X Factor 2016 Voting Stats: Was Matt Terry an Accidental Winner?

It turned into a frustrating season of X Factor: from about week 7, it’s felt difficult to read producers’ intentions. The market swings during last night’s show were unprecedented. And even now, with the stats to hand, it’s hard to be sure what producers intended to achieve over the final weekend. Broadly, two schools of thought have been advanced in the Sofabet comments.


Theory #1. Producers always wanted and expected Matt to win. On this theory, the only reason they gave him such bad treatment in weeks 8 and 9, getting him within 1% of the singoff in the former case and in the singoff in the latter, was to create the illusion of a more open race. They’d learned their lesson from the Louisa ramp-a-thon last year, and wanted to create the impression that Matt had fought back rather than being boringly unassailable all along.

This fits the facts, in so far as Matt always seemed the preferred winner until those week 8 and 9 surprises. As an amalgam of McElderry, Cardle and Haenow, he was always going to be the act most likely to pick up floating voters at the business end of the competition. Both of Sunday’s song choices seemed more likely to pick up votes than Saara’s. And on Saturday, Nicole twice overtly played the anti-foreigner card on his behalf (“England, get behind your very own”).

The nagging doubt with this theory is that usually, for the good of the franchise, they big up the act they expect to win so it strikes viewers as more deserving. In Matt, they have a winner Simon Cowell called “wet” in week 8 and “bland” in week 9, and implied was “quite obviously” inferior to Saara on the final Saturday. That seems an odd way to launch someone with clear similarities to previous winners who flopped commercially. On the Sunday show, Cowell chose to focus his praise on Matt’s ambition: “you want to win, and I love working with winners”. It was hardly a glowing endorsement of his real-world credentials.

So perhaps we should also consider:

Theory #2. Producers wanted Matt out in third, and hoped 5AM could win. The semi-final vote was closer than we’d imagined between Saara (28.8%) and 5AM (26.6%), with Matt (22.5%) further behind 5AM than anticipated. Admittedly, that reflected huge pimping for 5AM, and the comparison of Matt to a butterless sandwich.

Still, in the closing stages of the competition 5AM’s vote was stronger in general – and Matt’s weaker – than we’d thought. In week 8, when 5AM hit the bottom two, they were within 0.9% of Matt (and just 3.4% off topping the vote). In week 7, which we assumed Matt had won comfortably, he in fact won narrowly and with a lower vote share than back in week 1. 5AM beat Matt in week 6. It seems fair to wonder if producers, after the semi-final, thought: “We’ve got Matt under control, and 5AM within range of Saara. 5AM can win this”.

The counter-argument here is that 5AM’s treatment on Saturday was such a mess. They opened the show in an urban war zone, and their duet with Clean Bandit and Louisa verged on the embarrassing. Despite that, they came within 2.1% of knocking Matt out, and 4% of topping the vote altogether. That’s pretty astonishing. If they’d had a better duet, and Matt a worse one, it seems likely they’d have made the Sunday.

So why didn’t they? Perhaps producers had initially hoped to get a more suitable partner for 5AM (The Weeknd and GEM were floated during the week, though the latter never seemed on) and a less suitable one for Matt (reportedly James Arthur pulled out; and while ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’ is a great song, it doesn’t necessarily work as a male-male duet). That might explain the cobbled-together feel of the 5AM duet. Perhaps, when they had to turn to Nicole for Matt, she insisted on a great song choice and staging to try to avoid the indignity of performing with Matt and then consoling him as he was voted out half an hour later.

If 5AM had squeaked above Matt, would they have won? The fact that Matt overtook Saara from Saturday to Sunday indicates vote transfer that might, to some extent, have applied in reverse. Against that, Matt is a much more floating vote-friendly act than 5AM. Still, it seems reasonable to wonder if Saara’s less-than-ideal song choices on Sunday, which were presumably made early in the week, might have reflected producer expectation that she’d be up against a within-range 5AM.

So – cock-up or conspiracy? It’s the eternal question when analysing X Factor. We can’t call it with total confidence, which seems fitting in this most unpredictable of seasons.

Some of our other takeaways from the statistics:

Honey G’s weakness meant the Remily singoff was never on the cards. Throughout the early weeks, many Sofabet commenters assumed producers would want a Ryan-Emily singoff at some point. It wasn’t a theory we wrote about ourselves, because we thought – erroneously, as it turned out – that Emily was earmarked for the final, and they’d likely want to get her there without a singoff. But by the run-up to week 7, Emily’s weak week 6 made us think producers would run with it. We were surprised when, instead, Emily got the pimp slot and Honey G appeared in the singoff.

The statistics, though, make clear that Honey G was always going to be in trouble in week 7. They’d given her the pimp slot in week 6 and still she’d cleared the singoff by only 0.6%. Producers must have concluded there was no way they could get her safe again.

Saara’s strong week 7 overturns some assumptions. We’d guessed Saara wouldn’t have been far off the singoff in week 7. We were wrong: she was nearly 7% above the singoff, and only 1% off winning the week. We’d thought the heavily subtitled VT, implying she missed Finland, was a clear red flag, but evidently not. And we’d thought styling that aged her and musical-theatre staging for ‘My Heart Will Go On’ wouldn’t have helped. Evidently, the audience lapped it up.

Sofabet commenters at the time challenged both of these thoughts, arguing that the VT will have provoked sympathy and that Christopher Maloney proves how well voters respond to well-sung covers of well-known songs. It goes to show, once again, that the most valuable insights on Sofabet are found in the debates below the line.

Gifty Louise was never going to fly. We were initially surprised when producers let Gifty go in the week 4 singoff  – their previous treatment of her seemed to indicate thay they viewed her as having commercial potential, while 4 of Diamonds were firmly on the disposable list. But the voting stats show why they gave up on Gifty: she was only a whisker off the singoff in week 2, and only 0.5% above it in week 3, when they gave her a blonde wig and every opportunity to have a moment. She was a lost cause with the voting public.

The “bottom three” twist transformed Ryan’s and Saara’s narratives. For the first five weeks, producers ran with a bottom three rather than the traditional bottom two, with a “lifeline vote” saving one act. It made no difference to who went home, with each of the five eliminees having been in the bottom two. But it did make a difference to public perceptions of Ryan’s and Saara’s popularity. With a bottom two, Ryan would have been in the singoff only in week 2, and Saara not at all.

Arguably, that made the show more interesting in that it enabled the narrative of Saara’s comeback from early unpopularity. But it also made it more boring by making clear (not least to Ryan himself) that Ryan was a dead man walking. On the whole, we’re not convinced it’s an idea worth retaining for next year. Certainly producers dropped it at exactly the moment (week 6) when it would have snared Honey G, buying them an extra week of “could she really win?” headlines.

Those are our main takeaways. Do keep yours coming below.

Photos via ©ITV

264 comments to X Factor 2016 Voting Stats: Was Matt Terry an Accidental Winner?

  • Montell

    I want to start betting on X factor. When I started betting on Eurovision I found a lot of good information here. I wonder if it’s possible to make a list of ten top tips for how to bet on X factor? Anyone?

  • Ben

    I still can’t let go of the feeling that whilst they definitely wanted Matt to win in the early stages of the competition (and I had second hand info that this was the case) they changed their mind in the last few weeks.

    It really felt to me that they were pushing Saara in the final – and maybe they just got it wrong with the songs… I don’t know. Definitely felt that Simon and Louis wanted Saara at least.

  • GsP

    Theory #2 is the only explanation for Saara reprising Bjork.

    Yes, she came second that week, but was heavily pushed and had the pimp slot.

    The idea that anyone would say that was performance of the series is unbelievable. Chandelier, the Winner Takes It All or (my preference in an Arena plus given the need for an up tempo on Sunday) Enough is Enough would have all made sense.

    I think it was a mess-up caused by the duets not going to plan.

    I disagree with those who say Crazy in Love was an attack, it was very 5AM demo pleasing, far better comments than Matt (who was slated and memoryholed). Their awful under rehearsed, underwhelming duet cost them the few % they needed to beat Matt.

    A very enjoyable series as a viewer I thought. It genuinely seemed close, and it was!

  • George

    The voting figures haven’t given me any extra insight into whether week 8 was meant to be a deramp for Saara.

    Her strong showing in week 7 probably surprised them a little, but in hindsight it shouldn’t have done. It was the second week running of Sharon getting out the Sam Bailey songbook. That was the point I think we can say middle England started taking to her.

    Fast forward to week 8. We know that ‘The Winner Takes It All’ was meant to be an uptempo performance, so it wasn’t a planned ‘moment’ by any means. The staging as well as the running order also screamed danger. If that was the intention, then kudos to the judges for figuring out quickly what had happened as the comments were nothing short of a pimping.

    A possibility here is that they knew from rehearsals that she was going to give a brilliant performance and likely be safe, so they prepared the judges to give good comments and also switched up the running order to let her close the show.

    With her second performance being a bit of a cheesefest, my thinking is that they thought Matt was still too far from the bottom two even with his weaker-than-expected Bond showing and so intended to dispose of Honey G and Saara for a more traditional final of acts who had been popular throughout, allowing them to keep with the ‘close’ narrative. But with Saara messing that strategy up they had to launch the nuclear attack on Matt and Emily that we saw in the semi-final.

    Also note – the Honey G vote split almost evenly between Saara and 5AM, with almost nothing for Matt or Emily. Shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, and it was probably a reason they felt good about their chances of getting Matt into the bottom two.

  • GsP

    Also, what is Matt’s role with look-a-like Louis Tomlinson also on Syco, releasing a song the same day (in horrible circumstances)? Where does he fit?

    Louis also more likely to take number 1 on Friday due to streaming. Strange that Simon seemed seemed happy for this to be a head to head which could/will undermine the franchise?

    Plus, if Honey G out next week goes ahead of Matt in the charts, even taking account of it already being out a week longer, it will look bad.

    I’m becoming happier by the minute Saara didnt win in the end.

    • George

      I don’t see how having two X Factor alumni and potentially another (though I don’t think Honey G will do that well) competing at the top of the charts will harm the franchise.

      Though you’re right, Matt doesn’t really have a role at Syco. Louis will be getting all of the best material and promotion because he has a huge fan base already.

  • EM

    The semi final was so tight (given Matt’s poor treatment) they must have felt they could have any winner they wanted.

    Both 5am and Saara seemed to have the popularity that if they’d really pushed them through the final they could have made it.

    Matt’s treatment was the best of all three finalists but it was hardly like a crowning of the king. So yes unpredictable, yes very hard to read but you have to conclude they had no issue with the winner at the least.

  • Anglia Chu

    The BOTTOM 3 served as an extra mechanism for the producers, allowing them to easily sabotage several acts at once and gives them more margin for error, but it’s too much hassle to be returned next year.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I’m inclined to go with your second theory, that the producers wanted Matt out in third and 5AM to win.

    In retrospect, looking at those terrible song choices it seems obvious they didn’t want Saara to win. I was horrified when I saw the first performance but I overruled my own analysis somehow and only commented that it was not her best performance (or something like that). In cases like this I have to agree with whoever says that manipulation ruins the show and causes viewers to switch off. This is not because the manipulation is obvious to the viewer but because it means that the performances are second rate.

    If Saara had been given better song choices I think she would have won (I know, controversial) and, perhaps more importantly, the Saturday show would have been enjoyable to watch. Seeing your favourites struggle with unsuitable material is unsatisfying enough. When they then have to suck up comments from the hypocrites who organised it, that becomes a little too much.

    I certainly don’t think Simon wanted Matt to win. His comments after Matt’s first performance were not comments you’d give to a winner. I think Nicole went off script with her “vote for your own” comments (shades of Mark Wright’s remarks concerning her ex-bandmate Ashely from IACGMOOH). With the duet she assured him victory. Looking at Matt’s fixed expression as Simon begrudgingly congratulated him and comparing it with the way he softened into gratitude and affection when he turned to Nicole makes it pretty clear he knew who supported him and who wanted him under the bus.

    The problem with 5AM was clear from the beginning. They’re just not good enough. I’m amazed that they were allowed to reach the final. They should have been dumped at the semi-final stage like Rough Copy. As it is their duet was embarassing and they deserved to go out when they did.

    If it wasn’t to be Saara I’m glad Matt won. Stick that in your eye Cowell you miserable. blood-sucking old bastard.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I’m not convinced that Matt was Plan A from the beginning. I wonder if, a bit like Andrea, the plan was always to allow him his early days in the sun and then gradually undermine him. He would always be there as an acceptable back-up winner but I don’t think he was ever the preferred choice.

      • Kermit The Frog

        Every year that passes, the stronger my suspicion that ANY young white male only makes Live Shows as “an acceptable back-up winner”. The show will always give females, non-white contestants and groups more help (because these contestants need it to counteract the inherent audience bias) but the show has to be at peace with the possibility of the audience simply “preferring” a young white male anyway.

        No way would Matt Terry be a “preferred winner” for the show – everybody knows that his chances of more than a single album campaign are dubious and that 5am or Emily would have a much better chance of continued success (while Saara has several disadvantages, age primarily, I do think that her single campaign would be much easier to turn into a success than his).

        • Jessica Hamby

          I said in a comment to a previous article that I felt Mason Noise would have had a much better run if he’d applied this year rather than last year. I think that still stands. An act like him, while the voters might struggle to warm to, would get a lot of producer support.

    • Kermit The Frog

      I largely agree Jessica – however, any complaint that an act is “just not good enough” should always be tempered with a memory of One Direction, the first time that a backing track was cranked so loud that it removed all traces of live vocals. Just because an act can’t adequately sing live does not mean that they can’t make a lot of money for everyone involved.

      • Jessica Hamby

        True, but I’m talking about winning the competition, not post-show career. They could still end up selling a lot of music. Right now they’re not good enough to perform live if they have to rely on their own vocals, and that’s what they had to do in the duet.

