X Factor 2015 Week 5 Post Mortem: Fifth Impact

After VTs which saw them being lauded in the Philippines Embassy and on Filipino news programmes, Fourth Impact get to go home to the Philippines having finished a creditable fifth in the UK X Factor.

The big market move today was for Ché Chesterman, who was as short as evens in places to be next eliminated before in fact being the first act called safe. After a Saturday show which sparked confusion, debate and multiple competing theories in the Sofabet comments, the singoff was contested by the girlband and Lauren Murray, just as the pre-show betting had suggested. We might as well all have saved ourselves 24 hours of headscratching by not watching it at all.


During the singoff, punters were far from certain – Lauren was available to back at around 3.0, and Fourth Impact at around 1.5. I shared the sense of uncertainty, taking the opportunity to green up my book rather than going in one way or the other.

Why the uncertainty? We have often mused that Louisa’s path to the win may be clearer without Lauren still in the picture – and tonight’s singoff reinforced our sense that Lauren is at least a match vocally for producers’ Plan A, as well as repeatedly demonstrating much the more natural appeal as a personality.

But elements of doubt were introduced by 4th Impact’s treatment for the last two live shows having been just as equivocal as Lauren’s, and the awareness that one of the two neutral judges, Grimmy, has been such a Lauren fan that it was questionable whether he would want to give the girlband a 3:1 save.

After Rita and Cheryl had saved their own acts, Grimmy duly saved Lauren while Simon saved 4th Impact, triggering a deadlock which saw the girls voted out. In the circumstances, it’s interesting to speculate why Simon decided to take it to deadlock. Perhaps it just seemed fairer if the public decided, though it also plants the idea in viewers’ minds that Simon doesn’t rate Lauren as highly as had he given her his vote of confidence.

We head into the semi-final with Ché on a comedown from the sympathy bounce which carried him to safety this week, and Lauren due one of her own. Louisa and Reggie N Bollie are now the only two acts who have evaded every singoff and about whose level of support debate can continue. We’ve had singoffs in the last two semi-finals, and there’s no obvious reason to think producers will cede control back to the voting public.

As always, we’ll be back with some more in-depth thoughts in midweek. Let us know your reactions below.

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89 comments to X Factor 2015 Week 5 Post Mortem: Fifth Impact

  • stoney

    The thing i found strange is why they went Rita-Cheryl-Nick-Simon
    Was strange. Why didn’t they just go Simon before Nick if deadlock was the intention. Cant remember them skipping out a judge like that before

    • Stu

      Because it was more obvious who Nick was going to save than who Simon was going to save. Nick has been a huge Lauren fan so it was predictable while Simon could’ve chosen either of them.

  • Jack

    Like many commenters on here I love Lauren but was shocked she was saved. Maybe they want to ensure a Louisa vote transfer with a bonding VT next week?

    Has a very 2014 feel with Che as Andrea, 4I as Stereo Kicks and Lauren as, well Lauren. Can see the same thing happening next week as last year with Lauren bouncing above Che but Che being saved in the sing-off. HOWEVER, the main caveat is Reggie n Bollie surely aren’t as strong as Fleur and Ben were and I can’t them pulling off an Uptown Funk. Could just see Lauren bouncing into second and RnB having to be saved v Che but I think producers would definitely want Louisa and RnB to be the Top 2 next week to keep suspense for the final but think it may be a hard sell – Reggie n Bollie have had a big enough pimping as it is.

    • EM

      Keeping someone in the competition so they can do a vote transfer after a bonding VT is was down the rabbit hole.

      Most likely explanations are Louisa has been acing it every week and Lauren’s vote is no threat or they really don’t mind who wins, in fact it is the losers (G4, JLS, One D, Fleur etc) who often do better without the X Factor winner tag

  • EM

    You know hindsight is wonderful but if you split last night into planned and unplanned sections it makes more sense.

    Louisa’s illness, Che’s fluff and nerves and Lauren doing well with unpromising songs somewhat disguised the intended planned signals from the usual sources.

