James Is TCO

Dec 5, 2012 by

James Is TCO

As regular readers will know, we have opposed Jahmene series-long in X Factor, so if you have followed us in and are staring at a red on Jahmene in the Outright here’s how we plan to play it ahead of this weekend’s final.

Our over-riding impression is that Jahmene either stagnated in the vote about 3 weeks ago, or has even been losing his vote share since then. We have had relentless sympathy VTs which have looked to us like a desperate bid to keep his vote share high enough to get him to the final.

They see some post-show sales in this guy but why go to town with all the harrowing back story stuff if they weren’t scared stiff that without these VTs his voting figures would have fallen off a cliff by now?

We reckon ‘sympathy VT’ fatigue must have started to set in among many viewers too – and this becomes apparent reading the comments that follow tabloid stories about his tough life such as this.

Is his ‘sound’ likely to gain him lots more votes among the floating voters, the casuals who tune in and vote in the final? We think Chris and James have far more likely appeal among this extra voting layer, and Jahmene’s soul boy warbling is the most acquired taste left in the competition. Unless they have some more gargantuan sympathy tactics left up their sleeve, it looks like he has nowhere left to go.

He has already played his big song ace too – we presumed ‘At Last’, which blew Louis away at the audition stage, was being saved for the final. Was this another clue they allowed him to sing it in the semi-final because reaching the last 3 was TPTB’s ‘Everest’ for Jahmene?

And why push a contestant to win X Factor on the back of sympathy when it’s ultimately about selling records post-show? In other words, will Jahmene have a guaranteed great future recording career because of his harrowing back story? The answer has to be no.

Another question is, would 3rd place for Jahmene be too risky for TPTB because of potential vote transference from Jahmene to Chris? We struggle to see the logic here and don’t see why Jahmene voters would switch their support to Chris.

If Chris finishes 3rd, who are TPTB going to push for the win? On all the evidence we have at our disposal since Ella’s surprise elimination, James is now TCO. In terms of vote transference, we reckon there is a much stronger argument that Union J’s teenage fans are likely to migrate towards James in the final, as the only remaining ‘cool’ performer.

In this series, we have seen them really push the whole ‘credible’ ticket – in XF land, that’s someone who can write their own songs, perform with a guitar and looks like a serious musician. Step forward James.

Last year, we saw how well TPTB controlled the public vote in the final – Amelia thrown under a bus to ensure she was 3rd; then Little Mix getting every bit of help going with Marcus well and truly de-ramped.

Some may argue they have been largely incompetent in this series guiding the public, but given where vote percentages likely stand on the back of the semi-final data, we reckon they will know exactly what they need to do to ensure the victory on Sunday they want.

Jahmene’s only chance of winning will be if James finishes 3rd and he becomes the ‘anyone but Chris’ contestant. But even then, we might see a further swell in Chris’s support, boosted by the protest vote as viewers who are sick of the show’s tawdry tactics by way of voter manipulation and its aggressive media campaign to stop Chris from winning are encouraged to further get behind him with the winning post in sight.

We know from the Star that Jahmene was unable to get past Chris in the first 7 weeks of the show despite relentless pimping and sympathy VTs, and every attempt made to diminish Chris’s vote – and in week 7 Chris extended his lead over him. So it’s difficult to make a case for Jahmene being ahead of Chris now, only 2 weeks later, and why should it be any different in this weekend’s final?

Many point to James’s bottom 2 appearance below Rylan and Union J in week 7 as evidence he must be trailing in a poor third place now. But this was at a time when voting figures were extremely low, and there was undoubtedly plenty of complacency among his supporters (as there was Ella’s).

We are fairly confident he has built a far more substantial fan base since then and James has grabbed all the momentum which is vital in the latter stages of X Factor. Building on his post-bottom 2 tune of ‘Let’s Get It On’ – which felt like a game-changer – he continued his powerful late surge with the outstanding ‘The Power Of Love’ last Saturday from the traditional pimp slot. He is doing exactly what we expected Ella to be doing now, and polls suggest he is the one who has all the initiative heading into the final weekend.

TPTB tend to get the result they want. Only if there is a clear about turn in their approach will we look to bail out on our Jahmene red, and we only foresee this happening if James finishes 3rd.

As for Chris, we would rather keep him green too. The fact he gets to sing with Gary is a big plus for him. We would expect their duet to work better than either of Nicole’s efforts with James or Jahmene.

Chris is a cast-iron middle-of-the-road performer and as long as he is given the chance to sing suitable songs in the final, we don’t expect his vote to suddenly crumble.

Ultimately, Jahmene’s progress through this year’s X Factor has been the show’s most ingenious ramp ever, completely unforeseen by us and going against everything we have learned following these shows over the last decade or so.

