X Factor 2016 Week 3 Elimination: Ctrl-Aalto-Delete?

With the X Factor’s list of song choices this week recycling some familiar numbers, we can recycle one of our favourite Sofabet headlines, right? We first used it regarding Abi Alton. As recounted in our deep-dive retrospective on Abi’s journey, after inadvertently reducing her to tears with their treatment, the show granted Abi a dignity-recovering week of positivity before moving in for the kill.


This week’s elimination market revolves around whether they’ll extend the same courtesy to odds-on favourite Saara Aalto, whose singoff last week was introduced in this undignified fashion:

Sharon: “Now is the songword from abroad…” [blank look]
Louis: “Finland”
Sharon: “Ffff -” [realises that this is not Saara’s name]
Louis: “Saara.”
Sharon: “Saara!”

Poor Saara. We had remarked last week that her mix of kookiness and belting vocals reminded us of Kitty Brucknell, and producers have given her Kitty’s week 2 song, Bjork’s ‘Oh So Quiet’. You may remember the staging, which referenced the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Kitty only just avoided the bottom two from the pimp slot.

That doesn’t bode particularly well for the Finn, trying to bounce after appearances in both singoffs so far. Being from “abroad” has been her main storyline, and it feels like that doesn’t have much further to run. Still, there’s no reason why they can’t offer Saara a big, fun production, and kinder comments than Louis suggesting nobody likes her last week.

And we can’t rule out a third consecutive singoff save. It’s a storyline, after all – one they last ran with when Katie Waissel hit the bottom two in weeks 4, 5 and 6. Here’s a tip for Saara: precedent suggests that the way to survive a third consecutive singoff is to interrupt yourself mid-song with “you know what, sod it” and sit down on the stage.

Ryan Lawrie is next in the elimination betting having been saved from last week’s bottom three. As a cute boy from Scotland, there are two reasons why certain parts of the voting demographic could be motivated to provide a “sympathy bounce” out of this week’s danger zone.

If so, he would be the first example of it this series, and it remains to be seen how closely the phenomenon of the sympathy bounce is linked to surviving the drama of the singoff, rather than merely having been revealed to be low in the vote. When the US X Factor experimented with revealing the full finishing order each week in 2012, those revealed to have been just above the singoff didn’t benefit in the following week’s vote.

Ryan takes on Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’ this time, which – like Freddy last week – runs the danger of being called out as too big for him. Along with the whole of Coatbridge, we’ll be watching to see if producers are willing to work with any potential bounce.

Freddy was one of only two acts in the Strictly overlap last week. That window is 20 minutes tonight.

Four of Diamonds have been backed from 16/1 for next elimination to around half that price. Last week wasn’t the most promising return for the girlband, with both staging and song arrangement not allowing them to shine in a rendition of ‘Keep Me Hanging On’ that felt very karaoke. It was a muted comeback compared to previous surprise returnees such as Monica Michael and Amelia Lily, and both those acts were treated far worse the following week.

They’ve been given a mashup of ‘Lady Marmalade’ and ‘Bang Bang’. On the plus side, medleys can be useful if handled well, and these were two songs given to promote Fleur East in her 2014 run to the final. Looking at potential negatives, the songs are thematically aggressive and sexually suggestive – see girlband Hope’s take on Lady Marmalade from 2007 – when something more demure may better suit the youngsters. A ballad would also have given them more chance to show off their “60s harmonies” which they’ve told us is their USP.

Relley C may be 26, but she continues to be given 40-year-old songs – this time ‘Natural Woman’ – alongside her 40-year-old styling. Interestingly, the last two times ‘Natural Woman’ has been heard on this show were as the singoff song of two acts who were promptly eliminated, Lola Saunders and Sami Brookes.

To be fair, the positivity for Relley continued last week, with an appearance from her father and more shout-outs to Birmingham. There was no real softening then, and I’d have to see evidence of it in the show itself to start worrying about her immediate future.

The girls remains the most intriguingly open category. Gifty Louise looks like she’ll be displaying a gentler side for the Middle England audience with Sam Smith’s ‘Lay Me Down’. It feels like a suitable choice. Sam Lavery’s ‘Earth Song’ worked to good effect for Andrea Faustini when he won the week 1 televote in 2014.