    FI – hindered by foreign VTs, running order, poor staging, uninspiring songs, end of journey feel and judges distraction.

    Lauren – poor staging, not the most well known songs (to the core demo viewer)

    The funny thing in retrospect is the comments from the judges carried on regardless of the actual performances. They must rehearse them for hours

    • Jessica Hamby

      Sounds about right to me.

    • A few notes from a 16-year old relative unaware of this site:

      – The backdrop in the first song of 4I looks like something from a dream sequence (imagine two people running in a field of flowers to meet). Their outfits blend with the background and that segment felt cheap
      – Lauren looks trashy. Talented, but trashy.
      – Reggie ‘N’ Bollie are still in the show because of being both novelty and from Africa. Had they been blacks from Britain, they’d be gone by now.
      – Louisa is queen and Che is shite (that’s it)

  • Donald

    First thoughts, yes the head scratching could have been saved but we’d be missing Sofabet fun. Fun it was.

    So they did get directly to 4I by pushing the other group. Well executed. VT still counts and a big song even with words forgotten is still valuable.

    Wonder will Adele come back and do it properly with Che?

    This whole thing could come down to the duets.

    Louisa worthy favourite now, two more weeks of pimping.

  • stoney

    1 thing is for sure Lauren won’t be picking up any of 4th impacts vote transfer. I would guess they will all be rooting for Louisa now.

  • Significant loss for me tonight, although it’s better news for the competition itself. My sisters are visiting me this weekend and both thought me crazy to pile in on Lauren to go. Trust them to be here the one weekend I cock it up spectacularly.

    Initial thoughts…

    1. Did Nick go rogue?
    2. The Filipino vote theory is bollocks.
    3. My “Lauren running away with it” theory is bollocks.
    4. Can Lauren bounce to the final, or will there be a Devlin-esque hatchet job next week?
    5. Can Reggie & Bollie (whisper it) actually win the thing?
    6. Who else had Rita top mentor back in August and is now dreaming of a decadent Christmas?

    • stoney

      I don’t buy into judges going rogue on sing off decisions. I would imagine their fee rides on it and going rouge is a breaking of the contact.

      • annie

        Nick and Rita do seem to show a bit more backbone than for example Kelly Rowland or Gary Borelow (rip bitchfactor…) ever did, but I don’t imagine him going rogue, but possibly saying beforehand he will save Lauren… I don’t think it was a surprise to Simon…

      • Jessica Hamby

        I find it highly unlikely that any contract would have that written into it Stoney.

        First off, it’s almost impossible to draft clauses that would reasonably satisfy those sorts of conditions. Given that it would have to be able to cover a multitude of unpredictable circumstances it would need to be vague and if challenged would almost certainly have to be ruled on by a judge – not what anyone would want.

        Second there is the danger that a mentor (judge) would be asked to do something which they strongly disagree with or that they think would compromise their reputation.

        Third there is a possibility that a the contract could be leaked to the press, causing damage to both the show and the mentor involved.

        There are almost certainly other problem areas too, but those three jump out straight away. No agent or lawyer would be happy to have their client sign a contract like that. It’s pointing a gun at your own head.

        Can you imagine Barlow, Scherzinger, Minogue or Osbourne signing something that means they give up their right to express their opinions? I can’t. These aren’t schoolkids.

    • Caro

      I don’t think Nick went rogue. Everyone knew how much he liked Lauren. If they had really wanted FI in the final they could have got them there over RnB but we’ve seen which group they favoured.

