if the final still had 3 judges left? Cheryl, Mel B and Simon

    At least in terms of judges banter etc.

  • Less popular than Matt, more popular than Marcus. I agree that the constant late slots for Fleur mean they’re not comfortable with easing off the promotion of her for a week lest she fall into the B2. I basically concur with Stu’s comment and I certainly don’t think Ben will have been topping the vote from the start, the way Matt did. What’s notable this week is he had negative staging and was on first but escaped the B2; another act with the same staging likely wouldn’t have.

  • EM

    My theory. Fleur is Little Mix, Ben is Marcus but not quite in the terms above.

    The last two winner haven’t come with much credibility, James imploded and Sam was a popular feel good winner without a commercial future. They need someone who can wow with their first album.

    Ben can go on to have a really good Olly Murs-esque career releasing happy little ditties, going on all the TV going and becoming a UK light entertainment staple.

    Fleur can get locked away with some Swedish producers and come out in the summer with a wow album, either with big belters or a very sexy and provocative look and sound. Something that says X Factor can make them big.

    In this set ups Ben is being portrayed as chirpy everyman but a limited talent. Fleur is super woman, from humble roots but can do it all from ballads to dance numbers.

    Lauren isn’t ready yet and Andrea will get the Mary Byrne memorial Mother’s Day album.

    Similar to when Little Mix won they really pushed the more contemporary recording act and shoehorned Marcus into a 50s throwback,

  • Fudd

    Not sure if it’s been posted yet – the first theme next week is Unplugged (i.e. acoustic backing only).

  • Lia

    Definitely not 2012. The shock James+Ella bottom was only that shocking because they were there together when everybody kept on raving about both and the villain Maloney that everybody wanted out had never been bottom.
    Neither Andrea’s nor Lauren’s bottom caused much controversy and none of the judge’s displayed Tulisa’s table banging and rage. It was all a bit “meh, whatever!” this year.

  • Curtis

    I’m definitely not seeing the James Arthur in Lauren or Andrea, so I’m not seeing 2012.

    For the last few weeks I’d definitely been feeling a Little Mix vibe to the way they were treating Fleur – however, something seemed subtly different this week. Maybe Fleur is just not challenging for the win.

    I know my theory that they’re going to dunk her in the bottom 2 next week to try and catapult her into the final is unpopular, so here’s another theory. Ben is going to be the new Matt Cardle, and the producers will let him win. They will pimp Fleur into the final next week at Andrea’s expense (with no bottom 2, just lowest vote goes) but just allow her to come second overall with Ben winning.

    I don’t really have a clue – I’m just trying to read the runes of what happened this week. I still think Fleur was the act that missed out on the bottom 2 by 800 votes.

    • This weekends treatment will be interesting for sure. Fleurs treatment puzzled me. Especially off that back of the weekend that took her into hot favourite. Seemed like a definite deramp in there. Both song choices didn’t work imo. They were ok but not enough to surge on with momentum to the final. Something special needs to happen this weekend or 2nd is the best she can hope for.

  • David Cook

    Overall Ben has covered a wider variety of song styles than Matt. It’s probably been a double edged sword – picking up votes from a wide demo, but at the expense of not always nailing the performance. I don’t think Ben’s ever hit the sort of high point that Matt did (with FTEISYF) – but this weekend gave the chance of a direct comparison as both acts have performed ‘Come Together’. I have to say I think Ben was head and shoulders above Matt, because for the first time in weeks he got a song that really suited his style. It just shows that really how important song choice is. To me Ben can either win or be nuked depending entirely on what they allow him to sing.

    • It’s easily done as they showed by giving marcus ‘hey ya’ and nick mcdonald ‘candy’ as the first song of the final. Basically handicapping the non chosen one from the word go.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I thought listening to Adam Lambert with Queen revealed Ben’s limitations. I don’t think he could do what Adam did if he trained for a million years.

      Not sure the public will think like that though.