        • Edie M

          Just putting it out there, I would much rather 5AM won than Matt. A black boyband winning this year would have been almost as much of a statement as Saara winning. Looking at the stats has frustrated me more, because the result was so close to being different but turned out exactly the same as always.

          I knew that they needed to get rid of Matt when they got him in the b2 or he could always bounce for the win. The one year they actually manage to get one of this type of act in the b2, why keep him??

  • annie

    In my view everything spells Matt as an accidental winner.

    As stated above, he is a perfect mix of all the guys that won the show and didnt go anywhere commercially. I don´t think he was ever a desired winner, but (knowing the precedents) accepted as a very possible one.

    The set up on Saturday to me was that they were perfectly okay,and even happy with Saara winning.

    If they wanted or thought 5AM could do it…it had to be a very desperate situation that they got them to duet with a …duet (CB+Louisa…) They couldn´t have believed that would work…

    Matt´s comments and praise were all pat on the back types. He didn´t get nuked, his treatment was fair, but there was a definite end of journey, well done for the effort tone to it.

    I think they genuinely believed they were doing the best for saara in terms of song choices and duet. She was the only one who got an actual guest star to duet! It all looked good on paper. And her VTs, comments, everything was winner´s treatment.

    In the end some things turned out a bit unexpected.For example Nicole´s oversinging looked brilliant after the 5AM+Louisa mess and somehow people apreciated it for being great and not for Matt looking like a scared teen next to a prom queen.

    And middle england once again choose the type of winner they choose most of the time and go on to the next talent show when it comes to buying music.

    Matt looks like a decent bloke, congrats to him. Good luck on breaking the industry when OneDirection goes Five ways.

    I wasn´t much keen on saara in the beginning, I grew to like her in the end and it would have been fun and such a feeel good moment to have her win.

  • Kermit The Frog

    I guess that Relley C’s average showing in Week One (following the most positive VT I’ve ever seen on the show and a killer song choice) sealed her fate. Sam Lavery wiped the floor with both Relley and Gifty, despite pretty haphazard performances every week and was (undeservedly in my opinion) given full support for weeks on end as a result.

    Before everyone disappears down the rabbit hole, here are my thoughts on the Bottom 3 idea – it was designed to generate better “Live” viewing figures on the Sunday show and improve viewer engagement. Nothing more. If Honey G wasn’t a contestant, none of us would probably take issue with the format – she and she alone received “Big Pimping”, not to win the show but to take her as far as possible and generate headlines. There was no “Plan A” winner – Matt, Emily and 5am were all given support based on the Week One results and Saara joined them once her appeal began to organically grow.

    It seems that the show’s biggest mistake was getting Nicole to duet with Matt – there is no way that Nicole Scherzinger will allow (or is even capable of) a poor performance and this could have inadvertently been key in helping him pass 5am in the vote.

    I’ve been much more engaged with this series than last year’s – another of this standard and the ratings should stabilise, if not improve. It seems that ITV and SyCo have both realised that the stable panel on BGT has helped it and so will be bringing back the same 4 judges next year.

    If anything, just a shame that Honey G became so invaluable to the series – a lot of promising acts were cast aside or savaged just to stop her polling 3rd from bottom for as long as possible.

    • Allan

      I don’t think Relley’s WK 1 polling was too bad given that prior to JH she had barely been shown. ensuring viewers didnt fully connect with her as she didn’t seem to have a ‘journey’. Being styled 20 years older than she is, she was always scheduled for an early exit they allowed her her ‘moment’ in week one and then were done with her.

      I too heard from inside sources that a male winner was initially required this year and think Matt was TCO until the Louis deal came about at which time Matt became surplus to requirements. My theory is that they then switched horses to Saara (her winning would have certainly offered more press coverage) but just genuinely messed up particularly with her second song choice on Sunday. and has already been eluded to perhaps Matts duet went better than expected so he had already gathered more votes than producers had expected by that point

  • Linda

    A Saara win would have changed the parameters of the franchise and what the show is seen as. Saara always came across as a seasoned professional but from overseas and trying her luck in the UK after failing at home. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it would have shifted the show away from its core premise that any teenager can just walk off the street and with luck, talent and timing go all the way to the top. The open auditions next year (even though a PR frost) would have collapsed. For the sake of the franchise the right man won last night.

    • Jessica Hamby

      A Saara win would have changed the parameters of the franchise and what the show is seen as.

      This is your perspective. Simon clearly said he would be happy with a winner from overseas and was happy with the overseas winners that BGT has already had.

      Saara always came across as a seasoned professional but from overseas and trying her luck in the UK after failing at home.

      If you take the hatred of foreigners out of this statement you could be talking about Fleur or Sam Bailey or Ben Haenow or Anton Stephans or any other “over”. I don’t know what it is you’ve got against her but once again, this is your perspective but given the amount of support she has received it’s clearly not shared by many.

    • annie

      I think this was part of (or the main..) the reason I didnt really like saara in the begining.
      and the reason I didn´t like so many others acts previous series who seemed so desperate for fame and succes via reality tv formats…
      yet somehow saara became likeable to me.
      Maybe her seemingly humble nature. Or how whe took everything thrown at her and did it with fun and passion… and maybe the fact that she got undeserved lousy treatment in the beggining (i was almost angry when sharon didnt seem to remember her name…) awakened some subconscious protective instinct in me for her.

      So yes, Linda, you were probably right.

      Though I have to say, they played this well, it never came across as someone who was a seasoned pro at home or anywhere. For example 4th Impacts past career seemed to be much more in the public constiousness than saara´s

    • I see what you’re getting at, but saying that “the open auditions next year would have collapsed” if Saara won is massive hyperbole (as well as obviously totally unprovable). They wouldn’t. Yes, she did come over as a seasoned professional trying to make it in the UK for career reasons, and yeah, there’s nothing wrong with that. Her career over the past 5-10 years seems to have been a fairly consistent mix of voice work, stage work and talent show participations. These shows have been around for 15ish years now and there are plenty of people who do the rounds on them to try and maximise their visibility and their chances of making it somewhere. But non-UK acts have won BGT before, and British entrants have won European talent shows and reality shows on a number of occasions – an English guy won German Popstars then went on to win German I’m A Celeb, another English guy won a Polish equivalent of Big Brother, and we’ve seen plenty of British people win Eurovision preselections in Europe, like David Bryan (Romania) or Jon Lilygreen (Cyprus). Hell’s teeth, the same nativist arguments that have been and continue to be made about Saara can be made about contestants from the Republic of Ireland – OK, the show is broadcast there and they hold auditions there, but it’s still a foreign country with its own talent shows. So why did Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud enter Popstars: The Rivals when she’d already won the Irish version of Popstars? Why is Niall Horan infiltrating OUR talent shows? Etc etc. Why do we hear people not making those kinds of arguments? Is it because we think of Irish people as basically the same as us because they speak English and share a cultural space with us? Well so do Europeans, listen to Saara’s English, it’s immaculate. It’s a false argument, the suggestion that a non-UK act winning “damages the franchise” (please), the insinuation being that they’re taking a spot that could have gone to BRITISH TALENT. It’s not a zero-sum game. It’s analogous to the equally pernicious argument that EU workers take jobs that could have gone to British people. You ask a Lincolnshire farmer or a Crewe factory owner how easy it is to find local young people who are willing to do the fruit-picking or food-packing jobs that eastern Europeans currently do. Just as Saara came here, there’s nothing stopping aspiring British acts from getting on a Ryanair and auditioning for European talent shows, and many do all the time. Some of them go on to win or make careers abroad. Some of them end up like Kitty, crying in a pink wig on Moldovan television after coming 11th in the semifinal of Eurovision preselection, but at least she gave it a fucking go rather than staying in the UK moaning about foreigners on the telly.


      • Kitty

        The sad thing is, I cried so much because I knew everyone would be making fun of me in the uk for coming 11th. And also, because a certain someone was sitting at his table with a pile of SIM cards voting for himself. Oh, and also because my dress decided to fuck up, having gone right every single time before. And because they didn’t pick Yearning, which was a far far better song than Remix. I nearly pulled out of the whole competition when they picked that song, it’s impossible to sing live.
        But mainly because I knew I’d be humiliated.

        • Jessica Hamby

          You did it though.

          You were there.

          So fuck ’em. 😉

        • annie

          Oh, Kitty, I admit, I wasnt your biggest fan back in the day, I will admit. But I have to say this. Cut yourself some slack, you are talented and brave. Getting yourself up and doing it again and again … If only half the people in this world would have 50% of your perseverance and determination we would be colonizing solar systems by now.
          Enjoy the rides you get…and don´t ever cry about minor eastern european whatevers 😉

          ps. I loved your Oh Its so Quiet!!!

        • Argph

          Kitty, we love you – don’t forget that.

      • Linda

        Eurovicious I never said a non UK act “damages the franchise”. You’ve misquoted me, I did not use those words. I said a Saara win would change the parameter of the franchise – it would be viewed as a global talent show for professionals and move in another direction away from what it currently is. I stand by that. Maybe a Eurovision style show is what Cowell/Fremantle are hoping to turn it into.

        • Jessica Hamby

          And Sam Bailey was ok? Or Anton? Or Fleur? Or Ben? Or Matt Cardle? What was the difference between them and Saara apart from nationality? All had been trying to make it in various ways for ages before they went on the show. Quite a few of them had done professional jobs and had careers in the music business. Steve Brookstein, season one winner? Maria Lawson from season 2? The parameters of the franchise were set a long time ago and Saara fits right into them.

          Unless it’s the foreign thing that changes the parameters. Oooh look. It’s the Conway Sisters from season 2.

        • With “damages the franchise” I wasn’t directly quoting you specifically, more the general sentiment/argument people are expressing that Saara shouldn’t have won for franchise reasons.

          Where I will directly quote you is “open auditions next year (even though a PR frost) would have collapsed. For the sake of the franchise the right man won”.

          That sounds like damage to the franchise to me?

          • Jessica Hamby

            The wrongness of that post is epic.

            it would have shifted the show away from its core premise that any teenager can just walk off the street and with luck, talent and timing go all the way to the top

            Saara is the first contestant to just walk in off the street and make it to the final in years. It’s an open secret that the show scouts people and most suspect that a scouted act is chosen to win before the open auditions begin. That’s pretty much the basis of this website. That’s also one of the reasons they find it so hard to get quality acts to audition. Quality acts don’t think it’s worth their effort because they would just be fodder for a dramatic moment. If Saara had won it would have proved exactly the point you’re saying it would disprove. She just walked in off the street.

    • David Cook

      The ‘problem’ of Saara’s professionalism really depends upon your point of view and I do have mixed feelings about this. I’ve got to agree that she had a big advantage over other some of the other contestants on the show simply because of the amount of experience she’s had. She’d done the Finnish version of the Voice which clearly gave her experience of a reality TV competition. She’d entered for Eurovision at least twice. On the back of this she’s dubbed films including Frozen into Finnish. She’s appeared as a guest on a number of Finnish TV programmes. She’s appeared in concerts at some big venues, including doing duets with Jose Carraras and Andrea Bocelli. She’s released three albums. So she’s got experience of TV and dealing with the media, and experience of appearing in front of large audiences and alongside some big name stars – but these were big moments for her.
      So yes you’re correct, seventeen year old Sam Lavery cannot hope to compete with that.
      But how has she done this? One of the biggest gripes you hear about XF acts is that they never work for it, or they never work their way up from the bottom. Well as far as I can see Saar’s never had a recording contract or deal with a major company to promote her. What she has achieved seems to be purely through self promotion. Mostly she seems to be going round small venues performing to small audiences. Is it not actually commendable to set up your own label to self fund and release your own albums? Should people have a problem with that? She’s got that massive advantage of getting off her backside and doing something for herself.
      The main reason I thought Saara wouldn’t get above fourth place was actually because I thought that they wouldn’t want to confront this if she made it to the final. I didn’t think they’d let her into it. If she’d actually won I think the press would indeed have blown it up – as it was there were claims in at least one paper that she was already a major star in Finland. It may not be true, but as we’ve seen why let the truth get in the way of a good story.
      As for the open auditions – well the thing is she did get in through the open audition process – her girlfriend entered her for it. By contrast we know that both Matt and 5AM were invited to take part.
      Do you think Kevin Simm has put people off auditioning for The Voice?

      • Jessica Hamby

        And apart from anything else, most of the British entrants were crap. Without Saara the last series would have been close to unwatchable. Who would they have replaced her with? Another singing statue with a breakdancing little brother? God help us. It’d be like a karaoke competition at the village fete.

        • annie

          I am pretty sure among the thousands that auditioned (and were scouted to audition) they could have found a handful of very capable british acts to compete is they wanted to…
          and if not, they got themselves to blame, for all the blatant manipulations and shanenigans they did since 2011 makes talented acts stay away from reality tv…

          • Jessica Hamby

            So are you saying that some really good performers auditioned but were turned away and never shown, or that really good performers stayed away and we should blame and belittle Saara for that even though it was nothing to do with her?

          • Both of those things are true (loads of great people audition and are never shown; loads of great people would never audition in a million years) but Annie isn’t suggesting that they should have been there instead of Saara.

          • Jessica Hamby

            It could be that I am having a small meltdown. If so I apologise.

            In my defence I’m sick and tired of the othering of foreigners. Saara was bloody brilliant and brightened all our weekends and to suggest she is or could be responsible for the decline of the X Factor is plain barmy.

            If you don’t lke her voice, her personality or anything else about her, feel free. Dislike her all you want but saying she would damage the franchise if she won is nuts.

          • Scott

            I don’t agree with the premise that a Saara win would have changed the parameters of the contest, or would have been wrong, or whatever.

            I do reckon, however, that there would have been some who would have felt that to be the case. Would have complained that little Johnny in their living room had no chance because of the increased competition from professionals from other lands (as opposed to the fact little Johnny’s probably a lazy sod and won’t do it anyway).

            Taking this away from anyone’s personal views, you’d imagine the likes of “What would the Daily Mail think?” would be a consideration for producers.

