X Factor 2016 First Elimination: Do You Relley Want to Hurt Me?

Over the last three years, the clear pre-show favourite for first elimination has indeed departed: Bupsi, Blonde Electra and Lorna Simpson. Before that, Carolynne Poole was a big price to go first in 2012, but generally speaking, producers’ first target has been correctly identified by punters. I think it’s fair to say Carolynne Poole wasn’t a target at all.

Interestingly, all four of those acts had a second-half draw: 10/13, 11/16, 9/12 and 11/12. You have to go back to Nu Vibe in 2011 for a bottom-of-first-public-vote from the first half of the show (1/12). Though it’s worth bearing in mind that for the last two years, the other victims in a double-elimination first weekend (Alien Uncovered and Overload Generation) were both drawn at 3. This was also the spot at which both Miss Dynamix and Melanie Masson just avoided the singoff in 2013 and 2012, only to be eliminated after their next performance.


I’d say that context is more important than a knee-jerk reaction to the running order. For example, Bupsi was on relatively late – beyond the Strictly crossover – but was in the middle of a big-hitter sandwich (Louisa Johnson and Fourth Impact), given an obscure song, a damning VT which suggested she was a freeloader, unhelpful staging, and lukewarm comments. All classic X Factor tactics to dampen any appeal.

Tonight’s Strictly crossover period lasts a whopping 50 minutes – as always it will be interesting to see who gets the slot after BBC1 viewers switch over once the rival show has finished – which may be deemed advantageous by producers. But that means the first 4-5 acts will appear whilst some of the later audience are watching the other side. Obviously, not all of them will be in the bottom two.

Bookmakers have two clear favourites for elimination this week: at the time of writing Bratavio just shade Relley C at the top of the market. We’ve been told that Bratavio will be doing a Venagboys / Aqua mash-up. A medley of more than one song can be helpful for a novelty fun act, but if the staging mirrors Blonde Electra’s colour-vomit mess, it will indicate producers aren’t that interested in keeping them out of the bottom two this weekend.

Relley C’s lack of screentime during auditions reminds us of Lorna Simpson, and suggests that she is the most disposable of all the acts tonight. That’s why she was just preferred at the bottom of our 1-12 prediction list. Her inclusion in the live shows at the expense of far more obvious candidates in her category, really does indicate her role is “week 1 fodder”. But it’s worth remembering that producers can occasionally switch things up in the first live show. Luke Friend is one example of an assumed gamma in his category given a surprise push early on.

Next in the elimination market come Saara Aalto, Freddy Parker and Honey G. Saara’s fortunes feel like they are linked to Relley C’s in that they are both potential first targets among the Overs, traditionally the weakest category (a tradition that looks more likely than not to be upheld this year). Three of the last four first eliminees have come from the Overs. If Relley is treated helpfully, that wouldn’t be encouraging for Saara’s survival chances, and vice versa. She gets to sing ‘Let It Go’ to cement her “snow fairy” status, but again, how it’s staged and received will tell us more.


Freddy has been on the receiving end of a few articles which aren’t 100% positive this week – for example, suggesting he went on a bender after hearing he got through to the lives, which isn’t helpful when your drink-drive shame has recently been revealed. He’s currently looking like the gamma boy to get the Jack Walton / Jake Quickenden first week softening. Meanwhile, the X Factor press machine has been in overdrive for Honey G, and we expect the kitchen sink thrown at her tonight as producers hope she remains a talking point.

The first show is usually a chance to treat plenty of acts fairly to see how they float with the public. I expect that to happen with most of the other acts, which is why they are big prices to be eliminated this weekend. There’s still no news of a possible wildcard, or indeed a full list of song choices at the time of going to press (though we know that Freddy and Emily have made late changes). Stay tuned in the comments and/or follow us on Twitter. Finally, do give us your in-play thoughts below during an eagerly anticipated night on the Sofabet forum.

Photos via ©ITV / @ThePixelFactor

101 comments to X Factor 2016 First Elimination: Do You Relley Want to Hurt Me?

  • Cheers Daniel and here’s to a great season.

    Remember that we also have the return of the silent assassin that is Dermot O’ Leary. The Petra Mede of X Factor. I’ll be watching his invisible knife closely. That nice man Sir Jimmy Savile taught us all that the best place to hide is in plain sight.

    In all seriousness have a good one. See you on the Sofabet sofa later.

