X Factor 2017 Week 4 Post-Mortem: Apollo 16

We are in awe of TPTB this series. Another weekend flawlessly executed: can anyone doubt that Rak-Su and Grace topping the vote, and Rak-Su winning the prize fight, was the plan? It puts the momentum firmly back with those two long-favoured acts as we head into the semi-final, and it retires the prize fight with four different winners, one from each category. Bravo, TPTB, bravo.

Targets were hit in the elimination yesterday, too, with both 16 year old girls departing. Fans of subliminal messages in staging will have enjoyed the repeated sight of Rai-Elle sitting on a rocket and being sent off into outer space.

Rai-Elle’s kill was a kind one, though. She presumably hadn’t been setting the vote alight, so by sticking her on first in the running order, they could afford to send her off with a four-judge standing ovation and feelings of goodwill all round. They’d made sure to continue the long-running “attitude” associations, ostensibly positive but ultimately vote-limiting, this week through that “sassy” VT and the rapping.

Holly needed more effort to kill off, in part because producers understandably felt the need to mix up the running order and have somebody eliminated from outside the first two acts to perform. Her VT, focused on her excitement at meeting Harry Styles, had an infantilising effect – it conveyed the impression that she’s just an everyday fangirl, rather than a performer who’s well on her way to joining Harry in stardom.

Then it was death-by-indifference in the comments, with qualified praise from Simon and Nicole, Louis not even bothering to say anything about her, and Sharon merely expressing pride. Holly seemed to be aware of what was happening – she used her Dermot interview to do Louis’s job of asking people to pick up the phone, and looked thoroughly dejected in cutaways while Grace was on stage.

Holly has been treated with indifference throughout the live shows, whereas we got the impression that Sean and Conor – whose Saturday exit presaged the weekend cull of the teenagers – had been given every chance to fly in the first three weeks, but just didn’t manage to click. This performance had the feel of producers giving up on them, expecting them to drift naturally to the bottom of the vote with no negativity required – it was enough to send them out against a backdrop of dribbling graffiti colour vomit, with Sean shorn of his trademark guitar.

A fond farewell also to Sam, who has looked like a dead man walking since the start of the lives and finally heads back home to 1961 the Isle of Man. When the most encouraging thing your mentor can say is – twice – “you’re still here”, it’s probably time for a mercy killing.

Only four weeks into the live shows, we’re now looking at the semi-finals. The format has yet to be confirmed, but as Saturday’s show is ten minutes longer than Sunday’s, we assume all six acts will perform on Saturday with one eliminated, and then the remaining five will perform on Sunday. Whether we’ll lose one or two acts on Sunday remains to be seen. The obvious route would be to aim for a four-act final with one act from each category, which would imply us losing The Cutkelvins and either Kevin or Matt this weekend.

Of the two overs, punters still rate Kevin as much the more likely to make it, despite there being a clear attempt to apply the brakes this weekend. While the time-honoured “good, but not as good as last week” vibe could simply have been to make sure Grace got the momentum boost of winning the evening, Simon telling us that Nicole was faking her tears felt surprisingly harsh. It’s not like the judges to undermine each other to that extent. Meanwhile, Simon tagged Matt as the “most improved” contestant and made a point of establishing kinship with him for the second week running, this time over their mutual good looks.

The coming weekend’s theme is Cool Britannia. Could this be a case of “zut alors and ooh la la” for Kevin, as Dermot put it when throwing to an ad break? As ever, do keep sharing your thoughts and theories in the comments section below.

Photos via ©ITV / @ThePixelFactor

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58 comments to X Factor 2017 Week 4 Post-Mortem: Apollo 16

  • Tim B

    Gosh, the things you miss when you’re staring at a laptop instead of the TV! I didn’t see Rai-Elle being sent into space.

    I wonder if Saturday night’s votes will roll over to Sunday, or will they start afresh?

    • Chris Bellis

      I was watching it on a large high definition TV and I still missed it. However it was a generally horrible and jumbled mixture, with the dancers doing an equally horrible routine. It reminded me of those film sequences they show when someone is having a bad trip — which, in a sense, Rai-Elle was.

  • Alen

    Wasn’t one of Holly’s last shots in her VT somebody telling her to start rehearsing now (instead of looking at the pic with Styles). I took this as her being lazy and not taking the competition serious.

  • India Marie

    I didn’t notice that rocket clip but it makes me question my theory that the show gave her a sliver of hope with the performance. Enough to make an escape possible but not too much that someone they prefer goes down instead.

    Sean & Conor’s elimination required some effort (rather than just letting them drift down) imho. My impression on Week 4 is that the show tried (and succeeded) to get The Cutkelvins over the line by giving them a chance to showcase their original. S&C were the Gamma group from the start and the new format made them relatively early exits.

