Dazed And Confused

Dec 9, 2016 by

Dazed And Confused

After landing the big-priced eliminations of Relley C and Gifty, this series of X Factor has tailed off somewhat in terms of the advised investments. If your modus operandi is to find big-priced winners, it is inevitable opportunities thin out as the field is whittled down and the series draws to its conclusion.

This year’s X Factor has undoubtedly been the most perplexing series ever, and a very difficult one to navigate from a trading perspective. It’s a show that always carries the inherent risk of dramatic volatility but this year it has degenerated into a game of chance.

You even start to wonder if Simon and Louis, like Randolph and Mortimer in ‘Trading Places’, struck a £1 bet ahead of the lives. Cowell bet his long-standing lackey that he could turn a prime X Factor audience-friendly, solo male winner-in-waiting from hero to zero, while at the same time transforming a kooky, female cabaret singer from Finland from zero to hero.

The terms and conditions of the bet were that said kooky singer must appear in at least 3 sing-offs before going on to make the final, and said solo male had to top the public vote on more than one occasion before going on to lose. The bet might well have had a further condition: Louis would get his £1 back if he was able to get a boyband with suspect live vocals all the way to the final. And would go on to win £1 off Cowell if he succeeded in getting them to win the show.

If there is an adjective to sum up this series it would be capricious. It has been like watching a megalomaniac going through an existential crisis live on primetime ITV. The X Factor is in its death throes but Cowell can’t accept it’s on its last legs. ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light’ as Dylan Thomas once penned.

The show is Cowell’s play thing and an extension of his gigantic ego. This is a man who gets off on controlling the public vote as much as he gets off on controlling the contestants. He is fully aware of the dark arts at work on the show yet somehow manages to convey the image of someone oblivious to what is going on around him. He delivers his words with such sincerity, it persuades viewers he is someone they should implicitly trust. It comes so naturally to him you sometimes wonder if Cowell believes his own rhetoric. He could probably beat a lie detector.

Within our niche of tv betting we see the manipulation as obvious but still the average viewer, and voter, is swayed by the show’s devious machinations. Cowell enjoys coming out with the line, ‘That’s what I love about this show. The public decides’. Is he really so delusional he believes this when the show goes out of its way week in, week out to ensure the public vote is ruthlessly managed? If nothing else, last week showed how Cowell’s words still wield enormous power.

If X Factor is an extension of Cowell’s state of mind this series has felt increasingly schizophrenic, and for those who invest serious sums in the show, trying to find any rhyme or reason to it all has been nigh on impossible

He orchestrates the whole sorry affair like the man behind the velvet curtain; an omnipotent and often malevolent force guiding events. Only he is present, front and centre. The contestants are unwitting cast members in this modern day Wizard Of Oz, hoping to follow the yellow brick road to pop stardom. But there are unseen forces at work conspiring against them. Send in the flying monkeys.

The way Cowell treated Emily in this series was downright cruel. Even taking her to his lair to show her the world she might soon inherit, knowing all along his plan was to put her away with a succession of funereally arranged songs, so she would not make the final. You sense Cowell still has a deeply-held hatred for all things Scottish ever since Jai McDowell beat his pet project Ronan Parke on BGT. A psychiatrist would have a field day.

If X Factor is an extension of Cowell’s state of mind this series has felt increasingly schizophrenic, and for those who invest serious sums in the show, trying to find any rhyme or reason to it all has been nigh on impossible.

‘Uncertainty’ has been a key adjective built upon in this series, presumably because uncertainty equals excitement which is much needed when ratings are on the slide. They have been keen to sell the message to viewers this is the most open X Factor ever. All the acts have topped the public vote, all the acts have been in the bottom 2.

We have had mixed signals throughout and it has played out in tabloid style. Build them up and then knock them down. Knock them down and then build them up. Cowell has built Saara up. Is the next phase to knock her down? He has knocked Matt down. Is the next stage to build him up?

You wouldn’t put it past Cowell doing an about turn in the final, ‘Matt, I must apologise for my comments last week. I was wrong. That was outstanding and you are a world-class recording artist in the making. Based on that performance you deserve to win this year’s competition’. Cowell’s whims in this series have appeared as random as a roulette wheel.

Saara could yet end up being put away through a variety of means. Having sat through the gospel church of Jahmene in 2012 while James Arthur was treated like he was arriving at his own gig, never underestimate the power this show can exert in dictating the public vote.

Having sat through the gospel church of Jahmene in 2012 while James Arthur was treated like he was arriving at his own gig, never underestimate the power this show can exert in dictating the public vote

Arrangements make or break songs on X Factor. More uncertainty. You pays your money and you take your chance. ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ done in a Lorde style does not resonate as something that is going to be especially stand-out. And this version is overblown tosh but could be in Saara’s wheelhouse.