            Also, Kitty is a legend.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Taking this away from anyone’s personal views, you’d imagine the likes of “What would the Daily Mail think?” would be a consideration for producers.

            I don’t think they’d give a toss to be honest. Foreign acts have won BGT and Cowell made a big deal of saying the show was open to any and everyone when sex workers and porn actors have been harangued in the tabloids. He’s always stood up to them and said he doesn’t care. I love him for that.

          • annie

            sorry, I went to bed last night, thanks eurovicious for being my translator, you seem to get what I mean 😀

      • JMTA

        Great summary, David. Thanks for that.

        Giving a Finnish perspective, if you have followed the right talent shows or Eurovision preselections in the right years, you might have previously known Saara as an also-ran – but that was pretty much the extent of her recognizability as a household name here. Before this happened, I mean.

        Now, of course, she’s known by everybody in Finland – what with the media drumming up this feel-good story of a local gal (almost) making it big in a country which is a) an order of magnitude bigger market than Finland, b) known for its trend-setting and fiercely competitive music industry and c) not all that easy for a non-Anglosphere performer to get any love.

        The local TV channel “Sub” was originally showing this series a week or two behind the UK, subtitled. Once they realized the odds have turned in Saara’s favor and she might actually stand a chance to win – or at least get near to winning – they renegotiated their deal with Fremantlemedia, and managed to buy the rights to broadcast the subsequent shows live, getting live feeds straight from ITV. According to the reports, this was not an easy job, and required hundreds of man-hours and plenty of good will from both sides. Broadcast rights deals are usually made well in advance and not ad hoc like this.

        It apparently paid off for them. The channel got 532,000 viewers on Saturday during the semifinal weekend, growing to 587,000 on Sunday.

        These were already impressive figures by local standards, but were then topped last weekend with 1,036,000 tuning in to the final on Saturday and a whopping 1,324,000 (roughly 25% of the entire population!) on Sunday. It was the channel’s all-time record, formerly held by a local edition of Celebrity Big Brother, topping at 817,000 viewers.

        So how does Finland feel about the result now?

        The general consensus in Finland seems to be that Saara’s victory would have been _nice_ – I mean, what is there not to like about such prospect, in principle – and most Finns certainly would not have minded her winning it, or even thought she would have deserved that. But Matt was a good performer as well, and career advancement-wise, the runner-up position might be an even sweeter spot for Saara to be in, so she sort of like already won on Saturday. Anything more would only have been the somewhat questionable icing on the cake. (People here are well aware of her comments about the relative merits of winning the whole thing vs. finishing as the runner up in this particular format.)

    • kingston

      you have a point, Linda… on Xtra Factor, one of the viewer questions for Matt was from someone who was planning on auditioning next year, asking for advice… and Matt’s answer was great, too: Just do it, and make sure you get Sczherzy as your mentor lolz

      • Edie M

        Well he gave deceptive advice then because he did not just turn up! He went to stage school, was going to be the lead in a panto this year, had been in a boyband in 2013/14 which tried to get signed in America and he was INVITED to audition by X factor!!!

  • Poker Coach

    They needed Saara to be brilliant to take away “quality-singer -votes”.

    The persons who actually voted by singing skills were voting Saara and the ones who liked the good looking boys were voting 5AM.

    It was not too easy task to get 5AM above Matt, but that’s something they have tried for sure.

    Close to happen it was.

  • Scott

    It’s a solid theory. The recurring problem I have is that, if they wanted 5AM to win, why nuke them so comprehensively on the night of the final? Something that resembled a crashed helicopter and then an awful duet where they had to start the song utterly exposed and without the usual backing vocals that spare them.

    I’m inclined to believe 5AM were there for the fun factor, to get the attention of floating viewers. Did Dermot not say something along the lines of “the sort of act you want to kick off a show” after their first performance? (I could be imagining this but I’m sure I remember something) Having performed their Eurovision song 1 job they were then dispensable. They aren’t Little Mix, they haven’t had weeks upon weeks of relatable VTs, they’ve had enough to get them to the final and make it a close fight.

    Despite all the talk about it being the closest final yet and all that jazz, the show likes to have complete control over who gets past the finish line, and it became clear early doors in the Sunday what they were up to. Here’s your pretty boy inoffensive middle England pleasing winner to keep the Heart/Radio 2 demographic happy and maybe coming back for more next year, meanwhile we’ll make a bit of cash out of Honey G. Audience gets to go home patting itself on the back and being pleased the right person (in their eyes) won. None of those unpredictable shock results that made Gareth v Will so exciting, can’t be doing with that.

    Having said all that, one thing that has stuck in my mind given Simon’s lack of enthusiasm is that there may well be disagreements in the background over whether he should have won, or disappointment they couldn’t get someone else. I’d never rule out Simon having pushed for one act and having been persuaded otherwise, or the producers insisting on another. It’s very possible, however, that Simon just doesn’t want to promise the earth to an act he suspect is going to go nowhere and have it flung back in his face.

    • Jessica Hamby

      The received 8.5 million calls for that final. Now they don’t even get 8.5 million votes, and when you consider that every app voter gets 5 free votes and a lot of fans have several devices….. It really shows how little people care nowadays. Or maybe Pop Idol was just a better show.


  • Woofie

    I can’t help thinking that if they wanted 5AM for the win taking Matt out altogether would have meant them going into the final as the only male act, but then Emily may have ignited a strong Scottish regional vote.

    I think it would have been harder to get 5AM over the line in the arena compared to the studio. They did do well to get that Saturday vote against those performances, an indication of their popularity in the show. Maybe passive popularity but support nevertheless for people to use their app votes in the first round of voting.

  • annie

    Another thing.
    I listened to the Xtra factor live viewing from saturday. Did anyone else do that? I suggest to do, especially the first part.

    There was a nerdy guy with all sorts of analysis. I am not certain, but pretty sure he was linked to X factor, not an outsider.
    Besides the boring statistics like what percentage of winners was from the boys etc.. he also said interesting things like a common trait in all winners is that they all sung at least one song in a certain beat (12/8—dont know, have zero musical training) and that no one else did in their respective series.
    this series Matt did as well, and Saara´s everybody wants to rule the world was supposed to be in 12/8 but he later stated that this cover was done in 4/4(?) the common beat type…

    this musical statistic is interesting in itself (do we have any musi savvys among us or are we all more into visual arts and hence all the clever red/black color vomit etc observations?) but it´s more important in the sense that it tells me that really every detail of the show is analysed and accounted for, not just by betters but the production too.

    • Woofie

      I’m no expert Annie but I’m sure the music beat and other musical aspects do play a part.

    • Jessica Hamby

      That’s a very interesting point. 12/8 has a certain sway to it while 4/4 is more rigid and march like. Pop music favours the sway. I just listened to it again and the change is suitable for a slowed down version but it makes the whole thing very sombre and ceremonial. It was a terrible arrangement for a Saturday night light entertainment show.

      Nice point to look out for in the future. They did something similar with Paul Akister’s Don’t Stop Me Now. It wasn’t a change from 12/8 to 4/4 but it they changed the beat somehow to make it awkard and grating to the ear.

    • PolarNight

      Saara had FB live streams before Sunday results shows from backstage around week 3 to 4. I am pretty sure the same guy was shown in one and Saara introduced him as some sort of statistics genius who also lived with the contestants in the X Factor house. I remember him also telling to Saara that statistics wise it was looking really good for her. Was surprised that in the Xtra Factor Live commentary stream they said he was not an employee.

      Seemingly the Xtra Factor Live crew took the livestreaming idea from Saara. Saara stopped streaming from backstage, but Roman Kemp had several streams in following weeks.

      The statistics guy also noted at the end of the Saturday commentary stream that Matt was likely to win and that the Purple Rain had been clear turn-point for him.

      Btw. On Saturday Xtra Factor Live they used ‘singoff assassin’ term for Saara (as a nickname given by the audience). Somebody is clearly reading Sofabet. Would also suspect the UK media found out from here that Dermond encouraged Finns to hack the vote during Saara’s homecoming.

      • annie

        when I heard sing-off assasin I also had a lightbulb moment.
        and when I heard the extent to which he(them?) worked on those statistics (13 bloomin season worth of songs and all) I said well, hello there, fellow sofabet reader. i am pretty sure he made time to scan through all of this. 😀

        • Edie M

          Just heard the sing-off assasin & came here to comment to see you had all had the same idea! Wish I’d known this watch-along was happening on sat night. absolutely fascinating.

      • Dendrite

        Interesting. To be honest, I had already been wondering how the British papers all of a sudden got it into their heads to scour the Finnish media for a story about Saara actually wanting to finish second. 😀

  • Saara’s song choices for the final weekend were all wrong. Matt’s song choices for the final weekend were all right. They could only be better if he sang some Adele instead of Jess Glynne. Who knows what 5AM were supposed to sing on Sunday. That duet certainly killed their chances.

    Matt became my favorite to win after he sang “I Put a Spell on You” on Fright Night week. That sealed the deal for me. I thought that was easily the performance of the night, but everyone else bought pimped Emily with “Creep”.

    I usually support female finalists on these competition shows, but Adam Lambert is my all time favorite. I liked Caitlyn before the live shows, but when she, Chris Peyton and James Wilson didn’t make it, I didn’t have a favorite. The girls weren’t doing it for me and the females in the Overs category weren’t it either. I could see that Relley and Saara could sing, but I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm for them. Then I settled on Matt. 5AM were rather entertaining, too.

    • annie

      hah, I think exactly I put a spell on you was his (and the only one this series) 12/8 beat song I remember the guy on xtra factor saying.

      • Well, that song sealed the deal for me.

        I’ve been watching these shows for nearly 10 years, I’ve seen and heard so many contestants by now, nothing surprises me anymore. I could never really warm up to Saara, probably because of the 6CC disaster and her coming across as fake in her VTs early in the live shows. It was clear that she could sing and perform well. I was sad to see her in the bottom 3 in the first few weeks of the live shows, because she deserved to at least make the tour. But I could never bring myself to really support her or wish for her to come anywhere close to winning. Yeah, she had a good journey, but so what? Hearing Dermot announce Matt as the winner was a relief to me. Matt somehow won my heart. I’m usually one of those that hate seeing MOR white males win over females. But not this time.

  • David Cook

    Firstly well done to Matt on winning. Based on Simon’s recent comments I suspect Matt probably had to win to get anything out of this, so he’s made it. I think Saara and 5AM will be OK one way or another. Emily might end up being the big loser in this – I hope not because I thought she’s probably a lot better than she was able to show during the live shows
    I agree that in the end it did seem that Matt was the accidental winner. It may well be as Ben has suggested above that it’s actually a mix of both theory one and two. Matt was planned to be the winner early in the competition hence the great coverage in the pre live shows and the early shows, but they turned against him. There are perhaps a few reasons why this may have happened. In relation to his performances I’ve got to say he never really progressed. He’s got a decent voice and good if over used falsetto. But there doesn’t seem to be anything more than that. That’s OK if you’re doing one or two performances a week as part of a show, but to produce an album or a good live show you’ve got to be able to mix it up a bit. Then we come onto the performance aspect. Emily took the flak for this but did Matt really offer much more than her in that respect. It may even be that there was a bit of conflict in this in that the producers of the show remained happy with Matt but Simon / Syco cooled on him as a prospect once it became clear to them that he might not be such a great commercial prospect. Secondly it might be that they thought 5AM had a chance of winning. We know it’s difficult to get groups to do well, and maybe initially they were just aiming to get them to the final as a potential launch for a post show career. Seeing the voting it does look as if they might have thought it was realistic enough to pimp 5AM and de-ramp Matt enough to get the win. The final was very close, and as almost everyone has said, had the plans for the duets come off it’s likely 5AM would have swapped places on the Saturday night.

  • Dana

    I get the impression they really didn’t want Matt to win. He got early slots virtually every week, never closed a show and received fewer standing ovations from the judges than the rest of the final 5. I think they tried pushing 5am, Emily, Saara…even Honey G above him at times and towards the end Saara became the best option. Simon and Louis both seemed very deflated last night.

    They probably wanted a new and interesting type of winner who we haven’t already seen win multiple times before. Matt winning offers nothing at all for the franchise. People get bored with the same endings year after year.

    Then again..what the hell were they thinking with Saara’s song choices throughout the final? That’s what I don’t get. They couldn’t have thought that dreary Whitney dirge would pull in the votes.

    • To be honest, Matt was a pretty strong vote getter overall and probably didn’t need the pimp slots. Saara and Emily (with her weak voice) needed that more.

      We’ve seen that before. Real vote magnets don’t need pimp slots.

    • Kermit The Frog

      I Didn’t Know My Own Strength may be one of the weakest songs (was it even a single?) of Whitney’s career yet it makes perfect sense to me that she was lumbered with it.

      Back in the year of Joe McElderry, Whitney made her big comeback and The X-Factor was the lynchpin of her UK exposure. Simon babbled on for ages about how ‘lucky’ and ‘privileged’ he was to be allowed to use a song from this album ‘before it had even been released’. The show’s Plan A was awarded this gift and Danyl Johnson proceeded to bore the whole country. I remember this mainly because, in his VT, he sang and Whitney’s advice was “why don’t you try singing the melody?” which is now my default criticism for everything in life.

      It makes serial appearances when one judge in particular is invested in an act. He seems to think that it’s a legendary ballad in the making and one that he will be credited with ‘launching’ in the history books. He is wrong.

      So many contestants dream that they could be Simon Cowell’s favourite contestant. Be careful what you wish for.

