Get Ready For Girl Power

Oct 5, 2011 by

So… after what has felt like an eternity… we finally have the last 16 going to the X Factor lives which commence this weekend, and include… cue drum roll … A TWIST.
Our initial recommendation is this: we firmly believe this year’s series will be won by either a solo girl or a girl group. Call it part intuition, part analysis of the many XF variables that come into play, but that’s our initial call pre-live shows.
The ‘Overs’ looks a category totally out of the reckoning in this series consisting of 4 also-rans. As for the ‘Boys’, it has produced the last 2 series winners both of whom have gone on to have hugely underwhelming pop careers. This tells us the show would likely prefer to avoid a ‘three-peat’. Another clue lies in the fact the boys to make it through have received very small airtime during auditions, boot camp,and judges’ houses bar Frankie Cocozza. And ironically Cocozza has the weakest voice of the 4 boys put through to the lives.
He is in the show purely as voting fodder for teen girls. They will go into overdrive supporting this lad whose profile has been built up as an edgy young rock star hoping to bed as many women as he can, and he will go further in the show than his vocal talent merits. We forecast a similar run in the show for Frankie as Lloyd Daniels in series 6 who bowed out in 5th place. Cocozza could maybe go even further.
James Michael, Marcus Collins and Craig Colton have stronger vocal ability but none of them scream potential winner to us. Quite the opposite in fact – they all instill mostly indifference.
Colton is the feel-good chav kid done well – already on a strict diet regime to try and starve him into a more viewer-friendly pop star. But this is the biggest problem for us. His image is not conducive to winning the show.
Marcus Collins reminds us of a poor man’s McAlmont from McAlmont & Butler fame but he also seems an endearing type. That said, we think his vocal limitations will be eventually shown up.
We think James Michael produces a sound like James Morrison mixed with Macy Gray which for us, couldn’t make him any less appalling to listen to than fingernails down a blackboard. But in XF land Michael could actually go well. He’s bland and middle-of-the-road which can be winning ingredients. But after so many weeks, we think viewers will start to get sick of his crooning style. Another possible negative is that he is maybe too much in the same mould as last year’s winner Matt Cardle.
The same vocal quirkiness as Michael hangs over bookies’ favourite Janet Devlin. She is reminiscent of Diana Vickers, 4th in series 5. While she has a haunting vocal we personally love, it will take some clever song choices to keep captivating the audience and there is a danger her voice will start to sound too one-dimensional, and irritating.
That all said, the show producers could not have got behind her any more to date, and she has this journey towards self-confidence to complete during the course of the live shows, so we expect to see her still around come the final 5.
Misha has a terrific voice but we cannot see the public taking to her and fear she will end up one of those shock exits the show thrives on. Amelia Lily has genuine prospects as she has the vocal range and the image to potentially go far. But maybe she is too much of the finished product already, and also too confident which, cast alongside Janet’s timid, shy nature, could actually aid Janet and hinder Amelia.
The real dark horse now though is Sophie Habibis. Is it Jade, is it Melanie, no it’s Sophie!!! The identity of the 4th girl had kept bloggers busy for weeks.
She has been kept largely hidden away but then sang beautifully at Judges’ Houses and maybe show producers realise it is better to have a contestant who gradually picks up momentum over the course of the series, rather than one that comes out the blocks like Usain Bolt only to fade in the latter stages. Sophie has an excellent vocal that could start to make the rest of the contestants sound second rate.
The Overs are a terrible rabble in this series and none of them look remotely like winner material. Goldie Cheung would have been a great back to lay proposition, and lay on the elimination market over the initial month or more, as she would have gone a long way as this year’s Wagner. Johnny Robinson is a squeaky voiced loon, but not entertaining enough to last very long. Jonjo Kerr will get the war hero vote for a good few weeks. Kitty Brucknell, cast as this year’s love to hate figure, will also likely defy elimination over initial weeks as the show needs these types to hang around and essentially outstay their welcome for the sake of controversy and column inches. Sam Brookes looks extremely vulnerable in the early weeks as we live in a shallow, looks-obsessed world and regardless of her vocal ability she is simply not built to last.
The groups category, meanwhile, is full of intrigue and potential this year. With Tulisa mentoring you can see her adding some street cred to one or two of her acts, and helping transform at least one into a series-long runner.
At this very early stage, we’re keeping a close eye on Rhythmix. They seem a likable group of girls, rather sweet and naive, and you can see the judging panel building them up over early weeks. 2 Shoes, our studies suggest, are also a whole lot better than we’ve seen of them so far, and with one up the stick, to add a bit of emotive back story, they could go surprisingly far.
We are far less convinced by the credentials of the 2 boybands, Nu Vibe and The Risk. You get a feeling the world has had its fill of such boybands, even in X Factor land. Nothing about either of them is interesting or original. JLS didn’t win, the heavily pimped One Direction didn’t win, and we’re finding it hard to see either of these 2 bands making the latter stages. Girlbands are historically vulnerable in the early weeks and struggle to get a vote but we’d argue the show has never had 2 girlbands in the mould of Rhythmix or 2 Shoes before, and one of these could capture the public’s imagination.
So our initial stance on Betfair is to keep Janet, Amelia and Sophie green, along with Frankie, Rhythmix and 2 Shoes. At this moment, Sophie is our idea of the most likely winner and certainly value at 11-1 e/w with SportingBet, and a widely available 12-1 to win.
We will be neutral on Craig and Marcus and happy to lay the rest of the field.
In Category betting, we think Frankie will go furthest of the Boys and make him the bet at 9-4 with Unibet. We’re happy to take a punt on Sophie at 11-2 with Bluesq to be Top Girl. In the Groups section we suggest dutching 2 Shoes at 11-2 with Betfred and Rhythmix at 7-1 with Betfred. And in the Overs we also suggest a dutch of Jonjo Kerr, widely available at 9-4, and Kitty Brucknell, 3-1 with Coral.
Week 1 elimination is difficult to call without seeing the running order, song choices, and actually watching the live show on Saturday and hearing the judging panel’s comments, but given she’s only in the show as a replacement for Goldie, and with Louis’s Overs looking disposable in early weeks – and the producers probably hoping to give the Groups at least a few weeks to try and bed in, and find a fanbase – Sami Brookes at 10-1 with Betfred is the early value. But this ‘TWIST’ makes elimination bets even more risky.
We also do not see Johnny Robinson turning into a cult figure on the show. His singing is simply irritating and if he’s given an early coffin slot on Saturday, we’ll be backing him to go too.
What’s your take on this year’s series, and how are you going to punt it? Feel free to add your thoughts below, and any ‘value’ you have spotted pre-series.
Rob Furber

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