  • Stu

    Very much looking forward to tonight’s show. But next week’s will be more telling in terms of the vote. I’m actually having doubts with my Relley prediction of 11th (IIRC). Would Sharon really agree to come back just to be out halfway through the lives again? Honey G won’t be make it to the business end and Saara had her card marked with that distasteful 6CC edit (along with the Robbie moment at JH). While Relley has barely been shown much this year, there isn’t a Sam Bailey in her category, unlike what Lorna had to contend with. This isn’t me saying she’ll be another Fleur East, but I think there’s another scope to push her to a final five finish. She’s the most commercial of Sharon’s category after all.

  • 360

    A note on Relley and Saara, before they get thrown to the dogs and prove me wrong:

    Relley is only 26 this year. How they dress her will be an important indicator of their true intentions. She’s also capable of a very different style than how she’s appeared thus far – she had a blonde bob in 2013 when she last appeared on the show. So a Fleur East style run just from those details isn’t completely off the cards.

    Re: Saara, although the Frozen song will pigeonhole her, it will also play very well to young girl viewers and ‘the snow fairy’ may well be being positioned as a childrens’ appeal act. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her doing Disney every week and being put onto the tour in order to get kids to nag their parents for tickets. It’s a market they haven’t aggressively targeted really since Same Difference, or in a pinch, Little Mix or the mixed-gender group a few years back that did The Monster Mash.

    Looking forward to the show!

  • swablu

    I don’t see how anyone except Bratavio can go tonight, otherwise Sharon could be out in Week 3 if they’re not careful. I think they will take good care of all the overs this week, or at least they should. I thought maybe Saara until they said she’s singing Let It Go and how can she do badly with a song she’s so excessively comfortable with?
    Bratavio are NOTHING like Rylan, they take themselves way too seriously. Also didn’t Blonde Electra jump into Louis’ pool during Judges Houses? Duos who jump in Louis’ pool at Judges Houses are eliminated first.

  • Martin

    It seems like they’re doing their best for Saara tonight – if they’re planned on nuking her they aren’t doing it via song choice. Sharon is the most vulnerable judge – I think they may do their best for Honey G and Brattavio but one of them may find themselves bottom two regardless.

  • tpfkar

    I think we’re being a bit too sympathetic to Sharon here – the producers knew the impact of both the choices made in the Overs, and Sharon’s obvious lack of enthusiasm for them. If they pivot now to avoid humiliating Sharon, it’s quite a change, and the damage is done.

    Her category look like fodder, unfortunately.

  • tpfkar

    Brooks Way out apparently…pending investigation. Their odds have shot out on Betfair

  • 360

    Daily Star says Brooks are ‘suspended’ this week until further investigation. “11 acts will perform tonight with one of them getting the boot in tomorrow night’s show as normal.”


  • Dan

    If they are going to replace The Brooks, the market says 4 of Diamonds.

  • Martin

    I bet they’re wishing they had a wild card now. Which act rejected from judges houses lives closest to the studio?!


    This would be a great plan if they had the foresight to do this and parachute in another act a la Amelia Lily but the timing suggests no.

    I personally would do a buyback halfway through but I doubt it.

  • Bloody hell. Will they EVER change that set?

  • Sagand

    It feels strange going into a live show without knowing the songs that are going to be sung.

    5AM leave plenty of room for improvement in the vocals but good enough for week 1. (Already got an ‘all the way to the final’ in the comments)

  • Death slot for Slavery. A bit of a curveball.

  • This staging, song and slot screams Big Red Bus. I don’t get it?

  • Curtis

    That was a baaad performance by Sam. Simon deciding he needed to address that elephant in the room. You’d have to say that she has to be in at least a small amount of trouble.

  • Sagand

    It think Sam had the biggest range of possible finishes. The song and comments were good, the staging, styling and slot weren’t. It gives them a baseline reading on her support, but leaning towards no long term plans.

  • 360

    Strong praise for 5AM, a little overblown though – they were struggling on those chorus falsettos. Very good VT and a vote of confidence putting them up first. With Louis down to 2 groups in week 1 they should be safe as houses.

    Sam Lavery brought the mood down a bit I think. Very Jade Ellis/Sophie Habibis. An odd arrangement of the song that didn’t really go anywhere. However, good vocal and good comments from the judges, should be aiming to set her up for at least a middle-of the pack finish. Also, the announcer is pronouncing her name very strangely – literally to rhyme with SLAVERY. I would pronounce Lavery with a hard lav like lavatory.

    Side note – did anybody else pick up on Sharon namedropping Birmingham when talking about Relley in her introduction? Motivating a regional vote might see her safe in week 1. In that case would it be a battle of the novelty acts this week??

  • Lenny

    Think that was enough to keep both acts safe. Thought 5 After Midnight was a strange choice of opener, but they did a very modern song and I think the urban backdrop suited them even if it did have a bit of colour vomit. Emphasising their names in the VT and then having them come through the crowd should both help build a connection with the audience.