    People felt sorry for Holly, but what about Sam? They could have eliminated him with faint praise but they piled on him. They made him feel fifth-best when fourth was enough for elimination.

    Although I must say, Holly’s treatment in the last two weeks makes the Despacito song choice seem more malevolent.

  • David Cook

    Whilst there’s no doubting the competence of TPTP in obtaining the results they desire, I think you can be equally astounded at the sheer gross incompetence in their ability to provide an entertainment programme. It’s no wonder that the show continues to haemorrhage viewers. Anyone who sat through the entire 180 minutes of drivel to watch 10 acts, at least half of whom were to a greater or lesser extent deliberately sabotaged by the production team, is probably deserving of a medal. Some of the manipulation this week in terms of song choice, arrangement and production was so poor that if you didn’t know it was deliberate you would literally be questioning how on earth people on the production team retain their jobs.

    • Piresistable

      This is why is still have hope (albeit, very slim) that there might be a twist in the tale. Someone on here said that their nine year old daughter knew that the show wanted Louisa to win two years ago. Last year they actually managed to create some uncertainty.

      I suppose you only need a competitive Top 2 to create drama in the final. So while it feels inevitable that winner will come from the Grace or Rak Su, perhaps TPTB think that that’s enough to keep people interested.

  • JaxxP

    Nice shot of Grace sneering and shaking her head during Rai Elles performance.


    Not shown here but a few moments earlier they cut to Rak Su all smiling and dancing.

    • R

      But not actually sneering or shaking her head.
      She’s moving her head to the music.
      Pete the pest might as well claim Matt was threatening to head-butt someone & Kevin was giving Rae-Elle the finger.

      There’s a lot of these newly created accounts trying to create the “nasty girl” image for Grace. The Russians would be proud.

      NB: Look at Pete’s previous tweets and he’s clearly an anti-Grace account.

    • India Marie

      Lauren Murray died to make this out-of-context character assassination a thing

  • Alan

    The rocket is amusing but would have had zero impact on votes. Why go to the trouble of planting some hidden message that noone will notice when you can influence everyone with some carefully chosen judges comments or dodgy staging or VT?

    • fused

      Personally, I don’t really believe they put “subliminal messages” in to that extent. However, I do think that on the whole the staging was intended to be distracting, drawing attention away from the main performance, so that it wouldn’t stick in the audience’s memory. People can’t give their full attention to lots of different information presented to them at the same time, they have to focus on something, and its what they focus on that will stick in their memory.

      In the case of Rai-Elle’s performance, with all that cartoony outer space stuff going on in the background, it’s going to distract away from the performance, and even that had dancers in astronaut helmets.

  • jimortz1980

    can’t really help feel sorry for all these unfavoured acts. the show just using them to make up the numbers. they’re like show’s puppets!

    i used to admire Cowell as he’s the only one who seems got the balls in giving harsh criticisms, and applaud contestants if so deserved. however, i have come to understand, that his way of bringing down someone is by bigging up another (amongst similar acts). he’s been doing it this year in-between Matt & Kevin, Alisah/Rai-elle.

    • India Marie

      That Cowell probably existed on American Idol, where the winner goes to someone else’s record company, but he hasn’t existed on The X-Factor in a long time, where the winner goes to his.

      • David Cook

        The thing is that at the auditions stages I thought a lot of what Simon’s comments seemed very fair and balanced – I’m pretty sure I commented on this at the time, because I was almost questioning myself. But on the live shows it’s like a switch has been flicked – now that the public are voting – he’s got to direct them to how to vote irrespective of if what he’s saying is really fair.
        By fair I also mean doing things such as TPTB choosing what must surely be one of the worlds most bland songs for Lloyd, predictably arranging it so it sounds like a musical, and then criticizing him for singing a bland song that sounds like it’s from a musical, like he has any control over this.

        • David Cook

          Last night I was almost wondering if someone had given a sly 1/4 turn to the tuning pegs on Lloyds guitar – it was just weird. I’d looked away for a minute – so when I heard it I was half expecting to look up and see him standing on stage with an (out of tune) ukulele.

        • India Marie

          Although a caveat here is Simon was employed to manipulate too on Idol. example: he used the old “you’re safe next week” quip on Adam Lambert to get him in the B2 while piling on two acts that kept them above the danger zone.

  • Rai-elle kept appearing on that display behind her, it felt a bit CBeebies.

    TPTB felt pretty strongly against Kevin this weekend but was that probably trying to dampen his vote for the future rather than get rid of him there and then?

  • James Dogg


    Matt to do original next week? Maybe we will get another act into contention?

    • Anglia Chu

      Their own songs for Cool Britannia? Who died and made them arbiters of what’s cool… although Rak-Su did put up their own song for Latino week so this isn’t really shocking

    • Yolanda

      The only outcome I can envisage after a Matt original is to leave himself brutally exposed. Give him the rope and let him hang himself.

