X Factor 2016 Week 8 Post-Mortem: Sprint Finnish

It couldn’t happen… could it? After the hugely positive response to Saara’s first song last night, Sofabet commenters have spent the day wondering if producers might be tempted to run with the Finn as the ultimate comeback winner. It would certainly be a story – and, let’s face it, she streaks ahead of the other acts both vocally and performance-wise, without breaking sweat.


During the day 5 After Midnight were the big movers in the bottom two market, and duly found themselves being saved despite some seriously ropey vocals in the singoff. Honey G’s run came to a thankfully dignified end, with a much better singoff performance presumably reflecting that she was mentally prepared for it this week. Producers have done incredibly to get her this far and we’re already looking forward to the album of rap classics accompanied by Mummy G on the grand piano.

A highlight of the results show was Sharon slapping Louis with a bit of paper as they competed to sway Nicole’s deliberations. What was on it? We couldn’t resist a freeze-frame (credit to Twitter user @MINIB00MB0X for the original image). It seems that Sharon needs a bit of help remembering her wording.


Dermot said there was only 1% between third and fourth, and Emily was once again left hanging as the last to be called safe – the third week in a row this has happened. In the last two weeks, it could be argued that they were wanting to wring additional drama out of having her and Ryan on stage, but that doesn’t apply this week.

Is it significant? Possibly. In 2012 we analysed the patterns of when acts were called safe, and speculated that an act was sometimes named first to create surprise or suspense, and later to create a “winner’s aura” – it was James Arthur in weeks 8 and 9. Conversely, leaving an act till last made viewers feel that an act was becoming a lost cause. We haven’t looked at the last three series, however, so that may have changed – but the psychology seems intuitive, and earlier this series being left till last certainly tended to be a bad sign.

Saara was called safe first this week, and she was also namechecked as the preferred act by two of the celebrity guests – another thing to look out for during the Sunday show. The other opted for 5AM, who have got most of the celebrity shoutouts so far this series.

Producers now have a chance to work with 5AM’s bounce in the semi-final, should they wish to – although they would have to get them into the top two to avoid dragging them into the final off the back of two consecutive saves, which may be a bad look for their commercial prospects. Producers may also want to avoid going into the final with only one act having avoided the singoff, for reasons of maximising suspense – although such is Saara’s momentum, her singoff saves now seem long ago.

One left-field possibility is that they could consider reverting to the pre-2013 situation of going to the public vote at the final-four stage – although it would be most unlike this show, having taken an extra control, to cede it again. (Until 2010, the singoff typically ended at the final five stage).

Is Matt still a worthy odds-on favourite? Does Saara’s momentum and ability make her odds of around 4.0 an attractive proposition, or crazily low for a foreign act of dubious commercial potential? Is Emily damaged goods, or surprisingly long at 10.5 for an act that hasn’t hit the bottom two and has been portrayed as Simon’s creative project? Could 5 After Midnight, at around the same odds, really bounce high enough to be singing an Ed Sheeran acoustic ballad on Sunday with a realistic chance of success?

Your thoughts in the comments below are more appreciated than ever. We’ll be back with a more considered take in midweek.

Photos via ©ITV / @ThePixelFactor

195 comments to X Factor 2016 Week 8 Post-Mortem: Sprint Finnish

  • Rad

    I found it hilarious that everyone was red and blacked in the group song. Was that a tease?

  • India Marie

    FWIW the show got rid of the Week 9 sing-off for series 8 and 9, even though they could have used it for the latter (Chris Maloney sank to second bottom then).

    • This is very true! Although in series 7 the week 9 sing-off was for a final five (Cher Lloyd vs Mary Byrne), whereas in series 8 and 9 we were back to four acts in week 9, so not exactly the same situation.

  • Alan

    Lol at the photo, Im probably being very thick but is it real or doctored?

  • Woofie

    Matt and Rylan on Xtra Factor last week asked Matt Terry and 5AM for one word out of their winners recorded single, Matt said “cheer” and 5AM said “Christmas”. They will only sing it I think if it is a top 2 finish.
    Their will be no Ed Sheeran for 5AM. Incidentally Honey G said on Xtra Factor they created a great single for her. It would be unusual but what if they have all recorded new material for all the winners songs?

  • Poker Coach

    People are stupid!

    Can’t you see that 5AM is now a lost cause in the competition. But afterwards they are good when autotune and studiowork jumps in.

    TPTB need all support for 5AM to promote them. They want 5AM into a last weekend, but their vocals will not carry to the finals.

    Only way to achieve this is to deramp Matt until this has been achieved. This is why Matt is now appearing to be a boring. He had to sing a song Saara excelled before, no pimp slots…

    Matt and 5 AM are competing for same voters and they cannot support Matt yet without a negative effect for 5AM.

    For these reasons, Matt is now a valuebet!

  • Poker Coach

    During performances slightest negative comments can double or halve odds. But it seems that people are not really asking what is the actual objective behind the critics or support.

    It looks like game of the chess where bettors cankot see beyond 1-2 moves and more advanced planning will be completely under the radar.

    For next season, try to think this more before placing the bets.

  • Sindi

    When was the last time we heard good singing at the sing off? Oh wait, it was the assasin at week 5…

    I’d like to know what exactly has been going on in the producers’ plans for Saara from the start. It seems almost impossible to think her journey was planned. There was no way they could have been sure to be able to arrange her bounce after all the making fun of her before week 3. Then we have the mystery of week 5. What on earth were they doing then? When did they decide to back her up? Maybe they’ve made that decision several times? I think even week ago the reaction she got could have surprised them and they changed plans once again. Or not.

    I think she fought her way up.

    However they have realized they need her. As someone has said before, not much quality there.

    • Woofie

      I think her previous TV show experience really helped her.

    • Weeks of jingoistic dismissal followed by the dawning realization that she’s great and they need her – the producers’ plans was to mirror Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with Europe.

      • Jessica Hamby

        They eliminated the legal & financial services sector much too early in the series and now they’re wondering what quality they’ve got left to take to the final negotiation. The “innovative jams” mentored by Andrea Leadsom are in danger of turning the whole brand into a laughing stock and the armed forces can’t perform unless they get a lot of producer support.

        Back to the drawing board.

      • Chris Bellis

        The irony being that Finland is one of the most racist countries in Europe. Even the Finns acknowledge this.

        • Sindi

          Chris you are a troll or is this some twisted info war?

          • HL

            Apparently one hateful post about Finland every day is not enough. Today he has been raging about heavily oppressed minorities in Finland, too. Yes, for sure, it gets nastier every minute…. The Swedish speaking minority might lose a tv channel next year, and clueless tourists are buying copies of traditional Sami dresses.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Sindi – don’t assume that everyone on the board holds the same opinions. I saw the way this thread was going and decided to leave it alone. I am sure there will be others who have done the same. This website is usually friendly but at this stage of the competition, when money is involved, it can get a bit strange.

            Please don’t take it to heart.

    • India Marie

      The trajectory of Saara seems ad-hoc. Remember that neither she nor Honey G were chosen in the final six of the 6CC. Saara was a wildcard and HG replaced another act. This means one of these is true:

      1. The visa thing of Ivy something is anticipated
      2. Saara was always their planned WC and Bratavio was supposed to do what HG just did.
      3. HG was their planned WC and Saara was shoehorned into a last-minute addition.

  • Woofie

    It is going to be interesting with a theme as Christmas next week. I wonder if they will do the same as this week with only have one set of songs for the theme.

    How did this theme play out last time it was used?

    I think it is also important that Lady Gaga is the guest singer next week. Remember Kitty that year.

    • Chance

      Series 11 was the last time they did Christmas songs at this point and they only did it for the first song. The second song theme was the typical semi final theme “Songs to get me into the final”

      • Woofie

        That’s an interesting second theme.
        For the favoured a real opportunity for a final push/boost for the not so favoured could mean keeping them in their lane: nice, expected but not much of buzz, core support pleaser but not a vote motivator picking up swing/ floating/ new votes.

  • Curtis

    “Is Matt still a worthy odds-on favourite?”


    “Does Saara’s momentum and ability make her odds of around 4.0 an attractive proposition, or crazily low for a foreign act of dubious commercial potential?”

    The latter (and don’t forget her many B2 appearances!). Dare to dream, but don’t go chasing dreams with your wallet! Odds of around 10 would be about right.

    “Is Emily damaged goods, or surprisingly long at 10.5 for an act that hasn’t hit the bottom two and has been portrayed as Simon’s creative project?”

    Slightly long perhaps, but the regional vote is not going to haul her over the winner’s line so she’s going to have to up her game somehow.

    “Could 5 After Midnight, at around the same odds, really bounce high enough to be singing an Ed Sheeran acoustic ballad on Sunday with a realistic chance of success?”


  • Woofie

    I agree about 5AM unless they can do something amazing next week, 3rd in the vote is the best they can hope for.

    After a B2 appearance their bubble is burst.. they were even people in audience shouting for Honey G over the judges deliberations.