  • DannyCraig

    Interesting that the markets have slashed R&B’s price back into 5s after being safe today. Maybe an overreaction to their apparent voter base, but for me this was more to do with Simon’s B comment about 4I, and Lauren’s prostitute staging!
    After Che was called safe & the apparent support for Lauren overnight, I was worried that Louisa had dropped into b2, but now I’m relatively confident that she’s got this in the bag provided there’s no continued R&B pimping in the semi/final

  • stoney

    I think they will still get pimped to help them into the final. But probably get given a ballad in the final to derail there chances. I still stand by my claim they have been hovering above the drop zone each week

    • Dean F

      The pimping for them suggests its to keep them in the competiton each week rather than win. They are actually doing everything from the novelty act text book with them week on week, but we really know TPTB deep down do not want them to win the whole thing. I am surprised they survived B2 this week, but they were called last. I guess next week the aim would be to just ensure they stay off dead last so they can deadlock them into the final (if need be)

  • Chatterbox5200

    There has been a lot of talk on here about potential duets in the final. I wonder if they will get the acts to repeat one of their earlier songs with the original artist, to make the following duets possible:

    – Lauren with Ariana Grande
    – Shaggy with Reggie and Bollie
    – Adele with Che
    – Louisa with Justin Bieber.

    Bieber is in London the week before for a gig, and has already appeared on Graham Norton and Alan Carr, so would probably be willing to do it. This would get his teen girl fans voting for Louisa and help push her over the finish line. Also, it could showcase her vocal as better than his, whereas the other contestants could easily be over-shadowed by their duet partner.

    One risk is that Adele’s popularity could encourage votes for Che. So if he misses out at the semi final stage, they could easily say that the duet was lined up but now won’t happen, leaving Adele to perform on her own.

    • Dean F

      Said on the other post I read Shaggy is pretty much concrete to be lined up for the final and that would suggest they want RnB there no matter what as he is due to perform with them. Not sure if they can cancel such things at the last minute and if they had Shaggy there just to perform on his own that’s pretty much a wasted slot (sorry any Shaggy fans out there) though that’s what they would have to make work.

      • Caro

        Bizarrely, Shaggy seems to be a bit of an X Factor ‘in-joke’, with Grimmy suggesting him to take over the voiceovers when Peter Dickinson said he was leaving.
        Even more bizarrely, he recently recorded a track with Kylie!

    • annie

      well, a Lauren – Jessie Ware reprise of Say you love me could be a winner performance in my mind. Light and shade, current, cool.

      But seeing how everything is low budget on XF these days and how excited Chezzza was last night to bounce around with her boys I can see Che departing next week and having a Duet with Your mentor event in two weeks time.

  • Chris Bellis

    Pity I was one week late on FI… Never mind, got it this week. It was never going to be Che with all the sympathy for his “failures”. I thought he was quite good, given the dire songs he was given. Che next time though. They might want Lauren to go, but she’s actually quite a good performer, at least by X-Factor standards. In some ways she’s the best performer, despite her off-putting orange face, and I hope she wins (she won’t).

  • Edna Maslak

    Do they actually count the votes? If I understood correctly the discussion – this( the result ) has been decided(aka fixed) weeks ago?

  • fused

    As much as I liked 4th Impact’s ‘Fancy/Rich Girl’ performance, I suppose the staging was very colour vomit-ish, and that is nearly always offputting to voters, whether that is the intended effect or not.

    It was a very good sing-off, but Lauren was much, much better. I’m glad she stayed. I suppose we already knew this with Fleur last year, but it seems iTunes sales of the performances don’t match up with the vote. I guess there are many other things that come into the vote than the performances though. Sympathy bounces, if the fans think their favourite might be in trouble/is getting picked on, voting based on who they can relate to, voting based on who they fancy, running order etc. Then there’s the likelihood that there isn’t a lot of overlap between the people who vote a lot on this show and the people that regularly buy music.

    So Reggie n Bollie and Louisa are the only ones never to be in the bottom 2 yet. If either of those two acts are running away with the vote, Louisa is probably the most likely. But I can’t help wondering if this is one of those years where rather than one or two acts dominating the top 2 every week it’s one where everyone is sort of up and down in the vote? Kind of like in series 6 and series 8. I guess we’ll know after the final.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I wonder what odds you could have got on R&B being top group.

  • Curtis

    I was looking at the Youtube likes wondering why Lauren’s song in the sing-offs – one of the performances of the series I thought – had so many dislikes. Then I realised – Youtube is the domain of Fourth Impact!