  • Caro

    OT, but is it possible that they knew that there were more drugs stories about to come out about SK, so they decided to ditch them? There’s a story in The Sun today involving Jake Sims and drugs again, including pics.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Isn’t Scowell from the anyh publicity is good publicity school? Some older people may still be outraged about drugs but if it’s cannabis or ecstasy I don’t suppose a huge amount of under 40s will be bothered either way.

      • Caro

        Normally yes, but they had stupidly saddled themselves with a group with minors in it, so pics of one band member allegedly whacked out on ketamine might not be a good idea.
        If the producers had decided they were flogging a dead horse, this surely won’t have helped.
        I gather Jake has already had to apologise about inappropriate tweets involving drug use before this latest episode, but I agree it wasn’t a full on ‘Frankie Cocozza’ (yet).

        • Jessica Hamby

          Oh. Those are some pretty good points. I haven’t seen the article or the pics but that doesn’t sound too good, and I forgot about the 14 year old.

  • Boki

    To me is the question still open, unfortunately. Did they give up on Fleur since Ben is winning it or they succeeded last week to get Fleur on top and this week just gave Ben safe passage to semi/final where he will be nuked?

  • Henry VIII

    Ben Haenow is a Matt Cardle. Sings reasonably well, good looking and is the right age for the main female voting demographic. Ben doesn’t deserve to win on the back of his sexual attractiveness, but I guess that’s what singing is all about. Women really should be denied the vote.

    Ben doesn’t have the musicality of Matt but neither does he has to rely on a falsetto party piece. Or as Wagner said of Matt, and I am quoting directly – “He sings like a girl”.

  • darylll

    With the app voting I would say stereo kicks votes will go to Ben. Also if fleur and Andrea were in bottom two next week and Andrea went over fleur his votes will be spread between Lauren and Ben giving Ben much more of an advantage. Fleur doesn’t have the powerful vocal to pull of a winners single whereas Ben with the right song can.

  • Curtis

    So, next elimination odds on Andrea are 11/4 at Ladbrokes. Now it seems like every tip I’ve made this year has gone wrong – SK to beat Andrea, Fleur to be B2 this week, SK to be B2 a couple of weeks ago, just a total disaster really! (though despite all this I’ve still made 1000% profit this series from my initial stake due to the easy early eliminations!)

    But surely, surely this one is worth taking. Hasn’t the situation been completely misread here? Shouldn’t Andrea be the elimination favourite, rather than Lauren?

  • Stu

    I honestly cannot see Lauren leaving this coming weekend. She’s not been targeted like Stevi and Jay so should experience some kind of bounce, plus I don’t think Cheryl will be out of the competition before the final.

    I was wrong last week thinking Stereo Kicks would be safe (and wondering whether or not they could win) but I do think it will be engineered for Andrea to leave this week. Maybe the reason Ben seems to be favoured is to ensure that Andrea is prevented from bouncing to the top spot. I don’t think the producers want Ben to win but they probably couldn’t think of anything worse than Andrea winning in their eyes.

    My guess is for next week, the running order will be:

    1. Fleur (followed by break)
    2. Andrea
    3. Ben (followed by break)
    4. Lauren (followed by break)
    5. Andrea
    6. Ben (followed by break)
    7. Fleur (followed by break)
    8. Lauren

    Producers will ensure that Lauren will bounce over Andrea in the vote, Fleur will be favoured once again in the running order – open the show (if she pulls off her first performance, people could use up their free votes straight away) but will also be on at the end, Ben will be used to memory hole Andrea each time without a break in between.

    (On a side-note, I do wonder if last weekend’s odd show [Andrea in pimp slot, Fleur not pimped, Stereo Kicks going] was a result of producers maybe being aware of this site. A mad conspiracy theory I know!!)

    • EM

      Nicely thought out running order but there’s no way Fleur is going on in the Strictly overlap.

      And if this week’s bottom two was the plan and they wanted rid of Lauren but changed to the Kicks after really poor polling then having Cheryl in the final is not an issue for them.