    They are tainted with a B2 appearance and I’m not sure it will be that easy to recreate their disco performance again for example.

    I think if they drop the sing off that will be interesting…

    I suppose everything depends on the ratio of core support and swing voters.

  • Tom H

    Has anything been said about Emily’s persistent cough?

  • George

    If Saara managed to top the vote (a big if) then I see no reason why they wouldn’t run with her now. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any of the acts at number one this time next year, at least Saara provides a good story for the show. Her being booed off stage at bootcamp is totally forgotten now.

    So next week’s treatment is key. If they give Matt his moment then it’s all over. His current odds are more than tempting, to be frank. If Saara owns the night again then maybe we could have a fight on our hands.

  • Poker Coach

    Saaras potential has not been hidden by production team. Her audition was among the most popular ones and it took a long time until she shined again after that.

    I suspect that she will play a big emotional role for watchers. Her journey would make an average viewer to think that they have overcome their xenophobia and that allow the viewers feel good about themselves.

    In order to create that her vote had to be diminished. 6CC, JH, all negative. All that while they knew that they only need to give her a decent song and not to sabotage it and she will do the rest.

    Feeling good would turn to a strong annoyment though if Saara would actually win. Foreign professional singer winning? Do you really think that it would be a good business solution for the series?

    Every tv-program need an antagonist. Foreign pro is a perfect for that.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I have a lot more faith in the British people than you. That’s not to say I think Saara will win. I don’t, but not for the reasons you suggest.

      If the program had an antagonist it was Honey G. It’s always the joke act. She’s now gone. That’s the usual pattern. It is (or at least purports to be) serious competition from now on. The pantomime is over.

  • Stu

    5AM’s fate is completely in the hands of the producers. I think they could bounce considerably (especially in an apparently open-race series) if given similar treatment to weeks 5 & 6 and/or the pimp slot. If tptb are adamant about getting 5AM to the final, I’d expect at least one of the above to happen.

    There’s not a clear target for this coming week. It could be any one of Emily, Saara and 5AM. Tptb know how to dampen support for 5AM and Saara. Matt is not getting typical winner’s treatment at this stage of the competition with comments such as “cheesy” being thrown around. I still don’t see the commercial value in Matt as an artist (and surely Syco don’t either) – if Matt is locked for a top 2 placing in the final, Saara stands the most chance of beating him. Those two battling it out in the final 2 would be the ultimate underdog vs front-runner.

  • 360

    My reading of this series is that everything has gone to plan except Gifty. I imagine Plan A would have been for her (or even potentially, The Brooks) to be sticking around at this point – weak enough vocally not to make 5AM or Emily stand out as notably worse or poor, and ‘different’ enough to be splitting the votes to a reasonable amount, making the percentages more competitive at the bottom.

    The difficulty of letting Saara gain steam is that she shows up everyone, but especially that she shows up Emily and 5AM. If she hadn’t been there these last few weeks, Honey G would have been the only act bringing the fun factor and would perhaps have been less divisive (even a little), and everyone else would have sounded better by comparison – more on a par, with Matt as vocally out in front of everybody as his ‘thing’.

    Keeping Saara for this long makes her talent undeniable.

    Having said that, they managed to get rid of Ruth Lorenzo over JLS, Diana and Eggnog. Does anyone recall how that series went at that stage? It’s a little ancient history now…

    • George

      Ancient history indeed. Ruth was eliminated purely on the public vote and it all seemed kind of inevitable from what I can remember. Only other act to have ever been in the bottom two was JLS and they were on a bounce.

      She did come admirably close to seeing off Diana.

      Her final performance is still my favourite of all time.

      • Woofie

        That really was a bounce for JLS practically doubled their percentage points.

        5AM have had a tweet from Marvis Humes giving them a chin up. They did look dejected although I think they were expecting it. I think contestants know when the level of treatment has changed and is less promising.

    • DGiles

      i seem to remember that Ruth didn’t quite nail the second performance, which was her opportunity to replicate her sing-off performances, so ended up being overshadowed by alexandre. Sadly she did nail it second time around, but it was a farewell performance as she was already voted out (no final 2 in those days)

  • DannyCraig

    I think there’s value in opposing Saara next week, and I’ll be looking for emily / Saara & 5am / Saara bottom 2 combos.

    Maybe 5am will get a bounce after this weekend?
    Maybe the Finnish embassy will come out?

    Not much has been made in the press about Saara being in Eurovision twice already, and runner up on the voice.

    Also Dermot still continuing the Finnish jokes before she performs. Is this supposed to be seen as positive?

    Anyways, the only “facts” we know is that she finished above 5am, and we don’t know how she has performed against matt and emily.

    For me, she is massively underpriced now, and whilst at her best she’s a good vocalist, they have managed to get her in the bottom 2 earlier in the series, and can easily overdress/stage her with a Christmas theme.

    • This is the version Alex & Sierra (XF US S3) patterned their audition on as well. Simon was surely aware of it.

      In a slightly ironic twist, Melanie was supposed to be finishing up her European concert tour in the UK this week, but had to cancel her shows due to health issues.

  • Lara T

    Ok.. so as a bone of contention …
    Matt Cardle’s equivalent performance is this https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=E_KYa85pc2U

    Same stage in the comp.

    We agree they wanted other people to win. But it was wholly positive. What’s the major change now?

    • Woofie

      Wow Lara he got 32% of the vote that week and Rebecca was 2nd on 14%. Mary at 5th with 11%.
      Interesting how Simon (1D) and Louis don’t give allow him a 4JSO.

  • Scott

    I think it’s fair to say my financial interest in this series is done. In the first few weeks they genuinely seemed to have a lot of cannon fodder in there to prop Honey G up, so it didn’t really matter who landed at the bottom as long as it wasn’t her. And when you get to the later stages then, unless you’re playing with big money or those who are guiding the money haven’t spotted something, the outcomes have been fairly obvious or interchangeable. There’s nothing really doing for those of us betting a tenner a time when Honey G is 1.23 to go and has clearly run her course. (Who would have thought Middle England wouldn’t get on board with Black Beatles?) And there are times where it has felt almost like a fair contest, where they aren’t too bothered which one out of two should go.

    I am yet to be convinced that Saara will go on to win the show. I don’t believe the British public are generally evil racist so and sos, but I do think middle England would have an issue with the ultimate winner of a UK TV show which has auditioned a ton of people from across the country being someone who has quite a bit of experience in talent shows in another country. Does this help the franchise? Hard to see it. Matt seems middle England friendly and can sing, and seems like your inevitable Christmas feel-good (for the audience) winner. The only exception I can think of to this is if Saara goes all Attraction from BGT on us and comes up with a final performance which has so many union flags involved that it borders on disturbing.

    Having said this, however, Saara is a bloody good singer, is a bloody good performer and wouldn’t let them down in the final (where she could presumably be easily deramped by sending her to the Finnish embassy if the show felt like it).

    Which leaves me pondering what the show’s intentions are for Emily and 5AM. Emily has clearly been struggling with illness and only really has one lane, she’s not the versatile performer who normally goes on and wins shows like this. However, she is a good singer who, unless illness is really starting to hamper her voice, wouldn’t let them down in the final.

    That leaves me with 5AM. Who are, for me, far too vocally shaky, even with generous backing vocals. I’ve yet to work out whether they’ll sneak into the final or whether, more likely, they’ll have a Rough Copy-style trajectory and just miss out. I still don’t feel that I don’t know them well enough, it doesn’t feel like the all-guns blazing attempt at getting Little Mix over the line has been attempted here. I wouldn’t be surprised if the show worked with a bounce, I do wonder if they’d be happy to throw them under the bus next time round.

    I suspect the show’s intentions with Emily and Saara will become abundantly clear next week. I wonder if they are somewhat interchangable – both can sing, both will bring some quality to the final, let’s see what the public do. After all, the show’s main pitch this time round is “This is the most open contest in years”.

    • Chris Bellis

      From the point of view of TPTB, they won’t want a repeat of Rough Copy’s trajectory, I imagine. Scandals, brawls, etc. They couldn’t sing either, but they appealed to a certain demographic. At one stage I even thought they could win. 5AM look far more pliable and I bet there will have been discussion about whether they could appeal to the Rough Copy demographic without the issues that came with them.

  • Fudd

    I still think there were enough signs during yesterday’s show to say that the producers aren’t fully behind Saara – the red and blacking of The Winner Takes It All and the strange distracting creature on the screen (albeit it was gold); the musical style of the Diamonds mash up which was, not unfairly, dismissed as cheesy; the constant prodding of Finland in the critique, including Louis wanting “everyone in Finland to vote” before Nicole chipped in with “all the Finns in Britain can vote”.

    They could have done so much more for The Winner Takes It All if they had wanted her to have a superb moment with it, including switching it to contestant’s choice and pretending that the Diamonds mash up down to Louis. Imagine a golden back drop at the end of the show, four judge ovation and not a mention of Finland in sight?