  • annie

    I don´t think they ever want Matt type of guys to win, not since Leon-Eoghan-Joe and so on.
    They don´t get coverage and pre-lives build up because they are wanted for the win and the record contract, they get coverage because they are viewer bait, eye candy for girls and ear candy for grandma´s
    and thus the show kind of builds it´s own ´monsters´. Often enough the creation gets out of the hands of the creator so they might as well embrace them if they will do well anyways… and they end up winning even if everyone knows they have a slimm chance of making it in the commmercial world….but for the sake of the franchise they don´t get humiliated

    Matt and guys like him don´t get nice treatment because they are a choice for the win, they get nice treatment (…and namecheck in the prediction golden envelope of the judges) because the are inevitable for the win most years…

  • Anyone that doubts Matt being Plan A since auditions needs to watch every episode from beginning again I think. Comments suggesting they didnt want Matt, or even wanted Matt out in third have me speechless.

    Its very simple for me, main questions that threw the market…

    Saaras treatment
    Week 7, tried to bring her down, missed by some way. Instead HG landed b2 at this point they HAVE to give up on HG being in final. Instead they now have to choice the third (they already have 5am/matt) so now its Emily/Saara they prefer Saara as less risk to outright chances.

    They push her make her credible, likeable and dont hold back because she is going to be in the final. They only hold back on connection with audience, stopping it being perfect.


    These are not coincidences.

    Also to add to that they COULD have got Honey G out of bottom 2 week 7 and got Emily v Ryan. Simple HG sympathy VT given she was apparently a victim of sexual assault which the sun reported. Why this wasn’t used I don’t know. But it would have made Emily v Ryan possible, instead they switched Emily’s song late Thursday and instead helped her slightly and appeared to target Saara.

    But they missed.

    So why Matts bad treatment Semi final and week 8.

    Simple isnt it? Have him Bottom 2, he’s the best way to get rid of Emily without any backlash and have it appear more of an open contest. It would have looked very weak with only one act not featured in bottom 2, in the final.

    If anything his treatment could have been ALOT worse, they never damaged his likeability, character. He always appeared humble. They even hid his criticism from Sundays recap in semi final

    They let Saara get more votes than him, but imo they made sure when they wanted to he would easily get them back

    Plenty of reasons that its clear that Matt was preferred over Saara in final. “England get behind your own”, John Lewis advert song, gold lighting v purple, duet with Nicole. Singing Writings on the Wall v oh so quiet one offers a moment to neutral viewer the other doesn’t.


    Furthermore 2mil votes in Semi final, 6.5mil in final. 4.5mil votes… there is only one winner of them extra votes. The neutral goes in the direction the show pushes them in. They did that.

    With regards to take me home, i thought it was terrible initially, re watched offered comfort that his vocal wasn’t as good as should have been. Also nobody criticized his vocal or him, Simon only questioned the dancers, rightly so.

    Accidental winner he most certainly was not. 5ams treatment was not as good as it could have been and if they wanted them to win they dont make that mistake given how close they got with poor treatment.

    Unlucky to anyone who was on Saara or switched from Matt to Saara, but the signs were there week 8/semi final. They could be explained. Good shout to those who backed Saara early on. I certainly never and would have made for a better book if I did!

    But in my eyes, Matt was always Plan A and this will be second year in a row they got their Plan A, comfortably.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Great spots with the eye contact. Good post.

      Do you think they actually wanted him to win or do you think they would have preferred 5AM?

      • Jessica Hamby

        Sorry. Silly question. You have clearly stated several times you think he was Plan A.

        • Edie M

          I think the question is valid, as in why would he be plan a? What is the reasoning behind it? (Not asking if he was, as you clearly think he was, but why they would choose him as it?)

          • I think he was Plan A for months, given filming for 6cc was July, I think looking at May he was Plan A/B. Matt also said on this morning he quit his Job in May, he must have been confident.

            So looking at Matt then they see One Direction have gone to other labels, bar Louis, who at time said he didn’t want to be a solo artist. That’s a gap that Syco want. There is money there. My view at time was he ticks all them boxes, he appeals to younger viewer, older, good looking and has a great vocal.

            Going into the final, he ticks all the boxes.

            I really cant buy that Simon Cowell ever wanted Saara to win because she has support in finland. I would assume Simons knowledge of finnish market is an issue same for anyone on his team. I wont even consider how well any of them can speak Chinese, in order for Saara to be producing songs in China! (Cant believe I have had to write that really)

            There are issues with 5am, one of them seems to not get along with other and they have vocal issues. Yes they got votes, more than I expected… but votes is part of a TV Show, it doesnt mean instant future success. End of the day is this something they want to invest in? Cant imagine how bad it would be in 2 months if they won and Jaylee wanted to quit. What a mess.

            And if you go back prior to final, who else?

            Gifty? If they couldnt get Fleur they wouldnt get Gifty.
            Ryan? Offers less than matt
            4od? Other girl bands they have offer more
            Relley C?

            Can anyone really see anyone that offers more overall? I couldnt 10 weeks ago and cant now.

      • You dont find that eye contact being an issue for Matt


        Short term he lands b2, but the following week everyone still likes Matt, so when they want viewer to connect to get votes. Its done.

        Set him on fire, make him unlikeable, give him weak camera angles. The main thing they did was made sure Matt landed bottom 2, Saara progressed but Matt NEVER lost enough ground and Saara NEVER gained enough, that Matt couldnt win. It all seemed very controlled.

    • Poker Coach

      Loved your post and you had there some very good points. So informative and well written, thanks a lot!!!

      But I still think that 5AM was their plan A in the end. That became possible because of how many votes they got. I think that they wanted Saara to finish 2nd and either Matt or 5AM to finish first.

      It was only in very last moments when they had the courage to consider 5AM vs Saara final.

      Other explanations wont make that much sense from 5AM treatment perspective. And with autotune they would get their success.

  • Curtis

    OK, so here’s my opinion. I think 5AM may have been the chosen winners for the weekend, hoping that the duet with GEM would push them over the line. However, that fell through and they were unable to find a great duet partner. Seeing how the Louisa Johnson duet was not going to work, they gave up on 5AM. If true, this turned out to be an erroneous decision, as they got so close to surviving Saturday. Had the staging been a little less erratic for the first song, or had they performed last in the running order, I think they may well have toppled Matt. This whole theory explains to me Matt’s dodgy first song, and the Bjork song for Saara.

    Between Matt and Saara, I think the producers were less concerned, and decided to allow an open fight (within the constraints of some of the dodgy song choices they got earlier in the week when 5AM were the intended winners). Notable was Matt not being able to get a duet partner, and Nicole Scherzinger being drafted in in what proved to be one of the more important moments of the final weekend. Simon I think certainly preferred Saara, but I think that was as much on a personal level as anything else – I don’t think he really fancied either of them as commercial prospects.

    When it comes to the lighting for the final songs, which should have been more of a giveaway than we found it as to who was going to win – I’ve always sensed that the colour of the lighting for the final song is at best, chosen on the Sunday when they know which direction roughly the vote is going in. I say this because literally every year the winner gets superior staging on the final song and surely they don’t know for certain who’s going to win going into the final every year. If they think they do they were certainly very close to getting it wrong this year with how close Matt was to going out! Nah, if Saara was leading the vote, she’d have been belting out “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” to a golden backdrop, I’m convinced of it.

    Of course all of this is totally up for debate and if there was an explanation that better fit the evidence I would go with that one. At the moment I’m just not seeing that they wanted Matt to win all along though, the pieces of that jigsaw just don’t slide into place for me. If that was the case why was he singing “Take Me Home” (a song that didn’t suit his voice) on a plinth with distracting dancers below. And why was he singing 2 of 3 rather than giving him his first pimp slot of the series? It doesn’t add up for me.

    • Allan

      All is not harmonious in the 5am camp and this fact alone leads me to believe that a 5am win would not have been producers preference! Too much of a risk!

      A close friend of mine was in the contestants hotel all last week and heard many rumblings he also said he saw each of them many times but never once saw them together!

      • Jessica Hamby

        Didn’t Nathan release a solo track just before the final? That kind of gives the game away.

        • GsP

          Interesting that Brian’s final column (in which he confirms he wanted Saara to win), he says that they were difficult to work with.

          Kieran had a big body of solo work, had a major label chucking a lot of money at him for his release last year, and it royally bombed, so if he wants success he may have no option but to stick it out.

          • Woofie

            “We had a helicopter on stage, this incredible landing pad, the lighting designer was genius and lit the fuck out of it. Plus, I do think the boys really turned it on! They’ve had a rocky road in it with me. I’m the most difficult coach with them because I see their potential and sometimes they like to mess around and not play or put in work. Not all of the time and not all of them, but some of them. I was really hard on them and they really turned it on!”

  • Jessica Hamby

    It’s funny. With all the conflicting interpretations the one idea we won’t give up is the idea that the show is manipulated for a pre-selected act to win.

    • Curtis

      Haha, we’ve all been here for too long, the show has been running for too long. We’re all cynics by now. It would take an entire series that looked something like last night for me to think this had changed – and even then, I’d probably shoehorn some other explanation in!

      But it’s not going to happen, because we all know Caitlyn Vanbeck is the chosen one next year!

  • Two thoughts:

    1. Why would they want a winner who looks like a dead ringer for a hugely popular boyband member they are launching into a solo career? Every single article about Matt is going to start: “XF winner and Louis Tomlinson look-alike….

    2. I’m incredulous about the duet partner debacle. Even in its ratings-weakened state, XF should be able to line up 3 suitable acts with little trouble. That they could not tells me somebody screwed up on a massive level. It truly made the franchise look incompetent.

    • annie

      the whole finale was so mixed messages for me.
      On one hand I was happy that at least the top 2 acts both received almost equal chance treatment, no Candy-like nuking…
      On the other hand the guest performer was Madness and Honey G and the duet partners were all homegrown XF …and the joke auditinees made fool of themselves. it was a bit of a downer.

    • Tom H

      X Factor have also struggled to get good judges on board, because they leave it to last minute thinking people’s schedules don’t really matter. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

  • Stu

    I haven’t been without my faults this series but my beliefs on 5AM being able to win weren’t misplaced at all! Top 2 in 5 out of 10 weeks – winning week 6 – and actually close to getting through to the Sunday final if it wasn’t for the unrehearsed, messy duet. Not to mention always top 4 in the vote! I think the producers shot themselves in the foot by throwing 5AM under the (mini) bus in week 3. Their vote still held up well but it ruined their weeks 1 & 2 momentum. But they really had legs despite being vocally weaker than their rivals.

    I believe theory #2 in the article is the correct one. I think the plan was for Matt to finish in third with 5AM getting a far more favourable “song of the series” than Saara. Lesson for next year: don’t let Nicole anywhere near the duets!

    • EM

      Agreed, I said last night their support through the series surprised me. During the shows I just couldn’t see what they saw in 5AM and couldn’t get why they were pushing them hard.

      I really should have thought they were doing it because they were actually popular and with the right nudges they could have launched a career off it.

      Lesson learned for next year. Look at how quick they dumped others (Relly, Gifty 4oD etc) who just weren’t cutting it

      • Stu

        I think everyone on here is surprised – even me to an extent. I would never have thought they’d poll 2nd in the first week despite performing first and the vote opening at the end of the show. The Rough Copy comparisons seem ludicrous in hindsight. 😀 I won’t even start on Saara’s robbed victory – poor Jessica!

        I should add a thank you to Andrew and Daniel (and all of the commenters) for a great year on here. I haven’t bet on XF for a couple of years now (I was close to placing a tenner on 5AM when they were around 10/1 but decided not). Due to this year’s unpredictability – something I can see becoming more prominent in future years – I’m going to get involved again next year for sure!

  • EM

    How’s about an end of series Sofabet awards?

    Favourite performance of the series

    Best manipulation spotted

    Best prediction in the comments

    Funniest rabbit hole of the series

    Biggest misstep by the producers

    Favourite Honey G performance

    • EM

      For me:

      Favourite performance of the series
      Saara Winner Takes It All

      Best manipulation spotted
      Gifty’s wig

      Best prediction in the comments
      The dude that had Saara as no 1 in his pre-live predictions

      Funniest rabbit hole of the series
      The Saara Chinese theory or the time Saara got asked about her first audition

      Biggest misstep by the producers
      Not having a judge hate Honey G

      Favourite Honey G performance
      Doing U Can’t Touch This with her mum on piano

      • Jessica Hamby

        If Saara turns up on China’s Got Talent next year I’m never going to let you forget it.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Favourite performance of the series
        Saara sing-off week 5 – Who You Are, Jessie J – simply stunning

        Best manipulation spotted
        Shout out to JScouser – not letting Saara look directly at the camera

        Best prediction in the comments
        That Jessica Hamby burd and the 80/1 call. I think she’s great.

        Funniest rabbit hole of the series
        Analysing the word “clean”

        Biggest misstep by the producers
        Not making Saara Plan A after week 5 sing-off

        Favourite Honey G performance
        I have erased her from my memory

        • Jessica Hamby

          Something that I think falls into both Best Manipulation and Biggest Misstep is convincing so many people that Honey G had a chance of winning.

    • I’ll play!

      Favourite performance of the series
      Saara – Oh So Quiet #Saarabet

      Best manipulation spotted
      Not sure how intentional this was, but the way they edited Matt’s week 1 VT, where Freddy asks him if he’s still with his ex-girlfriend, looked amusingly unconvincing at the time and hilarious in retrospect given the rumours Matt has been publicly denying today

      Best prediction in the comments
      We’d better let Jess answer that

      Funniest rabbit hole of the series
      Dermot’s fried chicken

      Biggest misstep by the producers
      I’m drawn to theory #2 above, in which case it would have to be the Matt/5AM duets

      Favourite Honey G performance
      Mummy G on the grand piano, without a doubt

      • EM

        Love them all (apart from Oh So quiet!)

        If the duets really was an mess up it’s a big one saying as they could have predicted 6 weeks out 5AM could be in the final.

        • I especially loved that Oh So Quiet started with the skit of Saara disappearing down the rabbit hole – a proper Sofabet performance! 🙂

          • EM

            If ever there was the year that you felt they were running the show purely for the excitement of Sofabet this was it.