    • Curtis

      With regards to your conspiracy theory at the end there, I couldn’t help thinking the same thing. The way they sent out Lauren first as they always do with the act they’re sending home. The way that the vote seemed to be going in an entirely predictable way, with Simon left to dish out the KO blow to Lauren. It felt they were playing with us. Probably not true, but that’s how it felt!

      As for what you say before, I wouldn’t be surprised if Andrea does get targeted and Lauren gets pimped for sure. Which again brings me back to Andrea’s odds for elimination. 11/4 at Ladbrokes. Consider it!

      • Jessica Hamby

        I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they are aware of this site and read it regularly. They probably read a lot of the social media regarding the show to keep themselves informed about what people are thinking of the show and how they are reacting to it.

        They may even be posting here……

        • Woofie

          I agree it was no surprise they changed the routine for SK’s first song which involved girls on the stage, the rehearsal pics were on X factor twitter and the reaction from their online teen followers was not good.

        • I’ve no doubt they do, but I’d be surprised if they were that bothered TBH. The majority of the viewers still take the show at face value – you only have to look at Facebook or Twitter of a weekend to see that. There’s also been at least two “free money” moments looking at the odds this series, one of those being the Jay vs Stevi singoff, that leads me to suggest the majority of punters bet on emotion as opposed to strategy and analysis. They know there’s a community who see through it and have made a sport out of analysing and predicting the show, but it’s not harming anyone.

          I have to say, as the first year I have bet money on the show, I have enjoyed this series immensely approaching it from a new point of view. I’ve not bet the huge amounts some of the pros do here, and my profit this series isn’t a life changing sum of money but it will certainly significantly cushion my Christmas shopping bill.

          • Nugg

            Of course TPTB read this site,but on the scale of things we are a tiny percentage of the viewing audience and the fact that we try and work out the show and make a few quid is unlikely to bother them too much Maybe Daniel could release the analytics but I reckon this site has about 50 hardcore regular visitors/posters and maybe one or two thousand casual readers each week, hardly a threat to a ten million viewer show.

  • Scott

    Andrea to go seems almost certain. I’m hoping the punters who don’t read this site will assume Lauren is doomed as she was in the bottom two the previous week and had struggled and Andrea’s price will stay up, and all the usual tricks are played. If so, there’s a good chance for one final cash in for me. I can’t see myself getting heavily involved in the final, it’s way too unpredictable this year.

    • Nugg

      The thing with Andrea is, and here is his problem….I have no doubt he was streets clear in the votes after weeks one and two, but as the field reduces where does he collect the extra votes from.

      For example, we already know he does not have enough core votes to keep him out of bottom two as he has already been there. Stereo Kicks leave this week, how many of those votes will transfer over to Andrea ? I would say of the four acts left he is the least likely to collect floating voters looking for a new act to vote for following SK’s departure.

      At this stage performance matters less than you would expect, most viewers have now established their favourites and will vote for them regardless of how they sing on Saturday.

      I do think there are very few viewers who will be watching all 8 songs this week and voting for who sings best on the night.

      For those reasons I do think that Andrea is a sure fire thing to hit bottom 2 this week and a great bet to leave at the 11/4 and 9/4 available earlier today.

  • I think Ben will win it. The way my thinking is going is this – apologies for repeating myself from a previous blog, Will Hill also touched on this in The Specials Podcast at the weekend, on which Daniel is a pundit.

    It’s in Fleur’s best interests NOT to win. It’s cool not to win.

    JLS, Olly Murs, Ella Henderson, Liberty X, Lemar – they have all done very well out of not winning their shows. Even Rylan and Jedward have done OK out of it.

    So why not let Fleur come second and then have some time to get polished by SyCo, coming back late April/early May with the biggest Summer anthem since Get Lucky, whilst Ben wins and gets the Christmas single?

    • EM

      I remember having a discussion a long time ago with someone very prominent on one of these types of shows about how winning it was a curse and you were better to come second. He resisted strongly and said it was all about talent and all about winning.