    For that reason I think they’re not letting her fly – they’re continuing to keep her vote under control.

  • Lara T

    Anyone ever been on the show/ at the show out of interest?!

  • Ron

    Re Saara being a “foreigner”. She’s not a stereotypically scary boogieman foreigner of the tabloids, the type who can’t speak English and is going to bring her huge family to the UK to steal jobs and/or go on benefits.

    Rather, Saara is a “good” foreigner – her English is almost flawless and barely accented. She’s adorable and has joked about being a snow princess. She’s like Anna from Frozen, perfect to keep in mind in the build-up to Christmas and something that may pay off even more with this week’s theme.

  • Woofie

    Interesting comments and a lot to think about.
    I do think we need to look over the last couple of weeks of how the show has arrived at this point with the contestants – given the treatment of the remaining contestants over the last 2/3 weeks was this what producers intended and, if so, what does it mean next?
    I think they have been pretty good at achieving their target exits.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I’m not considering post-show careers. It’s almost obligatory to suggest that acts in the latter stages are going to have great post-show careers. They need to give the impression that these are quality acts. It wouldn’t attract viewers if they said “you’re a bit shit and you’re going nowhere but I want people to vote for you”. Will 5AM go on to have a great post-show career? It’s possible but I doubt it and I don’t expect it to be a consideration in tptb’s plans.

    Experience shows us that acts like Matt do well in these competitions unless they are hindered and the winning acts are given plenty of help. I haven’t seen Saara getting the kind of assistance necessary to topple Matt. I expect him to have topped the vote most weeks and I expect him to win.

    I think Saara will be in the final. The final needs to be event television. They had Nicole doing And I Am Telling You with Sam Bailey, they had Fleur reprising her Uptown Funk, they had Rita and Louisa’s And I Am Telling You (which was a bit of a screechfest but they got away with it because Craig David was a man on a mission last year). Saara can be the event this year (and maybe Nicole will do a duet with Matt too) but much as I would like her to, I don’t think she’ll win.

    If I was choosing the other place in the final I’d have Emily. I think she brings variety and she’s more reliable than 5AM. I expect them to go the way of Rough Copy.

    Regarding post sing-off bounces, I don’t think they are as significant as some others do. If an act is popular and is a surprise b2 then there’s much more chance of a bounce. If not then recent shows have shown us that there isn’t much of a bounce or that if there is, it can be suppressed.

    Also, fwiw I don’t think the producers mind which of Emily / Matt / Saara win. Emily or Saara would probably be preferable to Matt because he seems a bit boring. I don’t think 5AM can win because their vocals are too ouchy.

    • Tim B

      It could go that way with 5 After Midnight, but I don’t think it will. They were only 1% behind Emily in the vote this week, so even the tiniest of bounces will get them above her at least. We keep getting told they are going to “take over the world” etc., so it would be silly from a commercial perspective not to have them in the final IMO.

      With Rough Copy, it was slightly different as they had dropped into the sing off and to last place a week earlier in week 7. By the time they got through to the semi-final, they were coming down from their sympathy bounce and their vote dropped off a cliff for some reason. 5AM’s natural sympathy bounce could give them a fighting chance of making it through on its own. It was a “surprise” to the general public that they were in the Bottom 2, as referenced by Dermot, and this kind of surprise appearance can motivate more sympathy votes the following week.

      If I were producing the show next week, I would let Emily go on the Sunday without a sing off. It could well end up that Matt will be the only act in the final to have never hit the sing off, but anything could still happen, I suppose.

      • Jessica Hamby

        If you take seriously the talk about commercial viability after the show then that makes sense. I’m not convinced by it. I’ve heard too many acts touted as the next big thing on this show, only to be forgotten about as soon as they have served their purpose.

        • Jessica Hamby

          Obviously these are just my opinions. I can see plenty of reasons for other views.

        • EM

          I agree it’s not that serious – I mean look at the odds, for every Little Mix there are five Rough Copy’s.

          However I do think talk of careers is indicative that they want that act do well. The show is a launch pad for acts and it makes sense to give those they think have a chance of making it every bit of polish they can.

  • Stoney

    Going back to all the little vote reveal snippets we have had each week in the results show is there anything that Dermot has said that rules out the chance that matt is cardling the vote and topping it every week? Something about the treatment he’s had this series points to the fact he’s been running away with it. The only snippet ii remember that goes against this was the 1% separating the top 2 but that was when he opened the show (again) with a cheesy wham song.

    • EM

      You can’t take anything for definite from it but it’s been a few weeks now since they mentioned it being tight at the top. That suggests it’s not or they would be making a big deal of it to keep the conversation going.

      And if it’s not tight at the top then who is dominating? Someone that sang a dodgy Britney Spears song on a Ukelele? Someone who’s been near the bottom 3 times and producers haven’t felt the need to nobble yet?

  • EM

    To answer the questions at the end if the article:

    Three of the four finalists could be straight out of X Factor central casting. Matt the typical male winner, good looking, can sing, inoffensive personality. Emily, the girl who doesn’t quite make it, young, fragile voice, sunny personality. 5am the group with dodgy vocals that needs all the help going to get to the business end of the competition.

    Saara’s slightly different. She started weakly with the audience but has grown in their eyes.

    However this year there’s been very little sign of outright favouritism, all four of the final acts have had some criticism and unhelpful treatment.

    Finally ratings must be mega important to them right now. For my money Saara helps most there because she can put on a show and would be the most newsworthy finalist.

    So my finishing order:

    1. Matt – I think he’s the winner that the producers and the audience want,

    2. Emily – has a regional vote (although she hasn’t been Scottish for a while) and a slight sense of story in the “can she do uptempo and dance”

    3. Saara – would put on a show and also get the “controversial” can she be the first foreigner to win coverage.

    4. 5am – gone as far as they can go with their talents and also might be hogging votes that might otherwise go to Matt

  • I called the quarter final exit when she was expected to make the final 4 weeks ago. Honey after week6/7 would start to be used for the others. Matt is really unstoppable, but will Saara go to the final? If 5AMs bounce are used:, (Che Chesterman week 5) then Emily goes b2 with probably Saara. If Saaras streak continues 5AM or Scottish Lass are gone, probably the former, I hope.

  • “is there anything that Dermot has said that rules out the chance that matt is cardling the vote and topping it every week?”

    “1% difference at the top” one week, “Top 2 are newcomers” another week. It’s still the same because Cowell said on Saturday’s Xtra that it wasn’t like most series where it was obvious who was going to win but that it keeps changing at the top.

    On Sunday’s Xtra something else interesting. A phone questioner asked what was the point of having another Leon type winner who doesn’t succeed post show ie what’s the point of having another boring male MOR winner who fails to make a mark and gets quietly dropped by SyCo the following year.

    I believe the bunch of phone questions the judges have to chose from on the screen are intentionally selected from the thousands of people who phone/skype the show.

    • stoney

      There is every chance he has been hoovering up the floating voters over the last few weeks. As Ben Hanoew did. I’m not convinced he is plan A at at. But this week’s treatment suggests he topped the vote with the sam smith song and this weekend was a test to see if they could hold his vote back. But simons comment about him being the star coming back on a Sunday allowed him to carry on the praise next weekend and in the final if it looks like he is going to comfortably win no matter what.

      • But then Simon followed that by saying he didn’t like the first half (“weak” maybe, I forget his wording) which negates what he had said immediately prior.

        Matt can’t have been hoovering up floating voters because of what Cowell said about the voting. He can’t make it up because the votes get published at the end.

      • I agree, I think Matt is a begrudging Plan A rather than actual Plan A (although I have no idea who would have been Plan A coming into the Live Shows) I reckon he topped the vote with ease in Week 1 and they’ve been trying to suppress his vote a bit to stop him being a runaway winner hence the faint praise and lack of pimp slot. The fact he was death slotted and memoryholed yet still came through this week says a lot about his vote to me.

        The fact Saara is now appearing with Matt in different appearances (The ‘Irish’ section for Louis Loves) suggests to me that TPTB think this should be the final Sunday, and I think they’ll cut Emily Loose against either 5am/Saara (citing how much Saara has improved) I wouldn’t be surprised to see them hone in hard on Emily this week, finally give her an uptempo that she can’t handle and she exits in a Janet Devlin style with Mmm Bop.

    • Lara T

      Re: the phone/ Skype questions…

      Callers are given the questions by producers regardless of what they originally called up to ask.

    • Henry VIII

      Slight technical correction having watched it back: it was Rylan who brought up Leon and that and Simon’s comment were on Saturday.

      That makes sense Lara. It saves them having to listen to calls until they get a useful one.

  • Total judge Standing Ovations in the Lives:

    Saraa 24
    This includes w1 and w2 when they were actively de-ramping her.

    Matt 15
    Only 1 of those was from Cowell, and only 1 from Louis. Completely different from Louisa last year.

  • EM

    Time to start the final duets speculation?