Emily Middlemas’s ‘How Will I Know’ has been used on the show previously for Sam Bailey, Lucie Jones and Lauren Platt. We may see a version a lot like Lauren’s in 2014, that started slowly before going upbeat halfway through. At this point, it felt like producers were putting a lid on her vote with a succession of early draws and colour vomit staging, so Emily’s choice is possibly the least promising of the three.

Some of our commenters have questioned Honey G’s choice of an ‘Ice Ice Baby’ / ‘Under Pressure’ mashup as it relates to the Divas theme. But the songs worked well enough for Jedward in their week 6 bounce, and it gives the opportunity for another massive production.

That leaves outright market leaders Matt Terry with Mariah’s ‘I’ll Be There’ (previously covered by Fourth Impact, Lauren Platt and Union J), and 5 After Midnight with Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’ (Che Chesterman’s final-opening song last year). Both choices could give some leeway for the first qualifications among judges comments, should producers not want to make it so obvious that both acts are intended for the final.

Returning to the elimination picture, it really feels like Saara’s story has run its course, unless they want her to continue as the singoff assassin. In order of likelihood, I see Four of Diamonds, Ryan and Relley as the most likely to join her. It’ll be interesting to see if they keep the Sunday flash vote to save one of the bottom three. One of its effects so far has been revealing one more piece of dead wood in the early polling than strictly necessary.

Let us know your continued thoughts below.

Photos via ©ITV / @ThePixelFactor

88 comments to X Factor 2016 Week 3 Elimination: Ctrl-Aalto-Delete?

  • Tom H

    John Legend mentoring the acts this week, his comments:

    “I really liked Four of Diamonds, I really thought they were wonderful. And Gifty was great, she had such a good energy. I think both Matt and Relley can be better than they were today, they are both really talented.”

    So we could be looking at a pimping of Matt/Relley by performing way better live than for John in the VT. Also, FoD and Gifty could have the “John Legend loves you, I love you, the audience at home loves you, everyone’s falling in love with you…” pimping pitch.


    As a major Björk fan and Saara supporter I quite like her song choice (you’d be hard pressed to find someone who deems it their favourite Björk song but it’s nice enough and somewhat iconic for her standards anyway) but it’ll be hard to make it appealing to the audience. Kitty did a decent job with it but the screaming is a major part of the song so it either gets changed and sounds off (like Kitty’s) or you do it like the original and sound vaguely insane. It got Kitty safe (just) but with brilliant staging and a somewhat sympathetic VT which I doubt Saara will be afforded, and Kitty didn’t have to deal with the Scandinavian othering that Saara has been subjected to and won’t be helped by singing Björk.

    If nothing else, we can call Saara the spiritual heir to Kitty’s throne and leave it as that.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Sam Lavery is no Andrea Faustini. It could all go a bit Onkar Judge.


    • Jessica Hamby

      Imo Gifty’s song appeals most to her demo and Sam’s is least appealing / relevant to her demo. I still maintain the rank is clearly 1 Gifty, 2 Emily, 3 Sam as far as tptb are concerned.

      That’s not to say Sam can’t do a good job with Earth Song. She could sing the hell out of it. It’s just not in keeping with the direction she’s been going in so it will not appeal to her fans.

  • Plinkiplonk

    I still think Saara is a B3 definite, but the outcome is dependent on who will be there with her. Ryan looks likely with Adele as a song choice, but he is equally likely to get saved by another teen girl flash vote, so there is nobody that is a certain save against Saara in the sing off (providing they were to go by singing ability). So either she will be with someone expendable, in which case they can continue with the assassin route and save her, or she will be against someone with a longer story line, like Honey G, or Gifty, or possibly Emily, in which case we will hear about her missing connection as a reason for getting rid of her.

    Interestingly, if she is B3 with Ryan and Emily, I would not be surprised to see her win the flash vote. The cynical part of me thinks that app voting is more open to manipulation and ‘interpretation’, and a Ryan/Emily sing off must be top of the list of things that the show would like to happen at some stage.