      • James Dogg

        I don’t think TPTB would allow to have their series intention to pump up originals to be shown in bad light. If they want him out just give him a cover.

        • Yolanda

          But if the narrative of the show is originality, at least they can then show they have given everyone the chance to produce an original.

          “brave decision”, “people really like you”, “well done for having a go”. “Look Matt, I’m going to be honest with you”.

          Anyone else for Matt Linnen Bingo next week?

          • James Dogg

            His originals on Youtube are really good, so at least he can write music regardless of the question if they will let him shine.

          • Alan

            Lol. Matt Linnen bingo. “Nicole’s let you down this week…” “What’s missing tonight…” “What Id have done if I was your mentor…”

        • Peter

          Perhaps they are fine with him doing an original if it means him being pushed above Lloyd and Kevin, whose natural demographic and vote-winning history would make them more of a threat in the final. I wouldn’t be surprised if Plan A this weekend was to get the two of them out of the way, with the knowledge that it will be easy to then bring Matt down in the final.

    • Hammo

      I wouldn’t have thought they would want a Ben Haenow type act in the final when he might steal votes so a Matt original will be an attempt to oust him imho. And I say that as someone who backed him pre-lives for precisely that reason. I just think the kills have been so efficient this season that the producers will want him out this weekend.

  • Anglia Chu

    I watched the Sunday show while my internet connection was broken; it felt like 2005 but with lower ratings.

    Rak-Grace was the tale of the tape with Rak-Su taking the W, as expected. I thought Rai-Elle was going to be safe from slot 1 until Nicole made a scene after Kevin’s performance. After that and Matt’s performance nobody remembered Rai-Elle anymore. The Ariana song left Holly powerless like rumoured in-show date Sean Price without his guitar so she’s gone.

    The merging of all the acts will be interesting. I think after the deramp of Kevin, TPTB will try to get The Cutkelvins in the final. If they feel greedy, maybe Matt over Lloyd too.

    • David Cook

      If they do take TCK to the final do you think it would be anymore than to just make up the numbers? My feeling on Saturday was that they really didn’t help them at all with the musical arrangement and sound production. The whole thing just seemed to lack any ‘edge’. When you expected the beat to kick in strongly and a really full sound to the backing track it just didn’t happen. Shareen’s vocals were left sounding strained and exposed. The thing is do you blame TCK or TPTB, as for once they were singing their own song.
      The answer was clearer on Sunday, because they did exactly the same to Holly, only this time they did it in spades. And just to make sure the Ariana version has two vocal tracks on the chorus (as well as the Weednd parts) – so Holly probably found it a little bit hard to do the overlapping vocals all by herself. No wonder it sounded a bit thin.
      It was certainly deliberate on Holly – I suspect it was deliberate on TCK too.

      • Anglia Chu

        I think if TPTB make a push for TCK in the final, it will end there. I can’t see them beating Grace or Rak-Su, but that makes them a better bet than a Lloyd or a Kevin or a Matt.

        As for the song, I thought the show made the most of what TCK wrote. It’s better than what their Irish competitor got and in line with the direction the show is pushing them to be. It’s a bit hollow overall but the beat is good and you can imagine it being remixed by a DJ and played in a set; good enough for top 3 on the night but not a winner.

        As for Holly, agreed. The arrangement left her pretty much nothing to work with. As said by another user above, it makes the Despacito song choice in Week 2 seem malevolent in hindsight.

        • David Cook

          I think you’ve hit on the other problem with TCK. Was it you who mentioned that it sounded like a song that could be remixed by Zedd in the earlier thread?
          The problem is that it’s not going to happen because 1) it’s not going to happen and 2) because they are already trying to combine the singer / DJ role as an act, so effectively they need to be good enough to produce a final standalone version by themselves. It looks a bit poor if a DJ needs to go off to a different DJ to remix their own song.
          This is why I think they still haven’t really got the right balance.

    • David Cook

      By the way I’ve paid Wonga back now, and I’m only slightly down on the deal, so Christmas is back on this year.
      Are you sweating over Kevin and Matt?

  • Alan

    Think the article has nailed it (as ever) and TPTB will be looking for a finalist from each category. Probably the plan all along.

    I would’ve thought that TCK are fishing in the same vote pool as RakSu so wouldn’t be wanted anywhere near the final.

  • jimortz1980

    they may want Cutkelvins in the final instead of Kevin. at least it’s easy to control the siblings’ votes by putting 2 brothers again in dj boxes.

    Kevin seems unstoppable now. was given poor song choice & arrangement, foreign-vibe VT (which worked eliminating Spencer), plus with a death slot order, but still survived. he must have already gained solid fans by now. if he polled above Matt last weekend, despite Simon bigging up the latter, TPTB must be scratching their heads & panicking now how to get rid of him before final. not much time left for them!