    Now that we’ve entered the Matalan phase of the shows pulling power how about

    Matt – Sam Smith
    Emily – Louisa Johnson
    Saara – Robbie Williams
    5am – Marvin off of JLS

  • Woofie

    I see what people are saying about 5AM but why did they still get a name check which was qualified with “they are going to be hugh”? What purpose did that serve? It could have been “after last night got to be Sara” and left it at that. Their VT recap was still very positive… they could have added Simon’s negative critique “that didn’t work”… but they didn’t. I just think there is still some evidence of support. Not the win but a final placing? Besides if they want to put them in final they just have a sing off and plant them there but I don’t think they would do it like that.

  • Sindi

    I’d be surprised if TPTB didn’t want 5 am to enliven the final but they won’t end up above third there. I don’t think they’ll play any tricks on Saara now that they’ve started mentioning her as a winner etc. and as I’ve said before they need her. I wonder if there’s any possibility of Matt falling to bottom two if his performances are as weak or worse than last weekend. I suppose that’s highly unlikely. Emily’s treatment last weekend wasn’t as helpful as she would have needed and I don’t think they care much. Emily will go next?

    • Last night showed the casual viewer that 5am can’t sing. So I expect them to be B2 next week and not to be saved a second time.

      • Woofie

        Not sure about that Henry everyone knows they are not the stong vocalists but they have their strengths too. They are not going to appeal to the pure vocalists camp. The producers will know what they can or can not do with this group. They know their limitations and allowed them to drop into the danger zone.
        It might be a lost cause and coming out this weekend is that. But if they go full on treatment again I think they will be fairly confident of getting the result they want.

      • Sindi

        I suppose 5 am core fans are mostly so young they don’t really notice or care how well the guys sing. I too think though 5 am will need massive pimping next week to have wider appeal. However if there’s a sing off anything can be decided anyway.

        • Woofie

          Let us not forget people voted for the opera singers Reggie’n’Bolllie in the semi final, although they did not have a sing off appearance in the series.

          I’m not sure they will want 5AM to limp into the final, unless it serves another purpose.

          I think if there is a sing off there still needs to be some credibility. OK a deadlock would be seen to be fair. The producers have now seen how they performed in a sing off so I’m sure that will be considered.

          It’s going to be interesting to see if they get full on support or if they are the target for exit next week but to go out without being damaged too much.

          If there is a sing off the contestant who survives usually has lost momentum and comes in 3rd?

          • Jessica Hamby

            I think 5AM have established their brand and it’s a bit too “cool” for the X Factor anyway. It really doesn’t matter whether or not they reach the final imo. In fact rather than bring their shortcomings to the notice of a wider audience it might be better if they disappear next week and come back in 6 months time with polished (autotuned?) vocals.

            If they reach the final and make a horlicks of it then it doesn’t do anyone any good – not them, not the show. They end up with a reputation as that dodgy band who can’t really sing.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I love this comment.

      Even if the loophole worked it wouldn’t help her to win the competition. There are only 5,5 million people in the whole of Finland, and most of them never watch the show nor do they care one way or another. Sure, the Finnish tabloids have noticed her now, but then again, tabloids spread videos of baby owls doing nothing. So even if every Finnish fan of Saara found a way for voting, it would have an effect big as butterfly farting. She’s amazing, but needs votes from UK, they’re the ones that matter.

      Having said that, a butterfly farting in Hong Kong can apparently change the course of a tornado in Kansas so who knows…..

  • stoney

    I already said if her finnish fans were that strong she would have won the contests she competed in back in her own country

  • Jessica Hamby

    Saara now best priced 5/2.

  • saara for the win. the rest of em are exceptionally mundane.

  • and yes i’m on at prices from 70/1 and thanks to j hamby i topped up at 38/1.

  • stoney

    Where do we think the Honey G votes will be going this weekend? I think they will be switching off now the jokes over.

    • Jessica Hamby

      If they were from people chucking her a few for the lolz and giving the rest to someone else then they’ll probably give them all to their other choice. If they were giving them all to Honey G…. who can say?

      Saara’s the other one with the big, fun productions but given my interest in her this could be confirmation bias. I’m not assuming anything.

      • stoney

        Abysmally low ratings for last weekends show. Pushing Honey G hasnt done anything for the ratings thats for sure!

        • Jessica Hamby

          Looking on twitter almost every tweet was saying they were glad she was gone. Big mistake keeping her as long as they did. Shows contempt for the music and the viewers imo.

  • Spiidey

    There is precedent for Saara’s run.

    Her run is similar to Samantha Jade in the Australian series in 2012. Sam was bottom 2 on three occasions (including Week 1) and ended up winning the show. Having said that, her other two bottom 2 performances were nearer the business end of the competition compared to Saara’s early appearances.

    Samantha’s Kanye West performance really turned things around for her and I just wonder if Saara’s Disco Week performance has done the same for her.

    • Andy

      The last 3 weeks she has absolutely nailed songs by 3 legends in the music industry, Donna Summer, Celine Dion and Abba, this should speak volumes. I wouldn’t be the slightest surprised to find that she has won all of these 3 weeks, I would happy bet she has taken the last 2 with certainty, she is on a steam train whilst other contestants are peddling Go-Karts, and that includes Matt.

      • Spiidey

        I will be surprised if Matt didn’t win week 7 with his bond theme.

        Saara may well have won weeks 6 and 8, this week I’m absolutely sure she did and week 6 she was probably in with a shout of.

      • HL

        I’d guess that Matt has topped most weeks (maybe 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, can’t remember the first weeks anymore). Emily probably topped the vote on week 4 with Creep and the pimp slot, week 5 might have gone to Matt again, week 6 maybe to Saara although she was the first one to perform so I am not sure. Week 7 was Matt’s week, no question about it, you remember that golden Sam Smith moment. Week 8 it may have been Saara, but Matt still lurking somewhere close.

        I think I heard someone to say on Xtra Factor that three acts have topped the vote so far. I find it very credible. Pretty sure that Saara is one of them. Not week 3 (Björk) yet, not week 4 (Gaga), but weeks 6 and 8 are possible.

  • Chris

    I think there’s a little bit to be said as well about the fact the producers constantly seem to push Matt and Saara together in VTs or on Xtra Factor (their Ireland trip this week, for example).

    Whereas there was a lot of that with Emily and Ryan, it only proved to be a distraction. Matt and Saara are portrayed more often than not as giving each other friendly advice, as you would your contemporary/equal. Maybe the impression is meant to be that people who like Matt should also like Saara and vice versa.

  • GsP

    I don’t think the constant pairing of Matt and Saara in VTs and XtraFactor outings is a coincidence. I think they have swung behind Saara as their runner up

  • What do we think about the headline “with her girlfriend Meri Sopanen”? Not alluded to on XF VT’s iirc, but the Sun would of course mention it as much as possible.

    Is it a negative for the middle England voter? I’d like to think it wasn’t but I’m not sure.

    (MacDonalds photos btw are from an agency so most likely snapped by paparazzi who hang around outside the XF house ready to tail any car that leaves.)

    • George

      I highly doubt it’s too much of a negative at this point. But how I’d love to know voter demographics if there was ever a way to figure them out. I’m going to guess the middle England voter has become much less important over time.

  • Curtis

    I’m glad people are noticing this Matt and Saara pairing thing, I thought it might have just been me being a bit conspiratorial. On the show, on the Xtra Factor, and in some of the Youtube videos, they are being shown together a lot. I see this as them hinting to us who the final 2 will be – or who it should be.

    • HL

      This sudden interest took place for the first time week ago in Saara’s VT. They were positioning Matt in everybody’s VTs, so I did not pay much attention to it. We were not allowed to see our favourite without seeing Matt’s face just next to him/her. Poor Ryan could not get any screen time without Matt or Emily or references to them.

      Now I am not sure if it is vote transferring from Saara to Matt or the other way round. Or if they simply have been getting feedback that Matt seems smug and unkind and he should be nicer to Saara. Or do they just want us to think this is a “fair” and “nice” competition by showing that these people have great time together?

      • Curtis

        I’m not sure if they are going for vote transfer (but if they were I would imagine it would be from Matt to Saara myself) but rather subliminally segregating the acts into two groups. The credible, talented ones – Matt and Saara – and the rest – Emily, 5AM and then Honey G.

  • Stu

    I think, at this point, what the producers want is more or less what they’ll get. If they want to work with a 5AM mega-bounce, they can achieve it. If they want to suppress their bounce and get them out in 4th, they can. If they want Saara to be the ultimate underdog champion, they can get her there. If they want Saara out this week, they can. If they want Emily out, it’s likely achievable. Presumably Matt is the only one who’ll be able to escape the danger zone this week regardless of treatment.

    Is it fair to say there’s no real chosen one this year? Matt’s been deramped, Emily has been pigeonholed, Saara has been at the mercy of the producers since week 1 and 5AM have had their fair share of criticism too.

    Simon’s comments in last night’s sing-off suggested a week of redemption for 5AM next week. There have been constant references to them being in the final – was it to build up to a shock semi-final exit? I doubt it. They’ve never been name-checked as winners though (IIRC) so I think they’ve got third place on lock. Pimp them this week, out in 3rd the week after.

