X Factor 2016 Week 9: Weapons of Middlemas Destruction?

We were uncertain how tonight’s show would pan out: the market’s initial reaction points towards a consensus that Saara is now the chosen one for the win (the odds imply about a 60% chance she wins), and that Emily is a goner (an 80% chance that she leaves tomorrow).


But we should also consider some other possibilities. For instance: 5AM were given every possible help tonight, which they will have needed to have any chance of getting into the top two of the phone vote. It still seems entirely possible they’ll fall short. If that happens, would producers still drag them to the final, or might they be tempted to cut them loose?

Conversely, suppose 5AM do clear the singoff, and Emily and Matt fight it out. Might producers then be tempted to try to push 5AM towards an unlikely victory? And would they be willing to lose Matt to help clear the demographic path? There are many permutations to consider.

The safest conclusion from tonight seems to be that Saara will be safe – and that’s a conclusion rooted in another snippet about the vote that Dermot revealed early in the show. He told us that every one of the four semi-finalists had topped a vote.

That ties into the “it’s an open race” theme producers have been keen to push for the last few weeks (and if it’s an Emily-Matt singoff, what could be more open than a year in which every finalist has survived a bottom two?). But it’s significant because, in week 7, Dermot had revealed that three acts had topped the vote. It seems pretty safe to assume that Matt and Emily were among the weeks 1-6 vote-toppers, so that implies one of Saara or 5AM topped their first vote in week 7 or week 8. And the only one of those possibilities that really makes sense is that Saara topped last week.

If that’s the case, she should be safely through tonight after a broadly positive evening. We doff our cap to producers for nailing a stake through the heart of the “embassy VT” theory, which has become a running joke in these parts since it coincided with Andrea Faustini and Fourth Impact landing in the singoff in the last two series. Saara’s embassy VT was utterly charming. Everyone spoke in perfect English (the theory behind the embassy VT is that it can emphasise an act’s otherness, which wasn’t the case here), and a visit from Santa saw Saara wishing to win the competition and them both telling each other “I believe in you”. It couldn’t have been better.

But the vocals weren’t entirely on point for ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, and – despite an initial four-judge ovation – both Nicole and Simon added “corny” to the “cheesy” of last week.

Saara’s second song, a reprise of ‘Chandelier’ from her audition, was introduced by a VT reminding us of that audition and referencing her 15 years of trying to make it in the industry. But it didn’t feel like a “journey over” vibe, it felt more like “one last push to the final”. It also won a four-judge ovation, and had Simon praising her fighting qualities and Sharon for building her confidence (once she could remember her name and which part of “abroad” she comes from). Louis called her “world-class” twice.

But the pimping was turned up a notch higher for 5 After Midnight, who also got the most emotional VTs of the night, reminding us of their families and encouraging us to connect with them as individuals. The crowd reaction to ‘Stay Another Day’ was furiously whipped up, and we’ve never seen more gold in X Factor staging than they got for ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’. Simon told them, after that pimp slot performance, that “something had changed” with them – and that was clearly the intended take-home message, that this is a reboot. The extent to which voters play ball remains to be seen.

Long-time hot favourite Matt Terry’s treatment tonight was surprisingly mixed. Only mentor Nicole stood to applaud either song, and the a capella Silent Night could have been praised a lot more than it was – Simon reaching for one of his occasional food metaphors by calling it “a sandwich without butter”. As Matt emotionally told Dermot how much it meant to him to get to the final, Dermot responded with a dismissive “you’re wearing a nice coat”.

We wondered at the time if the initial mutedness was a setup for a moment in the second performance, but it was quite the opposite. The staging started out looking dodgy – were those doors or tombstones? – and Matt looked pretty lonely on stage until a choir arrived and the lighting turned to gold. But Simon’s comments were brutal. As well as calling it “bland”, he said “something’s been lost along the way”, the kind of criticism that is especially devastating because it’s so nonspecific – it’s impossible for an act to respond to, and viewers can map onto it any of their own emotions. It was also a mirror image of what he’d later say to 5AM.

Could the mysterious story in this morning’s Star conceivably have had anything to do with Matt’s negative treatment? Or have producers seen from the app data that 5AM and Matt have some voters in common, and they were trying to get as many into 5AM’s camp this week as possible? Even if that’s the case, this was no way you’d expect the show to treat an act they’re anticipating having to embrace as their winner in a week’s time. But then, we’ve seen the treatment of acts turn on a dime more than once this series, and perhaps there’s still time for Matt to get back into producers’ good books.

Which brings us to hot favourite for elimination Emily, who at least was allowed the relative dignity of doing what she does every week and being mostly praised for it – that’s better than being told you’ve lost your way. She also had probably the evening’s second best VTs, after 5AM – her parents took her skating, and her mum cried as she talked about how she wanted to make them proud; then she chatted on Skype to her brother. It amused us that Emily’s Glaswegian brother occasioned more subtitling in her VT than Saara got at the Finnish embassy.

The choir of children was a nice touch for Emily’s first song, and we saw her thanking them at the end. But Louis’s “you do the same thing every week” was deeply unhelpful expectation-setting for the audience with another slow song yet to come, and the best Sharon could muster was “you’re still here”. ‘Mad World’ was fine, but it felt like another attempt to recapture the magic of ‘Creep’, with sadly diminishing returns. She was trapped in a prison of light as the song progressed, something we’ve long seen as a staging negative, and you could debate the subliminals of the multiple versions of her face appearing on the big screens behind her.

One fascinating feature of Emily’s evening was how much she nailed both post-performance interviews with Dermot, delivering heartfelt and articulate messages. We’ve often wondered why more acts don’t seem to prepare themselves for this moment, which is pretty much the only chance they get to say something unfiltered by producers – hats off to Emily for maximising her chance to say what she wanted to. We fear it won’t be enough to get her clear of the singoff.

How did you read the semi-final, and what are you expecting from the singoff? Do let us know below.

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197 comments to X Factor 2016 Week 9: Weapons of Middlemas Destruction?

  • Poker Coach

    From past we can learn that they seem to treat their favourites badly when they know that they can afford it and it fits for their objectives.

    Thats why it is still too early to say that Matt has lost their support.

    Their objective is to make the final more interesting. Other objectives are possible too but they are more uncertain.

