Finnish Line In Sight

Nov 29, 2016 by

Finnish Line In Sight

This year’s X Factor has become so perplexing you need some Nurofen Plus to hand trying to make sense of it all.

Last Saturday’s Saara treatment came as a big surprise, and thoroughly scuppered the bottom 2 investment on her advised pre-show. At the same time, it wasn’t an all-out Aalto ramp, and the mixed signals for her along with the other remaining acts in this series have become confusing to interpret.

After ‘The Winner Takes It All’ she received enormous fanfare from the judges with Nicole telling the audience Saara ‘just took first place’. This coming from Matt’s mentor, and following Matt kicking off the show.

Come the 2-song stage it is usually much more about the 2nd song, and Saara’s second effort from the pimp slot, if performed from, say, position 6, would have had the hallmarks of a classic Syco hatchet job. She was dressed as an ice-skater, it was described as ‘cheesy’, and there was much distracting chat following the performance including Louis requesting all of Finland vote for her.

A key message from the focus group was, they didn’t like ‘wacky Saara’ and what we saw was wacky Saara. Cowell previously stated he preferred wacky Saara, then spoke with incredulity about the wacky performance he just witnessed.

There has been a sense of them seeking to suppress Matt’s vote and he looks and feels a vulnerable odds-on favourite as things currently stand

Matt endured poor running order positions again and was memory-holed with his first song by Saara and his second song didn’t really suit him and show him in the best light. Louis continued to describe Matt, post-song, as if he is struggling for votes.

Cowell did say he could imagine Matt next year performing on the show as a bonafide artist. But given Matt’s treatment to this point, there has been a sense of them seeking to suppress his vote and he looks and feels a vulnerable odds-on favourite as things currently stand.

Emily has enjoyed much better running order positions series-long but once again the long-awaited breakout into a fully ‘uptempo’ performance did not arrive. ’Toxic’ wasn’t the success it might have been and Emily, as feared, did not have the pipes to do justice to ‘Human’.

She seems partly hamstrung by illness as she was noticeably coughing again, but also continues to be hamstrung by song choices. ‘Human’ has become a hit on the back of Emily’s rendition, and she was credited for taking on a modern track, but again there have been very mixed signals in her treatment with Nicole probably speaking for quite a few among the audience in demanding more from her.

Matt, Emily and 5 After Midnight at least sang contemporary tracks; Saara had tracks released in 1949, 1971 and 1980. This does not look like the treatment of a favoured winner and Saara remains arguably the least commercial of the 4 remaining acts.

Dermot always stresses ‘in no particular order’ and the order the acts were described as safe on Sunday went: Saara, Matt, Emily. So we can probably assume this was not in voting order. This was, however, the third week Emily was called safe last. A bad sign for her? We also had acts on Sunday night’s show name-checking Saara. A positive for her final prospects?

Matt, Emily and 5 After Midnight at least sang contemporary tracks; Saara had tracks released in 1949, 1971 and 1980

With Dermot informing us there was only 1 per cent between 3rd and 4th, either Matt, Emily or Saara was only just ahead of 5 After Midnight, but who? This hints that it should be easy to drag said act below 5 After Midnight if the show so desires, potentially with a view to taking it to deadlock and sending them home this weekend, enabling 5 After Midnight to grab a final place. But is this what they intend to do?

A bottom 2 appearance for one of Matt or Emily this weekend would spoil the suspense somewhat as we would then have only 1 act going into the final who hasn’t been in the bottom 2. It would make a more intriguing final if both Matt and Emily were in the final with neither of them having appeared in the sing-off.

Alternatively, might the show seek a dramatic Emily vs Matt sing-off, as then all finalists would have been in the bottom 2? The difficulty there would be dragging down both acts as 5 After Midnight’s bounce at this stage of the competition is likely to be minimal.

Who is going to the final and who is going to win is firmly on the ‘too difficult’ pile as things stand. We were given a bum steer with Saara’s songs last week. Let’s hope the ‘Christmas’ song choices clarify things more later this week. Keep an eye on Comments for an update following this all-important song reveal.


  1. stoney

    I’m not about to turn my back on Matt. If anything I’m gonna put more on him. Yes his treatment hasn’t been great recently. But there is obviously something in cowell saying to him it felt like he was returning to sing on the Sunday show. The only way saara has turned things around into a winning position is if she has picked up a huge % of the floating voters in the last 3 weeks. Just can’t see it myself

    • Rob

      I tend to agree, stoney. My main concern with Matt is the lack of a pimp slot but maybe he hasn’t needed it. I think he has done a consistently solid job with all the songs he has been given.

      But since week 4’s ‘I’m Your Man’ his song choices haven’t been the best, & it has felt like they have been applying the breaks, although to be fair I thought he handled ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ very well.

      • stoney

        I know Dermotts little vote snippets have made us all believe it is a tight run thing but we havent had one for the top end of the voting for a while. Yes the lack of pimp spot is a concern. However if he was to get one in the semi no one would mind in the slightest.

        • stoney

          If and when he gets last xmas by wham will be the time I start taking all my money back

  2. Rob

    This week’s XF song choices:

    Matt will be singing the hymn Silent Night and Jessie Ware’s Say You Love Me.

