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Rapper’s Delight

Oct 17, 2018 by

Rapper’s Delight

X Factor has been playing out under a different modus operandi this year. There has been little discernible favouritism leading into the live shows and this may well be intentional in trying to offer up the perception of a more open competition.

That said, it would come as no surprise to see the traditional, clinical assassinations in the lives, and all we can do at this stage is second guess who TPTB are going to get behind. What we also know in the free app vote era, is that the X Factor machine is powerful enough to push anyone to victory.

Indeed, Rak-Su’s victory last year tells us that a niche act can be carried to victory courtesy of receiving maximum pimping while all rivals are hamstrung and systematically deramped via myriad dark arts at Syco’s disposal.

What we know in the free app vote era, is that the X Factor machine is powerful enough to push anyone to victory

We still don’t know what is happening this weekend and the format of the eliminations moving forward. It would come as no surprise if 16 is very swiftly culled to 12 with 7 weeks of live shows in store.

The Overs looks the weakest of the four categories heading into the first live show. Olatunji could bring the fun to the lives while Janice has a soulful powerhouse vocal but will require pimping to gain traction with voters.

Danny, while something of an underdog, is a seriously acquired taste and former West End performer Gio might already have signed an early death warrant, based on his judges’ houses appearance, by trying to sell himself as a credible rock singer, instead of going down the cabaret route.

Among the Groups it was interesting to see a swift u-turn in ditching the manufactured girl group in favour of the manufactured boy group. This, in itself, looks a plus for Vibe 5. Possibly in their favour also is One Direction’s hiatus and Syco thinking it’s time to try and launch a new boyband.

Individually, their voices seem ok though only the live shows will tell us more given the post-production they use for judges’ houses. Perhaps most positive of all is Robbie, as their mentor, given the chance to fanfare them which he may well do, seeing in them his own early career as a member of Take That trying to make a breakthrough.

Possibly in Vibe 5’s favour is One Direction’s hiatus and Syco thinking it’s time to try and launch a new boyband

LMA Choir are a visual headache and a group you might have expected to turn up on Britain’s Got Talent. ‘Your harmonising was on point’ might be of interest if the bookies open up a buzzword bingo market for week 1. Coming from Liverpool they could also enjoy decent regional support, and a handy head start given the plethora of family and friends they can rely upon for support.

The market believes Misunderstood are most likely to prevail as series winners. The issue with them, however, is that Syco went full velocity pimping Rak-Su last year and commercially they haven’t done much up to this point to encourage it to throw its weight behind such a similar act.

Their mentor Robbie Williams also seemed keen to prick their balloon at judges’ houses by asking the question why they have never broken through in 9 years of trying, and further questioning whether it was a wise idea to sing one of their own songs. There was also a hint of arrogance about them. Given all these red flags, they have the feel of a false favourite.

A Star have shown a degree of promise. To succeed on the live shows, you sense they need to focus on selling the two girls as a fun and funky duo in the Salt-N-Pepa mould. It could end up either them or Olatunji for a surprise run on this year’s show, and helping bring the entertainment factor to the live shows.

Looking at this year’s Girls, Bella has come across as a raw talent that needs to be moulded and this looks an obvious narrative for her during the lives. She looks like being sold as a female Stormzy and the clear risk lies in the choice of material for her and whether it is too alienating.

You sense Cowell is keen on her, however, and will make every effort to help her connect with viewers. It might prove a wise move to have her deliver more accessible, commercial songs. If they want to completely change things up with Bella and have her sing a classic ballad, there are live clips out there that suggest she has the versatility and vocal chops for this.

Bella has come across as a raw talent that needs to be moulded and this looks an obvious narrative for her during the lives

Shan has a good live vocal but it has traditionally been difficult for the show to successfully market solo black female acts to a Saturday night prime time ITV audience. She is older at 25 which begs the question why she hasn’t been picked up yet. As a seasoned session singer there has been a sense of Cowell not being convinced by her star quality and this may carry over into the lives.

Molly is a very mature looking 16-year-old. She was a surprise package at judges’ houses and you wonder if it was this performance that swayed Cowell into choosing 4 from each category this year. Trouble is, this is never an accurate barometer of vocal ability given the auto tuning that goes on. Heralding from County Durham she could enjoy decent regional support but the jury is out on whether Cowell is fully invested in Molly and whether her live vocal is up to scratch.

Scarlett, much like Anthony, is the returnee the audience has been encouraged to root for, but like Anthony it is hard to see her as a successful commercial act down the line and to have any chance of winning both will need to rely on the show reverting to a Sam Bailey year and going for a ‘feel-good’ narrative.

Among the other Boys, the clear obstacle for Brendan is enough viewers enjoying his high-pitched falsetto. Historically, such marmite acts usually come up short but the free app vote has shifted the goalposts. He also has patriotic Irish viewers to boost his vote. And might the One Direction fans get behind the main project among the Boys this year, voting vicariously for Brendan purely due to Louis Tomlinson’s mentorship?

There are clear reservations regarding the 3 main market leaders this year and it could pay to build your greens among some of the perceived outsiders

Dalton has the more impressive vocal compared to Armstrong and has come across as a likeable guy so far. Dalton, Armstrong, Ola, Misunderstood… it look a crowded marketplace at the start of the live shows.

In summary, there are clear reservations regarding the 3 main market leaders this year and it could pay to build your greens among some of the perceived outsiders. It is very difficult to identify the contestants most likely to fly in the lives but Vibe 5, Dalton, A Star, Bella and Olatunji all look capable of out-running their current odds.

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