  • Edna Maslak

    Interesting read,Andrew! Thank you for clearing up some of this confusion. I couldn’t really relate to the situations you alluded to from past seasons. This is the first time I’ve watched X Factor UK. I ‘ve watched the US Version until the ratings got the better of it. There was not much confusion then, X Factor US 2013 crowned the talent/s I was rooting for. Needless to say, I’m done watching since my favorite act got the boot. And since lately, it has become so emotionally charged,I’m taking a break from watching. I was born and raised in the Philippines but I’ve been in th US longer than I’ve been in the Philippines.
    My husband is beside himself trying to console me. I was extremely frustrated when I realized I couldn’t vote nor buy from ITunes – that is not from lack of trying on a daily basis.
    Just wondering how the votes came in weekly, and how 4th impact did. Since the public voting. Have they been always in the bottom 3 or 4? If not, we’re there any “shifts “especially getting near last night’s elimination? Knowing the Filipinos, who are better than average tech- conscious, they wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to vote for 4th Impact using any gadget they have or any venue/devise that TPTB will allow. Would you have any information on that ?
    Anyway, I thank you so much for your time answering my question/s and the enlightening article!

  • Oh by the way, this week’s haul is “over 2 million votes.” Clearly, the free app doesn’t stop the people from not caring.

  • Lia

    A bit late posting, I know. Had to deal with a very cranky 9 year old after 4I were eliminated. She said she’s never watching XF again… If that’s true I’ll really miss her comments… 🙁

    For me it all seemed very unfair. Top 3 should have been Lauren, 4I and Louisa (yes, Louisa). I don’t like the in your face pimping but she’s a very talented young girl.

    And that brings me to my question: it is the second time Louisa has been ill. I don’t remember anyone else going the down the sickness avenue twice in any series. Could that be a bad start for someone who’s going to be seriously overworked, with the most grueling schedule for 5 years straight if she does well? Mom side kicks in…

    It’s no wonder Adele and Sam Smith needed surgery in the vocal chords. And I don’t believe they are pushed as painfully hard as 1D, for example. Syco tends to get the soul out of their artists and for her, who’s going to be belting out songs left right and centre it’s worrying.

      • Lia

        Very sad, really. It’s the younger contestants suffering the most. I’d include Che in that. The abysmal performances this week were not by chance… What the hell are they doing???
        I think they all know Louisa is meant to win and they are just there to make up numbers, which is probably very frustrating. And that puts a lot of pressure on Louisa too, as she can’t fail.
        No wonder Monica and Mason especially seemed so glad to be out!
        They used to protect the franchise. This just nails the coffin!

        • Curtis

          I’ve managed to feel sorry for all of the acts this weekend! Ché cracking under the pressure, Louisa clearly at half her ability due to illness – whether caused by stress or not, Lauren getting unfair comments round 1 and terrible staging round 2, Reggie N Bollie being patronised in my opinion, and Celina from 4I being carted off in an ambulance!

          I think people are starting to identify just how badly The X Factor is treating these young contestants, and that is not good news for the show.

          • Alan

            But there are thousands queueing up every year to take their place. I wouldn’t feel too sorry for them. And personally I think RnB should consider themselves fortunate. If being patronised is the price to pay for being promoted way beyond your ability then it seems like a small price to pay.

      • Ben Cook

        No way Syco will sign them now, if they were even contemplating it before.

        • Alan

          I’d say after the sing off result that they weren’t planning on signing them.

          And so much for the supposed Plan As from the auditions / boot camp / 6 Chair Challenge phase : Fourth Impact, Anton and Seann Miley Moore. TPTB didnt show much interest in them once they got to the lives did they?

          • Jessica Hamby

            For the overs, I don’t think they’ve ever been a priority. The previous two years were due to the low standards of the other categories. The others certainly seemed the alphas of their categoris at the time (can argue about Seann v Che) but Louisa has always been Plan A.

            I think Seann’s elimination was unplanned. I think they would have liked him to stay longer and maybe Max or Monica go out at that point instead.

  • Rob4

    +3 million votes last week
    +2 million votes this week

    since when did votes go down by that much? i guess it could be 2.9 million vs 3.1 million?