            Obviously they weren’t but it was funny when it looked like they did

          • Stu

            There have been many moments this series where I have felt like the show has stuck two fingers up at the Sofabet community (but that could be the conspiracy theorist in me talking). 😀

          • I know! Obviously they didn’t, but if they’d set out with the express intention of having fun with us they wouldn’t have done much differently! 😀

          • Jessica Hamby

            There was the week someone (I think Louis) compared 5AM to Rough Copy just after I’d called them a new Rough Copy in a comment. That was fun.

      • Favourite performance of the series:
        Friday Night.

        Favourite Honey G performance:
        Her performance as Anna Georgette Gilford.

        Biggest misstep by the producers:
        Not having 5AM sing a medley of Teenage Dream and Two Little Boys for Louis Loves week.

        Best prediction in the comments:
        There were lots of good predictions, especially in the final weekend. I haven’t been properly following. The Jessica Hamby one about Saara going far, plus Tim saying Saara would be absolutely fine the week she sang My Heart Will Go On because it’s perfect for the audience. And the people who called Gifty as B2 the week she went.

        Best manipulation observed:
        JScouser Matt/Saara screenshots.

        Funniest rabbit hole:
        That Saara would win not because people liked her but because remainers would use it to send a signal or something like that

        Episodes of X Factor I actually watched this year: 1 (2 less than last year)

        • Martin

          I’m in!

          Favourite performance of the series
          Emily – Creep (Saarabet lives on though, she would occupy the remaining slots in a theoretical top 5)

          Best manipulation spotted
          “You have friends?!”

          Best prediction in the comments
          Jess/Saara, without contest.

          Funniest rabbit hole
          That the Brooks Way/4od thing was preplanned

          Biggest misstep by the producers
          Emily Middlemas’ horrid VT where she was summoned to Sony hq by Simon. Not because of its result or anything, but i found it most unpleasant viewing.

          Favourite Honey G performance
          its quite clearly Can’t Touch This ft. Mummy G but I’ll give her first sing off a shout out. When I say save, you say me! …

    • Edie M

      Favourite performance of the series

      Enough is Enough by Saara

      Best manipulation spotted

      The ‘half step lower’ manipulation at 6CC. Plus the Sofabet spot of Ryan dressed totally differently and just wandering off into a solo also at 6CC.

      Best prediction in the comments

      Got to be Jess on Saara & also the whole Matt/Saara top 2.
      Honourable mention for Stoney’s excellent sing-off call that Gifty would go over 4oD

      Funniest rabbit hole of the series

      My fave was the discussion of Gifty’s room 101 staging for fright night.

      Biggest misstep by the producers

      Everything that happened on Saturday night of the final. Odd song choices for Saara. Terrible duets. Bad enough staging for 5AM to bring Richard Betsfactor out of retirement.

      Favourite Honey G performance

  • fused

    It has been a peculiar series really. I think as far as from here on is concerned they might just accept that it’s just never going to be as big as it was and just keep things as they have been this series.

    Once again, I’ve written another blog post about this series. It’s a bit on the long side, but I do like to waffle on sometimes.


  • DF

    Re the ‘was Matt TCO’ debate… and the view that maybe he was initially Plan A, and part way through the live shows TPTB changed their minds…

    I’m surprised not to see more references to the ‘is Matt in a secret relationship with Freddy’ being the reason for this change of heart…

    we know that Syco have a very paint by numbers approach to new artists… and aren’t known for taking a fresh or risky approach to how they do things…

    so maybe they felt (if the rumours are indeed true)
    it would be too difficult to launch him as a pop star if they couldn’t count on the teenage girl adulation element…
    especially after they had positioned him as a hit with the ladies in all his initial VTs… something that stopped after a few weeks…

    • I’m getting on board with this. Honestly, given that TXF is on a commercial channel and aspires to have a much younger, cooler audience than BBC1’s Strictly, you’d expect TXF to be the show that’s totally relaxed and inclusive with regard to sexuality and Strictly (with over half of its viewers over 55) more uptight about it. Yet it’s precisely the opposite – TXF repeatedly, even now in 2016, in a way that I don’t expect in Britain, dances awkwardly and delicately around contestants’ homosexuality as if it’s something icky, as if it thinks ITV viewers can’t handle it, either eliding it totally or as far as possible, and only showcasing a positive coming-out story in a small number of cases (Jaymi Union J), in addition to having its closeted judges, whereas SCD is gayer than Judge Rinder at an ABBA reunion and has its two out judges. I think it’s insightful and highly plausible that they did a switcheroo on Matt after becoming aware of the first indications of woofterdom, but they may have resigned themselves to him winning by the final.

      • Jessica Hamby

        And so it suddenly makes sense that we never found out anything about her (except that her name was “Jazz”) or saw her picture or heard from “close friends”, even when the stories started coming out (see what I did there) that they were back together in a secret relationship. She never existed.


        • Jessica Hamby

          It also makes sense of Nicole going rogue and busting out that duet. After the semi-final his confidence was gone to the point that he couldn’t even get the words to “Do They Know It’s Christmas” right. I even posted about it and asked “who is looking after him?”. Wouldn’t be at all surprsied If Nicole (read it?) took him aside and gave him a pep talk and promised him he would win. No wonder they’re so close and he adores her.

        • Jessica Hamby

          By “her” I mean the fiance who broke his heart of course. She gave him both a sob-story and heterosexual credentials at the same time.

      • Jessica Hamby

        And Simon Cowell would have felt he’d been lied to, so he could justify to himself all the subsequent stuff….

        Makes sense of a lot of things about Matt and his progress in the competition. Do people think it would have negatively affected his progress if he’d been an openly gay man? I like to think it wouldn’t but I can be terribly naive sometimes. Popstar is gay shouldn’t be a story anymore than footballer has sex with not-wife – but the newspapers still demand that footballers be role-models.

      • DF

        i’m not suggesting ITV or the XF audience have any issue with contestants being gay… or at least I’d like to think they don’t… it is the 21st Century after all…

        I’m wondering if it was more to do with Syco’s perception of Matt as a potential sellable pop star post show… TCO is after all the act they see having the best shot at post show music success… and Syco isnt exactly known for doing anything original or risky…

        so if they initially saw potential in Matt as a pop star in the vein of 1D and Olly… then I suspect his being straight (to them at least) was a key part of that…

        which is why i imagine there was so much initial air time to the ex-girl friend and references to how many girls would find him attractive etc… all that seemed to stop around the time they started the dampening with song choice, comments etc…

        Just a possible theory, given the recent speculation about Matt and Freddy… that may help explain a number of things about Matt’s treatment on the show these last few weeks…

      • annie

        on that note—-
        Just today I was youtubeing saaras performances ( i wasnt very keen on her at first so I didnt really remember much about her first weeks…
        and I laughed a bit at how they tried to keep her love life out of the limelight. Like in one of the early VTs, maybe week 2 she is sent on a surprise lastiminute.com trip around london….with her sister 😀 It could have very well been Meri, right? But she isn´t even acknowledged. for the average sat eve viewer she was visited by her family 🙂

        • Jessica Hamby

          And she is out.


          • annie

            and yet the first time meri was outed as her fiance on tv was in the finale, after saara finished her last competitive performance. even then it was just written there in small letters, maybe people listening to the actual message werent´t even paying attention to the identity of the speakers 😉

          • Jessica Hamby

            I sense you are trying to make a point. I have no idea what it is. If it is to highlight some similarity to Matt or Matt’s treatment you’ll have to be specific and point it out really clearly for me.

          • She’s just further elaborating on how Saara’s same-sex relationship was concealed until it couldn’t affect the vote.

          • Jessica Hamby


            It wasn’t concealed from the public though. There were pictures of them and stories about them all over the papers. It wasn’t shown on the tv but we all knew.

            Cue joke – no different from Matt then!

          • Alan

            Im pretty sure Saara mentioned her fiance in her homecoming VT. Everyone was probably distracted by the cute dog in the Union Jack though.

          • She did mention her fiancee. It sounded like fiance. The fiancee herself was shown as part of a group of Saara’s close family/friends so it wasn’t clear which of them it was if any.

          • annie

            again, thanks eurovicious for being my voiceover.
            Meri wasn´t hidden, but it was more like those who knew who to look for, could see her.

        • Allan

          This is another reason why I’m convinced they were gunning for the Saara win, it would have been so easy to derail her with VT’s of her and Meri but they choose not to and instead Meri was almost kept completely away until the vote was closed. She was even sat on the opposite side of the arena to Friends and family on Saturday night. Cowells face was a picture when Matt was announced as the winner….not sure if it was shown on TV but lets just say it wasn’t a picture of joy!!

      • Generally speaking, conservative middle England likes flamboyant campness, not actual homosexuality. It’s two different things IMHO. As EV says, Strictly gets away with being a row of tents despite its demographic, but if you actually had two people of the same sex romantically dancing together or kissing each other uncomically on that show, you watch the complaints roll in.

        As for X Factor, they probably were careful with Matt because if he’s supposed to be one for the tweeny girls only to come out later on, that’s his support base dead in the water.

        • Innit.

          It’s harsh because when a young person like Matt Terry/Joe McElderry/Tom Daley with a lot of even younger female fans does come out (if and when Matt does), there are often accusations (including from fellow gays) of them concealing it, that they deliberately “hid” their sexuality while in the spotlight. I think that absolutely applies to Will Young back in the first series of Pop Idol, but in the cases above, they’re still finding themselves and not ready to make grand statements about themselves and nail their colours to the mast on national TV, because they’re still not 100% confident with those colours. Joe wasn’t ready to identify as gay during his time on X Factor. Tom Daley wasn’t there either. And Matt probably isn’t. We can still speculate and be supportive if and when it happens. Should Matt announce his incipient woofterdom to the world, I for one will welcome him with open arms and legs.

          That’s a great point about having a same-sex couple dancing on Strictly – it’s happened in other countries AFAIK and is long overdue.

          • Jessica Hamby

            This is interesting. I have always thought of the “coming out” as something one does for other people. You make it sound like a process of coming to terms with oneself, which makes sense when I think how almost everything in society reinforces heterosexuality as the norm and homosexuality as “wrong”.

            I was wondering if he didn’t want to “come out” because he thought it might damage his singing prospects. What you are saying is that everything is in fact a lot more complicated than that and a career in the public eye is not going to be his first consideration when he doesn’t even know for sure how he feels about any of it yet.

            Please correct / comment / inform where appropriate.

          • eurovicious

            That sounds about right. You have to come out to yourself (acknowledge and accept it as part of who you are) before you can come out to other people.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Thanks. I suppose my view has been influenced by people like Boy George who iirc said he knew he was gay by the time he was 6. I thought it must be the same for everyone. It didn’t occur to me that self-acceptance would even be an issue although as soon as one thinks about it then of course! It must be.

          • eurovicious

            I knew at 14. Came out to first people at 19-21. But there were other things about my sexuality (or lack thereof, tbqh) I didn’t realise till I was about 25. Thinking back, I can also remember certain strong feelings at around age 6-7, so I can quite believe Boy George and other people who say they knew that early.

  • Has any X Factor contestant ever admitted to the
    I can’t find anything by Steve Brookstien but Series 1 could have been genuine.

    Doubt It.

  • Gotta mention it one more time before the end of the year.

    The best moment was Stoney’s tasty Hat.

  • Favourite performance of the series
    Gotta be “Oh So Quiet” from Saara.

    Best manipulation spotted
    Drip-drop-drip-drop with Ryan

    Best prediction in the comments
    Jess on Saara.

    Funniest rabbit hole of the series
    The fried chicken deramp

    Biggest misstep by the producers
    Slavery. Was never, ever going to happen.

    Favourite Honey G performance
    The first one in the pimp slot, California Love. It was funny at that point.

    • S.Lavery actually DID happen though! She polled better than Gifty and Relley every week, plus Saara for the first 4 or 5 – it’s not like Honey G was going to magically become the ‘big voiced female’ in her absence, is it? By god, she “didn’t have the range” but then neither did any of the other contenders at the beginning. Vocally, Gifty was ropey at best and Relley (were any of the current X-Factor team even watching the show the last time she appeared?) was all about tone and texture, not being a mini-Sam Bailey/Brenda Edwards/Tesco Mary clone…

      Once Saara started to grow in popularity, nobody had any time for Sam and she was despatched as quickly as the others…

  • Woofie

    Thanks to Daniel and Andrew for the articles and maintaining the website, and to all contributors and regular commentators, throughly enjoyed reading people’s opinions and predictions.

    Favourite performance of the series for me was 5AMs Boogie Wonderland mashup in disco week. I just loved it… biggest band of “musicians” and backing singers, all that gold… surprised they didn’t put a grate of gold bullion onto the stage!… the dance breaks… the studio audience reaction was insane,… the way they exited the stage with “that’s the way we like it” playing was just brilliant….

    I also enjoyed Saara’s stomping Enough is Enough that night too. 5AM ‘gold’ took 1st place in the vote , Saara ‘silver’ 2nd in the vote.. what a coincidence…

    PS I also loved Saara’s week 2 performance River Deep, Mountain High.. she was the only contestant in the series I actually spent a phone vote on, which was that week lol…

  • David Cook

    Favourite performance
    Saara – Who You Are.
    Best manipulation spotted
    Bratavio ‘home made costumes’ at JH.
    Best Prediction
    Me – honestly. For getting the top 4 even if Saara and Emily were the wrong way round.
    Funniest rabbit hole.
    Yellow bad / green good or was it yellow good / green bad. For debating something that hasn’t even happened in the programme.
    Biggest misstep by producers
    Brooksway – do your due diligence early next year.
    Favorite Honey G performance
    The first sing off – now that was actually funny.

  • In the most sophomorically asinine of today’s hot takes in relation to Matt Terry/Freddy Parker, apparently it’s “homophobic” to speculate about a public figure’s sexuality now: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/x-factor-winner-matt-terry-freddy-parker-saara-aalto-lesbian-fiancee-gay-bisexual-homophobic-a7469971.html

    Freddy couldn’t hold a tune if it came with handles.