    I can’t see Matt NOT being in the final so if my presumptions of 5AM are correct, that leaves Saara and Emily. I think the production team would be crazy not to have Saara in the final. As mentioned on here, a “foreigner” possibly winning XF in a year of Trump and Brexit will surely breed a lot of media interest. She is, at this stage, the only one who could rival Matt…

    A Matt-Emily-Saara final would hugely benefit Matt for being the only male.

    A Matt-5AM-Saara final would be the most diverse and entertaining line-up since all of them can perform up-tempos. Saara would benefit from being the only female.

    A Matt-Emily-5AM final was the expected one at the start of the live shows by many of us. Plus, like the first option, two acts who have never fallen into the bottom two help the final to appear more “open”. But Saara has defied tradition so much already – to the point that I don’t think her inclusion would limit the suspense (and that goes for 5AM to a lesser extent depending on how next week goes).

    With all that said I’m expecting Emily out this week, with 5AM third, Saara 2nd and Matt 1st (I think they’ll allow Matt to win in the end).

    • George

      Part of me wonders if this is 2014 all over again, when it seemed like Fleur (Saara) had all the momentum but in reality Ben (Matt) was pulling away. Voting stats will be interesting.

      • Stu

        That’s exactly what I think is happening. Although Fleur’s one weakness is Saara’s main strength (vocals) and they both have performance ability. But an act from abroad has never won the show before – obviously we have to take into account that the show has never pushed a foreign act as a Plan A hence them never making it. Andrea and R&B are the only non-UK/Irish acts to ever make the grand final. Would the producers embrace the chance of having a lesbian Finnish woman win the show? Or would it alienate the more traditional viewers? Maybe none of this matters.

      • DannyCraig

        Fleur was still runner up.

        I’m actually now not putting another penny into the show, and just looking forward to Saara going this week against the odds. Not sold on her TBH and I don’t think her voice is actually THAT good. She was 16/1 before this week started and now she’s 15/8. too short. GL Jessica and all others who have fancy odds on her, but I won’t be cheering if she gets through this week 🙂

        • stoney

          I advise a cover against that. With producer backing she won’t be leaving this weekend. All the signs point to them backing her into the final. But as we know that could all change. However that would look utterly ridiculous if they turned full circle on her this weekend.

    • HL

      5AM has not had their “fair” share of criticism. They have had lots of undeserved praise, planted name checking, massive productions, help with their vocals and not that much criticism.

      And Matt has not really been deramped, just dampened a bit so that he would not snaffle all “cute boy” votes. He has not been made to look ugly or ridiculed, he has not been forced to sing songs that are totally unsuitable or hated by everyone. He got huge amounts of favouritism in the beginning of the season, so he just does not need more of it. He has been flying under the radar and every once in a while given a “golden moment”, last time only one week ago.

      • Linda

        Haven’t really got involved betting wise this year, just been enjoying the show and the analysis on here. It has to be Matt for the win. Shame on the producers for making him look tired and jaded in recent weeks.

        I wasn’t that keen on the Bond week tbh, but thought his Sia cover last Sat was sensational. It’s a song I don’t like but his version grabbed me.

        I would hate to see him win and sink like Cardle/Haenow. He is too good for such a fate.

        Saara is like this year’s Seann Miley Moore. Clearly there by overseas agents liaison with show producers. Nothing wrong with that and she is highly professional but I don’t think she particularly wants/needs to win the show. They need her in the final though so I expect a positive presentation next week.

        5AM are just brutal, awful in every way.

        Matt FTW!

  • Chris

    What’s the significance of the guest appearance of Zara Larsson next week? Will Sharon get Zara and Saara mixed up? In comparison, is Saara going to look like “the next Zara” or “budget Zara”?

    Will Louis claim that the two “could be twins”?

    • 360

      Zara is very young I think so she’s also likely to be compared to Emily.

      Is Gaga the other act this week? I don’t think she’d deign to appear in VTs with this bunch (nor could they afford her, probably) so I doubt that will happen unless she takes a shine to one of them.

  • Dana

    Emily seems like the expendable one at this stage. If she is bottom 2, which I’m convinced she will be, she is out.

    • DGiles

      She’s long overdue some poor treatment in the running order as well. If she was the one who was just 1% above the B2, which I suspect she was, early slots followed immediately by Matt (R1) and Saara (R2) with no break afterwards should ensure she goes B2. Maybe they could give her a couple of awkward divisive Scotland based questions in her VT disguised as an innocent radio interview to dampen the regional vote if they really wanted to go to town (do you support Scottish independence? Are you more of a Celtic fan or a Rangers fan? Etc)

  • Plinkiplonk

    Well, I think there definitely was a chosen one at the start of the lives, because the finalists have been chosen carefully to make Matt’s progress as smooth as possible; all vocally capable boys have been jettisoned (mote ntably Nate) just in time. However, I would credit TPTB so far as to being able to adapt their plans midway through when they notice how the vote is going. I think, after the 6CC, Saara was originally cast as the villain, but as the weeks rolled by, they must have realised that a) she was handy to have around in case anyone needed putting out of their misery in the sing off, and b) she was the only one that could actually belt out a tune (as opposed to some of the others, who would just belt out noise), and who else to give all those big songs to, that are presumable already arranged and part-recorded?

    I think they will struggle to find a song that is ‘too big’ for her, so I fully expect her to do either Mariah or ‘Silent Night’ for Christmas, but they can deramp her with undemanding songs, so if she’s singing ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’ we know she’s leaving.

    (I also fully expect 5AM to do ‘Last Christmas’ because of the JLS link and, well, Louis…)

  • DannyCraig

    Song choice predictions:

    emily – Hallelujah
    Matt – ‘miseltoe & wine
    5am – last Christmas
    Saara – silent night

    • DGiles

      Emily: Las Ketchup – Ketchup Song (Xmas Version)
      Matt: Wham – Last Christmas
      5AM: Jane McDonald – Cruise into Christmas
      Saara: Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas

      • HL

        The Ketchup Song would be hilarious indeed 😀

        All I Want For Christmas could suit Matt better than Saara. Or is it that Matt’s voice is going up and down all the time the same way as Mariah Carey’s.

        So This Is Christmas or Walking In The Air for Saara.

        And could not care less what they are giving to 5AM, hopefully something extremely demanding so that I would not have to hear them again.

    • Sindi

      Saara – Walking in the air.
      I admit I love this theme.

  • Sagand

    I did some analysis on the Spotify listens over the series. http://2.1m.yt/QkxQOMs.jpg

    I found everything we know about the vote is true of Spotify listens.

    Three people have topped the listens Matt (weeks 1,2,7), Emily (weeks 3,4,5) and Saara (week 6).

    We were told it was close at the top in week 5; Emily is barely ahead of 5AM in listens with Honey G and Matt not far behind.

    In week 6 we were told the top two had never topped the vote before, Saara and Honey G are the most listened to, neither had been top before.

    It hasn’t been so good at predicting the bottom of the standings. But I would guess singoffs draw attention to those at the bottom moving them above those near the bottom.

    it shows Creep was by far the moment of the series. Getting close to 2.5 times the average that week. 5AM have always been under performing but that might because their appeal is more about performance than listenability. It how much Saara varies per song, for example this week she has the most listened song in ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and the 8th most listened with the Diamonds medley. She is still vulnerable if she gets two duds.

    Having looked at this I think there is a good chance they will help Emily and Matt this week so there are two acts that haven’t hit the bottom two in the final. A Saara / 5AM singoff isn’t something I would get involved in I know how unpredictable semifinal singoffs can be but I think Saara as next elimination is value atm.

    • Sagand

      Emily is probably value in the without Matt Terry markets too.

    • DGiles

      Interesting analysis and looks like it could have something in it (looks can be deceptive though).

      Probably worth baring in mind that a performance focused song might do much better in the votes compared to Spotify views relative to ones purely about the singing. Like you say with 5AM and I’d also add a couple of Saara’s in that category as well. For example, if I wanted to relive the diamonds performance, I’d want to rewatch it rather than just listen to it, whereas you can just listen to winner takes it all.

      I’m not sure how good a judge it is of the performance of medleys as well (and there’s been quite a few – particularly for 5AM). I think people can enjoy these, but have less of an inclination to go and listen to them again as they’re not a proper full song.

    • Spiidey

      Great analysis and the correlation between spotify listens and votes could be fairly high (assuming your assumptions about who topped the vote in particular weeks is correct).

      Two things jump out at me – if Emily ran away with the vote in week 4 to the same extent as the spotify listens, then it reinforces for me that the producers thought at that point they had to do something about it. I genuinely don’t think they ever wanted her as a winner (Cowell does for his ego, or at the very least HE wants her in the final) and I wouldn’t be surprised if they panicked on the back of her week 4 creep performance. She’s tailed off massively since that point (based on the spotify plot) so if that was their intended strategy, then they’ve been hugely successful at it.