  • Scott

    A few thoughts.

    Emily is toast – even if 5AM aren’t polling well, and need vocal help, the show can do enough to carry them through Saturday without making a mockery of the show. They could probably even get them to do a repectable version of the winner’s song which is fine, but not as good as Matt’s, if they want a Matt win. Emily speaking out tonight shows the game is up – it all felt very much like a Gifty week.

    Matt – star crazy for the first performance, red and black and under a bus for the second, with weird background styling that felt like the occult to me and a shadow choir. Not at all helpful. They want him in the final, I’m not sure they want anything else from him.

    Saara – unless I’ve disappeared into echo chamber/confirmation bias hell, it is impossible to see this week as anything other than good. Even the ‘cheesy/corny’ stuff isn’t necessarily bad. Remember Sam Bailey’s repeated ‘cruise ship’ references. The ITV audience likes cheese, it likes unashamed pop, it likes going on cruise ships and it likes a bit of unashamed fun. Given the choice it’d throw Emily’s shtick from tonight under the bus without a second thought given the alternative of a bit of a laugh. This isn’t 6 Music, this is Heart/Radio 2.

    5AM – I wasn’t convinced before, I am now convinced they’re in the final. Does the show push them for the win? I still don’t think we know them well enough, whereas Saara seems to have a full-on journey story happening.

    I’ll point to one line from tonight that I saw go past Twitter, just a random sample from a random user. She said she didn’t see Saara as likeable to start with, but now she really enjoys her and sees her as fun. Journey.

    • James

      I agree with you about the “corny” line. Again allowing for the risk of confirmation bias as I adore Saara, what I took from that was that it was a Christmas theme and hers was the only performance that was festive and fun. She certainly seemed to be the crowd’s favourite, none of the other acts had them chanting their names.

      They really laid into Matt to the extent it felt a bit uncomfortable to watch. Do we really think the show might have turned against him because of rumours that he may not be straight? For all Cowell’s faults I’m not sure I can see him sinking that low.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Apols for the repeat post but it seems pertinent. This links to Andrea’s embassy visit.


  • Emily was so bad tonight – The children’s choir basically carried her Christmas song and drowned her out. And “Mad World” was a disaster. If anyone deserves to go home tomorrow, it’s her.

  • Dana

    I think a lot of casual viewers are latching onto the Saara “journey” now. Certainly seems the producers aren’t opposed to her winning at all, which I was always concerned they were.

  • Curtis

    I wonder whether the push for 5AM tonight was less about steering them clear of a Bottom 2 but making them seem like worthy finalists, and making it very easy for the judges to send them through to the final over Emily. I just sense that Matt’s vote will have a little too much resilience for him to succumb to the B2 tonight.


    Safe: Saara. Third time she is in my safe column, gradually climbing up from nailed on B2 bar week 5. Great performance and the Finns know to not bring out delicacies or anything.

    Probably Safe: Empty

    Middle Of The Road: Empty. TBH only Sam has ever been in this spot other than Relly

    Possibly B2: 5AM, Matt Terry. 5AM have been in the B2 before and close to middle of the road but that B2 brought them down. Matt Terry is in the mix now. Being below Saara, wow. Silent Night was nearly as boring as Emily and if they want Saara to win making him miss out the final is the next step. Or a Final with everyone in B2.

    Nailed On B2: Emily’s same thing every week will see her leave. Just like Credible Recording Artist Potential Hoeny G. They didn’t take the opportunity to Save Her like they did with 5AM, and she was 3rd last week by 1%, possibly in B2 until Dermot said that the vote was close. I can see her going.

    So my prediction:
    Emily/MATT B2
    with Louis Tomlinson getting saved.

  • Sindi

    So Emily is her own creation now and not Simon’s.

    I think Matt’s Silent night was pretty good until the very end which was a bit strained. The second song lacked momentum and he really pushed his voice at the end. Both him and Saara seemed pretty nervous and it’s hard to give a relaxed performance then.

    I think Brian Friedman failed with AIWFCIY, it was not as much fun as it could have been. Somehow it seemed halfway done. Chandelier sounded amazing!

    5 am… 5 am.

    Expecting b2 of Emily and 5 am and Emily going home. They were quite harsh with her, poor girl. The current state of her voice was very exposed in War is over.

  • Jessica Hamby

    No mention of Steakhouse?

    Best moment of the night but forgotten by the end. Was it a deramp or intended to humanise 5AM? No-one jumped in on Nicole when she said it, so probably intentional.

  • George

    Something to keep in mind – The X Factor actively tries to court younger viewers. Younger people were overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU.

    It would be amazing publicity if an EU citizen won.

  • Curtis

    I do feel very sorry for Emily. As much as I find her style boring, the unfortunate thing for her is that her voice has simply gone since Week 6 and she hasn’t been able to show her best. I find it really odd that the show hasn’t addressed that at all (or the persistent cough that she has had then and the couple of weeks after).

    • HL

      It was a flu to begin with, no doubt, but I am not buying that explanation anymore. I have not heard of a flu that allows a person to speak loud and clear and walk around without a tissue at hand but totally breaks her singing voice for more than four weeks.

      Lots of singing every day with poor technique, I’d guess. Matt’s voice has also sounded strained lately, and even Saara is close to the limits. Very long days, lots of stress, too little sleep, probably unhealthy food and no physical exercise.

      • Curtis

        I don’t really need an explanation. Her voice is totally gone whether due to illness, overuse, or something else, and yet the show have just carried on as if nothing has happened. It was very sad to see her out on that stage last night getting outsung by the kids choir, and then ripped into by Louis for not going for something uptempo which would have undoubtedly exposed her even more.

        You could definitely hear strain in both Matt and Saara’s voices last night, but just to a significantly lesser extent. They had a couple of cracks on big notes, where Emily has just literally lost her entire range. They could at least do her the favour of turning her mic up and giving her some of that nice reverb Saara got!

  • DGiles

    Saara has slowly been shifted into the middle of the road in order to grow her vote base, particularly among the MEMs. The wackiness did its original job and has now been heavily toned down in recent weeks. Looking back, I think they may have pushed for this in the week she sung My Heart Will Go On. I guess its easy to see with hindsight…

    • Curtis

      I would argue that her wackiness was already being toned down for No More Tears as well. A big production, but lacked the total insanity of some of her earlier ones.