  • Sindi

    I think we need to consider the following things:

    1.) There is a battle of wills backstage regarding the performances (the producers, the mentors, Brian Friedman, even the acts at times, the director of the camerawork…)
    2. Creative decisions are not clockwork.
    2.) The producers do not always get what they want (Gifty).

    I would not rule out the possibility that they wanted Saara to win. Simon knowingly let it show that he prefered her at least to Matt.

    There could be several reasons to why Saara’s song choices were what they were. I think Everybody wants ro rule the world was pretty impressive. I admit the song choice for the duet was not a big crowd pleaser. If Adam really wanted to do it with Saara, would they have yielded?

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Simon wanted Saara to do Oh so quiet. Her wacky performances and her turnaround could be seen to be a result of him suggesting her to go crazy. Saara might well have considered it her favourite performance (and I don’t think she wanted to win). I admit it didn’t work well on sunday.

    We tend to exaggerate the TPTB’s mastery in choosing songs and creating shows that have the desired effect. Saara’s Whitney song might well have been meant to be a show stopper. It certainly wasn’t bad but it didn’t quite come through. Also I think they failed a bit with camerawork. At times she drowned in wide shots and the stage looked somehow empty and too dark. It fidn’t feel as intimate as during the previous weeks. It could of course have been done on purpose but not everything is. Particularly during the hectic final weekend there would be some things that were not thought through.

    The reason they didn’t both sing the winner’s single could be that it would have been to unsuitable for Saara. The winner’s single IMO is one of the things that prove that Saara was not initially planned to make the final.

    I admit that Matt could have been their preferred winner though I think they liked Saara more. I don’t believe they wanted 5 am to win nor that they could have won. Saara or Matt would have slaughtered them on sunday. I think they wanted the singers’ final but they knew it was going to be close. Thus 5 am was not treated as helpfully as possible on saturday. Even the Jordan/Nathan solos were back.

    There might have been disagreements even between the head people.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I have a sneaking suspicion that Simon wanted Saara to do Oh so quiet. Her wacky performances and her turnaround could be seen to be a result of him suggesting her to go crazy.

      After Sound Of The Underground Simon explicitly said that it was too wacky and that they weren’t going to do that to Saara anymore. The focus group also said that they preferred Sara when she didn’t do the wacky stuff.

    • Alan

      I think when you have two 2 hours shows to broadcast live from a huge arena you have better things to worry about than whether the lighting and camera angles favour or hinder each act. First and foremost they wanted to put on a good show.

      For me judges comments will always be the biggest and most effective way producers can influence the audience and there is no way you could ever look at Matt’s comments and decide he was their favoured winner. Begrudging acceptance was about as good as it got once they knew it was over.

      You dont launch someone’s career with good camera angles, lighting and song choices. You tell the audience how amazing they are, how hard working they are and how big an international star they can be and it was Saara that received those comments not Matt.

      Bad song choices, bad staging, bad decisions all round. TPTB cocked up, pure and simple and ended up with their least favoured act winning. After a series where they pretty much controlled everything perfectly they blew it all when it mattered most.

      • Alan

        Before anyone corrects me song choices are also a huge way of influencing votes obviously but I do think you can make mistakes with those. A song that was intended to be unhelpful could turn out good and vice-versa. I dont think Bohemian Rhapsody was intended as a deramp and I dont think Matt’s duet was supposed to be a vote-winner. I think they just messed up.

        You cant really cock-up comments. If you want to give the audience the impression that someone deserves to win you say so.

      • LOL, I took Louis’ and Simon’s comments about Saara becoming an international superstar and recording artist as pure bulls***.

        She will be 30 years old in May next year and I don’t see her troubling the charts that much. I don’t think she can break on the pop scene. Her best bet is probably West End.

        I do think Simon and Louis started supporting Saara because of her entertaining performances, but in the end they made the wrong call in the final.

        • Alan

          I totally agree but at least they said it to her. What did Matt get? “You’ve had a good final” and “You want to win”. The feintest of feint praise.

          • Yeah, I think Simon wrote Matt off a week or two before the finale. He had a couple of less than solid weeks with less than perfect song choices. But that all changed for the final weekend. The voters knew they had to vote for him since he was in the bottom last week. He did win most weeks, so he definitely had the appeal to win.
            He was nervous when performing “Take Me Home”, but the duet pushed him into the TOP 2 and after the vote re-opened, on towards victory. On Sunday he gave it his all, even though he probably expected Saara to win. Meanwhile, Simon was probably informed how the voting was going after Saturday’s show and rewatched the performances. Perhaps he realized Saara’s first performance on Saturday wasn’t that other-wordly after all and that the duet gave Matt the momentum.

            Simon did try to somehow acknowledge that Matt did well on the final weekend, but didn’t do it well. He should have given fair comments to all three finalists on Saturday and things would be a lot less awkward. It was funny and sad having to see and hear Simon promising Matt that he will support him once he won.

            And Louis — he behaved on Sunday like he was completely clueless what was going on in the voting. I think Sharon and Nicole knew it was close/Matt was in the lead. Sharon refrained from saying anything bad to Matt.

            It’s funny, it’s not like Saara has great commercial prospects as a recording artist. I could understand Simon if someone with real potential was in her place. To be honest, I think Matt does have some potential for pop career, it’s just that he went all in on the big voiced ballads to get the votes in the final.

        • Tom H

          30 years old? Crikey, dig the grave… Seriously?

          • If you are launching a major label pop career, it’s pretty much a must to be in your teens or early twenties. It matters when you start out in pop music.

            There is a reason there is only one successful Over from XF UK – Olly Murs. And he is male and was 25 while on the show – just a little too old to be in the boys category. Steve Brookstein didn’t go anywhere, Sam Bailey didn’t go anywhere, Ben Haenow didn’t go anywhere (he turned 30 a month after winning the X Factor). Fleur East barely had a hit at the age of 27 or 28.

            To sum it up, Overs on the X Factor are more or less only good to provide fodder or joke acts. And then there are cases like Saara – someone actually talented, but with very bad prospects for commercial success.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Maxi Jazz didn’t get going with Faithless until at least 38. Sia was born in 1975 and had her breakthrough i 2013. And how could we forget Shakin’ Stevens…..

          • I’ve never heard of Maxi Jazz in my life. I’ve heard of Faithless, but I don’t know their music. Must be an older act.
            And Sia was quite well known before 2013. She got her current recording contract after she wrote so many hits for superstars. Still, Sia is not selling her image – she is hiding her face with wigs and by performing with her back turned towards the audience. That’s how she is fighting the age-ism in the world of mainstream pop.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Right. So to defend your theory you’re saying none of it happened and the stuff that did doesn’t count.

            I’m convinced.

          • Hey, I’m just saying, Sia had a name in the music business way before 2013. She was a well known Australian songwriter. Now she lives in America.

            I’m just saying the Overs category is more or less a waste of a category and to make the show different from Pop Idol. It would be better if there were just three categories (groups, solo females, solo males) and if they thought they had someone really promising over the age of 25 they would put them with the soloists.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Well strictly speaking you were saying that Saara was too old at 30 (she’s 29). I offered you three real world examples of people who had their breakthroughs to become incredibly successful (multi million selling) performers after 30. You’ve said they don’t count because… well… you don’t want them to.

            It sounds like nonsense to me but if you’ve convinced yourself then yay.

          • Sindi

            Anastacia was over thirty when she had her breaktrough.

          • I can’t see Saara wearing a wig and hiding her face on stage.

            Anyway, her greatest problem is the kind of voice she has. Not distinctive or memorable. I just don’t see it happening for her.

          • DGiles

            I think voice is always a subjective matter and it’s quite easy to be dismissive and overly critical when someone simply isn’t your taste.

            Whether she makes it or not, I hope she is at least given the chance. While she did not win, I think there are a lot of viewers who she energised more than any other contestant for quite a few years. She seems to have developed some hardcore supporters who were only really interested what she was doing each week. An act that can sing incredibly well and perform at the same time has been very hard to find on this show.

            There are a lot of singers out there who have had very long and successful careers, despite not having a great voice. Most that are able to hold down longer term careers are able to put on a great show though. I don’t think there’s any question that Saara wouldn’t be able to put on fantastic shows and she does have a good voice as well. So as long as she has material she can work with, she won’t struggle.

            Singles charts performance have little correlation with actual success these days, but is what people still seem to benchmark commercial success against. There’s little money in it as so much is dependant on streaming now, hence why it’s now filled with here today, gone tomorrow acts. It’s still albums and tours, which have less “buzz”, but are where the money is made (as far as the music element is concerned).

          • Just appearing on one season of the X Factor is not enough to be able to tour the country for the next 30 years. You need hit songs to be able to tour. So yeah, chart success does matter.

          • Jessica Hamby

            If you don’t like her voice that’s fine. If you’ve not heard of spotify or the artists that are hitting million + streams without troubling the charts and becoming huge on the back of it well, I guess a lot of people are getting left behind. If every time someone counters you’re argument you change that argument then it was a poor position to take in the first place.

            You don’t like her. I get it. That doesn’t mean artists over 30 can’t breakout and become successful.

          • annie

            All this talk about age made me remember our discussions from last year around the time Lauren Murray seemed to enjoy succes and we were wondering whether producers switched horses from her to Louisa. One of the counter arguments was that she was a bit old for a record company to be interested in her build up, launch. and she was 26. :)))

          • eurovicious

            Broadly speaking Mateja is right. The pop market is oversaturated (recall the “so many singers” line from 15 Million Merits) and record labels prefer younger acts. The exceptions prove the rule. Of course musicians over 30 can break out and become successful, but record labels still prefer younger acts they can market to kids – one does not preclude the other. How many X Factor acts go on to have lasting (>5 years) pop careers? Hardly any. Take the 2011 vintage – after the show, they commercially launched the top 4 acts (Misha, Amelia, Marcus and Little Mix). As great as the first three of those are, the market simply wasn’t interested and their singles did poorly… Misha’s and Amelia’s albums were shelved and while Marcus’s was released he hasn’t been heard from since. Little Mix have survived primarily because their music is pitched at a much younger audience (pre-teens, especially American pre-teens) than any girlband or X Factor act I can think of. I can’t name a single Little Mix song I like (whereas for Girls Aloud or Sugababes I could reel off a ton) because I’m not the target audience, tweens are. The same applies to a lesser extent to 1D and JLS (who do have decent songs but whose core target group is children) and Union J. This is why they tried so hard with Stereo Kicks, because they know these kinds of acts have the most longevity and profitability. You can also flog a ton of merchandise for acts aimed at kids – no-one is going to be buying a Sam Bailey pencil case or a Ben Haenow calendar (apart from me, if it’s wipe-clean). Apropos those two, their careers have both fizzled, as has Fleur’s, while Louisa’s singles have underperformed and her album been delayed.

            Saara is a great vocalist and performer but she’s not a readymade or marketable pop star with a built-in demographic. Like many a tremendous TV talent show singer, she’d be better served by pursuing and developing a stage career, something that’s far more sustainable than being a chart act. Look at Jade Ewen, stellar vocalist and performer, but she didn’t find chart success either (alone or in a group) but now she’s back in major West End roles she’s doing great. Amelia Lily is also the lead in a musical. It’s the way to go. Personally I’m waiting for Haenow On Ice to hit theatreland. A Flash Gordon-esque sci-fi skating show for all the family, in which plucky everyman Ben has to defeat evil Archon Walsh and unfreeze the Four Kingdoms using just his stubble, a wrench, and the power of Love. Featuring Saara as the magical Ice Maiden who helps him on his way, Rhydian as the Good Prince, Andrea Faustini as the demonic Horny Flamer, Sam Bailey as the Queen of Greggs, and Same Difference as comic relief characters Twitty and Twatty.


          • Sindi

            Is the world we live in so twisted that an act targeted at pre-teens is styled like Little Mix? I certainly hope not.

          • David Cook

            Just as an example Saara could always follow the route of someone like Agnes Obel who’s just released her third album. Even if you don’t know her you will have heard her music. The first album, Philharmonics was released when she was 30. She’s a Danish act singing in English – aiming at an international market. Her style is classical / indie pop so it’s not mainstream and it’s certainly not the sort of thing syco would be pushing. But she’s certainly successful. Whilst she might might not be troubling the charts, the total sales are impressive and she’s just about to start a tour of Europe and North America – a lot of people would be quite happy at achieving that. Got to be better than small gigs in Finland.

    • Alan

      They didnt expect he’d get the chance to sing it.

    • DGiles

      I’m not sure a huge amount of thought went into the final songs. With 4 other songs to perfect that week, I suspect in both cases they were either left over sing off choices or prepared performances that didn’t happen in the earlier weeks.

      Bar the lighting effects and a few studio elements, there was little added production, which is usually only typical of sing off performances these days.

  • Alan

    I think my favourite part of the final was Dermot’s interview with Matt and Saara after 5AM’s elimination.

    Dermot to Matt “You look relieved – did you think you were going?” (or words to that effect)

    Dermot to Saara “What was it like to play to 10,000 people in Helsinki?”

    Who’s the star and who’s lucky to be there?

    • Jessica Hamby

      Yet at that point I, Stoney and a lot of others were already commenting that Matt had won. Weird that they didn’t know.

      I bet Nicole knew. She would have heard the other duets and thought “I’m having this”.

      • Alan

        But I dont think their comments reflected him winning until right up to the end. That was the weird thing about it. They even took the final pimp slot away from him when all they had to do was keep the same order. They must have known at that point he had won and still couldnt bring themselves to pimp him.

        • Jessica Hamby

          Nicole will have known Matt was the likely winner as soon as she heard the others in rehearsal. No wonder she was fired up from the start.

          • George

            Was she? She was quite clearly on the attack from the beginning, with the “England vote for your own” schtick. She couldn’t keep it to her own act either, you could tell it pained her to compliment Saara at times and she had to resort to talking about the wildcard situation. Not the attitude of someone who expects their act to win with relative ease.