      Secondly, the variability in Saara’s individual listens shows just how important song choice is and therefore how easily the producers can manipulate her vote. That gives two interesting interpretations for what happened this week.

      The first is that they intentionally wanted to dampen her vote with Diamonds and TWTIA (the staging for TWTIA in particular suggests that was the intended result). They then realised late in the week (Friday evening possibly, based on Saara’s comments) just how big a moment TWTIA was going to be, but had no time to change anything with the staging for TWTIA or anything with Diamonds so just had to run with it. The “final” references from the judges were shoe horned in at the last moment as they knew what kind of reaction her performance would get and were left with no option but to praise it to that extent.

      The second is that they already had a sense of her momentum and wanted to work with it, hence the effort with The Winner Takes It All, the two songs being about as diverse as possible (to show her versatility) and the references back to TWTIA post her Diamonds performance.

      I’m not sure if the above makes any sense – I’m struggling a little bit with playing devil’s advocate (first) and confirmation bias (second).

      • PolarNight

        Some weeks ago I found Brian Friedman’s ‘Top 5 moments of the week’ articles via Twitter. I have been reading them since. In the articles he often shares details about design decisions regarding the acts. Many of these details seem sincere.

        For example regarding week 8 the producers had wanted to do TWTIA more up-tempo but Saara & Brian had convinced Sharon to accept it to be full ballad with piano (likely during Friday as Saara mentioned during the show that the act had been finalized late in the evening).

        On week 7 Sharon had interfered with Saara’s Titanic performance by removing dancers from it. Based on the promo pictures this decision was likely for Saara’s best (in the pictures the dancers looked creepy and stole focus from Saara).

        To my understanding Sharon attends Saara’s performance rehearsals on Fridays.

        Week 8 article:

        Older articles:

        • Spiidey

          Great find.

          “The honest truth about that number [TWTIA] is that it was potentially one of my least favourites to begin with. That’s because they planned for the track to be based on the original which went into an up-tempo version. I listened to the first routine of it and the way she sang the song was so passionate and heartfelt that I immediately reached out to the music team and asked if she could play the piano on this. I know she really wanted to play the piano.

          They said yes but it was going to go into an up-tempo bit, and she wouldn’t have been playing once that happens, so I asked them if it was possible to keep it as a ballad the whole time. They really didn’t want that to happen. They said it’s such a treasured song with it being the way it is so I spoke to Saara about it staying as a ballad and she fully agreed… and then we had to convince Sharon.”

          Damn, I knew it. They were going to Union J it and Saara/Brian had to fight to change it to a full on ballad. Even then they still tried to de ramp her with the staging – although to be fair they probably had very little time if the tempo of the song was switched late on Friday.

          Definitely fits more with my first theory from above that this week was intended as a de ramp of Saara.

          • Sindi

            Still I don’t think the late changes for The Winner Takes It All prove that they were originally trying to deramp Saara last week. Creative decisions are not clockwork.

          • Dana

            I don’t think it was an attempted deramp. I think they expected the Diamonds mash up to come over better than it did. If they wanted her bottom 2 last week, I don’t think they would have given her a standing ovation, called it the performance of the night, reminded everyone of her TWTIA performance and started saying she could win the show for the first time etc. Not to mention celebrity guests who don’t watch the show saying they want her to win for the first time.

            Who knows this year though? Seems to be all over the place.

          • Sindi

            I think Saara’s diamond mash-up was a triumph. I was a bit surprised the judges didn’t praise it more. Maybe they were just going on with the plan of not overfavouring a single contestant. Maybe they were struck by a sudden fear of it not being ‘current’ enough and quickly reminded people of the earlier more ‘serious’ performance, for Saara’s benefit. Maybe their feedback just sounded more lukewarm than was originally intended. During the ovation it looked like they genuinely liked it.

        • Spiidey

          So Saara is clearly Brian Friedman’s favorite – top of his weekly moments 4 weeks (3,5,6,8) and 2nd (week 7) and third 3rd (week 4). Didn’t place in week 2. Not sure where the week 1 article is.

          These articles are EXTREMELY interesting as they’re the first real bit of insider information on some of the performance/staging decisions that are taken.

          • Dendrite

            Nice find, indeed. On week 8, Brian actually gave Saara both the first AND the second place. I do remember her mentioning in an early interview that the production team loved working with her because she was a quick learner and they could do pretty much anything with her. Brian’s comments seem to confirm this.

        • Sindi

          Very interesting indeed.

          Brian being critical to Simon regarding Emily’s week 7 performance. Also we haven’t seen Brian in the main show for weeks. I wonder if they’re in bad terms currently. Of course that could as well not be the case.

        • Henry VIII

          Great find Polar. When I saw the week 7 photo of the return of the creepers I thought they were out to get Saara.

          Friedman: “We had some male dancers, these almost dark figures on the other side. They were between life and death and she was being pulled between the two worlds. It was very dramatic with her being pulled across the floor by her dress by these men. It was really out there and she loved it, but in the end, it was taken out by Sharon.”

          Seems it was just Friedman’s poor taste. (Or maybe the puppet-master had a change of heart on Saara).

          On Saturday I was wondering if Saara’s garish, aggressive and stark headband for her first song, matched by the screen background was a de-ramp. Now I’m more inclined to believe it was just Friedman’s love of kitsch.

    • Henry VIII

      Thanks for that interesting graph Sagand. But I wouldn’t conclude that it means Emily is value in the Outright. Spotify average age is much lower than voter average age.

      • Sagand

        Spotify may be lower but I wouldn’t say much lower, with the vast majority of the vote coming from the app most voters must be smartphone users.

        The odds imply Saara is three times more likely to win than Emily I simply don’t believe that is true. I think Saara is way too short and 5AM aren’t going to come back and win it so either Matt or Emily are too long; I think probably both are.

        Emily would be a good trade if she doesn’t hit the bottom two this week. You have to go back all the way to series 3 to find a final where only one of the acts had avoided hitting the bottom two. So possible change of incentives for the producers to help Emily to make a more exciting final.

        Ballads are always underestimated in the fan community, it’s forgotten that while Fleur got all the attention with ‘Uptown Funk’, Ben was moving away in the vote with ‘Hallelujah’.

        The case can be made for anyone but Matt going this week, I don’t think we’ll know anything before the show starts until then it’s best to consider every possibility.

  • Spiidey

    Everything seems to point to Emily leaving this weekend.

    Matt won’t go even if he is bottom 2, 5am are likely to have a bounce and it’s realistic to see the producers working with it / enhancing that bounce with big production, SO’s and great feedback.

    Saara has all the momentum.

    I just wonder if they’ve been planning the Emily semi final take down for a few weeks now.

    I get a sense that her regional / core vote was too strong for them to even attempt to dampen her in any of the past few/earlier weeks, simply because, relatively speaking, there were too many contestants to try and get above her (or get Emily below them) that it wasn’t even worth an attempt as they knew it wouldn’t work. She’s probably polled fairly statically throughout in terms of overall numbers, in comparison to growth in vote numbers for other contestants. In other words I think it’s probable that she’s had less growth in her vote numbers from weeks 1 to 8 than any other contestant that is left.

    Now, with just 4 contestants left, they’ve got that chance. They probably only need to get her to below 20% of the vote and she’s third / bottom 2 and they can boot her regardless of who she’s up against.

    That’s possibly why she’s had reasonably favourable running orders/positions so far. So they can legitimately put her on first this week (or second in the first round of songs and first in the second) without it looking suspect. Couple that with another two John Lewis performances, an instrument that she’s never played before and non vote motivating feedback and they’ve got her where they want her.

    The only spanner in the works is Cowell. Will he be telling TPTB she has to be in the final, or will TPTB overrule Simon and tell him they’re not having her there?

    • Alan

      There will probably be a distracting argument which conveniently means Cowell doesn’t actually critique his own act. 3 lots of bland luke warm praise and then nothing from Cowell. Exactly how they played it with Gifty and Sam when she first went bottom two.

      Think you’re right though if Emily has an early slot it could be time to lump on.

  • Dana

    I predict Emily’s voting performance over the course of the series will be very similar to Janet Devlin/Diana Vickers/Lauren Platt. Strong start, but fails to pick up floating voters as time goes on. It’s interesting that she has never been on early.

  • Woofie

    Interesting comments and analysis.

    In an earlier post Henry picked up on the number of Judges Standing Ovations (JSOs) in the live shows for Matt compared to Louisa’s last year and Saara’s:

    Saara 24 (didn’t check but I assume includes sing off ones – Henry?)
    Matt 15

    I thought that was interesting so I checked Emily and 5AM:
    Emily 13
    5AM 28

    Emily had none in weeks 1, 2 and 6.
    Apart from her pimp slots it’s only been Simon giving most of her JSOs:

    These show how much judges support each contestant, most notably 5AM, have had in the competition. There were no weeks that 5AM did not get any JSOs but it was noticeable in week 8 first song Uptown Funk (4) and Sorry/One Dance (1), their lowest in the competition.