  • simon kent

    FI ruled social media for ever x factor related search terms / hashtags. That might have alarmed producers. Though a bit of over the top, still i think every artist would dream of that level of dedicated core fans.

    Some interesting facts from youtube:

    The results video clip has 14500 dislikes compare to 1800 likes.
    FI performance on Saturday still has lot of momentum – close to 2 million views from 2 videos.
    Even Rita Ora’s clip is taking the hit on youtube dislikes.

    Moving forward I think Che / RnB will benefit from FI voters. It’s surprising that even after 11 seasons the public is not getting the flow of the show and easily influenced by Judges comments.

    • Panos

      Maybe because a significant % of the public is different each year.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I doubt that Panos. I think people believe what they want to believe and one of the things they want to believe is that those in positions of power and authority are fundamentally altruistic wish us well – whether it’s God, the government or Simon Cowell.

        No amount of contrary evidence will change that belief because the alternative, that those we trust to rule and guide us are venal, self-serving, corrupt and/or just don’t give a shit is too uncomfortable to contemplate.

  • stoney


    Nice to see this poll looking more accurate now it’s not being invaded by the phillipines.
    Id say this is pretty much bang on with how the voting will go this weekend

    • Ricky A

      Unless the Filipinos are fucking with you and voting for R&B. Their support might be illusory and they are actually the ones most in danger.

      Just fucking with you 🙂

  • Martin

    I genuinely thought Lauren would avoid b2 this week and Che wouldn’t bounce. I suppose it was obvious really, I need to stop having faith that the public can see through this show. And as much as I love them, I am amazed that Reggie n Bollie haven’t fallen into the bottom two yet. A testimony to the skills of tptb this year.

    Lauren has delivered the two best performances of this years live shows – it makes me sad that they can hack away at acts like that and people not even noticed. Although for them to do so, and still end up saving them in the sing off is a bit of a joke. A sing off between Lauren and Che seems inevitable this weekend – although if Che can bounce clear id imagine lauren will.

  • Nissl

    I’ve been reading a lot of comments from angry 4th Impact fans this morning.

    The manipulation is frustrating when an act you like gets jobbed, but at the end of the day I’m with the Sofabet guys on this: you really should know what the show is going to be as a contestant at this point. If you hate it or you’re not ready for it, don’t do it. Your job on the show is to cut through the nonsense strongly enough to sell both the public and the show/label. Sure Louisa was intended to win this season and probably will, but that doesn’t mean you can’t win yourself a career by standing out regardless of how you’re treated. At this point even a few preseason gammas have done it (Little Mix, Fleur East, and now Reggie N Bollie come to mind.)

    This to me is the main argument for the show’s continued existence, as a pop fan, despite its apparent cruelty at times. None of the acts I listed above would have ever gotten a look in from the industry without the show. Certainly not from The Voice format, which virtually never produces anything and as much as it seems “nicer” on the surface is in many ways actually far worse for contestants. I’m sad it’s becoming the dominant global format.

    As for 4th Impact specifically… even though they *didn’t* get the producers to come around, they’ve advanced their careers tremendously. Surely 4th Impact’s legion of angry fans will open some doors for them that were once closed. Winning the show itself doesn’t matter so much as what you do with it afterwards. (I’ve actually advocated starting to give cash prizes so it matters *more* than it does now.)

    • Jessica Hamby

      I agree with you. Sadly nothing about being a fan is rational.

    • Plinkiplonk

      I partly agree, partly disgree. I honestly think the only reason the X factor has produced successful acts where the Voice has not is because of the might of Simon Cowell/Syco/Sony behind it. The vast majority of acts on the Voice could wipe the floor vocally with any given X factor contestant, if they had half the money thrown at them that Syco threw at 1 Direction they would have had a decent career. The problem with the Voice is that they leave the winners more or less to fight for themselves, the problem with the X factor is that whoever Simon decides to launch will be pushed, win or no win. The first season that was obvious to me was with Leona. She was a clear plant, and nobody else was ever going to win that season. Looks like we have a direct copy of that season now, as Simon must have decided to go back to that year for inspiration…

      As for 4th Impact, yes, if Simon decides to sign them it will help them. On their own I doubt it. They did several talent shows in their native region, if it hasn’t happened by now it probably won’t, sorry.