  • I’ve already posted my thoughts on the elimination in the last article. I just want to add that I wonder if the extra weak comeback production for 4oD combined with the extreme pimping for 5AM might mean the boyband is struggling in the vote a little more than the market seems to think. It shouldn’t be an issue this week as they are due a late slot, but it’s something to keep an eye on I think.

    • David Cook

      I doubt it. The format now seems to be they pimp the favoured acts to high heaven and stuff anyone else irrespective of whether this damages the show as an entertainment programme.

  • David Cook

    The clear targets for B2 are Saara and Ryan in either order. Ryan saved on flash vote and Saara goes home against anyone else on deadlock. Don’t even need to watch it.

  • Tina

    I really don’t get it why they want to get rid of Saara at this point. She most definately can sing better than most of the others, is not a bad performer, is different and attracts international viewers and a touch of drama. So why then? Such a shame.

  • Henry VIII

    Cowell must be thinking – who can I use and abuse to best effect: the funny foreigner or the young couple in love? He’ll want to engineer a Ryan Emily B2 sometime and this might save Ryan for a while. He has even indicated “concern” at how shocking this B2 possibility would be.

    • Tina

      So let’s just sacrifice one of the best female voices for the sake of some teenage love drama…

      • 360

        Have you been watching the show? It’s never about who’s got the best voice. Did you see how many of them they dumped at bootcamp, and that’s just of the auditions we saw broadcast in the first place.

        If anything it’s unfortunate if Saara Aalto thought she was actually coming on a UK singing competition, rather than a drama-filled reality show.

  • Anglia Chu

    Fine point: Mrs. O did not say “songword”; she said “songbird.” I wonder why the uploader above got it wrong.

  • Edie M

    ‘It’ll be interesting to see if they keep the Sunday flash vote to save one of the bottom three. One of its effects so far has been revealing one more piece of dead wood in the early polling than strictly necessary.’

    This is exactly what I’ve been thinking about the flash vote. In a year with only 12 finalists, it functions to create less suspense and is more likely to make the Sunday show feel like a tedious repeat of the week before. What is the point of it?

  • James Martin

    I’m afraid I reluctantly have to agree Saara’s going tomorrow based on that song choice. They’re clearly pushing her as a semi-joke act rather than the very talented woman a cursory search on Spotify will reveal.

    Kitty summed it up for me on Twitter last weekend: to not get votes because she’s from Finland is messed up. Reluctantly I’ve got money on her for the elimination.

    As Lord Sugar would say… “With regret.”

  • Edie M

    Ryan on first, with no praise from John Legend, judges look bored…

  • Rose L

    Ryan was a lamb to the slaughter with first slot with a song totally unsuited to his voice; he’s not going to escape the drop zone but it remains to be seen if they have the flash vote and if he’s saved again.

  • Edie M

    Well they’ve totally middle-englanded Gifty, whether or not that’s a good sign of voting history, it’s certainly seems she has producer support.

    • Curtis

      my impression is that she must’ve been rather low in the vote last week. Oddly with Simon criticising last week’s performance as “gimmicky” it was kinda like they were trying to bounce her from a bottom 3 that didn’t actually happen.

  • Rose L

    But some real softening of Gifty with the sad story of her mum and crying in her VT….they would still like her to be attracting enough votes to come third. And where did that rather harsh haircut go? She’s been using some of Ryan’s Amazing Hair Restorer!

  • 360

    Pimp slot for Saara though, going by the voting phone numbers.

    Not liking the look of Sam sandwiched between 5am and Matt.

    Textbook takedown of Ryan. Let’s see what Emily gets.

  • Rose L

    I do think they’d love to get Gifty to the final but my guess is she hasn’t been polling well, especially not in the first week, and I suspect Rockin’ Robin did her no massive favours either, though it might have been better. This week looked like an all-out bid to make her look like a different person! If that doesn’t work nothing will, I think.