  • The Juan

    I think the pimp slot is the most powerful tool in TPTB arsenal this series with the new voting window.

    If all else fails, whoever goes on last wins. With raksu and grace having the pimp this weekend…. who gets it in the semi and final?

    • Hammo

      I completely agree, the voting window is so short and can be easily missed. Only people watching the show live will be voting. Stats will be interesting this year!

    • If you look back on the stats from the 2013 series, when Sam Bailey was on, the results from the Flash Vote were almost exactly the same as the ones on the Sunday night, almost 24 hours later. So that would suggest the length of the voting window isn’t particularly important.

      • India Marie

        It didn’t shake up the winner because Sam and Nicholas had robust fanbases but the middle-to-bottom of the pack moved. For example, Week 3: Hannah was iirc two spots and over 1% above second bottom after the flash vote. She had the lowest votes after the overnight and had to be in the sing-off.

        • fused

          Sam Callahan’s vote tended to increase after the flashvote, in contrast with Hannah Barrett, as you say she fell a couple of places one week.

          If that’s anything to go by, it would suggest that the short voting time would benefit a contestant like Hannah – a good singer and performer, but didn’t appear to have much of a fanbase, so maybe had more casual support from people just voting for who they thought gave the best performance. That might be one reason why her vote yo-yoed so much from top 3-bottom 2, she got votes because people didn’t think she deserved to be at the bottom of the vote, but perhaps had other contestants that were their favourites?

          Then there’s Sam, who wasn’t a particularly good singer or performer, but was a pretty boy who seemed like a nice guy, so might have picked up votes over the course of the day from people voting to keep him in?

          It does seem though that most of the votes are cast soon after the performances, which also seems to be the case in Big Brother, most of the votes appear to be cast on eviction nights. I guess it makes sense, most will vote while they are watching the programme.

    • Alen

      Interesting tidbit at the end “But he’s not the first X Factor wannabe to have caught Demi’s interest, either. She sparked romance rumours last year after getting close to champ MATT TERRY.”.

      So I guess she is the go-to-maybe-girlfriend for Syco. Myles is already hyped all the time as the ladies man, don’t understand why they have to push it even further.

    • David Cook

      ‘I’m a dedicated media professional with experience in and a passion for the broadcast media industry.
      My aim is to work on and towards the creation of quality content, which innovates the industry and excites the audience.’

      Looks like she’s in the wrong job.

  • Uzair

    I can understand why the producers r pushing TCK . One due to th3 fact they may have post plans with shereen but also due to the vote transfer on the final. If they can get them to the final with a good fan base majority of their vote transfer will go to raksu. The problem is can they get to the final. Based of last week I would say they could. I’m guessing the polled behind raksu. Which means they’ve polled about Lloyd and can easily poll above matt. They r the only semifinalosts to mot have a pimp slot. But it being the week before the finals I doubt they’ll get one. The two pimp slots this weekend go to th3 acts who will join raksu and grace. My guess is Kevin and TCK. Lloyd could also be given a chance.i don’t think they want both llyod and kevin as their vote transfer will go to grace but TCk and Matt’s will go to raksu.

    • India Marie

      Most of your speculations are reasonable but the hot take that Shereen will be plucked away from her siblings is based on what, exactly? She was ~18 when Neon Jungle split up; leaving another group before she becomes US-legal is surely too much drama for her

  • Seems to be a general consensus then on who will finish in the top two, but for anyone with a strong fancy on who will finish third, or indeed fancies a winner from outside of the top two in the betting, there are a couple of bookies with bad (filthy) each way markets still available.

    If you have a fresh account, and don’t mind getting it closed after one bet, then go help yourself. Even the 11/4 about Grace at 1/5 odds looks tempting.

  • Piresistable

    I have a question about cheese. Is it just me, or has there been a lack of references to cheese during the live shows? Normally it’s a go to word for Nicole, but I haven’t noticed her using it much this series.

  • Tom

    If Kevin was 2nd this week, he probably has a sizeable fanbase and he’ll be able to get to the finals unless TPTB nuke him. If he was 3rd they’ll kill him off this week along with Matt. TCK aren’t dangerous and will be easy to bring down on the final Saturday.

  • India Marie

    TCK to do another original. The last one must have been a smash hit in the vote.

  • Alan

    I personally think TCK are an absolute shoe-in for elimination this weekend. I can see no evidence or think of any good reason why TPTB would let them get to the final.

    One from each category for the final, the four prize-fight winners. All judges still involved. Nice job TPTB.

  • India Marie

    TCK just uploaded this on YouTube. How do we reconcile this with the electro route they have on the show?


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