Joker In The Pack

Oct 12, 2016 by

Joker In The Pack

A dramatic week in tv betting land with The Brooks boys kicked off X Factor and, after feverish speculation, replaced by Four Of Diamonds. Then news broke that Will Young had quit Strictly (more on that in Friday’s post).

The reaction here to the selection of Four Of Diamonds was one of initial surprise. In this series of X Factor, following the pattern of recent years, we have seen TPTB seemingly go out of their way to cut numerous acts at Judges’ Houses with legitimate claims to do well on the lives, in favour of, for want of a better description, dead wood.

Yes Lad seemed to fit the bill as dead wood, and an addition to the field that could have easily been spun out by Syco as ‘chosen as a like for like replacement and after carefully considering the feedback of fans on social media…’.

Instead, they have genuinely given XF fans what they wanted, based on various online polls, and 4oD will certainly arrive back on the show on Saturday with plenty of goodwill built up behind them. For those wise enough to hold onto cheap greens bought at big prices on the girlband, they have already provided a lucrative trading angle.

It was also interesting to note how weak The Brooks were all last week on Betfair, in the lead up to Saturday’s news. They drifted alarmingly, and to a degree that didn’t appear justified at the time, long before the announcement of their suspension.

Not only that but we also know the 4oD girls have been put together by the show after failing to cut it as soloists in a story found here. The question is, whether they were being lined up for a return to the show in 2017 or 2018, or their reinstatement to the show this year was always the plan.

Much like 5am, 4oD have also enjoyed vocal assistance during the audition process. And while the signposts so far have been about attempting to sell 5am to the audience as the next big thing, their week one performance – after enormous fanfare opening the show – may have already set alarm bells ringing with TPTB and partly swayed their decision to bring back 4oD.

The week 1 treatment 5am received was all very reminiscent of Rough Copy in 2013. If you recall, they, too, were individually name-checked, and post-song we heard Nicole declaring them the best boyband that had ever been on the show. We didn’t get quite that same level of hyperbole but we did get a 3 judge standing ovation for 5am.

Watching back Rough Copy’s pimp-slotted week 1 performance in that series they certainly sounded much better than 5am did on Saturday. They couldn’t negotiate a flight of stairs at the start of their routine without their vocals sounding off, and this is a group that focuses heavily on dance moves. Jordan is definitely a serious weak link vocally. He has also since been linked with Gifty to add more romantic intrigue to this year’s series.

TPTB have switched horses in the past and they could do again because like Rough Copy, there is a clear danger that in their promotion of 5am Syco might be trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Girlbands are notoriously vulnerable to land in the bottom 2 in the early weeks and if nothing else this has given 4oD a potentially nice launchpad into the competition. Nothing is clear at this stage but unsurprisingly the Betfair market has reacted favourably to the news of 4oD’s reinstatement and they have been matched as low as 9.4 on Betfair.

How much lower might they go? Only time will tell, but in time-honoured fashion you would expect plenty of fanfare for their re-introduction to the competition on Saturday night. It will be interesting to see if Little Mix, performing on the Sunday night results show, give them their endorsement.

4oD’s current price is also an indication of the weakness of this year’s field and how it would not require that much of a push from the prods. for the girlband to have a major say in this series.

In this year’s pre-lives analysis, Matt was advised at 9-4. He now trades at a best-priced 11-8 so for backers his price has moved in the right direction. He was the only contestant to truly nail their performance on Saturday. His vocal was impressive, it was a clever choice of song to showcase his falsetto, and he also came across as truly humbled by the experience.

There is no doubt he would have walked the week 1 public vote. If Louisa Johnson managed close to 16% in week 1 last year, you would have to presume Matt comfortably surpassed that voting percentage. Syco knows how to guide a a front-runner to victory too. The one potential neg for Matt is if they keep having him hit that falsetto every week and it starts to get repetitive and dull.

Serious doubts were expressed in that pre-lives analysis regarding second favourite Emily’s prospects on the show, along with the Girls category as a whole. These concerns have already come home to roost in what was a seriously unfavourable start to the series for Emily.

In her VT she was portrayed as lazy. Then we saw her perform a hastily-changed song in ‘Closer’ that did not suit her at all, with a timely look of concern offered by Cowell as she awkwardly tried to negotiate the song’s transition.

He did smile towards the end of her song but it was also interesting to hear Cowell’s admission he hadn’t even bothered to hear her sing it in rehearsals. Hardly a ringing endorsement from her own mentor. Her styling and the staging were far from beneficial as well.

With the media already building the Ryan Emily romance and insinuations they broke the house’s sex curfew, it does start to look like this is the main reason for their presence on the show and TPTB are more interested in concocting a potential sing-off between the two of them at some point.

The question as this series progresses will be how robust Emily and Ryan’s Scottish vote is, and how rapidly it can be dismantled IF this is the road the prods. are keenest to head down.