      If the accepted norm is now that you want your real “winner” to come top three I wouldn’t be surprised. I spotted that trend ages ago so they must have cottoned on to it by now.

      However I think of X’s sake they may need Fleur to win in order to give them some cool visuals and tabloid interest ahead of the show next year – I say it every year but they do need to give the whole thing a boot up the backside to address the ratings.

      • Vülker

        Absolutely agree with this.

        Matt Cardle, James Arthur and Sam Bailey didn’t exactly set the charts alight with the X Factor tag.

        Remember when Alexandra Burke was massive back in 2009? And how Little Mix became the most popular girlband in the UK and managed to do alright across the pond?

        They need a winner that’s popular with the young public. And that’s Fleur to me. The young ones (along with the gay public – gasp!) seem to prefer Fleur this year, same way they did Alexandra and Little Mix. I do agree they have a harder task pushing Fleur into the win but it’s definitely what the show needs.

        I can’t see Ben having an Olly-like career. He’s more of a Jamie Archer without the afro. That big popstar. Lauren still needs to develop heaps or she’ll turn into Quigg and Andrea is set up for a San Remo appearance along with Eurovision and a massive career in Italy (if he resists the urge to release a mother’s day covers album).

        Fleur is where the £ and credibility are.

    • Curtis

      The show always wants their preferred act to win, whoever it is. I don’t think they buy into this whole “coming second is better” stuff. They didn’t settle for second for Little Mix did they, they pimped them to the win. Same with James Arthur.

      The only reason they’d stop pimping Fleur to the win, and settle for second or third with her is if she simply wasn’t polling well enough for the win – like they gave up on Cher Lloyd and One Direction a few years ago, and Tamera last year. They would most certainly prefer to not spend a single penny on a contract for Ben, who let’s be fair, is not a great commercial prospect.

      • Nugg

        Fleur this year would appear the best of a poor bunch, I think it has been a very bad year talent wise. Fleur, although a fine performer, is nowhere near as good vocally as Tamera was last year.
        But yes I have to agree, she is probably the most commercially appealing of the four left and they will likely try and push her over the line.

        • Curtis

          I think Fleur offers a lot to Syco. Her vocals are passable, and I at least like that they’re quite distinctive, you could probably tell a Fleur song if you heard it on the radio.

          However, what I think makes her a particularly attractive prospect to Syco is that she’s an all-rounder, and she’s very professional. She does a very consistent job every week, and seems to work very hard. And of course she can dance, and she can rap. I wouldn’t buy her music, but I think she could be a commercial success with the right songs.

          However, the truth remains that if Ben has been comfortably outvoting her all this time – even when she was getting heavily pimped – then they may just settle for second for her.

      • Jon

        I did share this point of view, but someone pointed me in the direction of some stuff he has done on YouTube. Most of it is 10x better than what he has done on X Factor. Which is a little odd….

  • Furthermore, looking ahead to the semis, I’ve gone in on Andrea to go already whilst the odds are long. Lauren’s distinctly Amelia Lily, and I can’t see how she won’t bounce to the final after a stellar singoff performance.

  • (Andrea 2/1 on Betfred – free money surely?)

  • Donald

    The big difference between Ben and Matt is that Matt had a real breakthrough song and moment with The First Time I Ever Saw You Face long before the final which carried him all the way. No act this year has had a breakthrough song or moment like that or even remotely near it.

    It is still very open, Ben is good and popular. Ben or Lauren are very good results for me but I really think it is very hard to call after weekend just gone. If they really want Fleur to win take out the main competition which is Ben which seems unlikely but with only 800 votes gap last night and it changing 4 times no one can be absolutely sure. Unplugged doesn’t scream out as Ben comfort zone.

    They supported Andrea this weekend but with him coming down from bounce if they target him he is most likely to go this weekend, but if they support him like Saturday who knows.

    Waiting to see song choices and thinking ahead to final who each act performing with as quest may give an indication.