      • Nissl

        If some of The Voice acts would actually go on to have decent pop careers with serious money behind them, it makes me wonder why labels don’t occasionally take a serious shot with said acts. Heck, Simon could swoop in after a post-show failure and completely show up The Voice by making something of a former contestant everyone had written off. I suspect this doesn’t happen because time has proven that pop success is relatively orthogonal to technical vocal ability, and rather has more to do with market fit, personality, approach, and that ever-elusive quality star power. The reason Simon is able to stay in business signing acts off these shows when nobody else really even tries anymore is because he gets that and is sometimes a decent judge of it.

        I used to think it was wrong that things worked that way, but these days I’ve come around to thinking that sometimes listening to someone with a lot of star quality who speaks to your demographic can be as beneficial for the listener as listening to someone with incredible vocal range and control. It’s certainly true outside of pop, where (for example) Kurt Cobain has become a legend while the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen are ignored. It’s all what you do with it, and I’m afraid most of the folks appearing on The Voice are long-time industry veterans who have never quite figured that – or themselves – out.

        This is why I tend to bang on and on about things like emotional connection and such in these forums; I see those things defining the gap between the technically gifted and those who really make it, and I would love to see more technically gifted singers figure it out. At the same time, the reason we see so much nasty manipulation on X-Factor is because the voting public tends to simply judge likability and technical ability, which are much easier to see in the moment. But it’s star power, emotional connection, etc. that draw the listener back over time, that get them excited for an act’s second or third album when the show is long over and the stories of the season have been replaced with a new crop.

        Getting a bit off-topic, I would love it if Sofabet would run a full set of articles on The Voice this year. It would make sense if they’re serious about keeping XF alive, even if The Voice is not nearly as good of a betting opportunity. In my opinion the manipulation is still there, but generally for *no* commercial result for anybody involved, and nobody with a platform is really calling it out.

        Sorry for the text wall!

        • The Voice is a game show for the 4 celebrity coaches that are trying to get one of their pawns over the finish line – win the show. The blind auditions are the main attraction of the show, so they try to get over the live shows part as quickly as possible. X Factor usually does 10 weeks of the live shows, the Voice half of that if lucky. The middle round are “battles”, again a sign it’s not about discovering viable talent. Basically, the format is pure crap as far as producing successful recording artists goes. And they don’t have a SYCO to handle those with potential after the season. Just looking at the winners of The Voice UK you can get the idea how terrible it is.

          • Nissl

            Last season’s Voice winner is a good example of the difference between the formats. I thought there were a couple of acts in the field with at least modest commercial potential, but instead the audience went for an incredibly technically skilled winner who was also an emotionally hollow showboater. Hands up, who bought his album? Who even knew it came out? XF would have either gotten him to rethink his approach or kneecapped him for it halfway through. (Oh who am I kidding, they’d probably dump him at bootcamp as a threat, with Simon saying he didn’t like him.) Is this better or worse?

            Conversely, someone like Fleur would have never gotten past the first round on The Voice, yet here she is lighting up the charts a year later.

            I think the battle rounds on The Voice are particularly strong at undercutting any chance the viewer will see any of The Voice contestants as worthy of their long-term attention. They are, as you said, simply pawns.