    I didn’t count Honey G’s but she may have had a full house every week!

    In the last 4 weeks: 5AM vs Emily
    Week 5 5AM (4) pimp slot Emily (1)
    Week 6 5AM (4) Emily (0)
    Week 7 5AM (3) Emily (4) pimp slot (Ryan exit)
    Week 8 5AM (4,1) Emily (1,1)

    It would be interesting to do a full analysis when the voting stats come out. As we know JSOs are used subliminally for the audience to think that was a good performance. Obviously good vocalists with good core support will not need that many, mostly to be used to provide emphasis to a “wow” moment, but I think it is good barometer of producer favour and support for a contestant.

    Henry you didn’t provide Louisa’s but that would have interesting comparison if we had it as the clear TCO last year.

    I think the producers have got 5AM and Emily vote totally under control even with regional support. They will know what core support they have and what improves their vote and what suppresses their vote.

    This weekends treatment is going to be very interesting for 5AM and Emily, as at this juncture I would be surprised if Matt and Saara are not in the final. Last Sunday was all about Saara, there was a subliminal moment in the group song when Saara is singing on the next stage level with the other contestants flanking her in 2 lines, not quite looking up to her, but still an interesting image.

    I am away this weekend so won’t be seeing the show live. I thought Saara turning into a contender at this stage was a major twist and turn in this years show. Wouldn’t surprise me that they do something this weekend which causes the prices to fluctuate again…

    • Henry VIII

      Woofie thanks for continuing it.

      I didn’t count sing-offs, that would have inaccurately skewed it. For Louisa I only have the first 8 performances (2 each in w5 & w6) = 23 SO’s. This year’s figures were for 9 performances (2 each in w8).

      • Woofie

        That’s very interesting Henry. Do you have the weekly breakdown? This could provide evidence that the producers had positive intentions towards Saara much earlier, we think there was a change from being tactical to assist a weekly target to building up her core support with producer favour. I will be surprised if all the JSOs were just by chance in this show.

        • Henry VIII

          Re Saara SO’s: first 2 weeks and week 5 poor. The rest average out. I got the impression sometimes that Cowell stood reluctantly. I don’t think she’s ever been pimped, it’s just that she delivers. Sharon always stands. Nichole next highest amount, and seemingly spontaneously. The men next and perhaps less enthusiastically than the women.

          I’m sure she was originally fodder. I agree with Dan or Andrew who said, in an article, that her return from 6cc rejection was event driven and not planned (unlike Honey G). How interested they are in her now, if at all, is the big question.

          • Henry VIII

            Also there were clues for most of them that they were scouted. Not for Saara afaik. She posted a seemingly private photo of herself in the queue and she only cancelled some little gigs of hers at the last moment.

          • PolarNight

            Saara was posting video blogs (mostly in Finnish with English subtitles) on her Facebook before the live shows started. If I remember correctly she had first sent an ‘video application’ but had not received any response, so she decided to attend the open producer’s auditions. I think she attended producer’s auditions in Manchester (2 songs). After getting a green light she attended judge’s audition in Edinburgh.

            Regarding the wildcard situation it is unknown which of Saara or Honey G was supposed to be the original wildcard. If I recall correctly Ivy’s visa was rejected just days before she was supposed to travel (due applying incorrect visa type and no time to reapply correct type in time according to media). This means the replacement needed to be found fast.

            It is known that when Saara was informed about the wildcard position they had sent a film crew to Saara’s house in Finland. Travel arrangements take time. In logistical viewpoint this could suggest that Saara was the original wildcard. it would also make sense if they had someone (Honey G?) in standby mode in UK if some of the chosen judge’s house attendees would not make it for some reason. It is also possible that they were going to have 2 wildcards for Overs category, but relabeled the other due Ivy’s situation.

  • HL

    So far no stats seem to support the idea of 5AM bouncing this week. No new fans, no additional search activity linked to their sing off appearance. I did not care to check their Spotify listenings, but assume there is nothing happening there either.

    I was thinking that the producers would like to have Honey G vs 5AM (entertainers) sing off last week and then Emily vs Saara (girls) this week. However Saara has the momentum and 5AM is sinking. If they don’t sabotage the others, 5AM is going to be in B2 again. 5AM vs Emily would be the natural choice, do nothing and it will happen, but who knows what they are thinking.

    • Chris

      You could make a case that the bulk of the vote transfer from Honey G voters will go to 5AM.

      • HL

        That’s true, 5AM could benefit. Actually anyone could, if her voters were mainly kids. I am struggling to see an overlap between Emily and Honey G, but my 3-year-old niece instantly fell in love with Emily for some reason she is not able to explain, so who knows. Or then these people just lose interest and stop voting.

    • Woofie

      HL when the series ends it would be good to see the correlations between the voting and the Google stats. We will not know till the weekend if these have any bearing on this week’s result. I think with 5AM they have the least core support of the remaining contestants based on demographics and their position relies on casual/swing votes motivated by producer treatment. Hence why i think it is much easier to control their vote.

      What wil be interesting is if this data helps to predict if a early favoured contestant is dropped because they are not catching on with the public…

    • Stu

      A bounce for 5AM will mainly depend on the song choice, the performance and the treatment they get (pimp slot, SOs, favourable edit). We won’t know any of that until Friday at the very earliest.

      • HL

        Yes, I was merely saying that they will need favourable treatment to make it happen, there is nothing happening naturally, they are not bouncing (like a tennis ball).

        Maybe we mean different things when using the word “bounce”. I think of a natural bounce, the way people are reacting when they see that a good singer is in danger. This cannot be happening! Who is this person? Let’s vote to keep him/her/them safe! You are talking about all the things the producers could do to lift them back next weekend.

        • Stu

          I think it’s because their bottom two appearance happened to be on one of their weaker weeks. It wasn’t a shocker so it doesn’t really merit an outrage. If they pull off another Boogie Wonderland and get the audience going wild again, they’ll stand a great chance of bouncing. On the assumption that Honey polled bottom, 5AM were only 1% behind 3rd place in the vote. If the producers want that 3rd place act out this coming week, it wouldn’t be too difficult to achieve.

  • Dana

    I think the primary motivation of the producers at this stage is to sell tickets for the tour- especially as the final 4 sing the most songs and are the “headliners”. I can’t really remember if anyone at this stage has ever been especially targeted by the producers for elimination? Chris Maloney perhaps? I didn’t watch the end of that season.

    • Woofie

      I don’t think anything in this show is left to chance, they will want to have the final by design not just letting the public decide.

      At this stage in the competition it is unlikely they will nuke a contestant but they will be pushing and pulling levers to get the final they want and influence the final result they want.

    • Curtis

      I would say Lauren Murray was targeted pretty hard in the final 4 last year. It might not be as crude as some of the earlier eliminations but I’m sure they will make sure to get the bottom 2 they want.

      • Woofie

        I think last year was a different year because of the truncated series. This year they’ve had more time with the contestants. Strong regional voting might be a bit more tricky but I expect they will be confident of getting the results.

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  • Scott

    If they want the strongest vocal selection for the final, then it has to be Matt, Emily and Saara.

    If they want to try to use the show as a launchpad for a new boy band, and/or if Emily’s sickness is causing real problems, they could sneak 5AM in there at the expense of Emily or Saara, knowing full well they’ve still got a decent line-up in there.

    I still don’t see enough from 5AM to suggest they’re heading for a Little Mix trajectory. If the show was really behind them they’d be throwing everyone under the bus, and I don’t feel I’ve got to know them well enough. The only question that remains is whether they drop them this week or they make it as far as the final.

    I don’t see enough in there to suggest they want Emily to win it. If she’s got a sickness bug and they’re not using it to elicit sympathy, then they’re keeping a lid on her support.

    Saara depends entirely on how the show treats her. They’ve got a lid on her support so if they want to bring her down at any point to get their preferred winner, they can do it (that may be a little trickier if we get to the Sunday and she powerhouses the winners’ single, which suggests to me they’d try to get her out before then).

    To slightly adjust a line from Betsfactor, the franchise (usually) comes first. And it’s hard to see past the show going with a middle England-friendly winner in Matt taking the crown. The audience is older and this is what it likes.

  • HL

    Yes, I was merely saying that they will need favourable treatment to make it happen, there is nothing happening naturally, they are not bouncing (like a tennis ball).

    Maybe we mean different things when using the word “bounce”. I think of a natural bounce, the way people are reacting when they see that a good singer is in danger. Let’s vote to keep him/her/them safe! You are talking about all the things the producers could do to lift them back next weekend.

  • stoney

    If as I imagine Matt has the biggest fan base of the acts left in the competition, and next (highly possible) the only other act not to fall in the bottom 2 Emily were both to again miss the bottom 2 this weekend, who would be saved out of Saara and 5am. This would be very interesting

    • David Cook

      I have a feeling that they might just side step that one this year. I think they might not bother with the semi final sing off. Whoever’s bottom isn’t going to win anyway. It makes the final look much more open doesn’t it?