    And the level of pimping may give clues how well Fleur doing.

    One of TPTB big investments throughout the show gone last night so all the pimping in the world can fail.

    If they go for Andrea he is gone. Worth some investment at early odds, said that last week and was wrong but at the current price and he one of the more likely targets going to

    Last night was strange, won well on the night in the end, but my Louis as top judge went west and wiped out winnings SK being top group and I had gone well in on Andrea during the week so having played on the edge last night I am going to be bit more cautious this week until song choice, I got away with it but it could easily have gone wrong.

    Andrea elim price will not change much from where it is pre -show.

    I still think Lauren could do this, she has had no real help for weeks. Simon put down a marker last night.

    The more I think about it Simon V Cheryl final has a feel of what TPTB might want. Both return both in the final. I think if Andrea in final Mel B would be a right handful for TPTB so he may after all be cut loose this weekend.

    • Nugg

      Andrea has been bet off the boards, missed all the 10/3 and 11/4…managed to get a bit of the 9/4 with Ladbrokes….who is pricing these up ?? I had him priced at 6/4 on my own tissue

  • Jessica Hamby

    Fleur’s Bang Bang at judges houses was accoustic and her best performance so far.

    She can’t do it again though. Can she?

    • Natasha

      If Fleur is plan A then I imagine she will reprise the song that gave her the most votes which, could well have been bang bang, which, is also what made everyone sit up and notice her in the first place at judges houses. If she gets that song then she is still Plan A IMO. The 2nd song choice will be very telling as to who they want to push for the win as we here should be able to get an idea of which of the chosen songs each act has brought in the most votes or a game changer at the audition stages. I’m guessing for Ben, it’d be his bootcamp audition of Hotel California and Andrea’s I didn’t know my own strength. If they really want to throw andrea under the bus then it’ll be Relight my fire lol

    • I can’t imagine her performing this again so soon after big band week. I hope not anyway. Doubt it would work in her favour. I think theyl save it for the final

  • Nugg

    As usual I plan to be at the final this year, the likelyhood is that I will have 2 spare tickets for Sundays final at Wembley Arena (for those willing to queue hard!!) If anyone is interested in going please let me know.

    • DannyCraig

      What’s your email Nugg. Potentially interested

    • Bixi

      I don’t live in the UK, but will be in London at that time and would be very interested….I’ve never posted on Sofabet, although I read (and enjoy) absolutely everything posted on this site…How can we get in touch (if not too late already)?

      Best wishes to all in the remaining weeks!

  • Took the 9/4 on andrea to go this weekend. Them odds didn’t stick around for long

    • Jon

      Very nice price. Much like some here I thought Simon saved Lauren at the last min based on her sing off. However, I now hear TPTB made her change her save me song. Couple that with the gold lighting for her performance, and the logical conclusion is they wanted her saved all along. This in turn suggests they want her in the final.

      I don’t believe the acts are reprising songs this week. Might be something more in keeping with the time of year.

      • Dean F

        Well if TPTB did that they definitely did Lauren a favour as it has changed the game slightly for her. Not sure she can win, but she probably won a lot of fans back with that performance. Finally a song that showed off her vocal range, probably first time since her original audition of How Will I Know.

        What happens this week if she gets a pimp slot and rave reviews from the judges? Is she well and truly back in the game? Or will that just be to get her into the final and a decent 3rd place finish?

        Not that YT views mean a damn, but was interesting to see Clarity got more views, but yet only something like 2.4k likes and more than 1k dislikes

        While DYWC got slightly less views until now, but has 4.6k likes and just 300 dislikes.

        The answer? Lauren singing slowed down versions of current songs doesn’t put people off that much and they probably prefer this to her doing a big production which makes her look awkward. You need to delight the demo at the end of the day, but obviously to an extent where Lauren can show off her range.