    • Scott

      Hindsight is 20/20 vision, but I think you’re absolutely spot on there. Whenever the Sam Bailey songbook comes out it’s a reason to stop and reassess the situation.

  • kingston

    can’t see if it’s mentioned before, but what’s with the semi-finalists song on XtraFactor when 5AM jokingly sang camply: “he (matt) wants to szhslay”… are they referring to the daily star blind item?

  • The biggest surprise of the night for me was going quite as hard as they did on Matt, I felt sorry for him and chucked him a couple of app votes that I usually send Saara. It felt mean spirited and if it was designed to drag him into the bottom 2 then I kind hope it backfires.

    Saara was given every positive, even if she wasn’t firing on all cylinder’s when it came to both performances- Still streets ahead of the rest but Chandelier wasn’t the moment I was expecting thanks to an awkward arrangement that made it seem like she wa’s playing catch up.

    Emily is looking very much in danger despite giving vocally competent performances- Very much in her lane and she”s relying purely on her existing vote as there was nothing attractive there.

    Which bring’s us to 5am- Pimpy pimp mcpimpslot as they threw literally everything they had in their arsenal at getting them through- Not sure if it will be enough, especially as they were so heavy handed on the backing vocalists, particularly on Signed Sealed Delivered they may as well not opened their mouths for the vocals that were coming through.

    Possibly 5am in a 1D style sing off where producer’s accept this isn’t going to happen on the show with either Emily or Matt. Saara looking safe but you can never tell with her vote knowing how unpredictable it’s been

    • HL

      You are not the only one who changed from Saara to Matt this week, I have seen several people say exactly the same. So they are not going to get Matt in B2, and Saara is still not going to get all the votes she deserves. Matt seems to sail to the final week being the only one without any B2 appearances and with a sympathy vote for having been treated unfairly. Quite an achievement.

      • Stu

        Will the criticism towards Matt be widely deemed as unfair though? Some viewers will see Simon as the voice of reason – SN was arguably boring and predictable. That said, I think Matt being in the bottom two is too good to be true.

      • Lara T

        I’ve long seen Matt as the winner but have previously voted more for acts I like that have seemed in trouble.

        This week I chucked all my votes to Matt.

  • Lake

    On Xtra Factor, Sharon, Nicole and Louis predicted Emily was the next act to leave. Simon said Matt.

  • Lara T

    My shock tonight was matts treatment. If he is polling well then he has been given the worst slots of any winner I think. Maybe he is doing so well he’s in-catchable?

    Saara did well, but not amazingly according to the people I was with, they expected more.

    Emily was beyond dull. Good but no vote motivation as far as I could see.

    5am. Well. Pimped but personally didn’t get anywhere.

    My prediction: 5am and Emily BT.

    One goes on deadlock. I don’t think they care particularly which.

  • Lake

    Headline: X Factor bosses desperate for Matt Terry to win this year’s show amid competition from The Voice


    “X Factor bosses who are ­determined to remain top dog are keen for Matt Terry to triumph in this year’s show, a source has told the Sunday People… Matt and boyband 5 After Midnight are seen as more marketable than fellow semi-finalists Saara Aalto and Emily Middlemas… Executives at Simon Cowell’s SyCo, which owns The X Factor, are already plotting ways to stay on top… Frankly if Saara or Emily win it’s going to be a lot tougher to forge a ­long-term chart career.”

    • Curtis

      That seems planted doesn’t it, given that it goes in complete contrast to the show we just watched. It’s like “No, we’re not giving Saara preferential treatment at all – actually we’re heavily favouring Matt.” – trying to divert people’s attention from the fact the opposite is happening. Or at least that’s what I take from it.

  • Anglia Chu

    Normally, I’d say Matt will pick up the floaters but Honey G left last week so Matt’s probably not getting those votes. Dermot’s hints don’t help his cause, either.

    How they rehabilitated Saara from frequent sinker to frequent flyer is amazing/a testament to how small the voting population is now.

    They’re trying to bounce 5AM (won’t be that hard, probably) and sink Emily.


    GREEN: Saara
    AMBER: 5AM
    AMBER: Matt
    RED: Emily

  • Anglia Chu

    Also, it’s fitting that a Zara (Larsson) is performing as a guest this week. It makes you appreciate how far Zara/Saara has come. Hopefully Sharon doesn’t say she’s from Norway, too (she’s from Sweden).

  • EM

    It’s been said before that this feels like no other series in terms of contestant trajectory and producer favouritism.

    I’ve also noticed a change in content too. The inter-judge rivalry and bickering is all but gone. The judges are seen to have much less ownership of their acts in VTs and post performance comments. Acts are more likely than judges to take the credit and blame for song choices and are shown to be much more in control of their destiny than before.

    At the start of the lives there was a lot of focus on singing coaching and creative with Brian et al appearing in the VTs but this has been much toned down.

    There seems to be much less of Dermot on a Sunday going to the judges for a tough critique from them over who is in trouble and who is going to win.

    Finally they seem much more likely to get the acts doing contemporary songs. Sure there are still plenty of X Factor standards being belted out.

    Overall it’s as if they are more concerned by ratings this season than launching careers and seem to be happier following the flow of the audience. Maybe last year was seen as too predictable. That’s certainly the feel you get from all the tight voting clues being given out.

    Maybe to get the judges they wanted this season they had to agree they really just needed to turn up on the weekend, have some drinks and forget which act was coming next.

    The elimination has been pretty easy to spot this year but the overall has been more of a puzzle. In fact you could argue the only two definites spotted in the overall machinations are to get Honey G as far as possible and to get 5am to the final.

    Finally the logic applied to say Saara topped the vote last week seems solid and saying as Dermot said it was tight at the bottom last week (well between 4th and 3rd) but didn’t mention the top it could be she won it by quite a lot.

    We’re a week away from the voting stats, this year’s will be fascinating.

  • Poker Coach

    Did anybody else pay attention to the horrible dress Saara had during her Chandalier.

    I think that was production sabotage. She was not able to move and did not look trendy at all. Still they praised her voice. So what is going on?