    More mixed for Sam. She should be OK this week but maybe she’s not wanted long term. They gave her a chance to show a powerful vocal and she did descend from a platform, but the references made by the judges to James Arthur (obvious given the song) and Evanescence (will the target audience remember them?). Mixed bag there.

  • Sharon clearly not abstaining until Song 9.

  • Tpfkar

    The last words on Saara’s VT were “I’m hoping for a happy ending to my journey.” And Mrs O conveniently forgot who nominated her to come back, or where she was from. Winter staging…looking ominous?

    • Curtis

      Yeah I noticed that, and felt that the Norway “mistake” was all there to distract from the performance.

      However the performance and the judges comments did not suggest an end to her journey yet – maybe setting her up for next week?

      • Jessica Hamby

        If she goes B2 this week and she’s saved then surely she can expect a bounce. Unless someone else shoots a nun live on stage I don’t see how she can avoid B2.

        Right now I think Saara’s going on deadlock tomorrow.

  • Nice to see Lordi as her backing dancers.

  • Sagand

    The only thing Saara has going for her is ‘Let It Go’ is a very popular song.

    Did anyone miss that she isn’t British?

  • Pushing the couple angle hard on this postcard.

  • “ABROAD”, way to ignite a Pro-Brexit anti-vote for the Finn.

  • Red, Black and an empty cinema. Very dark empty cinema too.

  • Sagand

    *This act was brought to you by wanting more time to pimp Emily*

  • Lenny

    Not looking great for Saara – the stuff about where she’s from all seemed a little pointed at one thing – it’s “not here anyway”. Very dark setting and facial expressions, I know there is some darkness in the lyrics to Let It Go even if it is a Disney song. At least she didn’t get the puffy princess dress treatment.

    Made a big deal of where Ryan’s from too, although presumably in this case it was to motivate rather than derail. VT made a very obvious point of his relationship with Emily. Will it distract from what was really a very forgettable performance. We did get our first critical comment out of Simon.

  • 360

    Saara tonight wearing the Monica Michael memorial dress and making a Disney song into Halloween. Not a good sign for her longevity. The song was oversung too and her makeup and hair was very androgynous.

  • This is almost designed to piss off Middle England. CBW with added slut drops.

  • Jessica Hamby

    It seems superfluous to mention it but Saaa’s song title was “Let It Go”. She also rather conveniently described her performance in the past tense and made it into an ejd of journey monent all by herself. The professionalism of Dermot shone out when you could actually see the moment that he made the decision to let her have the last word. Worth every penny.

    Gifty was quite horribly out of tune at moments. She’ll go far.

  • Sagand

    The quality of the staging for Gifty was three levels higher than anyone else so far. She may not be for everyone but she’ll still be here at the business end.

  • Rose L

    Gifty’s performance was great – but she has a very sexy image and I am wondering how well that will go down with the voters….

  • Lenny

    Very solid performance from Gifty. VT managed to go into her humble background and losing her mother at a young age. Mentioned she wasn’t born in Britain but unlike Saara didn’t seem like it was being used as a stick to beat her with. Comments from Nicole about her having more to give suggests they’re planning to keep her around for a while.

    Also the only act having an advert break on both sides of her performance, that’s a good thing for her surely.

  • Phil

    I’m calling Gifty as Plan A right now.

  • Sagand

    Relley C to be sandwiched by Gifty and Matt. Will she get the first negative comments? She’ll be bottom 2 for sure.

  • 360

    I thought the Gifty set was a mixed bag. Simon managed to blame the song choice on her, and what she was dressed in was uh…brave, knee high stiletto boots and a mesh skirt over hotpants. There was also a shot where Mrs O tells her she looks gorgeous or something which immediately cuts to a shot which seems to make that comment ironic; gorgeous isn’t a word I’d use for the outfit she had on. Namedropping that she’s an immigrant into her VT also could be mixed. However on the plusses we have the bereavement and her bonding with Sam and seeming down to earth.

    I don’t think she’s Plan A but overall that was a better shot than Samantha’s. Emily yet to come.

  • That rapping won’t have helped.

  • Curtis

    Relley’s by no means safe, but the performance has definitely helped her chances rather than hurt them.

    • Ben Cook

      I think the assumption that she was put in as cannon fodder was clearly wrong. Perfect song choice, nice gold staging, falling glitter… though they’ve been pretty kind to all the contestants so far tonight

  • Matt red and blacked, singing the Lauren Murray Memorial Playing A High Class Hooker Song.