  • stoney

    5am given a surprised slaughtering by simon. Interesting to see what happens with Matt tonight

  • Rose L

    I’d have said they danced a great deal more, and better, than they sang – but Simon’s criticism seemed a bit strong for the situation. It is perhaps to set them up for a journey towards getting better when otherwise they were stuck in the trap of getting high praise and looking like a fix every week. The whole thing was pretty much the antithesis of urban though – not sure what they thought they were doing.

    • EM

      Aye! Who’s your money on for next week’s pimp slot??

    • Fudd

      Was it mentioned in the VT that they chose the song this week rather than the producers? Certainly Simon (by omission in not blaming Louis) and Louis himself indicated that. I think Ryan and 5 After Midnight both upset the behind-the-scenes team with their approach this week. Ryan had nothing to lose but 5 After Midnight???

      Sharon has criticised both Honey G (drifting into an American accent) and Relley (looking worried) tonight. The show is bizarre and not in a good way. To this moment every act has been hit by some negativity except for Matt and Gifty.

  • EM

    Once again Sam stinks the stage out and gets mostly praised to high heaven – she ain’t going nowhere

    • Jessica Hamby

      Gifty’s performance was a million times wose. Horrendous. She was given a “moment” and she used it to drop a turd in the punchbowl. Out of tune and shouty. She won’t get away with that again. Standard this week is woeful.

      Sarra doesn’t have the pimp slot. The vote is already open. The only thing that might save her is that everyone so far is shit.

      Why am I watching? Turns out Mr Hamby likes the x factor….

  • 360

    Interesting comments on Sam. Four-judge standing ovation while Simon claimed it best of the night so far. Gifty must be fuming backstage.

    Also surprised at judges’ comments on 5AM after what I thought was a very impressive and polished performance, not bad singing with ample dance breaks. Simon’s vitriol almost seemed like something was perhaps going on behind the scenes and this was in response to something like that.

    • Curtis

      I thought 5am were a bit ropey on the vocals – and that was probably because their usual backing vocals were either not there or much quieter than usual! That makes me think that it was very much by design.

    • Rose L

      Weird conversation going on between Louis and Simon just before Sam came on – Dermot had to interrupt them to get Simon to present her. I wonder what was being said. Perhaps it was something to do with the comments on 5 After Midnight?

    • Jessica Hamby

      3 judge ovation for Sam. Nicole remained seated.

  • Donald

    Show is hard watch and it not about to get any better. Sharon and Nicole in flying form! They did some number on Ryan.

  • stoney

    The steamtrain tanks on

  • Rose L

    I found the steamtrain pretty screechy at times

  • 360

    Matt continues to be miles above everyone else we’re seeing. Still not the best we’ve had on X Factor ever probably, but him being so much a level above the others just shows how much lower the average has gone nowadays.

  • stoney

    A word for word copy of vanilla ice rap. Crap flow and yet gets another 4 judge standing ovation. She’s struggling for votes. The only people voting for this crap are frustrated boyfriends pissed off that their misses is watching x factor on the tele

    • Sagand

      Legally she wasn’t allowed to change the rap. It was a condition by the copyright holders.

    • EM

      Not allowed to change a word by David Bowie’s estate per today’s papers

    • Rose L

      I agree it was neither original nor good but the fact that they are inviting more photos of all things “G” for next weekend rather suggests they are confident she isn’t going out. Of course this could mean if she ends up near the bottom of the vote, they always intend to save her by judges’ vote on a sing-off, but I have a horrible feeling she is getting votes right now.

      • fused

        “they are inviting more photos of all things “G” for next weekend”

        They’re definitely milking that joke until the last drop. Send in your photos of relatives and/or pets dressed as Honey G.”Dressed as Honey G”, just means putting on sunglasses and a baseball cap. With Honey G in general the show is trying to get a hell of a lot out of very, very, very little.

        If she’s anything like any of the past joke acts, then she’s more likely to be in the bottom half of the vote than the top half, but it’s a question of how close she is to the danger zone. If they do stop the app vote/bottom 3 it might be to save her. When they suddenly stopped doing double eliminations in series 7, from the voting figures if it was to save anyone from the sing-off, it was probably Wagner.