It is hard to know what to make of Saara’s duet with Adam Lambert for Bohemian Rhapsody. It has always felt a song at its best early on during the piano section leading into the guitar riff but then goes downhill afterwards into the Wayne’s World homage. ‘Thunder bolts and lightning, very, very frightening…’ That’s when it could get messy.

How they edit Saara’s homecoming in Finland will be telling too. A chance to portray the Finns as strange folk from a foreign land, perhaps. And will Saara’s partner make a long overdue first appearance in her VT? It was odd we had Louis speaking in Finnish last week, telling Finnish viewers to vote for Saara. Then we had a tabloid story about the show investigating a voting loophole, and on his visit to Helsinki Dermot was intimating the Finns would be able to figure out how to circumnavigate the app voting system to register their votes for Saara.

Sneaking up on the rails come 5 After Midnight, though they remain outsiders of three. As things stand, 5 After Midnight look the value punt. They could have topped the vote last week. More likely they have Saara ahead of them but possibly within range. If Syco goes into full deramp mode on Saara and gives 5am a James Arthur-style ramp-athon, it might be possible for them to rein in Saara’s lead. It seems highly likely they will push 5 After Midnight hard which should see them trade shorter.

Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ certainly gives them the chance to deliver a high-octane performance, but outside the chorus they could be vocally exposed. Backing track assistance will be required but the crowd noise at Wembley post-song could be another ace up their sleeve on the night.

Speculation surrounding 5 After Midnight’s duet has seen the names of Little Mix, GEM and Clean Bandit feat. Louisa Johnson bandied around. It might now be The Weeknd, or it might not. If it is The Weeknd they can really play up the ‘current’ and ‘relevant’ ticket.

Matt must feel like a bride jilted at the altar. He seemed to be this year’s Plan A at series start only for Cowell’s brutal assassination last week. The ray of hope for Matt backers is that fierce criticism being taken out of Sunday’s show. You might read that as ‘job done’ treatment: it had only a short-term goal in mind and had succeeded – Matt was in the bottom 2 and would be in the sing-off so there was no need to reinforce the negativity.

’Take Me Home’ by Jess Glynne, however, doesn’t offer the sort of moment Matt might have created with week 1’s ‘You Don’t Own Me’ or week 4’s ‘I Put A Spell On You’. It’s not a disaster of a song choice. Matt could still do a fine job with it but it is a concern.

An even bigger worry for backers has been the ‘no one wants to duet with Matt’ narrative the show has appeared to be keen to run with all week. Sam Smith, no. James Arthur, no. So it now looks like Nicole will duet with him. At least there is the chance for a moment here. Nicole is an accomplished live vocalist and there is potential chemistry between them if the song choice is right.

Who finishes 3rd? No idea. Who wins? No idea. What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs? Still no idea. The uncertainty built up this year has succeeded in bamboozling seasoned traders. Only the live shows will tell us more. Keep an eye on Comments for updates over the weekend.


  1. Rob

    Heading into last night, there was a sense ‘Crazy In Love’ for 5 After Midnight might be teed up for massive fanfare & maybe even the pimp slot – following on from their semi-final treatment, with a ‘current’ duet lined up for them too.

    The market agreed as their price moved from above 8 to around 5. It then transpired they were first on. Not only that but ‘Crazy In Love’ was poor, exposing their vocals again, and 5 After Midnight’s price rapidly drifted out.

    Matt made a decent fist of ‘Take Me Home’ but it was advantage Saara, singing ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ from the pimp slot.

    5 After Midnight were rapidly directed to the exit in 3rd place after a duet with Clean Bandit feat. Louisa that was a complete mess, basically.

    Nicole then arrived on stage like Matt’s guardian angel creating an amazing moment singing ‘Purple Rain’ with him. This felt like it grabbed some initiative back for Matt as Saara’s Queen tribute with Adam Lambert that followed, felt like it slightly missed the mark in comparison.

    However, all the signs on the night were again favouring Saara over Matt with Dermot’s moment with the judges asking them who shone etc firmly pointing viewers towards Saara.

    More votes will be registered tonight when Matt will reprise his Bond theme while Saara has the Bjork number ‘Oh So Quiet’. This looks very much advantage Matt.

    Can Matt pull back the likely vote deficit from last night? With some vote transference likely from 5 After Midnight, and the narrative teed up last night of UK vs Finland, it all points the way of Matt.

    But it’s not one you could call confidently either way. Most telling will be the comments of Syco dark lord Cowell tonight, and whether he switches to backing Matt once again. The Sheeran-penned Christmas single might also favour Matt, as does his status as a good looking, middle-of-the-road solo male.