As a trader you always prefer an all-green book but as things stand we are happy to have two greens in James and Chris, one red in Jahmene. If the latter wins we will take it on the chin and still walk away from this series with a very healthy four figure profit courtesy of our success playing the weekly markets this year.

In terms of value, we like the odds on Jahmene finishing 3rd at 7-2. We base this on the simple logic we know Chris has beaten Jahmene on the pv for at least 7 weeks out of 9, and we see strong enough reason to believe James has leapfrogged both Chris and Jahmene, or is on the point of doing so, given his treatment on the show in the last 2 weeks.

Given the only scenario in which we can see Jahmene winning is if he is in the last 2 with Chris, we will also be backing the Jahmene/Chris straight forecast at 11-2 with Ladbrokes, as a cover bet on our Jahmene exposure.

A couple of specials we have seen that are worth an interest: SportingBet8-11 that Chris mentions his nan in a post-song chat with Dermot, especially in light of news found here and here. And also with SportingBet, 5-6 Chris to achieve over 27% of the vote at the 3-way vote stage.

How are you looking heading into the final, and how do you plan to play it from here? Can Chris win or do you think TPTB have his vote under control now? Any final thoughts, let us know, and we will do our best to dissect any big news ahead of Saturday night in the Comments section below.
Rob Furber

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  1. Chiggs

    The odds in the markets reflect that people believe Jahmene is very likely to make top two. I get your reasoning on Jahmene Rob, especially the point about him already exhausting his best songs but a very good argument could be made for him to win.

    The 8.5 on Coral for James/Maloney straight forecast is good value in comparison to the rest of the market given that James and Jahmene are now trading roughly equal in the winner market and Jahmene/Chris is a best of 6.5.

    I bought James for third/next elim as I’d expect his young fans less likely to stay in and watch the show on a Saturday night and also less likely to vote than Jahmene’s and Maloney’s older fans.

  2. Rob

    Good spot on the James/Chris straight forecast value, Chiggs.

    Have a fair few vouchers already by way of Jahmene/Chris & James/Chris reverse forecasts at big odds after the Star vote leak regarding Chris.

    Can also appreciate the argument by those who think Chris’s vote will be swamped in the final & he’s a good thing for 3rd. It’s a real head-scratcher alright.

  3. Bruce

    Rob I can see your strategy and follow your logic if you rate Jahmene this poorly as a potential winner.

    My fear in following this strategy is the degree to which new viewers tune in and may decide to vote in the final. If they turn out to be the deciding factor then they haven’t had weeks to get ‘sympathy fatigue’ or fed up with the vocal gymnastics.
    Won’t the first time or infrequent viewer actually lap up Jahmene’s sob story and be impressed by his vocals. The Star leak suggests that Jahmene or Chris are far more likely beneficiaries of this than James, from the first few weeks voting.
    Any Jahmene story seems likely to be more voter friendly than anything James can muster, even if not taken to the utmost degree should they not want him to win.

    A post full of Jahmene’s flaws but nothing about James weaknesses? Music to die to – is that popular? I refer of course to his tendency to the angst and depressive. And potential rapping? I’d assume these will be missing if TPTB have any sense but I wouldn’t be certain.
    I also find it hard to share your confidence that in just 2 weeks since his bottom 2 James has grown a more substantial fan base.
    As the more ‘credible artist’ isn’t it less harmful for him not to win than Jahmene? Might the judges pleas to vote for James in the semi-final be interpreted as just to get him to the final?

    Not to be critical but I think its only fair to consider this and I’m not saying my interpretation is the correct one of course.
    In all honesty I dont particularly like or rate any of the three, I’d probably prefer to listen to Chris belting out a familiar tune to the 2 J’s.

    I think its a very tight final and hard to call at this stage.
    How will I be playing it? well I’ll watch for the clues in song choice, staging and performance and take it from there. I’ll see James winning only if Jahmene clearly isn’t being pushed to the utmost and his song performances are similar to his ‘Lets get it’ on and ‘Power of Love’ performances not the ‘Sweet Dreams’ variety.

  4. Boki

    Rob, while I understand and agree with James = TCO I’m not convinced the public will play ball, I could see him 3rd without problem. It might come to the performances from the night and a wow moment (or absence of one). Btw, one strange thing I noticed today is the total absence of Jahmene press coverage, while other two got lot of articles.

  5. Rob

    Great post, Bruce. Certainly if we hear James rapping & angst-ridden tunes that would be a big warning sign they are happy with a 3rd place for him.

    On the back of what they have done with him over the last 2 weeks – not just song choices, but his VTs & comments along the lines of Tulisa saying, ‘This is why I signed up to judge XF, to see an act like you win…’ To suddenly backtrack on this & de-ramp him seems unlikely.

    Still go back to his ‘save’ over Ella as an indication they want him to win rather than merely finish 3rd.