  • 360

    Actually starting to get a little offended by Honey G, the way the judges are reacting to her as if she is actually some kind of pinnacle of rap. I understand it’s parody, but it’s starting to send the message that an act like Honey G is as good as rap can get; as if *the genre as a whole* is destined to be nothing more than a joke, or an inferior way of singing.

    I just hope they have some diversity officers on hand in the production team to monitor what exactly’s being said. Three middle-aged white judges and a deluded white ‘rapper’ actress flying the flag for a major black-rooted music genre has a lot of potential to go badly wrong at some point if everyone isn’t careful.

  • James Martin

    Interesting they’ve opened the lines early. Did this help Lena and Ell & Nikki at all when Eurovision tried it?

  • Rose L

    Hilarious – Louis has literally said she John Lewised the song!

  • Curtis

    Well I haven’t been able to make it through Emily’s performance either this week or last week without flicking away to look at other things. Just immensely boring, and that’s from someone who thinks Janet Devlin was (and still is) fantastic. And amusing to see Louis just outright calling it a John Lewis song, as we have called many arrangements here for years.

  • Fudd

    A lot of the acts have been given a distracting dubstep beat this week.

  • stoney

    Makes me laugh how they are giving standing ovations and then following it up with negative feedback in the comments lol.
    A standing ovation should only be given for a flawless performance.

  • Piresistable

    Very odd show. The only thing that I am fairly confident about is that Gifty is not doing nearly as well as the TPTB would like.

  • Fudd

    It feels like the point of the whole show was to drag down a few acts to bounce Saara out of the bottom three. Her, Matt and generally Gifty – the only three to get overwhelming positivity from start to finish.

  • Edie M

    So they’ve decided to give Saara one week’s reprieve then. Looks like the definite target this week is ryan and they seem to be trying to dampen him so much he doesn’t win the flash vote (if there even is one this week?).

  • Rose L

    Definitely an end of journey note from Zara from Crazyland tonight. It was a far less well thought out production than Kitty’s Alice in Wonderland and I wonder if she’ll actually get the sympathy vote or whether people will think she has got what she wanted – a four judge standing ovation and great comments

    • Fudd

      But she’s been given decent judge’s comments every week – I’d think the true End of Journey moment would be being embraced by the British people and kept out of the bottom three.

      Saying that, as stated previously by others, if I was a producer I’d be keeping her around for a bit longer than a one week repreive considering she can sing and put on a performance.

  • Alan

    Knew the comments for 5am would be bad. VT was an absolute hatchet job.

  • Jessica Hamby

    “It’s Saara. She’s off.”

    Well quite Dermott, but given the shit sandwich you served us tonight you might well miss her before the end. People aren’t going to tune in for this load of tut.

  • kingston

    i almost choked when saara said: it was all worth it

    and dermot replied: we’ll see tomorrow

  • Sagand

    I genuinely think the show did the best they could for Saara tonight, given the song. Whether that is enough who knows.

    The pimp slot probably isn’t worth as much with the voting line opening at the start of the show, TPTB certainly think so with their favourites in positions 2-6.

    I disagree with the consensus that Gifty is doing badly, I think she was put on after Ryan to memory hole him (with Scherzinger beforehand).

    Ryan is market favourite to leave but who beats him in the flash vote? I don’t see anyone in danger who would.

  • Boki

    didn’t quite watch the show, b3 flash confirmed or not?

  • Ben Cook

    I can’t decide whether Simon was harsh to 5AM to motivate votes because they aren’t doing as well as they would like, or if they’re too getting too close to Matt. Either way, it was a ridiculous choice of song, deliberately so or otherwise.

  • fused

    They really went to town trying to make Gifty more the sort of act that the X Factor audience tend to vote for, so at the very least that suggests she was too close to the bottom 3 for comfort last week.

    I actually quite liked Ryan’s performance, certainly didn’t think it deserved the onslaught it got from the judges, but wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the bottom 2 and eliminated.

    After thinking 5 After Midnight were the best of the performances last week, this week they were one of my least favourites. It was really cheesy, and it kinds of looks like it was an intentional deramp too, because a lot of the cheesiness was in the staging.