          • Jessica Hamby

            I think she knew that it was there for the taking and that if she did what she had to do then it was in her hands. She supported her act 100% and killed the duet. That won it for him. I’m sure other people will have dissenting views. They are all wrong.

        • George

          We have to question how often the judges other than Simon are kept in the loop about these things. Saara could well have been leading at the start of the show, or at least when they were briefed, which explains the ‘whatever happens tonight’ comments Matt was getting throughout from Louis in particular.

          With regards to the running order, it could have been that they switched the first round to get an uptempo number opening the show, but simply reverted to normal for the second round and that was planned whatever the standings. You have to keep in mind that there are many people working on the show who have to keep things on a tight schedule. Messing around with the running order last minute would be crazy, logistically. Maybe Saara was given the last slot well in advance with the expectation of her winning.

  • Argph

    Throwing this out for what it’s worth – I’ve lurked for years, but never had much of use to say.

    I was talking to my brother in the states this morning about the show, which he watched on TV over there.

    He commented about the edit of their version and what was removed. His examples were Honey G’s sing off “when I say save, you say me” and that scene early on with Matt and Freddy Parker which got so much discussion as well as virtually everything about voting.

    I will probably take a watch of the show through his account over the holidays. I wonder who is in control of that edit and if there’s any meaning – he said the show was a day late and there were probably few voters.

    That said – he voted every week.

  • Woofie

    Some compelling cases for Matt being the reluctant winner and how the final was put together and played out.

    I actually think the results at the vote freeze was just as much a surprise to the producers as it was to us. 5AM getting over 30% on the back of those performances must have been a surprise. I believe they went into the final destined for 3rd. Something Louis said “I’m always honest with the them” I think they were probably told that it was going to be difficult for them against the vocalists. There is so little time to prepare for that final of 2 days and it will always favour the better vocalists who can just learn songs and do a static performance. Where 5AM are at the moment that would have been a big risk and could have left them looking extremely poor in comparison on the Sunday, not what you want if you have plans for the group. Plus the other issues with the group, which are fixable, were perhaps too much of a risk for the franchise as winners. The best was a final placing. Maybe the duet plans falling through also influenced their decisions for 3rd placing.

    So I think they went into the final supporting Matt for the win, expecting him to win as the MOR typical winner. Maybe the results coming in started to change it but the vote freeze still pointed to a Matt win, if 5AM came in below 20% and Saara in middle 40s they may have switched plans. Maybe they could have supported Saara for a win not just to create a compelling final. Maybe there were different views in the production team and the judges.

    I think she missed a great opportunity herself to pull at the heart strings, she kept her composure but if she had broken down emotionally about being accepted by the British people she may have swung it her way. But to me it all pointed to an end of journey narrative and her dreams coming true, the audience were happy that she was happy.

    You can’t argue with the camera angles focusing on Matt’s face something that can be changed very last minute, looked what happened with Little Mix they were desperately trying to avoid close ups, I bet the director was doing just as much sweating!

    I also say if Simon wanted Saara to win as he expects she could have commercial success he will sign her, every contestant he wanted he has signed, the only exception I think has been male groups that didn’t do as well in the voting. Look at Ella Henderson, Fleur East etc.
    Wow he has signed Honey G, ok it might be a one hit wonder deal but if the reports are right Syco is releasing the single.

  • Rose L

    Favourite performance of the series
    Writing’s on the Wall as I love the song and thought it was beautifully staged and well sung.

    Best manipulation spotted
    Has to be the wheel stopping on Fright Night – what an amazing conicidence.

    Best prediction in the comments
    Jessica for her Saara/Matt prediction and Stoney for being so unbelievably right at the end of almost every show – how do you do that?!

    Funniest rabbit hole of the series
    Has to be the fried chicken one

    Biggest misstep by the producers
    Who they put through to Lives in the first place – so much talent missed – unless we are due to see them next year?

    Favourite Honey G performance
    Er, what? Seriously? Oh, I guess Men in Black then if I have to choose.

  • It may be difficult trying to figure out motivation from now on, in a rapidly declining show. As TPTB will be nervous, unsure and constantly changing ideas themselves. And probably arguing among themselves, with Cowell no longer the darling of ITV.

    Matt had a better Sunday but had been seriously de-ramped in previous weeks. It may be futile to guess exactly what they wanted. This series showed there is less of a solid guiding hand than there has often been.

    Anyway now they’ve got another male MOR dud on their hands. Unlikely they wanted that even if they did seem to want a close race.

    As for 5am, I think they wanted the best for them but there was just so little time to rehearse, and they needed it more than the others.

    • David Cook

      The motivation should be to try to make an enjoyable and entertaining TV programme and let the rest take care of itself.
      I’m sure we all have different ideas on how they could do that.
      I certainly think that they need to ease up on the heavy handed maniplation. Going back to basics would help.
      As for the final I think two hours for two nights is too long. They should drop the duets. It would be easy to have three acts and just do two songs each – one new song followed by one song from the series. Drop the lowest act and then have a head to head of a winners single with the result all on the same night.

  • Tina

    Saara’s wikipedia page says she’s been signed to Syco.


    • GsP

      No reference and nothing reported elsewhere. I’ll hold off getting excited until there’s something official.

      Her XFactor contract has required her to pull out of her remaining scheduled Finnish gigs over the Festive Period. Not a surprise, that’s how it works, you are totally bound until the Tour ends, but a shame for them not to let her capitalise on the goodwill back home.

    • PolarNight

      Wikipedia article said so (Syco) already before the finals. Thus that info cannot be trusted. One would hope that some major player would take a risk and she would land on a contract. She has potential if they recognize a correct niche for her.

      Thought the Wikipedia article has now changed and claims Syco contract on 2016-12-13, but without a source.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Of course they’re going to give her a contract. You think they’d give her all that exposure and let someone else reap the benefit?

      • GsP

        She did a radio interview with RTE (Ireland) this morning and said she had a lot of meetings this week “about her future”.

        I suspect we’ll hear if anything is happening early in the new year.

        Also confirmed she would be trying to sort out renting her apartment in Finland and getting somewhere to live in London from January.

        • Tina

          I suppose she has to soon, since she has a gig at G-A-Y, was it January 6th or 7th. Is that a gig they all have to do? Wonder if we can see it from anywhere.

          I got that link to wikipedia from Twitter. Someone saying there that also Sam Lavery was signed, but it’s all rumours floating around. I’m not sure if Syco is the best one for Saara anyway. And would someone really listen to a whole record of honking by S Lavery?

          I would have wanted to hear Saara’s version of the Christmas single. In the radio interview she said she had recorded it and that it was similar to Matt’s version, but with her style of singing.

          Have you bought Matt’s single? Anyone?

          • PolarNight

            All 12 live show finalists have had a G-A-Y gig. It seems part of the X Factor finalist contract.

            Lavery had some uniqueness in her sound. With couple of years vocal training she could become interesting. Thought many other finalists would also benefit from proper training. This includes Matt that sometimes sounds very good, but sometimes I can’t stand him. For example during the final Writing’s On The Wall I liked its beginning a lot, but in later stages almost wanted to mute him. Saara was pretty much the only finalist that had proper training.

    • Serendipity

      I honestly believe that Syco has absolutely no intention to sign Saara. Everything was perfectly calculated to have her being the runner-up. It was all unfair play on Saara’s expense, the 5AM-Matt vote transfer. Someone had to be “sacrificed” on Saturday night, actually not a sacrifice at all, probably an under-the-table agreement, as 5AM did not seem disappointed at all with 3rd position. Another accidental winner will be plagued by the “winner’s curse” and have no commercial success, yet to verify again the theory of the successful runner-ups. Actually, this is 2014 all over again, but with a different running order: We have Saara as Andrea Faustini ( she even got to sing “I didn’t know my own strength, for heaven’s sake) , who will probably be picked up by RCA, just like Andrea, and hopefully have the career she deserves. Of course we have a very poor version of Fleur East- 5AM, who in a matter of weeks will be signed to Syco, just to have the Fleur East one-hit-wonder treatment. And finally, it’s Ben Haenow-Matt all over again, who will be dropped in a year’s time and fade into obscurity.

  • Dana

    Well, if Tesco Mary can get signed by Sony and Universal and release 3 albums, I’m sure Saara can. Some sort of joint deal with a Finnish based label perhaps?

    • Exclusive marketing deal with Waitrose. Ethically sourced Finnish diva: one exquisite single-origin album with 12 hand-picked songs individually wrapped in Cornish all-butter puff-pastry shells. Buy one and get a free coffee.

  • Sindi

    Btw Nicole’s “England, vote your own” -comments didn’t pass unnoticed in Finland.

  • EM

    You can tell this is a site with betting at its heart.

    The chances of Saara having a successful career off the back of X Factor are very low but people are willing to believe it can happen against the odds.

    • PolarNight

      The chances of Saara having a successful career are very good. Actually she already had a successful career in Finland just by doing gigs (roughly double earnings compared to country AVG). To be successful does not mean to hit top charts or to become a star.

      Now with the exposure there is even small chance to become something big if she finds a good deal / own niche / correct people around her. But in any case she will be more successful than she was before X Factor.

      • Exactly. The chances of her having a successful career are very good. The chances of her having a successful UK chart career are very bad. But she’s a magnificent vocalist and skilled songwriter to boot, with room to develop, and she was already in regular singing, stage and voice work before competing – X Factor will just give her a massive boost.

      • HL

        I don’t know what you mean by country avg or how rough is your rough, but average annual income from full-time work in Finland is about 40 000 euros, excl. seasonal and end-of-year bonuses. Saara did not quite hit 70k last year. Probably a lion’s share of her income still came from dubbing.

        But yes, she has never been a starving wannabe. She is ambitious and hard-working, not a dreamer. Her chances of having a lifelong and reasonably successful career in music business are very good, almost certain.

    • Poker Coach

      Yes and no. With this exposure which is worth a more than a million for further self funding advertiser this will definitely launch a career.

      I agree that it will most likely not end up to be top 10 position in charts. But she can become very well paid performer at gala evenings etc. And she can also get some record label to produce some medium budget cd’s too.

      She has been self funded indie singer / music writer. Whether this is enough to change this permanently or just to make her indie singer with better success is unsure.

      But I could bet that she is going to have a longer career in music than any other x-factor finalist this year.

      • She should definitely go down the indie pop-star route – develop her songwriting further until she has a distinctive and authentic artistic voice and things she wants to say, then release a partly or largely self-penned album that has a clear vision and personality (a la Marina/Robyn/Kate Bush).

  • GsP

    Well, looks like Matt wasn’t Plan A, at least as far as Simon was concerned.

    He’s on a joint deal with RCA according to the Sun, rather than an exclusive deal with Syco. Means Simon won’t oversee his development or work with him directly, but just take a slice of cash.

    Common for XFactor alumni to go on joint deals with Syco and another Sony label (usually RCA or Epic), rare for winners.

    Probably better for Matt, but does suggest Simon wasn’t that interested in working with him (focus already on Louis and James?).

    • Stu

      Wasn’t Matt Cardle on a joint deal with Syco/Columbia.

    • After Simon’s comments on the final weekend, I can imagine Matt and his lawyer being uncomfortable about signing with SYCO. Simon behaved like a moron and said all the wrong things even when he tried to fix the damage.

      After seeing the voting stats it’s actually hilarious to think that Simon was so sure Saara would win the show. Sure, she gained momentum towards the end, but she started out in the bottom 3. Matt meanwhile came into the show as a big favorite. He hit the bottom 2 on the semifinal week, but as we’ve seen, the voting percentages were rather close. He was completely capable of making a comeback and Nicole sure made that comeback happen. His fans knew they had to vote, there was no more complacency.

      • Woofie

        I can’t believe these arrangements were not but in place or stacked up before the final. What bargaining power would Matt’s lawyer have? Matt’s participation in the show would be subject to a contract he signed prior to taking part. I can’t not believe that a winning contestant would have the legal right to refuse the arrangement unless it does not meet the contractual obligations towards the winning contestant – like everything else in these shows I would expect it is controlled and not left to chance or risk. Can we really see a contestant’s lawyer saying my client didn’t like your comments in the show therefore we don’t want your company to mange the arrangement and release the winner’s album? I thought when people participated in these shows they signed their life away. What it is interesting is that Simon has chosen not to be directly involved in releasing Matt’s album, which I think he has the right to decide not the contestant.

  • Daz

    Looking back at the weekend it was obvious that the plan was to push 5AM above Matt to the win with the Sunday night performances and not performing the winners single until the result has been revealed then there would be no reggie and bollie type winners single performance and have their second Sunday night performance and song suited to them but because of the duets this didn’t work.

  • Alan

    Have I missed the results of the pre-lives predictions?

  • Rose L

    Well, one warm and fuzzy thought to share – it’s a bit like a little John Lewis ad all on its own – I am no longer so sad and lonely, believing myself a little 5AM support group member all on my own. Try to imagine the slightly sad but slowly uplifting music in a minor key in the background…. as now I see I have plenty of similarly deluded friends out there to keep me company in my sad enjoyment of 5AM, and we can all watch as the group sadly implode in a month or two because they can’t stand each other any more.
    Actually, I do hope not. I saw a spark of fun and talent there (yes, of course I don’t mean in their singing) that I’d like to see more of. I often don’t take to any of the acts so it was an interesting experience to have an actual favourite, but it made me wary of betting very much at all. It’s easier for me to risk my cash when I’m not invested in any particular outcome.
    Many thanks to Andrew and Daniel, and to any number of commentators here, for the sheer enjoyment created on the site for this year’s X Factor. It’s so hard to explain the brilliance of this site to anyone who hasn’t tried it, but I have enjoyed this year no end.

  • EM

    Can I second all the thanks to Daniel and Andrew for this year’s coverage. Also to the commenters who add so much into the process of picking apart the machinations. Even if it was a little Saarabet at times, never known a contestant like it for generating love in the comments.