    You are right that newbies on final night may have a fresh stance to the Jahmene sympathy VTs but there remains a nagging sense his voice & stage persona are not easy to warm to.

    Tend to favour the view the XF audience does what it is told to do on finals night, the runaway caboose that is Chris notwithstanding.

    Having been against Jahmene series-long, it’s not just a book position that encourages staunchly opposing him – not seen anything in his performances to believe he will win from here.

    If it’s going to come down to an ‘out the ballpark’ performance in the final, would rather be backing James than Jahmene. But everything could all change on Saturday & as you say a watching brief is probably most advisable.

  6. Rob

    Yes Boki – you could well be right that it will possibly come down to that ‘wow’ performance & if anyone has it in their locker to provide it, surely it is James.

    This is one reason Ella looked such a strong fav – always anticipated something brilliant from her come the final.

    Jahmene, as stated in the post, appears to have already played his trump card.

    Absence of Jahmene press coverage today is an interesting development – had not registered that but hopefully a sign they’ve settled for 3rd place for him 🙂

  7. Boki

    Yes, Jahmene had his wow moments already but the same thing you can say about James, last week it was performance of the season, remember? Potential wow for Chris could be YNWA but I doubt he’s going to get it.

  8. Rob

    Very true, Boki – would love to see Chris sing YNWA – especially in Manchester. Loud booing from the audience & a crestfallen look bordering on tears from Chris would see his vote rise even more 🙂

    Would still fancy James has it in him to produce another ‘wow’ performance in final compared to Jahmene who is very one-dimensional.

  9. jay

    Great debate, I dont think the recent press on James wins him any more votes, in fact the opposite. Talking about pulling ugly girls makes him sound like an uncool frankie. Your average girl will not find it enderaing the “heart throb” goes out gets battered and pulls anything with a pulse. Makes him come across desperate. Image change isolates your original fan base and I dont think it was a clever route to go down in the first place, he just isnt good looking enough to pull it off. Great voice, most talented but wrong audience which was confirmed by week 6 sing off. Watching the show he has not done anything to change my mind on him coming across any better. He just isnt warm enough or smile enough to win votes which was ellas problem as well. No connection with the voting public. jame shas needed a huge push to make the final, I have my doubts he can be pushed past second place.
    Its hard not to base opinion based on your personal book but Maloney screams value to me. He has the added benefit of having lots of people putting money on him at 65 to win the show voting for him. As a never before voter previously I will find it hard not to try and hit a big payday by multi voting come sunday!

  10. Rob

    Certainly not a good story for James, jay – would have to agree. Still think this year’s winner will be decided on the back of Saturday’s show. Reckon vote percentages will be close enough for it to go any of 3 ways.

    Chris we know will belt out his classic tunes well if given the chance. Of the 3 still think James is the most likely to produce a ‘wow’ song but they’ll need to dress him smartly, like they did for ‘The Power Of Love’.

    Any sign of his tattoos will be a real worry. Hopefully they re-style Jahmene in the same attire he wore for his audition 🙂

  11. Rob

    Jahmene will sing ‘Angels’ & ‘The Greatest Love of All’ in the final according to The Sun:


    Good for Jahmene? They both seem rather samey & we thought he murdered ‘Angels’ (on a week when we know Chris topped the pv).

    But he’ll probably dedicate ‘Angels’ to all victims of domestic violence, and do some heart-felt segment about how much Whitney meant to him.

  12. Tim B

    Oh my god, I was just saying yesterday to eurovicious that Jahméne should sing Greatest Love Of All! It was also me who said that he should sing Whitney songs in order to progress to the final or possibly win. Was quite expecting I Have Nothing but that song has been done to death on the show. Presumably GLOA will be his duet with Nicole? I’m also guessing Angels might have been when his pv was closest to Chris’s – we shall soon find out. I do wonder what Chris will reprise as his song of the series…surely one of the uptempo ones if they’re looking to nobble? Alone, Total Eclipse of The Heart or All By Myself if they know he’s likely to win and just decide to run with it.

    I don’t think James is likely to win or Christopher likely to come 3rd. A final two with Christopher in it would be massive for publicity/ratings and I can imagine some ‘Can he really win it?’ headlines on Sunday. Therefore my thinking is that Christopher or Jahméne will win, but probably Christopher. I think there’s a chance that James could nick 2nd given a huge pimping and decent song choices. I can’t believe that Christopher is still available to back at 6.6 (the number of the beast?) on Betfair which is absolutely astonishing value.

  13. Boki

    The reprise song is on Sunday so one of the three will not sing it, right? James is tipped for Don’t speak btw.

  14. Boki

    Btw Tim, Chris is still drifting on @bf and I don’t have a clue why!? Maybe lot of early backers laying off but why now?