They tried to showcase Gifty as current on Saturday night but it came across as a cold piece of staging, and a rather alienating performance, probably more intended to slyly promote Fifth Harmony’s track ‘That’s My Girl’. She didn’t sing it that well, and if the show is trying to push her, it could have more of a job on its hands compared to Fleur. It will come as no surprise when the end of series voting figures are published to see Gifty’s pv lurking close to the bottom 3.

Relley C, who followed Gifty, at least had the advantage of being the first to perform after Strictly viewers changed channels. It came as a surprise to see the show so actively ramp her with Louis pleading with Birmingham viewers to vote for her.

It was something of a hit and miss performance by her, flat and shouty in places, but guided by the show’s hand, viewers were informed it was great and they duly kept her safe. One wonders if they went to town bigging up Relley not with a view to pushing her for the win but rather as an insurance policy for Sharon’s Overs category if Honey G doesn’t fly with viewers. Without their assistance it could easily have ended up with Relley and Saara finding themselves in the bottom 3.

Saara was the one in their sights this week, and a winning start to the series for those who followed the advice here to back her to be in the bottom 2 at 2-1. They really accentuated Saara’s foreign status in a pretty distasteful, post-Brexit manner, successfully distracting from her performance, with Dermot playing his part expertly post-song.

Bratavia, as expected, were dire and the show turned out to be happy to get rid of them at the first opportunity, leaving the pimp-slotted Honey G as the only novelty act. The question with her is, how exactly TPTB are going to ‘change up’, to use one of her favourite expressions, the required theme songs for her over the weeks to maintain viewers’ interest in her.

Rap and Motown are not exactly comfortable bedfellows but in XF’s inimitable style it looks likely they will try their best to keep her around for a while yet, if only for the sake of a talking point, generating media interest and creating a watercooler moment for viewers.

Sam’s performance started nervously but finished well, a view Cowell, in rare honesty mode, also noted, while Ryan did a decent enough job with ‘Perfect’. Freddy, the only one to suffer major criticism at the hands of Cowell, started ok sat behind the piano before struggling after he stood up.

He looked a near cert to top any flashvote if he found himself in the bottom 3 which made him a shrewd bottom 2 lay on Betfair. The intriguing new aspect of this bottom 3 reveal and ensuing app vote, followed by the traditional bottom 2 sing-off, is what sort of bounce Freddy and Saara can expect.

To a large extent the show will decide. Saara’s impressive sing-off performance could be the springboard to a big ramp on Saturday while Freddy, who shook with nerves, and had a VT of his day job working at a kennel, is quite a sympathetic, likeable figure.

No doubt there wasn’t much in it at the bottom end of the vote so there is probably room for both Saara and Freddy to avoid the bottom 3 this weekend. Regardless, as a trader seeking more market opportunities it is a pleasing development to have ‘bottom 3’ and ‘bottom 2’ markets and hopefully this remains the format until the latter stages of the series.

On the assumption Four Of Diamonds will put in a decent rendition on Saturday, and likely be pimped a la Amelia Lily’s comeback in 2011, they look worth a small e/w wager at current best odds.

When it comes to X Factor, for all our supposed analysis skills and interpretation of clues, we often find ourselves stumbling around in the dark. Producer support may prove short-lived, or it may not. But there is a clear window for their price to drop further, and with doubts surrounding 5am, they look the value play as things stand.

4oD’s entry into the competition could also be perceived as a further blow to the solo Girls’ chances of success this year, with 4oD potentially scooping up votes that otherwise might have gone to them. While Sharon still looks likeliest to be the first mentor to lose all acts, anyone who has invested in her should probably look at Simon at 6-1 as a cover bet.

Keep an eye on the Comments below as hopefully some decent bets will emerge once we learn more about this week’s song choices, and see how things unravel on Saturday night.


Outright – Four Of Diamonds – 9-1 – 1pt e/w – bet365, Coral


  1. Henry VIII

    One of 4oD said they were “modern, with 60s urban twist” (60s urban?) and another said “loving 90s girl-band style, with 60s harmonies”. That idea and using it to create those arrangements of No (Meghan Trainor) and Royals (Lorde) all sound like it came from Syco/Sony rather than from 4 young girls. Looks like a long term interest in them.

    • Rob

      Really good point, Henry. I’d forgotten about the arrangements of those songs. It does seem like they have been well thought out.

      I guess one of the keys will be whether they are able to deliver songs well enough live. If they do, the contrast between them and 5am will be stark.

      • Henry VIII

        And Rob they’ve recently been backed in heavily on the Betfair Exchange so more are starting to think like us. Exciting.

  2. Jay

    Hi Rob, always a pleasure to read and profit from your analysis. Top notch as ever. A few thoughts on this weeks elimination. Firstly I’ve found that the market has become very shrewd over the years and hence the best value, although risky, is pre show. Based on last weeks show and the return of 4oD I think both groups are safe. Gifty Reily and Honey all received plenty of support last week and I don’t see why that would turn after a week. Sam seems to have Simons approval and although I have a small question mark over I think she will do enough to get through. Matt and Emily also safe. That leaves me with a choice from three. Fred, Saara and Ryan. Fred and Saara may have some element of bounce. If these three are on the bottom three the two boys may split and dilute their vote as its a similar demographic. at the start of the week I put an unmatched bet on Ryan not expecting to be matched yet I’m still getting matched at 13 on betfair. In the search for value given its hopefully a three horse race to leave Ryan seems to be very appealing. Given he probably wouldn’t be here without Emily and TPTB seem somewhat annoyed by their antics I think he is jaw dropping value to trade post saturday show. That or I’m missing something that other people see…..