    For me it is clear, but can you figure it out? 5 AM is fighting for the votes of fun factor too. They gave to Saara all the support they could while not making them to compete against 5AM voters so much.

  • Dean

    Wouldn’t it be great if Emily goes into the sing off and does ‘Uptown Funk’ or something like that.

  • Alan

    It probably suits TPTB in some ways to have an overseas winner. It might allow them to cast the nets a bit wider (ie not just the UK) when they are scouting talent for the show. They’ve certainly done that with BGT.

    The show has definitely felt more relaxed about a winner this year. To me Matt always seemed like someone who they would be happy to win rather than an out and out chosen one. The priority was to get 5AM far enough into the show to launch a career. Mission accomplished. Probably Gifty too if the audience had played along. Mission aborted.

    Id never have seen Saara as a potential winner. She has a good voice, is a good performer and has a winning personality. Beyond that I find her very cheesey, very Eurovision which is probably why she is popular on here. Im surprised the Xfactor voters have taken to her so much but when you look at the competition, of whom Matt and Emily have been held back massively by TPTB, shes not had much to beat.

    • Chris Bellis

      Very Eurovision? I’d have loved to see her perform this year’s winning song. That would have given Simon something to say.

      • cfc2000

        That would lighten the mood.
        “When strangers are coming…
        They come to your house,
        They kill you all
        and say,
        We’re not guilty
        not guilty.”

      • It’s a fair point – this is a Eurovision forum for half the year, and she’ll be familiar to those who follow the national finals heavily.

        But she seems to have somehow completely risen from the dead. It’s a phenomenal comeback after a nightmare start. And also loads of my friends, who are certainly no Eurovision fans, love her.

        • Jessica Hamby

          It’s interesting why she suddenly got such apparent favour. I stand by my original reasons, which are that they were always a bit light on talented contestants and that once Gifty went they had no choice but to promote her. Having learned a bit more about her I wonder if there are other commercial reasons too.

          China’s Got Talent has 400 million viewers. X Factor in China also has massive numbers. If Saara was to go to their final and sing Let It Go in flawless mandarin as a guest performer at their final it would be a sensation. She can speak the language so she can be interviewed and she can be relied upon to carry herself with decorum and respect for the culture. She’s gold, walking, breathing, singing gold.

          I bet the Finnish government would be delighted too.

  • Ben Cook

    It’s so weird that following the ridiculous JH choices and the obviously early pimping of Matt, it’s gone from looking like a re-run of last year’s “get plan A over the finish line at all costs”, to them now trying to make it feel like a wide open competition, which is what it should always be. Imagine if they just put the 12 best acts through every year (maybe with 1 or 2 novelties, but no cannon fodder).

  • Sindi

    It took me this long to realize what Stay another day was about as a song choice… It was about the 35+ nostalgia vote. 5 am was even styled somewhat similar to East 17 back then.

  • Alan

    Surprised no-one picked up on the
    subliminals in both 5AM song titles. Nothing in it of course.

  • Chris

    I thought there was some good covering of Saara going back to Chandelier as well in Emily’s VT. They picked up on the fact she was maybe going to sing Mad World as her audition song, and now she was going back to it – maybe hinting at her being indecisive and not even that sure of who she wants to be/sing, even though she’s the one who “knows who she is as an artist”.

    It mitigated the fact Saara went back to her audition song and therefore the “end of journey” vibe. Also, the fact that they didn’t actually show any of Saara’s singing in the audition during the VT, just Nicole’s reaction, negated any “well the audition was better” feelings I’d imagine. The general comparison was the even more overblown judges reaction to their original reaction in the audition room.

  • Stu

    Some voting stats on semi-final pimp slots in previous years:

    2015 – Reggie & Bollie (2nd)
    2014 – Ben Haenow (1st)
    2013 – Sam Bailey (1st)
    2012 – James Arthur (1st)
    2011 – Little Mix (1st)
    2010 – One Direction (3rd out of 5)
    2009 – Danyl Johnson (4th – eliminated)
    2008 – JLS (1st)

    Given the fact 5AM had an almighty pimping last night – as well as topping the vote at one point during the live shows – I’d say there is a solid possibility of them being safe this week. If they’ve topped the vote even just once before, they have the potential to do it again. My theory is they topped the vote with Say You’ll Be There – hence the similar staging and arrangement for Signed, Sealed, Delivered, plus getting the pimp slot again.

    A lot of us have thought at one point or another that Matt is running away with the vote but the stats from Dermot last night confirm that Saara, 5AM and Emily have each polled above him at some stage. They also indicate that Matt’s vote isn’t immune to judge criticism – did his vote take a plunge around the time of I’m Your Man and Disco week? If so, what does that mean for him this week?

    I think tptb have had a firm grip on the vote this series (and last year also).They know what they’re doing by now. Everything points to a Matt/Emily bottom two. Unless the revealed voting info is ridiculously misleading, there’s no Cardle this year.

  • Dana

    They definitely want 5am out of the bottom 2 this week- I think they would be pushing them for the win more if they thought it could happen. Emily’s place there has been booked, but it is interesting they thought Matt was an easier target than Saara.

    • HL

      They did not think he would be an easier target than Saara. They probably thought it would make the final more interesting if they were able to say that each act has topped the vote at least once and been in B2 at least once. The final battle of one act that has never been in B2 and one act with four B2 appearances on the other hand, that sounds terrible.

      But I think they will fail. Matt’s support is too strong and 5AM is too weak. People want Matt to be in the final so even the slightest hint that he could be in danger causes vote transfer from other acts to him.

  • Linda

    Emily’s staging was like the the trial of General Zod in Superman 2 – she’s gone tonight.

    Matt Terry’s treatment disgraceful as ever, he’s gone from being presented as a versatile, attractive young man with huge potential to bloated, MOR pub singer in the space of a few weeks.

    Well done ITV. Not.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Matt didn’t sing well last night. I agree that he didn’t get chosen one treatment last night or last week but he was hardly thrown under the bus and two weeks ago he was doing Writing’s On The Wall bathed in golden light. By contrast when Saara was “Zara from abroad”, doing sing-offs and playing second fiddle to Honey G she still sang well.

      If he wants to be a popstar he’s going to have to handle pressure and right now, in the words of Lance Corporal Jones, “he don’t like it up ‘im”.