    Quite weird staging for a lot of them this week really. I know “weird” was probably the idea with the staging for Saara, but it wasn’t like Kitty’s performance of the same song which at least you could tell they were going for an Alice In Wonderland theme, Saara’s was a bit Alice In Wonderland and a mix of a whole bunch of other stuff. The whole sailor thing with 4 Of Diamonds seemed slightly random too.

  • Woofie

    I thought Nicole had the best performance tonight..

  • Ben Cook

    Ryan seemed to get the worst treatment, but you’d think it would make sense to lose a female act this week, since it’ll be 7 vs 2 next week otherwise. Though they’re clearly more focused on giving Matt an easy ride than making a good show.

  • Martin

    What an odd show. If only Nicole was an act we could vote for.

    Poor old Ryan! His horrendous VT made him seem like a lost puppy and completely out of his depth and the staging of his performance made him look three feet tall and oddly static. Was similarly jarring to Freddy’s week 1 – they’re really managing the boys out this year. Odd that Simon tried to motivate the Scottish vote, but did so in such a way that suggested people will literally only vote for that because he’s Scottish. Way to isolate him.

    As if all that wasn’t enough, he was memory holed by Gifty’s sob story and new weave. It felt like a pimping of Louisa Johnson proportions but IMO it didn’t come off. This week was definetly ‘make the public like Gifty’ week but why throw her on second when they could have easily swapped her with 4OD who were late on for two weeks running? Do we need to re-evaluate the significance of the running order?

    5AM were slaughtered in every way. Suggesting intergroup discord is one of the most harmful things the show can do, if they wanted to deflate them there are a million other safer ways to do so. Felt like a curious mauling, although there was lots of next week and finals talk so maybe it was just to set them up for more of a journey now they’ve done a few safe performances.

    I really liked Sam this week, although I don’t think she’s quite as terrible as everyone else here seems to. They’ve certainly decided that rock is her ‘thing’ and are hammering the message home. Wondering if it’s working and they’re pushing her with it, or whether it’s getting her by and they will be able to lose her without going in too hard.

    Matt blahblahblah what else can be said. He’s miles ahead of anybody else this year, apart from maybe Relley who underwhelmed but was given a vt full of sympathy and still performed relatively well. Will be interested to see if she avoids b3 – both Nicole and Louis were fiercely defending her whilst her own mentor sat in silence. It felt very strange.

    Wouldn’t be shocked to see Honey G down the bottom 3 either. The show did its best for her but let’s be honest, it wasnt nearly as fun as before and the comments were at stark contrast with the performance. You could practically see the gun at Nicole’s head as she delivered her critique.

    Emily bored me to tears but the staging was beautiful, her VT was cute and the comments resoundingly positive with Nicole setting her journey up for a few more weeks. Girls are still wide open.

    4OD were a hot mess – the ‘mash up’ pointless and staging bizzare. I think they’ll be lucky to escape the bottom three. Saara should get a weeks reprieve after that pimp slot – the rest of the field is poor and it was the performance of the night, certainly memorable. I think her VT was sympathetic enough to motivate some votes she wouldn’t have previously had.

    Bottom three – Ryan (and gone), 4OD and Honey G. I’d expect Honey G to be saved in the lifeline vote.

  • Stu

    As soon as 5AM’s VT focused on their arguments I knew this wasn’t going to be a good week for them. Simon: “I think too many people have got inside your ear…” I’m sure he knows who. 😀 My gut says they did too well in last week’s vote. And Louis repeatedly saying “you’ll be in the final” or words to that effect. The favoured acts get the “please pick up the phone” line from their mentor… not an arrogant assumption. First unexpected bus of this series.

    4OD being in the penultimate slot after last week’s pimp slot makes me think they were struggling in last week’s vote. The judges’ comments were for once accurate and fair. They seem a bit wooden. I still think they’ll be bottom 2/3 tomorrow.

    Gifty was given the Louisa treatment. Angelic, white, emotional ballad, tears…

    I should’ve stuck with my gut on Saara. Definitely a night of redemption for her. Safe this week, out next week?

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