  • Dean

    Standout so far for me Matt and Saara

    Can see Ryan going so far. But still a few to go.

  • Samantha Lavery. Early slot. Painfully off key and shouty (listen again) as well as also purposely given a song that started far too low in her registry (until the song got going where she can shout). This girl has nasty sounding and annoyingly grating holes in her vocal range where she has to force it out (through constant nodule damage to vocal chords for doing the same as a wannabe karaoke singer). If not this week, she is soon to be toast, so I had a very small bet at 20/1 to go (where Ladbrokes soon had her at 10/1 to go this week).

  • Phil

    There is an act every single year that I just don’t get, but who inexplicably goes all the way to the final. This year, it’s Matt.

  • Lenny

    Well, at least Sharon knows where Relley’s from I suppose. I’m not sure if Relley goes this week any more. Not sure how the rapping works out, does it not devalue Honey G’s schtick with that? Big regional shout out, including Louis’ traditional “Birmingham, vote for Relley”. Could go further than I expected.

    Definate positivity for Matt. VT with Freddy brings up his “girlfriend issues”, heavily reinforced by the lyrics in the song. Big praise from judges. Still think he’s plan A.

    • Fudd

      One issue with Matt… they had Freddy question his girlfriend issues where Matt clearly denied he was going out with his girlfriend again promptly followed by Brian saying ‘I don’t believe you’. He was talking about the performance but that edit wouldn’t have been by accident either – it made it sound like he was throwing out an accusation regarding Matt’s denial.

  • 360

    Both Sharon and Louis called out Birmingham to vote for Relley. Very good comments too and a strong backing track buffing her up. However, they dressed her older than she is. I’m calling safe this week, but with potential to go either way.

    Matt very strong despite being red and blacked, having an empty stage, a plinth and singing a woman’s song. My theory: hit him hard this week to soften up the playing field and bring everyone down to a more neutral level to see who excels. Or to test Emily.

    Current shout for B2: Saara vs Bratavio with Bratavio to go or it to be deadlocked.

    Also interesting that Freddy has been held back to the end of the show out of the Strictly overlap zone.

  • Sagand

    Mixed messages for Matt, Red & Black staging and the lyric change “Don’t tell me I can’t go out with the boys” isn’t really appealing to women.

  • Lot of red and black tonight….

  • Dean

    I don’t believe in red and black unless there is a true context and the rest of the staging

  • Rose L

    They put Freddie back behind his piano again, namechecked his first audition in the comments afterwards and then Simon told him he should have stayed there behind the piano for the entire song. Not stuck as a one trick pony at all then.

  • And the stage has thrown up, right on cue.

    X Factor producers, you’re SO Sofabet.

  • Sagand

    It’s a complete rerun of Blonde Electra’s week one booting.

  • Alan

    I dont know about the acts but can we vote to lose one of the judges every week too?

  • 360

    There are no words for how much I disliked the Brattavio performance. I think the British public will concur. At least Blonde Electra seemed like nice enough girls too – these two don’t have a redeeming feature between them.

    Freddy in the firing line too. Half of the song had no words!

  • Lenny

    Mixed for Freddy there. Playing the change of song card can go both ways – Simon very critical but blames Nicole rather than Freddy. VT mixed also, lots of cute dogs but the “Mammy’s boy” stuff could go either way. Got to play his piano but also got red and blacked. Still first boy out I reckon.

    Bratavio – yep, exactly what we all expected, big show, camp, colour vomit, mash-up. Predictably, Simon hates it and Louis claims it’s “different” and “fun” to detract from one simple fact – it’s not good. And the chicken thing, again. I know, I know, it’s a joke act, you need to be distracting.

  • Dean

    I thought Emily wasn’t great but she has enough support

  • Donald

    Bad choice of song Emily, way too low for her!

  • Sagand

    Gifty is alpha girl.

  • So Honey G in the pimp slot. Interesting.

  • Curtis

    Not exactly a textbook start if she is the chosen one.

  • Lenny

    A dampening for Emily. Not enough to be under any threat of going, but changing the song, on a platform and in a cage and especially criticism from Nicole (always seems worse when it’s from someone other than Simon). Probably more intended for her to come back with a great performance next week than to get rid of her.

  • Dean

    What happened to brooks?

  • Dean

    Honey G lol but defo will go reasonably far

  • Dean

    Four of Diamonds back next week?

  • Rose L

    Are they really forgetting to mention Brookes Way or did I miss that bit? Have to say Honey G was much better than I expected and I agree, she will do well

  • Lenny

    I’m not sure Simon liking it is the best thing for Honey G – usually the joke acts get more mileage if Simon hates them. If there’s anything this confirmed for me it’s that she’s almost certainly in on the joke. I think if a VT ever starts showing us the real person behind the act it might be time to back her to go.