    • Rob

      Hi Jay. I agree with your train of thought here & can envisage a lukewarm response to Ryan’s rendition of ‘Superstition’. At 9-1 on the high st & bigger on BF that does look a value play to me (with a view to hopefully trade out much shorter, as you say).

      I guess there is a chance his Scottish vote will keep him safe this week & maybe there is an argument the show would like to keep him around a while longer if only to cultivate more narrative from his relationship with Emily. Plus, if we get a bottom 3 and flashvote again, Ryan would have decent prospects of winning that.

      I fear Freddy could well get a classic, ‘That song was too big for you’ response, but he could get a bounce this week too.

      ‘Hello’ should give Sam the chance to showcase a decent vocal. Similarly, Relley’s ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ looks one that should show her off in a decent light.

      Matt likely to have another good week. 5am will likely get the plaudits though it’ll be interesting to see if they end up eclipsed by 4oD.

      Honey G’s song choice creates some doubt for me. It doesn’t seem one made for an impressive performance and production.

      Saara and Freddy could both bounce which certainly makes me reticent to consider either of those 2 for elimination at current available odds.

      A 25-minute crossover with Strictly so again an early starter or 2 could be disadvantaged.

      I do wonder about Gifty’s song choice this week. Just seems a very odd fit & my view is she was probably very close to the bottom 3 last week. She certainly appeals at 33-1 to be eliminated & 14-1 to be b2.

      Emily’s song choice seems like an odd one too. There are slowed down versions of ‘Stop In The Name Of Love’ but there is always a chance it will kill the life out of it if they go down this road with the arrangement. It could well be a continuation of the deramping we saw last week.

      We could easily get a ‘Scher-mazing’ from Nicole which we didn’t get last week, but ‘song too big for you’ looks even better value.


      Gifty – to finish bottom 2 – 1pt win – 14-1 – Ladbrokes, William Hill

      Buzzword bingo – ‘That song was too big for you’ – 1pt win – 10-1 – Ladbrokes

      • Rob

        A great night for readers, collecting on a 10-1 shot within the 1st 10 minutes of XF, courtesy of Louis telling Freddy ‘that song was too big for you’.

        It was a night when the arrangement of many of the songs seemed teed up to put away a lot of contestants, including 4oD, with only Matt and 5am having a helpful night.

        Emily sounded noticeably off-key on the recap; very happy with Sam’s treatment in comparison – her styling as a rock singer, giving her a USP – and she looks to have a decent chance of ending up Top Girl.

        If you followed the betting advice here, you also have 14-1 Gifty to be bottom 2. She is currently being requested at 5 on Betfair. The view here is, Gifty is a very likely b3 candidate.

        Freddy and Ryan clearly in the mix too. Freddy has solid claims to escape b2 again, maybe only Ryan’s presence in a b3 with him would see him potentially lose the flashvote.

        Saara looks a very likely b3-er again. Poor vocal & even worse for her the way it panned out post-song. A lot of foreign-ness in her treatment and distracting chat. No real attempt to help her bounce. Relley not entirely safe either. A lot of distracting talk followed her performance.

        Happy to leave things as they are, as definitely have a live one in Gifty, who shouted her way through a poor performance.

        Gun to head, prediction here for b3 is Saara, Gifty plus 1 of Ryan or Freddy.

        Freddy will look a tempting value b2 lay at anything around 1.5-1.7. Much more chance of a bounce clear of the b3 compared to Saara, & with the chance of a flashvote save.

        • Jay

          Rob did you get paid out for this song is too big for you? It’s come up as a loss on my online ladbrokes account?!?!??

          • Rob

            Hi Jay. Had a few similar queries about this. Amazing they have tried to renege on it. I was informed earlier this evening Ladbrokes has escalated it & will be paying out.

            They initially quibbled with ‘the’ instead of ‘that’ which is plainly absurd – the sentiment of the phrase was expressed, twice, by Louis.

            If they have not paid out, I would advise contacting their customer care & explaining you have heard from other Ladbrokes customers they have been paid out. Please let me know as & when they pay you out.

          • Jay

            Hey rob, after a few phone calls and emails I did get paid out today. They maintained its a losing bet but as a gesture of good will agreed to pay out!!!!

          • Rob

            Pleased to hear it, Jay. Appalling they tried to welsh on this bet as it clearly was a winning bet & you or anyone else disputing it with IBAS would win the case. Looks like they have pulled the ‘buzzword bingo’ market this week. We probably know why.

          • The Times leading with an article tomorrow on the dark arts of the bookies. It’s good the wider public is made aware.

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