  15. Rob

    Yes, it is surprising Chris is drifting. The duet with Gary should really be a boost for him.

    • Rob

      From a Barlow interview, presumably today:

      Is your mum a fan of Chris?

      My mum and all her neighbours are voting for Chris. I can’t wait to duet with him on Saturday – we’re going all out with an orchestra. The bigger, the better! Mark my words, it’ll be a show-stopper!

  16. Rob

    So, if we believe The Sun:

    Jahmene – ‘Angels’, ‘The Greatest Love Of All’ (presumably with Nicole), winner’s song, ‘Let It Be’

    James – ‘Feeling Good’, ‘Make You Feel My Love’ (with Nicole), winner’s song, ‘Impossible’ (by Shontelle)

    Chris – ‘What A Feeling’, ‘Rule The World’ (with Gary), winner’s song, ‘The Reason’ (by Hoobastank)

    Can imagine them properly setting Chris up with the staging of ‘What A Feeling’. He’s sick too – probably poisoned by them.


  17. Tim B

    Rob, if those song choices are correct then there’s also one missing for each of them. They will do two each tonight and tomorrow but, of course, one act won’t be going through to part 2. Looks like Greatest Love Of All could be Jahméne’s duet with Nicole. If Jahméne is indeed doing Angels then there may be a ‘favourite song from the series’ round. Doesn’t look like there’ll be a Christmas round for once – instead I think the Xmas song will be sung by the contestants in a group song.

    Looks good for Christopher to get through to Sunday – his song choices are very popular and suitable plus has the best duet of the three.

  18. Tim B

    If Jahméne gets through to tomorrow night, producers will be hoping he can nick some of Christopher’s scouser votes by giving him the winner’s song Let It Be.

  19. Just reading some of the anti-Chris stories dotted around the place this morning…

    They are clearly still worried about Chris’ voter levels – have you ever read such negative stories targeting one act before the final?

    At this point, I’m on Chris and his Nan quite heavily! (not ESC levels of heaviness though)

    But I’m torn over which ‘Boy’ I should top up on. I got Jahmene @ 5.0 to be eliminated earlier in the week, so I guess my next action will be waiting for James to drift in the elimination markets during tonight’s show and back for a nice profitable hedge, if of course, Chris isn’t the first elimination; though I reckon ‘Rule the World’ will see the votes flooding in.

  20. Rob

    It has been truly shocking stuff, gav, regarding Chris – the way they turned it into one man & his dog seeing his return to Liverpool whereas Jahmene was said to have attracted 30,000… just one of the hundreds of ways they’ve tried to undermine the bloke.

    No doubt tonight we will see more textbook de-ramping following his rendition of ‘What A Feeling’, as well as guaranteed abysmal staging once again, & a stitch up of a VT.

    It certainly does point to Chris still topping the vote – given he overcome all their de-ramping efforts for the first 7 weeks to still beat Jahmene on the pv really does say something given the relentless ramping/sympathy VTs Jahmene had in all those weeks – if you consider, had their treatments been reversed, Jahmene would have been out around week 3, & Chris would now be claiming about 70& vote share.

    Green on Chris too but would love him to win even more given the torrent of sh*t he has had thrown his way from the repellent Syco machine.

  21. I am quite exposed should James get through to the final and I reckon the betting markets are being led by tabloid gossip and polling more than anything.

    Chris hasn’t polled well since week 2. People can’t stand the bloke and his YouTube hits and dislikes have continually been among the worst. Yet, he hasn’t been in the bottom two. That surely indicates that he’ll be in the final two.

    Despite JD’s sob stories, he still possesses an immense amount of support for his vocal abilities and nice boy image. I can’t see those people deserting him for the rougher, more cocky JA at this late stage.

    And we’re talking about the casual viewers potentially having an impact; will they though? Viewing figures are down massively on last year, which indicates that the casual viewers are thin on the ground and thus, less likely to impact on the current voting trends.

  22. Rob

    Very true what you say about Chris – his fan base just doesn’t seem to show up anywhere – they are too busy voting for him to bother with expressing their opinion in polls 🙂

    Given the huge market move on James, he is starting to look a lay. Never been big on polling, gav, so similar attitude to you there and prefer value as the basis of trading.

    My intuition tells me James does have the momentum. Very, very difficult to call but still favour either James or Chris winning it.

    At the odds, definitely happy with the 7-2 Jahmene to finish 3rd. The Jahmene/Chris straight forecast is something of a potential cover, while cannot resist going in again on the James/Chris forecast at 11-2.

    Good luck tonight!

  23. Well I argued the momentum factor at the beginning of the week on Twitter, having got 5.0 on a JD elimination.

    I imagine that JD is widely supported my mums and grannies too, so the transferable votes will likely switch to CM in the event of a JD elimination.

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