  • Alan

    Not especially relevant but didn’t Simon let it slip that 5AM were bottom of the vote last week?

  • stoney

    I think they are in danger of giving matt a lot of extra support through their blatant sabotaging

    • Linda

      I haven’t voted for him before but will do so tonight. He’s the only one of the four with the XFactor, though they’ve done a great job suctioning it out of him.

      Though he got a lot of praise, for me the Bond week was the start of the deramp. They slicked down his hair and padded him out, it was all very “lonely ageing gay cabaret”. His stellar voice carried through.

      His highlight for me was the SIA song. It was so raw and passionate. I’m going out on a limb but he has something “Prince” like about him.

    • George

      Acts are sabotaged all the time without getting extra support.

      His fans will feel bad for him so he may squeak 2nd this week but floating voters won’t be convinced.

  • EM

    For me last night was Operation Get 5AM To The Final and never mind any collateral damage.

    Simon’s “something’s changed this week ” to 5am was hilarious. Yes it has, the backing vocals were turned up so high the act was mostly just mining at points.

    I’ve rarely seen anything so brutal from the judges than Emily’s second round of comments. It was like “I’m so bored of this that I’m not even going to try and get in an argument about it by saying what I really think. It was good ok bye”

    For what it’s worth I think Emily’s “I am what I am” responses and her emotionally quiet dad will have played well in Scotland.

    Matt had that look about him that we’ve seen before with Ryan, Sam and Gifty this series when they know they’re being thrown under a bus. The contestant know who’s getting the favourable treatment and he knew he wasn’t. Maybe they get a sense from their running order and staging. Maybe they pick up that the show is more invested in other performances. Boy did he look defeated.

    For the first time this series it should be quite an interesting elimination market later.

    • George

      More than ever this series it feels like the acts are more aware of what’s going on behind the scenes. It must have been confusing for Matt to be given good treatment all along and for that to suddenly fall apart this week.

  • Dean

    I actually voted fir Emily 3 times and Saara 2 also because Emily got trested badly

  • Jessica Hamby

    I know some here will disagree with me and of course I’m on Saara for a tasty win so there may be an element of confirmation bias but I really think people are exaggerating Matt’s treatment and disregarding his shortcomings.

    When Lauren was getting shat on last year she still came out every week and performed. When the dressed Andrea Faustini up as a portly golden Mephistopheles he still came out and gave it everything. When Saara was getting shafted on a weekly basis at the beginning of the series she still grabbed it with both hands and won the judges and the audience over with her performances.

    Matt wasn’t thrown under any bus last night – if anyone was it was Emily. Saara was given chosen one treatment instead of him and he’s performed badly as a result. That doesn’t bode well for a future career.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Having said all that forum “favourites” tend to be hard-done-by underdogs who never win so if he’s the new forum favourite maybe that’s a good thing. 🙂

    • stoney

      Matts positions in the running order have been the worst since nicholas McDonald. For that alone he’s been shafted.

    • EM

      If (big if) part of his upset is from a blatantly leaked press story about his private life maybe he’s quite justified with any anger and upset.

      There are other ways to make it (to a level you are happy with) in music than to fall in line with the X Factor game.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Meh. You have to deal with the press if you want to be a pop star. He can either come out if it’s true (which tbh seems unlikely) or ask Freddie to issue a denial. Either way it generates press coverage and sympathy. If he came out it might even win him the show.

    • Sindi

      Matt is having voice problems and he’s very worried. He even mentioned the need to protect his voice to Dermot a week ago.

    • To be honest, no one performed flawlessly yesterday. But Saara was way overpraised on both songs and Matt got terrible comments from Simon on both Songs. In truth, there was not much of a difference in the quality of their performances.

  • Dana

    Facebook reactions for what they are worth:

    Round 1


    Round 2


    Matt storms this most weeks- exceptions being when Emily did Creep, 5am did Disco and Saara did The Winner Takes It All.

    • Jessica Hamby

      That 5AM result in round 2 is interesting. I thought they were really pushed hard in the second round. If they can’t get them above Emily or close to Matt with that treatment then 3rd is surely the best they can hope for.

  • Curtis

    I said it at the time and I’ll say it again. I think the general reaction to Simon’s comments to Matt last night will be that they were harsh, but fair. Other than that, he’s had a lot of poor positions in the running order but I don’t think the casual viewer is going to notice that (or truly understand the implications of it).

    Emily was thrown under a bus 20 times the size the one Matt was thrown under. The non-Simon judges did a terrible job of even pretending to like her second song!

  • Jessica Hamby

    Every time I see Emily’s rictus grin as she endures Louis’ comments to her first song I can’t help but think that if thoughts could kill he’d be nothing more than a whiff of ash and a pair of smoking shoes.

  • stoney

    Just watching the show again i was very drunk when i watched it last night. I can not see matt falling into the bottom 2 tonight. Silentc night would have definitely pleased his demo

    4/9 to avoid bottom 2 looks like printing money

    • Donald

      I don’t thinks so, just image if Emily regional vote held up and her Christmas song was clever children choir the lot and the song is very special. (Don’t tell me Simon would not like to win) (I suspect Nicole went off script on Emily first song critique),

      Let’s say that 5AM do bounce that could leave a bottom two of Matt and Saara. Saara styling first song last night not great and song sounded light, embassy while nice they could have stayed well away from it. Styling second song not that great either.

      The one and only act with a vote that was guaranteed to hold up last night was Emily significant regional vote.

      It all hinges on how much 5AM bounce. I wouldn’t call it printing money territory I would call it risky enough territory at any odds especially after they bussing Matt and Emily last night.

      A bottom two of Matt and Saara, with Saara the final needs you, bye bye Matt, Matt vs 5AM, The act with most potential from what we haves seen this weekend 5AM. bye bye Matt. Louis, Simon and Sony Corp.make even more boy band $.

      And as we know from past, as big and as hyped as a song seems in the semi it can still not get the votes so Chandelier no guarantees either.

      My prediction is Nicole or Sharon controversy tonight if either of their acts go and on hunch if that had to happen I think Nicole would loose that not insignificant little battle, another bye bye Matt.