      • stoney

        Yeah it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Depends if they aren’t too fussed about 5am missing out on the final. I still think they would very much like to get them in the final. Only they will know who they are going to need to sacrifice to do so

        • David Cook

          The best way to do the results this week would actually be to just have all four lined up and do a simple “the act eliminated is” – it at least makes it look more even for the other three acts going into the final.

  • EM

    Could Saara be this year’s Christopher Maloney?

    As in she’s picking up the middle aged middle of the road votes for her ballads and wacky performances? I’ve said before she’s wacky in the same way that someone who thinks ordering a large latte in Costs is an act of rebellion.

    There are plenty of difference in that she’s likeable and he wasn’t but I can see them appealing to very similar types who like things done like they used to be.

    Upshot is both engaged a core vote but were never in danger of winning.

    • stoney

      I see Emily as having more of Maloney type support. A strong regional support which now Ryan gone is proving very hard to shift. The only difference is her winning the show wouldn’t be tptb’s worst nightmare.
      What I can’t work out is if they are open to a foreign winner why didn’t they let Andrea win it. A great singer and a really likeable guy.

      • EM

        OI don’t think they are open to a foreign winner. Andrea won the first three(?) weeks and it took a hell of a lot of almost humiliating tactics to get him into the bottom two just before the final – we know Saara hasn’t had that kind of results or as bad treatment. It’s shades of grey but Andrea’s winning personality will have helped him a lot, Saara is a bit stage school in comparison.

        Emily has regional support (although she hasn’t been Scottish for a few weeks) but the kind of Lorde-lite lame they’re putting her on will appeal to a younger demo than Maloney and Alto.

  • Scott

    They’ll have the Daily Mail front page in their mind if Saara wins. Which will either be whining about a ‘foreigner’ winning a British talent show, or worse for them won’t even acknowledge the show’s existence.

  • Ben Cook

    Just noticed all the random British landmarks in the background of Saara’s 2nd performance. What’s that all about?

  • Alan

    This weekend seems really hard to call. I can see a case for them finally targetting Emily and getting shot. A case for Saara having served her purpose and being eliminated. And a case for them thinking they’ve helped 5AM all they can and letting them go.

    Only thing that I think is certain is that they won’t target 5AM. I think they will get all the help possible to get them to the final. Whether it is enough to save them Im not sure. If they go into a sing-off they’re pretty much lame ducks in the final anyway so does it really matter if they leave a week earlier than hoped?

  • DGiles

    When you look at Emily over the last 3 weeks, I wonder if they’ve just wanted to keep her head just above the B2 without giving her any boost in support.

    Her main support from the prods has been her very late slots in the running order, this ensures she gets a boost in votes for that show, but it doesn’t provide a longer term growth in fan base. Poor songs / performances and Luke warm praise from the judges ensure that. Having her hit the bottom 2 in the last 2 weeks may have put a spanner in the prods longer term thinking though…

    Week 6:
    Dampen but not completely kill support and set up potential Ryan / Emily sing-off the next week. Given this was easily Emily’s worst week, they could well have managed this.

    Week 7:
    Why did they not push for a Ryan / Emily sing off? One theory is that they wouldn’t be able to make that happen as Emily’s support was too strong. However, I’m not sure I buy that. I think there is a possibility that Honey G’s support was already starting to show weakness, Ryan was starting to get a little better (and maybe some sympathy / underdog support), so if they pushed for Ryan and Emily to be B2 that week, they may have ended up with Honey G and Emily instead. This would have been a disaster for the prods. Eliminate Honey G and they lose their controversial save opportunity and headlines. Eliminate Emily and they have a good looking guy with the full Scottish vote behind him, which isn’t a good combination for the prods when you want that act nowhere near the final.

    Week 8:
    This week they had to get rid of Honey G. Her time was up, her support evaporated and saving a joke act 2 weeks in a row is a step to far for the brand. So bearing in mind Honey G goes against anyone left, they probably need to be happy with the prospect that the second act in the bottom 2 could bounce to the final. Bounces can be unpredictable and hard to control, especially at this stage of the comp when each act has a decent amount of core support. With this in mind, 5AM are a better act for the singoff than Emily (assuming they prefer 5AM in the final). The act they may not have bounced is Saara, as another B2 performance could have the opposite affect and demotivate her support completely and it would be virtually impossible to justify saving Saara from a B2 in the semi final in this instance (would make 5 appearances in sing-off including the last 2 consecutive weeks). The suggestion that Emily was in danger at the start of the Sunday show and the news that the vote was close could engineer her vote to be pushed above 5AM (who the audience were told are guaranteed to be in the final, thus not in danger).

    Next Week:
    So keeping her head just above the water in previous weeks has allowed her to slide towards the bottom, without hitting it so far, with no potential bounces to motivate and distort her vote. Combine this with no recent attempts to grow support and motivate her support, possibly makes her weak enough to kill when they want to this week without being too nasty about it. She just needs early slots, no breaks after her performances, mediocre songs and lukewarm praise again and she’s probably in the B2.

    Just a theory, which could make sense, but I could be way off (although sorry for the long ramble)

    • Sindi

      That’s an interesting theory.

    • HL

      Could be, but I think it has not required that much scheming.

      Her speaking voice is loud and clear so it seems to be her lack of singing technique that is holding her back. Emily is a young and nice and pretty girl (those were the good qualities) whose range is limited, who cannot wear heels**, cannot move around and sing at the same time, blurts out things she is not supposed to say. On top of that, she has been coughing for weeks and the only mention of her work ethic was made when a song was taken back from her for not practicing enough.

      What kinds of songs she should have been given if these songs together with late slots, beautiful staging and quite flattering looks were not fair to her? How will I know, Creep, What makes you beautiful, It must have been love, Human… If they had swapped the songs with someone, can you imagine a surviving contestant whose songs she would have sung better than her own songs? No. Then can you see Saara or Matt slaying her songs? Yes.

      People have been saying that she should be given her guitar back and let her sing in her own style. They did give her a nicely arranged Toxic and a ukulele which is very cute and very similar to guitar (only easier to play) and btw brings the singer much closer to audience than, let’s say, a piano. (http://www.ukeschool.com/ukulele/ukulele_guitar.html) But no, it was still unfair.

      Now she is getting lots of sympathy being left all alone without her boyfriend – just like every other contestant has been all the way from the beginning. Easy votes once again, as if having a strong regional vote behind her was not enough.

      This was refreshing, almost like going on a rant. But I am sorry already. I actually have nothing against Emily, she seems nice enough and has better voice than many other contestants this year.

      **Btw, she _really_ said on Xtra Factor that she has been barefoot not because they are unwilling to give her shoes but because she kicks off the shoes they have given her at the last minute before going on stage… To believe or not to believe. I might even believe, as we all have seen how terrifyingly high heels and hazardous costumes they have given to Saara. 😀

      • PolarNight

        I don’t get why the stylists won’t let Emily use flat shoes in her performances until she learns handling high heels better. Week after week she has been given high heels and ended up barefooted in the actual performance. In week 8 group performance she finally had flat shoes and was moving more naturally.

        Thought she seems to have made some progress. She was moving with high heels in her second week 8 performance.

        • HL

          Emily got ridiculous amount of praise from the judges when she walked ten metres wearing heels. 🙂 Apparently it is the most important skill a girl needs to learn so now she is ready to take over the world…

  • Woofie

    I think they have a good control of the public vote and that is probably due to the app data and the mix of contestants. A contestant’s core support is what I define as people who give 3 to 5 app votes consistently to a contestant regardless of the performance. Producers know where contestants are in terms of their core support and ability to motivate core, swing and casual votes depending on the level of producer treatment given. They will have an idea of how large the pool of swing and casual votes actually is. We know a solid performance can be a core support pleaser but not necessarily be a strong motivator to mop up many swing and casual votes. Song choice is probably best used to that effect. One contestant having a “wow” moment will I’m sure mop up a good amount and mix of the available pool of swing and casual votes.

    Maybe people who have lost their favourites might still be engaged in the app voting process but as more discerning viewers giving their votes to “deserving” performances as they see it. These votes possibly influenced by judges critique.

    It’s interesting that I don’t recall Dermot saying anything of the number of votes cast lately. Probably dipped but as we near the final it might pick up in the usual fashion.

    I agree with what has been said that everything is going to be down to treatment this week. I don’t feel confident calling it at this stage.

    My instinct says they got the outcome they wanted last week and are confident of the same this week, that they will support 5AM either to bounce into the final or ensure they go out on a reputable high. If they do want 5AM to bounce into the final creating “they are back in the game” narrative in the process will they be prepared to alter the treatment of all the remaining contestants to that end? That I think is the key question. I am not sure if they will or not, depends I guess on how valuable 5AM is to the producers (Simon) in terms of achieving the expected return on their investment in the group. We know that invested favoured groups are dropped when the producers no longer have confidence in the group achieving the expected return in the competition and more importantly post show.

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