        Andrea should be gone this weekend, but will be interesting to see if Lauren can bounce above one of the overs, or if indeed they will even do a sing off

        • Curtis

          Whereas I definitely preferred her “Clarity” to her “Don’t You Worry Child”, but that might have something to do with how much I detest the latter song!

          Her sing-off performance though was something. Until then I thought she was just a medium good vocalist with a massive tendency to crack on big notes. She hit every note in that song though, so fair play to her. I’m sure she’s won back a few fans with that, but I still don’t see her finishing higher than third. Second is an absolute best-case for her.

          The producers may do what they did in the 2010 semi-final and simply omit saying whether there’s going to be a sing-off or not – particularly if there’s a chance Fleur is bottom of the vote. In 2010, when they saw that Cher was going to lose the vote, they then only announced in the results show if I remember correctly that there was going to be a sing-off.

  • Dean F

    Whatever happens from here with Lauren would be interesting to do a Lauren journey case study as from week 4 onwards it has been a bit confusing

  • Jon

    Strangely I hear the swapped out song is pretty good as well. Perhaps an ace up the sleeve. I think she gets to the final but would take a miracle to win as I don’t see transfer votes benefiting her. I’m already considering other betting options

  • Boki

    I was thinking that if they want Fleur to win they would prefer Andrea in the final because of the Fleur/Lauren vote split. Does this make any sense?

    • Dean F

      It does but why not get rid of Lauren Sunday if this was the case?

      • Boki

        It’s more credible to get rid of her against Andrea who will also be great in a sing-off and who was b2 only once just like her ?

        • Dean F

          I don’t think this is ever really a factor. If anything XF enjoy the controversy and an SK save would not exactly be outrageous. There has been more controversial ones in the past as exemplified by many believing SK would be in the final (and they would have needed at least 1 save surely though some on here wrongly believed SK were suddenly polling first or second when they did nothing much for anyone to really believe that)

  • Jon

    Tricky question that. Let’s just say word of mouth.

  • Jon

    If you can provide the means…

  • General Hogbuffer

    Rumour on DS has it that the second songs will be from the contestant ‘Idols” – meaning whatever works for tptb to further their cause. I can see Andrea doing the Titanic theme and having a similar fate as the ship…

  • Heisenberg

    Much of Ben’s questionable treatment has already been covered – lonely bus stop, fire, angle grinders, distracting dancers etc – but what about the sudden appearance of Haenow’s Italian-ness?

    Andrea’s VT was Italy-light on Saturday (okay, I know he sang Italian) but I was fascinated to see this theme transferred to Ben with the introduction of ‘Nonna Rita’.


    It wasn’t just your regular nan klaxon either, this is an Italian nan (Nonna), with Louis Prima’s Angelina / Zooma Zooma playing in the background – here are some of the lyrics (although we only heard part of the chorus, it does at least confirm deliberate intentions of Italian-ness):

    I eat antipasta twice
    just because she is so nice
    Angelina, Angelina
    the waitress at the pizzeria

    If she’ll be a my cara mia
    then I’ll join in matrimony
    with a girl who serves spumoni
    and Angelina will be mine

    O mamma, zooma zooma baccala
    O mamma, zooma zooma baccala
    o mamma, zooma zooma baccala
    zooma zooma zooma zooma
    zooma baccala

    Andrea’s positive bounce treatment would suggest this wasn’t designed to impact on him, so does that mean it was an attempt to demotivate Ben voters? This would makes sense if he is far ahead in the race and if, as suspected, the plan is to somehow allow Fleur to close the gap.

    The spontaneous Ben/Fleur car shout-outs left contrasting impressions, not just by the spoken words but also by the appearance of both cars. Ben’s appeared to be a bit drab and lonely, whereas Fleur’s motor was a newer model with shiny alloys on a busier road (there was even a moving car ‘wipe’ transition in the edit, perhaps suggesting Fleur is on the move?).

    Ben’s conversation: http://goo.gl/kpe1wf

    Fleur’s conversation: http://goo.gl/VBeKzx

    I’d love to hear what people think about the appearance of ‘Nonna Rita’ and what her injection of Italian-ness was designed to achieve.