    Emily will be singing John Lennon’s War is Over and Gary Jules’ Mad World.

    Saara will be singing Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You and Sia’s Chandelier.

    5 After Midnight will be singing East 17’s Stay Another Day and Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)

    These song selections look very much a continuation of previous contestant treatment. Emily is being kept firmly in her lane but ‘Mad World’ offers the window for a moment, and the Lennon track could resonate with a choir.

    Matt’s ‘Silent Night’ looks more of a potential moment for him compared to the Jessie Ware track. We can probably assume the Christmas songs will be sung first.

    5 After Midnight’s ‘Sign, Sealed, Delivered’ is the ideal sort of track for them, probably with backing track assistance. The classic East 17 Christmas hit is much more problematic potentially as it will expose their weak vocals in the solo parts but they will probably be given a choir to help them with the chorus.

    Saara’s Sia track was the one she sang at her audition –

    And she has sung the Mariah Christmas hit in a duet seen here:

    The market has reacted favourably to these song choices for Saara but that latter track is a bit of a dirge & it may well have a big, distracting production & end up becoming too cabaret.

    We will also likely see Saara visit the Finnish embassy in her VT. Again, it is giving with one hand, taking with the other, much like last week.

    With Scotland behind her, Emily may be being kept in her lane to keep a lid on her vote. There is no reason her support won’t continue based on these song choices, as long as the judges don’t try and actively deramp her. That last sentence applies to Matt too.

    The view here pre-show is, 5 After Midnight still look the most likely to leave the competition on Sunday.

    Betting-wise you start to feel like a rabbit stuck in headlights with confidence shorn regarding earlier advised XF investments, but at the same time not overly keen to suddenly start investing in Saara in various markets at ever-decreasing odds.

    As Dad’s Army’s Corporal Jones always used to say, ‘Don’t panic’ while displaying all the attributes of a panicking person 🙂 It’s at trying times like this it is better to maintain the steely composure of Cool Hand Luke with your trading:

    Let’s see what tomorrow night brings 🙂

  3. Rob

    Matt and Emily endured a double take down last night. It was pretty ugly stuff, even by Syco’s gratuitous standards. Saara enjoyed further ramping, though it wasn’t an all-out ramp-athon, with her Mariah Carey effort especially failing to hit the mark and the judges highlighting that. Perhaps more significantly 5 After Midnight were given a big push.

    The intention appeared to be to try and ensure 5am do not come last on the public vote, presumably to give them the chance to win the sing-off, if they are in the bottom 2.

    It’s all a question of whether viewers play ball with the heavy-handed vote demands the show blatantly tried to force upon them. Syco tends to succeed though Cowell’s words possibly don’t have the power they once had.

    5am only need to improve by 1% over Emily or Matt, assuming it was one of these 2 who was the act 1% above 5am the previous week.

    There was plenty of vote motivation for Emily and Matt fans last night too despite the show’s agenda to deramp them both. And 5am’s pimp-slotted effort felt like a bit of a misfire, following a 1st song that again exposed their weak vocals.

    Emily’s Scottish fans were probably incensed by her treatment; Matt’s too. And it was a credit to both Emily and Matt how they came across during their brief post-song moments chatting to Dermot.

    You would have to call Saara very likely safe. The view here is, 5am will more likely remain in the bottom 2. And Emily looks under more threat than Matt.

    Of course, a Matt vs Emily sing-off is also viable. The way last night’s show was angled, you would have to fear for either Matt or Emily’s survival vs 5am in the sing-off, unless 5am remain a long way last on the vote.

    If they really want to push 5am for the win, they might fancy ditching Matt in a sing-off vs Emily if that comes to pass. It’s a no bet here ahead of tonight.

    • squall

      With Matt indeed in the sing-off against Emily, has your view of the final outcome changed at all, Rob?

      • Rob

        Hi squall. I feel Matt’s winning chance has definitely diminished. He looked a broken man during the sing-off & Cowell’s brutal appraisal on Saturday must have really knocked his confidence – he didn’t sing as well as he can during that sing-off.

        I honestly can’t call it. There have been so many mixed signals in this series. Clearly they have been keen to create an ‘exciting’ final but you start to wonder if the ramping of Saara has gone beyond recall. 5am may have only crept slightly above Matt. But maybe they will try and push 5am for the win having got them into 2nd place. I guess the distance between them and Saara is the key and whether they think this is feasible.

        The final is a feel-good affair but Syco also have the potential armoury to put the breaks on Saara. I am starting to think, based on series-long treatment, Matt is an unlikely winner, but I couldn’t trade anything with confidence. Hope it has been a profitable series for you 🙂

        • stoney

          I can’t see Matt having the support to win this. Really its lucky he fell in the bottom 2 or I would have still been convinced he’s support would have held up for the win and then probably lost money come final night.
          I am also of the opinion they just about managed to get 5am above matt into second. With regards to any potential boyne for matt i think it’s too late in the day. He may possibly creep back above 5am depending on his song choice and duet performance. But his support has crumbled now. It’s not like we can say they deserted him because they thought he was safe as it was obvious from Saturday night he was an intended target.

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