        • David Cook

          Nissl – some interesting comments regarding the format of XF and the Voice. I have to agree with much of what you say. The difficulty with the Voice is in knowing what the audience are going to vote for. I don’t really think Stevie McCrorie won it because he was a technically skilled singer – certainly that didn’t do Leah McFall any favours. Personally I think it comes down to a popularity contest and Stevie ticked all the boxes; he was a decent looking bloke, he was a fireman, with a young photogenic family. No doubt coming from Scotland also played no small part, as he received widespread coverage – a lot of it on BBC radio and TV – north of the border in the lead up to the final. As far as the voters were concerned he could sing, and that’s good enough because nobody’s interested in buying anyway.
          I think one of the problems is that there are simply too many similar programmes – XF, the Voice, BGT – and they come round on a continuous rota. People watch the programme – they support their favorites – and beyond that they don’t care because it’s on to the next one.
          If there is a particular problem with the Voice – and I agree there is – then it comes down to the ridiculously short time each act gets – 90 seconds in the blind auditions – even less in the Battles and the Knockouts. It does favor the more technically able singers, whilst encouraging acts to throw the kitchen sink at every performance. It’s simply not long enough to build a performance or become emotionally engaged in what’s being sung. There are good acts there, but they don’t get the chance to show it.

          • Nissl

            Whoops, I was talking about two years ago, with Jermain Jackman. I checked out of the McCrorie season entirely, and as an American forgot it happened. I have seen a bit and think he mostly got through on likability and demographic box-ticking. I agree with your other comments about the format.

            I agree with your comment that increasingly few fans of these shows even give a thought to following acts post-show these days. Almost everyone has been through many seasons at this point, and there’s always another one on. You have to be truly exceptional – or have a big marketing budget – to be more interesting than the next crop, who have the shows spending to build storylines around them.

        • Lia

          Malmsteen! Wow! Hadn’t heard that name for years! Probably since the days I was out with with my friends playing in rock bands in garages (or anywhere they’d have us, basically). 🙂

      • 360

        Interesting that you think she was a plant. I didn’t watch the show with a critical eye until Janet Devlin’s year – unsure if it’s nostalgia or if it genuinely wasn’t as transparent back then with the smaller staging, shorter live shows, and different judges.

        With that in mind, are there any other acts from older shows you think stand out as being planted? Rhydian rings alarm bells for me now given how much was invested in that persona.

      • Ricky A

        I agree that it will take Simon’s help or at least acquiescence for any act to succeed.

        The best chance anyone could have is to launch immediately after the season is over. However, these acts are still in contract with X factor 1 year after the season ends and any fleeting fame they would have gained would have been gone by then if they are not going to be promoted by XFactor.

  • Lia

    I understand the people who argue the teens know what they’re getting into when they sign up for it, but I honestly don’t think they fully comprehend all that it entails: long hours, stress, not eating properly… all that to not be given any chance to shine. It feels like Tptb are just playing a dangerous game: if it’s a good song choice, we’ll give you naff staging. If your staging is good, you don’t need a decent backing track. If you did well anyway we’ll just make you look like a whore.

    This is the first year I have not enjoyed the show. Not at all. And that’s a big thing coming from me. I am one arduous XF defender, I don’t miss a show, it’s a commitment. But this year, for the first time, I find myself drifting away while watching it. I haven’t seen a single performance that I’d call a “moment” (drink!). It all feels forced: you should feel this is great because we’re telling you.

    I am far from the innocent viewer. I have been part of the Sofabet community for years. I discovered it through The Bitch Factor (RIP I miss u dearly). But I always found positives and great performances and entertainment. This year, NOTHING! If it wasn’t for Sofabet I would probably have joined the millions of viewers who don’t watch anymore.

    I always loved the unpredictability. The switch to plan B, plan C… Now I can predict a sh** performance will be praised to high heaven, a great performance will be unfairly criticised, someone will look like a whore/gigolo and someone will be nobbled is an extreme way.

    Richard Betsfactor wrote a while ago: the franchise comes first. They will always protect the franchise and put on a great show. Then comes record sales. Then the tour. This year the just decided to take a huge dump on the franchise. They completely forgot the XF is a TV show. The XF is an entertainment program. Well, it should be, at least.

    They can launch a successful career out of a 6th place finish. Why mess with it so much?


    • Nissl

      Your last point is a really good one, Lia. I understand Cowell wants to avoid the “loser” tag on his favorite acts, but at this point there’s a firm popular narrative that the runners-up tend to outdo the winners anyway. Heck, I’m seeing a lot of posts today from people that don’t even remember that Little Mix won and have classed them with 1D as distant runners up in their season.