  • Sagand

    They mentioned Brooks Way at the between making sound like they’ll be back next week.

  • HONEY G in the pimp slot???? (After picking myself up from the floor laughing my A*** off), I then looked up the meaning of ‘Red Herring’…”[from the practice of drawing a red herring across a trail to confuse hunting dogs] : something that distracts attention from the real issue”. This will only ever happen ‘once’ though.

  • By having two novelty acts in the show, one makes the other look better. That is, Bratavio’s hot ’90s mess makes Honey G’s rapstravaganza seem slicker and more fun.

  • Sagand

    The change to a bottom 3 with an app save is a big change and rules out anyone going due to complacency.

    • Curtis

      Do the bottom 3 votes add onto the votes they already have? Or is a fresh start?

    • 360

      Also explains the three acts clearly in the firing line: Freddy, Saara and Brattavio. Presumably the latter will come rock bottom. They’ll be testing this bottom 3 thing to see which acts have fanbase mileage.

      • Alan

        Cant help thinking voting to save will help Honey G. It usually helps keep the more divisive characters in Big Borther doesnt it?

      • Sagand

        If those three are the bottom three then Bratavio are gonna be saved by the app surely? It’s a clever way to keep the joke acts in longer and not have the judges get the blame.

        • 360

          I mean, I don’t know. Normally with a novelty act I would say so but I really haven’t heard anyone have a positive word to say about Brattavio. They aren’t particularly funny or talented and are actively dislikeable as people. Also they’re even more playing with gender than the boy who wore the skirt last year who actually was a decent singer and didn’t make it past week 2.

          Previous novelty acts e.g. Jedward, Rylan, even Katie Waisell have had some degree of charm to them to offset their flaws. These two just come across a little creepy, to me at least. I have a strong negative reaction to them. But I’ve not heard any fans of them really online either – even on DS which normally laps this stuff up!

  • Kieran

    Strange song choice for Matt but not gonna lie he smashed the fucking thing out of orbit. He will EASILY win the show.

    Also good to have Nicole back

  • Phil

    A quick glance at how many reactions the XF Facebook statuses have following their respective performances shows a TINY reaction to Freddy in comparison to everyone else.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Plan A only has to survive for the first few weeks. Best if they emerge mid / late season and the public believe they have chosen them. After last year’s Louisa dusaster where everyone felt the bias I doubt they’ll be so obvious this time around.

  • That left more questions than answers. Lots of very untypical XF tricks there. Red & Black heavily used, especially on acts that I expected to be pimped. A joke act in the pimp slot.

    I think Bratavio are almost certainly safe – they’ll get enough votes for the lolz. There’s enough evidence of this in both X Factor and Eurovision in previous years – Lordi, Verka Seducha, Rylan, Wagner – and of course Jedward in both competitions!

  • Scott

    So yeah … I agree with James on most of that, although I’m not in the slightest surprised that Honey G was in the pimp slot. Setting fire to her at the start was somewhat unexpected, but it’s hard to see her treatment as negative otherwise, given her entire song and backdrop involved reminding the viewers of her name.

    Emily now strikes me as more of a Nicholas Macdonald and the young girl I can’t remember the name of for the life of me who finished third or fourth some years back. It could just be the song, but she doesn’t seem to have the belting vocals the public want from an X Factor winner. You could imagine it would be quite easy to dampen her appeal should the power that be need to, maybe that’s what they were testing out tonight.

    In terms of who’s going this week – that Freddy treatment, and the tabloid headlines, say to me he’s the best value bet. He seemed to be fighting the odd arrangement of the song throughout and the judges’ comments were not helpful. I could however make a case for Bratavio – you can only imagine middle England’s thoughts, it was colour vomit and they’ve changed their name. It would be harder to justify keeping them in as well over Freddy (not that it’s stopped them in the past). Relley C got good treatment and a popular song, but was that an end of journey moment?

    The new voting system also makes me a little wary of making a leap, so I’ll be watching the odds with interest before jumping.

  • michelle

    I don’t think the cross over with strictly will hurt any of the earlier acts in this first week. given it’s a whole 50mins means any one who wanted to could switch to ITV+1 and watch the whole thing. Leaving a 10min window to put the kettle on.

  • michelle

    Also i think having Honey G in the pimp slot was probably due to the producers not really picking a favorite yet. Votes going to Honey G probably won’t eat into any of the serious acts demographics. Also it gives the producers time to see how the public react to the other acts and how malleable the acts themselves are to producer intervention.

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