    O mamma, zooma zooma!


    • Henry VIII

      : ) Camera crews hanging around for a car with alloy wheels to approach Fleur and one with plastic covers to approach Ben. I wonder if any sane entity in the universe watching the show spotted that anyway.

      Grannies chatting to their grandson in their kitchen are a positive. But I must say her nails are rather sharp.

    • Hey Heisenberg, are you reading our minds?! 😉 Both Nonna Rita and the cars feature in the midweek review we’re knocking up right now. We’ll have that up some time later on today.

    • EM

      Ah H I was going to post about the Italian nanna. I think there is a possibly Ben is being used to scoop up votes that could be going elsewhere, tentatively he seemed to nick the Akister swagger when he did Highway To Hell (the show having defined Paul as being good at belting out the big songs) but definitely with I Will Always Love You going for Andrea’s fans.

      At the time it felt like the message was “hey Andrea doesn’t even have a monopoly on Italian heritage, and she’s cuter than Andrea’s family too”.

      In the cold light of day that makes less sense but when they introduced her my jaw dropped, it surely had some significance.

    • Caro

      When she appeared on Xtra Factor a couple of weeks ago I wondered where she came from. Interesting that at that point they decided not to reveal that she was Italian. They were obviously saving that one (like the timed appearance of Lauren’s brother).

  • Stu

    So the themes this week are Unplugged and Music Idols? I think Ben and Lauren will suit the unplugged theme most. Music Idols could be anything. Is this a way of getting Andrea to go down the boring, predictable route of Whitney?

  • Phil

    I personally think that Ben is more of a Marcus, but has been doing a bit better in the voting than he did. Remember – all the suggestions that Fleur could be struggling in the votes are just an assumption and not necessarily correct. Everyone I know talks about Fleur (or Andrea at a push) – noone mentions Ben or Lauren. In fact, more people say they miss Stevi.

    I think Fleur for the win, and Andrea for 2nd place.

  • Heisenberg

    Seems there are two paths to success for eliminated X Factor contestants – go QuickenDown-Under for the celebrity jungle, or perform Ed Sheeran songs for Mini-Me in relaxed seating areas.

    Jack Walton chose the latter (yes, I said Mini-Me).


  • Alen

    I think Fleur is still Plan A as she has pretty much received almost no criticism in the past few weeks while Ben had some lukewarm reactions.

    I guess that Fleur was third last weekend and they cut off the voting so she wouldn’t be bottom2. I don’t think you can bounce that high at this time in the competition. They easily could have let the voting last longer and let Ella perform first but they decided to let her perform later. I’m sure they would have welcomed Andrea in the bottom2.

    Fleur will get all the praise she can get but Lauren too just to make sure she’ll bounce over Anrea.

    That leaves us with Ben. I think he still had no breakout performance and that’s why he is no Matt Cardle (yet?) but more of a Marcus Collins, steady but harmless.

  • bob

    Not that this has any relevance anymore but wondered if anyone else noticed from the SK VT that they had a young girl in a head scarf taking a picture with the boys with her blonde friend….. 10 seconds later they had the same two girls in different clothes and different head scarf taking more pictures. I think this just proves that these people are not really fans but hired extras to create a scene much like the artificial shout outs Ben and Fleur received from “random” car drivers. The SK VT was a particularly sloppy bit of production.

  • bob

    any chance of a screen grab of the same girls in different clothes for comedy value?

  • uncalquera

    Off-topic, but as it is the show-biz news of the day in Spain and she had lots of fans over here, I thought it could be interesting to share: Pastora Soler (Spain 2012 in Eurovision) retires due to a syndrome related to stage fright. Last March she fainted mid-song during a concert and apparently has been in psychological treatment ever since, not being able to recover confidence as of yet. A pity, she was one of the most powerful voices in Spain. http://elpais.com/elpais/2014/12/01/estilo/1417455626_638017.html

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