    In a fiendishly difficult series to read, it seems appropriate there is still so much uncertainty heading into tonight.

  2. Rob

    The XF voting stats are in: http://www.itv.com/xfactor/news/voting-stats-2016

    Pleased Matt won – advised here pre-series but Cowell’s best efforts to put him away last week was a curveball & costly in terms of BF trading. A profitable series overall, which is all you can ever hope for. There are never any guarantees trading these shows and this year tested us all.

    Sympathies to anyone nursing a loss on XF this year – totally understandable the way this topsy-turvy series played out.

    • Steve

      I made a pretty big loss on the XF after running scared last week and throwing all my Matt potential winnings on Saarah and 5AM. Thank god ive stuck to my guns (mostly thanks to you Rob) with Strictly and, regardless of the result I’ll recoup my losses. If Louise had gone last night I’d have been even further down so big sigh of relief there. I wonder if Strictly will play out like XF with Danny taking the Matt role and Louise the Saarah bridesmaid role?

  3. 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?

    • Rob

      Hi Montell. To be honest with you, X Factor is my least favourite TV betting event to trade on (compared to Eurovision, Strictly & Sports Personality) because of the dangerous market volatility. And due to this, I invest less on XF compared to ESC and Strictly, for instance.

      It will be borne out in this site’s annual results again – not done the sums yet & Strictly not finished yet but I think XF will show the lowest profit figure compared to ESC 2016 & Strictly 2016. It was the same last year.

      I feel my X Factor ‘edge’ has eroded away over the years. Mainly because the Betfair markets now are much more savvy and efficient.

      My fundamental approach is about finding value, and looking for high odds winners, and the window for this comes in the early weeks of X Factor when the field is still big. Relley C and Gifty’s big-priced eliminations earned the XF profit this year.

      To be in the best position to take advantage with X Factor you also need unrestricted online accounts so you can snap up the early value dangled during the audition stage.

      Matt certainly had the look of this year’s most likely winner from the outset as a safe, competent, middle-of-the-road, good looking solo male. But even then the show’s dark arts did its best to trip us over & lead us to conclude Matt would not be winning this year.

      And I initially wrote off Saara completely – a kooky Finn producing cabaret performances looked to me the sort of thing that would be jettisoned before the final. And this is why the unpredictability of XF and the way the producers decide to direct things can throw you off.

      Little Mix’s win remains my best ever XF result and that was in 2011. It seems a long, long time ago now 🙂

      • Montell

        Thanks Rob. I agree with you. Eurovision offers bigger opportunities to profit. I think I’ll stay away from X Factor 🙂

  4. Tim B

    Bit of a post-morgen here written by me in the middle of the night in my ‘Evil genius’ mode 😀

    It’s post-mortem time!

    1. 5 After Midnight were treated appallingly on Saturday night, so the fact that they came extremely close to polling higher than both Matt and Saara is astounding and a promising sign of their vast commercial potential.

    2. The Final was largely won on a significant vote transfer from 5 After Midnight to Matt Terry. Saara Aalto wasn’t many people’s second favourite and so 5 After Midnight would’ve won had they scraped through to Sunday night. Yes, really.

    3. Early running order slots are still extremely disadvantageous, even when lines are open from the start – just ask Matt Terry re: weeks 7-9, and several other contestants.

    4. Second songs are more important on a night where each act performs two songs. Saara’s “cheesy” ‘Diamonds’ medley was an effective way of keeping her vote under control and Emily Middlemas outperformed expectations singing the contemporary ‘Human’ by Rag N Bone Man as the second of her two songs.

    5. The lifeline vote was conveniently dropped in week 6 to protect a certain legendary rapper from North Weezy, and then to effectively kill off Ryan Lawrie a week later.

    6. The eventual winner is never announced as first to be called safe until the last 1-2 weeks – with Matt Terry only called first at the Sunday final, which he won by over 8%. This has now been the case four years in a row.

    7. The sympathy bounce is alive and well, but generally only works when the producers allow it to happen. It has a negligible effect after an act survives a lifeline vote.

    8. Acts like Matt Terry and 5 After Midnight were manoeuvred into the Bottom 2 on purpose, to create the illusion of a ‘close contest’ that anyone could win. But realistically they must have been expecting one of them (probably Matt), to end up winning.

    9. Slowing down the arrangement of a song doesn’t have the effect in the vote one might expect – viewers are simple creatures who prefer songs to be performed in a straightforward karaoke fashion.

    10. Deadlock is still only used when they know the act they targeted to get rid of is bottom of the vote. But the judges will save a highly-favoured act 3-1 to give the impression that they deserve to be saved.

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