    Roll on 2017 – betcha they try a get a group over the line next year.

  • Tim B

    Something I don’t think anyone’s mentioned yet: Saara was supposed to bounce out of the Bottom Three in week 2 – she was on very late and received a four-judge standing ovation. She lost out by 0.0% to Gifty instead, who escaped. That was the week she sang Rockin Robin and was red and blacked. The idea was to bounce Gifty high in week 3 with the emotional VT and the Sam Smith ballad Lay Me Down. Because she wasn’t bouncing, it didn’t do much in the vote and they cut her loose the following week. She wouldn’t have won the lifeline vote vs Ryan and so a sympathy bounce after appearing in the sing off may have bought her an extra week or two on the show.

    • W2 wasn’t as bad for Saara as W1 but not really great. Only Sharon stood, and briefly. Louis said the audience found her cold. Simon repeated it, changing the context and as a criticism of Louis, but still reminding the audience of “cold”. And there was distracting judges’ talk about a banana.

      Hard to say what they wanted. W3 they pimped her.

      • Alan

        My opinion hasnt changed from the conventional wisdom at the time, Gifty was being pimped with Simon calling out for votes and Saara was targetted with the cold comments and sub-titles in her VT.

        I dont buy the idea that TPTB targetted Gifty to bounce her into week 4 either. Why would they go to all that trouble? Much easier to just support her to help her go further surely?

      • GsP

        Henry it’s interesting because I still feel W1 was good for Saara I thought she was just in a bad slot. She got a 3 judge SO, there’s a fantastic shot of the judges reaction with incredulity and huge smiles when she does the big “I’m free” showstopper note 2/3 of the way through which leads to a mid performance SO, good comments.

        She just was unknown and on in the strictly overlap. If she’d had a later slot she would have easily finished in the top 8.

        Week 2 Louis’ cold comment was deliberate but seemed out of place given a fun upbeat performance with a huge smile on her face. Again Nicole was on her feet mid performance, she missed out on safety by nothing.

        I genuinely don’t think she was a deliberate target in those days, she was just being allowed to do her thing with neutral treatment to see how it worked out. She was dispensable, but not being actively brought down.

        I think the plan was perhaps a Rachel Adedeji style week 3 pimp for a feel good then end in week 4 but a combination of public actually starting to get on board, being popular backstage, a recognition she had a lot to offer if properly utilitised, Relley going early, and that Gifty was never going to fly, meant they were happy to have her around for a few weeks more. There were other fish to fry by this point.

        Week 5 was a mix of Brian going to far and then wanting to get her back below Honey G who she’d overtaken and was now in danger of being in the sing off too early.

        Week 7 ironically Sharon went from being hopeless to taking a couple of decisions which probably saved Saara from a controversial elimination against Honey G.

        She basically went from being cast as fodder to potentially winner through determination and hard work and talent, and I think (to reference others Saarabet comments) that’s why she’s so popular on here. She was never someone put through with intentions of going anywhere near as far as she did, and she managed to get there.

        Gifty was Simon’s preferred girl I absolutely agree.

      • PolarNight

        Performance wise W2 was a last day call for Saara. In Finnish interviews Saara said that Brian, the vocal coach and Sharon all had different opinion how she should sing the song. They had originally prepared something different (more bubbly, more fun) than Sharon wanted (dirty). Sharon had firm view how the song should be performed. Saara said that she had to choose during the night should she go with the ‘original’ idea or with the Sharon’s version (Sharon had supposedly said that in the end the artist makes the decision). She chose Sharon’s version.

  • 360

    Very astute! That would also have forced Nicole to choose between two of her boys, as well as testing Gifty’s fanbase against Ryan’s.

    Rockin’ Robin was such an off-the-wall choice. Of all the Girls ever on this show, Gifty’s arc is definitely one of the strangest, and this is a show that’s had contestants like Abi Alton and Hannah Barrett.

  • Dana

    I think they wanted Gifty to get support- Simon definitely preferred her over the other 2 girls at the start. They tried making her fun with Rocking Robin to counter the critisisms of her looking harsh and overly serious, that didn’t work so they stuck a wig on her and gave her a really sympatheic VT the following week and that didn’t work either. They gave up on her in Week 4. 4ofD were obvious goats to keep around to sacrifice if necessary in a sing off against Honey G. Ryan and Saara (initially) also filled this role. They later started on Sam.

    The first few weeks all seemed to be about saving Honey from elimination with low key pimping for Matt, Emily and 5am as “likely finalists”

    I think Saara was supposed to be sacrificed to keep Honey out of the sing off during Movies week, but it completely failed and she was 1% of topping the vote against Matt at his best, which caused a big rethink

  • Cyrus

    Saara holds a press conference arranged by Sony Records at Hotel Kamp, Helsinki next Tuesday 4pm Finnish time:


  • Dana

    Ruth Lorenzo just got her first number 1 single in Spain a few months back, as well as a top 3 album. 4th Impact continue to be very busy in the Philippines. Maybe it has dawned on Syco there is money to made with the foreign acts in their home countries if nothing else.

  • GsP

    5AM to Syco apparently. Would suggest they were Simon’s preferred winner and he’s not interested in working with Matt directly


  • GsP

    Saara to Syco as well:


  • Poker Coach

    Saara is going to have a full arena concert in Finland 15.4.2017.


  • Cyrus

    Saara´s deals with Sony UK and Sony Finland confirmed. Syco´s position in this is still a bit unclear. Recording begins in January. She also mentioned Simon hugged her on the stage after the final and told her he hoped they could work together in the future. She was also offered to record a new song written by Sia.

  • GsP


    This article confirms Brian’s comments from a couple of weeks ago that Saara’s Winner Takes It All was supposed to be an uptempo disco number, which Saara felt worked, but had a bad feeling about.

    On the Friday rehearsal Sharon watched the run through and basically said “this is terrible”, and got on board with it completely changing to the piano version, which probably saved her that week and gave her the momentum to make the final.

  • Alan

    Im still not sure it was supposed to be a ‘moment’ though. In lesser hands that arrangement couldve been terrible and Saara’s styling was awful. Im still prepared to think she may have turned a deramp into a vote winning song. Particularly as they didnt push her to the win in the final.

    And once again I would question the legitimacy of Brian’s account. He might not officially be a producer this series but surely when we talk about TPTB he is one of the people we are referring to? Same with Sharon, she would be pushing the producers agenda in any creative discussions without a doubt.

    • HL

      Agree. It seems Brian is an all-rounder, involved in all kinds of manoeuvres, not only choreo and staging. For example, Saara said yesterday that Brian and Sharon had both separately asked Adam to sing with Saara, before she had made any wishes, without talking to her first.

      If I can recall it right, Dermot said “they” started to take Saara seriously only after week 8. She was not someone they had cast for the finals, just a foreigner who showed up, knew how to sing and was nice and easy to work with. When she did better than expected week after week, slowly and steadily gathered more votes and finally topped the vote in week 8 with that arrangement and styling, they had to seriously reconsider. It does not of course mean all of “them” noticed her only in week 8, but some important people apparently were not convinced before that.

      Btw, the tickets for her Easter concert went on sale already today (prices from €43.5). It is an arena with capacity of around 15,500 people. There is probably only one bigger arena in Finland, the Olympic Stadium.

      • GsP

        Already sold around 60% of the tickets. Incredible.

        Brian and backstage team seemed to like Saara from the get go. That will have helped in all kinds of ways even if others highr up weren’t convinced or that bothered.

  • Tim B

    My apologies for interrupting Saarabet, but I’d like to announce that Honey G’s single ‘The Honey G Show’ is out now. Merry Xmas everyone!

  • For me the best comment of the season was when in the Sam Stumbles pre results article in week 6, DannyCraig predicted THE EXACT voting order.

  • And as a perfect segue from one of our main shows to the other…

    Honey G has ruled herself out of You Decide.

    Christmas is saved.

  • Thanks again to Mech for compiling the X Factor prediction again this year in his spreadsheet

    Predicted Finishing Positions Rank Score (Lower is better)
    Tim B 1 13
    Stu 2 16
    Nissl 3 17
    Martin 4 18
    Joe 5 19
    Steve 5 19
    Jack 5 19
    Anglia Chu 5 19
    David Cook 5 19
    Lenny 10 20
    Betfair Exchange 2016-10-06 20:25 11 21
    MCIMH 11 21
    Dip 11 21
    Piresistable 11 21
    Woofie 11 21
    Dean 16 22
    Gavster 16 22
    Hammo 16 22
    Alan 16 22
    Donal 16 22
    Fudd 21 23
    Henry VIII 21 23
    Dan 21 23
    Leroy 21 23
    Ben Cook 21 23
    Dave S 21 23
    Froggitt 27 24
    Boki 27 24
    Daniel 27 24
    360 27 24
    SirMills 27 24
    Panos 32 25
    Liam Tait 32 25
    swablu 32 25
    Walter Lourenço 32 25
    JScouser2002 32 25
    Rob Dixon 37 26
    Andy 37 26
    Sagand 37 26
    Rose L 37 26
    Thomas Powell 37 26
    Phil 42 28
    Geoff 43 29
    Lara T 44 30
    Kenneth Chow 45 31
    Tabitha 46 32
    Harry 46 32
    Andy C 48 33
    Patrick 49 34
    Cath 50 36
    tpfkar 50 36
    Allan 52 37
    johnny 52 37
    Graham 54 38
    Mech 55 42
    Tom H 56 52

    • Dendrite

      The statistician in me insists on using squared errors to penalise for gross errors of judgment. Using this criterion, the ones to beat the market would have been:

      1. Stu 32
      2. Tim B 37
      3. David Cook 47
      4. Nissl 51
      5. Joe 57
      6. Martin 58
      7. Dean 64
      8. Hammo 66
      9. Steve 75
      10. Lenny 76
      11. Woofie 77
      12. Alan 78
      13. Gavster 80
      (14. Betfair Exchange 2016-10-06 20:25 81)

      and, at the bottom of the pile (in a galaxy far, far away):

      54. Mech 208
      55. tpfkar 242
      56. Tom H 348

      On average, Saara Aalto accounted for 44.9 % of the SSE, and Gifty Louise for 13.8 %.

    • 360

      Pleasantly surprised I was pretty accurate, getting all the Boys category exactly right, and the rest just about there, except Sam and Honey G the wrong way around.

      Saara completely blindsided me though and I had Gifty as second and top Girl…oops!

      On another note, only 5 people (out of 62) predicted Honey G OR Saara getting to the top 5, and only one person (Walter, take a bow) predicted Saara getting higher than 4th overall.

  • Dendrite

    One last time, for the record: the YouTube popularity ranking of X Factor UK (Series 13) clips, in millions of views, at the end of the year 2016 (midnight GMT). The following 44 clips had managed to break through the one million view threshold:

    6.417 Christian Burrows Audition
    5.820 Saara Aalto Audition
    4.712 Louis Tomlinson & Steve Aoki Final 1
    3.481 Honey G Audition
    3.229 Bratavio Audition

    3.059 Caitlyn Vanbeck Audition
    2.668 Saara Aalto Week 3
    2.643 Sada Vidoo Audition
    2.621 Saara Aalto Week 4
    2.391 Saara Aalto Week 1

    2.306 Saara Aalto Week 8.1
    2.294 Saara Aalto Week 6
    2.221 Christian Burrows (feat. Matt Terry) Six Chairs
    2.161 First look at the new series Audition Preview
    2.150 Saara Aalto Week 7

    1.960 5 After Midnight Audition
    1.792 Saara Aalto Week 9.2
    1.767 Saara Aalto & Adam Lambert Final 1.2
    1.701 Ivy Grace Paredes Audition
    1.517 Saara Aalto Sing-Off 1

    1.447 Sam Lavery Audition
    1.443 Matt Terry Winner’s Single
    1.410 Matt Terry wins The X Factor 2016 Final 2
    1.389 Saara Aalto Six Chairs
    1.374 Honey G Week 1

    1.329 Saara Aalto Week 2
    1.265 Clean Bandit Week 8
    1.256 Emily Middlemas Audition
    1.237 Matt Terry Week 1
    1.191 Saara Aalto Sing-Off 2

    1.179 Honey G Six Chairs
    1.162 Zara Larsson Week 9
    1.153 Emily Middlemas Week 4
    1.150+ Louisa Johnson Week 4
    1.129 Saara Aalto Judges’ Houses

    1.112 Saara Aalto Week 5
    1.105 Honey G Audition Preview
    1.103 Saara Aalto Week 8.2
    1.094 Rebekah Ryan Audition
    1.063 Saara Aalto Sing-Off 5

    1.044 He Knows She Knows Audition
    1.038 Brooks Way Audition
    1.008 Gifty Louise Week 1
    1.007 Marianna Zappi Audition

    Louisa Johnson’s Week 4 performance has now been removed from YouTube, and the exact number of her views remains unknown. The usual disclaimer also applies: these are just the official numbers from the X Factor UK channel.

  • Just how much was MATT TERRY actually worth to ITV (XF), I wonder (and was he always plan A)?

    Coincidentally, my grandaughter was in our local town Panto, with Matt Terry originally to play the lead role of Peter Pan and I came across an article in our local newspaper (dated 12/12/2016).

    Evidently Matt was ‘bought’ from the show and therefore they had to find a replacement. They make no mention of an actual ‘understudy’ taking over (a usual precaution to have for big production lead roles), ONLY that they had to ‘FIND’ someone to step into the role.

    This begs the question of just WHEN did they execute this, as any replacement would surely have had many weeks of rehearsing to do? Not to mention the messy and lengthy legal stuff also involved buying out contracts.

    This is the interesting quote from our local newspaper (as of above date)…….
    “It is reported that ITV had to pay an undisclosed amount to Shone Productions, the company behind this year’s Barrow panto, to release Matt from his contract. The production’s young director and writer James Shone, 20, was delighted to find Oliver who has stepped in and, he says, been the most magical Peter Pan anybody could have hoped for.”


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