      At least it not a foregone conclusion like other years, i would not put it past them to try bounce 5AM to final and to the win even but the biggest feel good winner ever for a long time for the show would be Saara, or Emily even. Unfortunately Matt does not fit feel good winner and tension final but final without him a bit shallow? Shallow to few on here but obviously not all or to the public, Matt has not been top every week.

      I am not a 4/9 type punter 8/11 maybe or 10/11 but I adore great odds, come on the 80/1 shot that has been fairy well backed on Sofabet, at various odds from 80/1 down to where it is. Gambling to most about value, Matt is far from value at the minute for anything.

      The only one he has best chance of being saved against is Emily.if he hits bottom two.

      An intrigue night ahead. Last night at Fountain keep an eye for anything leaking in the next few hours. Usually used to start from possibly few bars up there.

      • Stoney

        I backed Emily to go this weekend to cover myself against Sharon first judge out. I got 13\8 so the cash out is good at the moment but I think I’ll hold out for full winnings

  • Altering my prediction after seeing the odds. The singer and
    2 of his dance friends and Scottish Lass will be in the bottom II

  • Tonight’s actually the last ever show to come from Fountain – it’s closing in the new year.

  • stoney

    It’s funny how the market always has a knee jerk reaction with matts odds following the deramps. For the 4 weeks with the exception of his sam smith cover his odds have drifted after the show. Basically people are well aware that they are deramping him and have been since he sung the wham song. However when people settle down and sleep on it i think people realise he is still the most likely winner. He was out to as high as 5/2 last night now he’s back into the 6/4 mark.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Much as I would like it to be, it’s certainly not a done deal. A difference from the Fleur / Ben year is that we think Saara was top last week so she has more momentum than Fleur did at the same stage.

      • Stoney

        She may well have done. The good news for matt is if he can get past 5am he will pick up a lot of votes

        • George

          That’s why the hatchet job done on Emily last night is a sign they’re pushing Saara for more than just the final. If 5AM go out in third that’s still a lot of votes that can transfer to Matt on the Sunday but if they went out tonight then those votes could’ve gone to him in the first round as well.

          Ever since we started getting voting statistics the winner of the first round of the final went on to win overall.

        • Jessica Hamby

          Why do you assume that? I’ve not seen anything that indicates where those votes will go.

        • DGiles

          There are alternative ways at looking at the 5AM vote transfer.

          No one is voting for them because they are the best singers.

          1) People voting them because they are well fit like are more likely to transfer their votes to Matt
          2) People who are voting for them because they prioritise performance skills over vocals are more likely to vote Saara
          3) People voting them because they are the most commercial may transfer to Matt (but in all honesty I think most of these voters will have little preference for either, so may not even bother)
          4) There are many supporters that will lose interest and that just won’t vote for any of the remaining acts once 5AM are eliminated (same with all acts)

          I think 1 and 2 are the biggest potential transfers, but how big the total transfer will be is questionable and it’s then a question as to why people are voting for them that determines who benefits the most.

          • Jessica Hamby

            And what about people who are voting for them because they like their image? Or they like the songs they choose? If one of the acts does a recent R&B hit or an old-skool soul song with an urban break then that act might mop up all 5AMs votes, but then lose some of their own support.

            It’s not just an inexact science. It’s impossible to call.

          • DGiles

            I’d probably lump those voters in category 3 and 4, as I couldn’t really imagine any of the remaining acts satisfying those voters or doing anything to grab them

            But, your right, it’s not an exact science. I just think it’s a huge assumption that Matt gets all 5AM votes, because I think there’s an awful lot more to consider.

      • DGiles

        Another key difference is that Saara is arguably the best singer as well as the best performer in the competition. Fleur had the performance skills, but Ben had a much superior voice, whereas she had an average voice at best. When push comes to shove, it’s a singing competition and voice trumps performance skills in the final.

        • Stoney

          Saara can be very shouty though. I still have doubts as to whether she will get the support of the British public. I know Attraction won Britains got talent so its definitely possible

          • Jessica Hamby

            Please link to the songs where she’s shouty. I don’t want to get into an old-skool tit-fot-tat nonsense and I know we’re on different sides here but I really can’t recall her shouting anything. Matt was clearly straining a bit at times last night and Saara wasn’t flawless but shouty?

            That seems like clutching at straws.

          • DGiles

            Saara’s voice is several leagues higher than Fleur’s. Fleur was nothing without the performance skills and could get pretty “shouty” and strained herself.

            I personally wouldn’t describe Saara as shouty. I get why people don’t like her voice, but I do think shouty has become a very lazy negative thrown around about singers who can belt out songs in recent years.

          • Stoney

            Yeah matt struggled last night. That tends to happen to most contestants when they have a double decker bus on top of them
            I though chandelier was shouty in parts. Over praised massively as well

          • Jessica Hamby

            Saara, Lauren, Andrea all managed to perform well when being deramped and facing potential b2s. Sarra carried on despite going b2 several times and not even being called by her own name. Matt’s getting a deramp but Emily got run over by a big red number 42 and she still gave it her best.

            I feel for him and I recognise it isn’t easy for him, but look at the prize he’s trying for. He wants to be known and loved by millions. If you start feeling sorry for yourself because the producers don’t tell you you’re their favourite then you probably don’t deserve it.

          • Stoney

            I think its probably more to do with the awful stories creeping into the press this week that’s affecting him. If he gets to the final hell be singing gangnam style or barbie girl.

          • DGiles

            All of the acts were off their game on the 2nd song last night IMO. While the negative vibes were thrown at Matt, ultimately it’s down to him that the second half of his second song was really really off . Maybe the importance of the occassion got to him, but on relistening it was far worse than I’d remembered.

            I’m not a huge fan of Chandelier as a song, so it’s difficult for me to judge (I think it’s purpose is more an advert for Sia’s vocal ability than to be a decent song IMHO). They gave it a horrible arrangement though, although this may be more to do with it being a song that shouldn’t be condensed as it needs the light and shade and proper transitions in between. By contrast though, Saara coped a lot lot better, even though it wasn’t flawless either. It was far better when I listened to it a second time, unlike Matts.