      Maybe it would be educational for the public to see a couple more acts they tossed overboard in the midtable blow up the charts the following year. I suppose that is playing with fire, but hey, Cowell has been getting burned by the current approach for several seasons as it is. Popular acts on the show getting visibly screwed by the producers may be the biggest factor that has turned most viewers off the show. All it takes is one season of one of your acts getting hit.

  • Curtis


    Nice article by Janet Devlin that shows a far better response to The X Factor than say, Steve Brookstein! It may have built her up and tore her down, but at the end of the day it gave her the fanbase that allowed her to make a career in music.

    • Dean F

      In terms of personality and musical ability Janet Devlin is my fave ever contestant and that article makes me like her more. I still listen to her music and bought her album and a couple EPs

      The funny thing is the show built her up then tried to destroy her. She knows that, but she still is grateful for the opportunity to build a fanbase which in the first instance helped her build from there

      • Janet Devlin was robbed in 2011. On the plus side, it meant she got to make the music she wanted and I got to see her live in a tiny room above a pub in Birmingham this time last year!

        • Dan

          Her music was so much weaker than it could have been though 🙁

          • Nissl

            I’m not particularly a Devlin fan, but I did give some of her stuff a listen on Spotify a few days ago out of curiosity. I think she’s done fairly well for a 17-21 year old with no major label support (i.e. no major league songwriting and production teams). The quality is uneven but there are a few decent tracks, and it’s very rare to see an artist that writes their own material truly hit their stride before age 25 or so.

      • Curtis

        Yeah, I think I’d have to agree with Janet as favourite contestant – and if she wasn’t before, then she certainly became it with that article.

        And I like her music! Is it the best thing I’ve ever heard? No, but it’s a whole lot better than what she’d probably be doing if she were with Syco!

    • R

      Thanks for posting, I was just about to do the same.

      This article seems to be gaining some traction as a number of independent artists have retweeted. James Arthur & Abi Alton have also RT’d it today.

      She also seems to be set to take off in a big way next year through a lot of hard work, talent and getting to understand the industry the hard way.

    • Lia

      Very wise girl! I admire her for all the hard work and commitment. It takes guts!

  • Martin

    Just saw that there are pictures on their respective Instagram accounts of Andrea Faustini and Mel B having dinner together today. Not entirely relevant but I think it’s quite sweet to be honest. Does add some weight behind those who argued all was not quite right with her last year.

    • Lia

      I always found Mel more of a loose cannon and liked her even more for that. We have to remember she spent a few years doing XF Australia, which I hear is not heavily manipulated. She may have struggled to adapt and it goes against her personality to follow a script.
      You could feel the tension and see Simon’s death stare when she criticised Fleur. Good times!

      • Martin

        I think there was talk of her going rogue in a sing off wasn’t there? I can’t really remember, but I thought last year that her relationship with Andrea seemed genuine, and I thought her no show on the first night of the final may have been some sort of stand against them doing Andrea over. We’ll never know for sure, but I loved her last year.

      • Alan

        Without knowing anything about it I can well imagine that’s what it was like. The idea of them being involved in the decision making process at production meetings probably is a good sell to potential judges but when it comes to throwing an act under the bus, particularly one that you have built a rapport with, that must be very hard. It’s easy to see how someone like Mel, who wears her heart on her sleeve (that’s me at my politest), might not want to go along with the tactics that were employed to bring Andrea’s vote under control. With a level playing field he would have probably won. Like Sharron before her it was no surprise that she didnt do a second series.

  • Caro

    I know there are always stories created about rivalry between judges but I thought it was interesting that in this article Simon is referred to as knowing that Reggie n Bollie ‘could be a cash cow’.

    • Dazzle

      I read this as if it is to dampen reggae and bollies vote because there is a slight chance they could be topping the vote or to make it less obvious they are favouring Louisa.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Now a campaign to make Louisa more human. I like to think someone in the production team read my post about Taytay and Gaga.


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