          • Jessica Hamby

            I think he’s struggling with the pressure or the competition. Personally I think the story is a nothing. It’s more noteable that he’s no longer being protrayed as a sex symbol. Imo there’s nothing wrong with having a same-sex dabble and so even if the story is about him and it is true I can’t see it as awful and I truly think most people don’t give a toss. I can’t see anyone changing their votes because of it.

          • EM

            Life ain’t all about votes on the X Factor 😉

  • Rose L

    Apologies for the long post at this stage of the weekend. Watched the show late last night and needed to take another look today. My thoughts are that Matt’s treatment by Simon over Silent Night was unfair. The song’s not my scene at all, I find it cheesy, but his version was sung beautifully and the accapella section was spot on. In another week, that would have been hailed as a “moment”. The criticism from Simon was tactical rather than fair and IMO all about pulling Matt under 5AM.
    Who knew that 5AM were a 20-person band? Pretty unfair that Simon used their performance to hit Matt again. I suspect Matt’s nerves were down to the fact that he suspected he was in for a drubbing. I agree that acts have to be tough enough to cope in the competitive world of modern music but I think he performed well under pressure.
    Emily’s voice sounded very weak; whether it’s her illness or the unsuitable song, or both, isn’t all that important. She was at her worst even though her choir were dead cute. The judges pretty much savaged her and may have gone over the top and ended up motivating votes for her rather than pulling her down. She’s such a sweetheart as a person that savaging her looks wrong.
    There was a lot of audience applause after Saara’s Christmas medley, very much a crowd pleaser, and if you can’t be corny in a Christmas song, when can you? There was no shout out for her to be in the final though, unlike for Matt and 5AM. Saara’s own comments afterwards were slightly “end of journey”. A lot of people here really like Saara, I know, but it reminds me a bit of Lauren last year – there may be some confirmation bias not because of the potential to make money from a bet on the act (with some exceptions, like Jessica, I know) but because we like the contestant so much we want her to do well. I am not convinced she is a potential winner. I just don’t see her commercial prospects being good enough. I think the main aim is to keep everyone guessing this year and having a very good singer this far into the competition helps in that aim.
    Glad to see that Emily was no longer being clubbed like a baby seal after her second song. She does a brilliant post-song interview, that was a classic journey from zero to hero in one show. I noted the final being mentioned and a shout-out for votes from Simon – possibly enough to save her after that damning first song but I still have my doubts.
    Matt got another final mention from Louis and a shout out for votes from Sharon. Simon again put the boot in though with a real savaging which seemed unfair. I didn’t like the song but he did it well again. It’s really interesting, in a slightly sad way, to see someone who seemed to be TCO clearly believing he might go home.
    Saara’s Chandelier was astounding – though the dress was truly dire. But it didn’t matter; her emotion and her voice were quite enough and Louis finally gave her a “must be in the final” shout out. The audience reaction was incredible. If I were watching the X Factor for the first time, I would assume Saara was the favourite from the beginning.
    5AM put the pimp in pimp slot. Simon couldn’t have made it clearer to voters that they should vote for the band, even though there’s clearly a lot of insecurity about whether they will be able to get those votes or not. They have tried SO hard to pull Matt and Emily under 5AM this week, it couldn’t be clearer to me.
    So predictions are a bit weird as it isn’t predicting who tptb want to be in the bottom two, it’s working out whether enough voters will support 5AM after that mother of all pimpings.
    It wouldn’t be right for me not to take a guess though, so I am going to say Emily and Matt at the bottom with Emily to go home.
    Or if 5AM don’t gather enough votes even after the pimping, then Emily and 5AM but again with Emily going home.
    I think Saara is safe for now but not the ultimate winner. Probably!

  • Dana

    RE 5am vote transference if they finish 3rd: Saara has been “best friends” with the 5am guys from the start so they may back her if pushed to name someone, especially the lead singer. The act eliminated in 3rd never seems to make much difference to the result though from what I remember of vote percentages etc

    • David Cook

      The vote’s always skewed with a lot more votes cast for the second round than the first. Possibly a lot more phone votes used in the final, and people watching or voting just for the final. I agree when we’ve seen the results the third act usually tends not to make much difference – but if it’s close it might.

  • stoney

    If they was to somehow get Matt out tonight 5am are likely to get a big vote transfer. This would spell bad news for saara. Obviously if 5am have bounced into the top 2 you would think they could emgineer a win for them in the final. Then it would be saaras turn to get sabotaged in the final

    • David Cook

      Did anyone pile into them at the 9/1 available earlier today on the chance this might happen?

    • Jessica Hamby

      Once again I think you’re making huge assumptions about vote transfer with no basis for it. I don’t see the connection between liking Matt and liking 5AM. If there’s any crossover of fans I think it would be more between Matt and Saara, given that they are more similar in musical style.

  • Scott

    I don’t think commercial success is the ultimate priority for producers. If they want to push 5AM then even if they went out tonight they could still try to make it happen for them. It’s a consideration, but the absolute priority is the franchise and what people think of it.

    In that regard, who is the winner that the viewers as a whole can sort of unite behind. Most reality shows push viewers a certain way, they’re just a little more subtle about it. Strictly will be between Danny Mac and Louise Redknapp, and Louise very early doors got the “I’ve had my kids and now it’s my turn” line in her VT.

    I struggle to imagine middle England and the Daily Mail going with Saara, especially this year, though the producers have gone out of their way to make her as “foreigner who has come into the country wanting to learn our way of life” as possible. At the same time, she would be handy to have around for the final at least because she can clearly bloody sing and bring some quality to proceedings – they want the final to be good.

    I think the market volatility is a sign that no-one really knows what’s going on, and that leads me to my last point – which is that this appears to be the producers’ priority this series. They want to make it seem like it’s all to play for. On that basis I’ll happily step back from any financial interest in the rest of the series and wish you all well – because if a curveball happens, like Saara going out tonight, or 5AM winning the whole damn thing, then some people are in line for a ton of money.

  • Dean

    Matt Terry has gone into 4/1 on the exchanges from 12 earlier to be next out. In the know?

  • Stoney

    Had a little nibble on the 10s for matt to go just in case they have managed to get him into the bottom 2 against 5am

  • Fudd

    Nothing from Dermot about how close the vote is tonight which suggests either it’s not that close at all or they’re happy enough with how it stands and don’t want people to panic vote.

  • Curtis

    Matt’s odds for winning should come in right now because he just got a very generous edit in the recap.

  • Love the fact they started with the buses.

    Confirmation from Dermot that there IS a singoff.

  • Rose L

    Poor Emily – apparently she’s “not ready” – first we’ve heard of that

  • Jessica Hamby

    On the subject of the other bus (no Matt dear, not you), which one do we think Dermot will be thumping at the end of the show?

  • HL

    Maybe Matt topped the vote. Again. For the 6th time or something? (Emily week 4, 5AM week 6, Saara week 8.) People panicked he is in trouble (as if) and transferred their sympathy vote from Saara to Matt.

  • Rose L

    Well the pimping was successful…..and it is indeed a Matt/Emily sing off. My money is on Matt to stay

  • Is there even any point having this singoff? Poor Emily, she must know she’s finished.

    • Jessica Hamby

      If I was her I’d aim to sing so well that makes them look ridiculous if they save Matt. He was off last night and could well be again tonight.

  • Martin

    Perfectly executed. They never dared with Ben Haenow – the fact they went there with Matt yesterday proves this was possible.

  • Tim B

    The insider money was correct! Glad I followed my insitinct that it would be Matt and not 5AM.

  • stoney

    Has to be a 3-1 win for matt here

  • Dean

    Well this has been the strangest of years.

    I think money should be on Emily to go but maybe if they don’t want Matt to win getting rid now would be better?

  • Donald

    They managed it, Matt and Emily bottom two. Now is their chance to loose Matt if they really really want to. Some weekend…

  • George

    It’s actually incredible that Saara could have been last in week 1!

  • I’m gonna cal lit.

    Saara to win.

    An incredible, incredible narrative.

    Oh and look whose bus got showed.

  • Piresistable

    Vote Saara!

  • stoney

    Louis and Sharon both said matt had to make the final yesterday. It would be utterly ridiculous for them to do a u turn tonight

  • Edie M

    This is one of the most interesting sing-offs in a while. Seems more likely Emily will go, but if they don’t want Matt to win they have to get rid of him now or he’s v likely to bounce (plus the Emily/Simon connection).

  • Matt in the B2 is going to generate a lot of support and a huge bounce isn’t it? 🙁

  • Thinking about this whilst GaGa is on. Logic says Emily to be dumped, BUT – do producers drop Matt whilst they have the chance, and clear the last obstacle to a Saara win?

  • Rose L

    Lady Gaga showing what you can actually do when stuck on a plinth!

  • Lenny

    Not a great night for the guests – Lady Gaga on a plinth and colour vomit for Zara from abroad.

  • Donald

    Will the headline be “Matt Martyred”

  • Rose L

    I think this demonstrates the very high degree of control they’ve had this year on each individual’s votes

  • Donald

    Bet they start vote with Simon end with Louis…

  • Rose L

    The comment about Emily not being ready convinces me that she is going out tonight

  • Tpfkar

    Not sure this matters – one goes, and the other goes into the final with a probably fatal kick to their momentum.

    Not convinced a first sympathy bounce in the final will be a thing, I’d expect the sing-off winner to come third next week. However my book will have a much healthier look over the week if they take their chance to ditch Matt.

  • Keen Observer

    Matt still half the price of 5AM in the outright. No guarantee he’s even in the final and he’s sub 5/2!!

  • DGiles

    I’m not sure the bounce affect is so strong in the final. Everyone is motivated to vote for who they want to win…

  • Dean

    Some sing off by Matt. He goes through he can still win it

  • Lara T

    Matt pretty incredible there. Best he’s been in weeks. Could give him some momentum if he goes through.

  • Curtis

    I thought that was pretty ropey from Matt honestly. Now I do feel sorry for him. But not as sorry as I’m about to feel for Emily.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I think Matt’s going. Emily’s won this easily.

  • stoney

    Lol this is terrible in comparison

  • Rose L

    Still, this is Emily at her best

  • Dean

    Emily voice is completely shattered. Way overworked during and since her illness.

  • Fudd

    Interesting there – Emily was far better than Matt in the Sing Off. She’s given them a reason to get rid of him should they wish to do so.

  • Curtis

    Yeah, Matt’s voice is shaky, but Emily’s is full on dead. I think it would actually be punishment to send Emily through to the final, her time has more than come.

  • stoney

    Phew best Result came off

  • Piresistable

    If she doesn’t have a singing career, I have a feeling Emily will certainly be able to have a TV career. Very comfortable in front of a camera.

  • Right decision. She was incredibly boring. Talented, but boring.

  • stoney

    I wonder what’s in store for matt next weekend then

  • Fudd

    It’s the Lauren Platt/Diana Vickers memorial slot for Emily.

  • Piresistable

    HA HA HA, pretending to be painting the last bus.

  • Lara T

    Glad Matt went through. Means I still have a shot at my tri-cast.

    Very confident on a pay out on my Saara each way bet from a few weeks ago too. Phew!

  • stoney

    I’ve made some decent winnings from the last 2 eliminations to cover all my stakes on matt but it looks like the jackpot is going to be missed out on this year. I still think matt beats 5am to second though

  • Martin

    This series is giving me a headache. Secretly hoping for a Saara win – but will they deramp Matt and Saara and ramp 5AM for the win? Even so, is that even possible? They’re far and away the worst vocalists remaining, that will be even more exposed in the final.

  • EM

    A good night to lock away the myth “Simon will want to have an act in the final” – turns out his ego is so large that eh… he’s the only one without an act in the final

  • Daz

    I think what the producers wanted was three acts in the final that have been in the bottom two because it would make for a much more exciting final and might explain the sudden turn on Matt.

  • fused

    I actually liked Emily’s performance better than Matt’s in the sing-off, it sounded very nice, and it’s a song that suits her more than most of what she was given in the live shows. She took it about as well as anyone has taken to being eliminated from the show. I think it was a pretty decent exit for her really.

  • Uzair

    This is an exact situation of 2014 where they only want Lauren or flier not both so in this case Emily or Sara not both and with Sara being stronger the producers don’t need to keep Emily just like in 2014. I also think Emily had more votes then Matt in the semi final like Lauren vs Andrea but with 3-1 they were eliminated

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