Terry’s All Gold

Oct 4, 2016 by

Terry’s All Gold

We have our final 12 heading to the live shows on X Factor 2016. Once again the Digital Spy spoiler list has proved 100% accurate and once again it is a somewhat underwhelming field.

If there are no further additions – which could yet happen – it is shaping up as a single elimination each week, leading to a 3-act final on the weekend of December 10.

It would appear that Syco, not for the first time, has opted to cull a good few of the more promising acts ahead of the lives this year. Four Of Diamonds, for instance, had the look of a half-decent girlband in the making and put in the best performance among the Groups at judges’ houses. Yet they were apparently surplus to requirements.

Among the Overs there were certainly more talented vocalists jettisoned compared to some of those selected. More significantly, especially in the case of James Wilson, he had clear votability on his side which is presumably why he wasn’t chosen for the live shows.

Watching Sharon make her deliberations was especially amusing in that her opinions clearly did not matter a jot as she had to cede to what the show producers had already decided. The selection of Relley C should have come with a caption reading, ‘Early exit material for the purposes of protecting those acts the show is more invested in’.

Poor Saara Alto has already been rejected by Sharon during the 6 Chair Challenge and was damned by Robbie Williams saying he got a bit bored and Sharon murmuring her agreement. Sharon also gave Saara plenty of withering looks as she performed, with a hint of indifference thrown in for good measure.

‘This is Saara from Finland,’ she accentuated, introducing her to Robbie, suggesting the former Eurovision wannabe faces being pigeon-holed as a quirky foreign performer. At least TPTB have been sympathetic enough to give her a song in week 1 she has performed well live previously in ‘Let It Go’ as seen here.

Fellow 6 Chair Challenge rejectee Honey G got Robbie enthused as he informed us he was doing a shoot in LA and all he heard were people talking about her. Impressive she has trans-Atlantic appeal already though one wonders if Robbie actually overheard people discussing their favourite breakfast cereal.

The overriding sense with the Overs category this year is, once again, the 3 of them are cannon fodder, though Honey G could well gain cult status and in such a weak field end up going surprisingly far.

The all female Overs category vaguely makes sense in that it balances up the all male Groups chosen this year. We are used to some laughably terrible name changes for the Groups but this year Syco has surpassed itself.

Brooks Way sounds like a really bad soap opera; Bratavio, a little known character in a Shakespeare play, or maybe a state-of-the-art coffee-maker; and 5 After Midnight, a second rate jazz ensemble performing exclusively at Premier Inns in the East Anglia region this Christmas.

While Bratavio are difficult to like as a novelty act, and probably already pre-booked for January’s Celebrity Big Brother, you can make a case for one of the boybands going far.

Individually name-checked, the further good news for 5 After Midnight is they also got dubbed, studio quality sound to try and cover up their weak vocals while performing ‘live’ at Louis Walsh’s Ibizan bolt-hole. Their boyband shtick isn’t exactly new – having synchronised dance moves is seemingly one of their bigger selling points – but more importantly we were informed they have ‘huge potential’.

Brooks Way have been criticised for their vocals and weren’t great at judges’ houses. They are ‘only 17’, ‘look like pop-stars’ and ‘girls are going to love them’ were among Louis’s platitudinal endorsements while adding the proviso ‘they are limited’. They also both have the habit of singing with their eyes closed when giving it the full heart-felt ballad style. They will perform DNCE’s massive hit Cake By The Ocean on Saturday which is at least a fun, uptempo starter for them.

With the previously favoured Caitlyn Vanbeck surprisingly getting the chop (even though she did forget her lyrics), this could be read as a sign a Girl winner is not this year’s Plan A. Maybe it was also fear of the Scottish vote, which is now conveniently split between the young lovebirds Emily and Ryan.

Louisa Johnson is set to release her debut album on November 18 – and will no doubt perform on the live shows to promote it – and Tamera Foster’s debut album is also still in the pipeline, so Syco possibly has enough solo Girls already on its roster. That concern aside, this year’s 3 Girls look strong.

Emily’s ‘cute girl with guitar’ act is one that can very easily be made to look one-dimensional during the lives though the popularity of the likes of Lissie does arguably make her sound ‘current’. Emily will no doubt ditch the guitar at some point, as she did during the 6 Chair Challenge two years ago, to try and demonstrate her versatility but her vocal isn’t the strongest and doubts persist whether she has enough about her to challenge for the win.

In support of the weak vocalist Soheila Clifford, Cowell also previously stated, ‘On the upside you are going to remember her. She’s not just going to sit there with a guitar.’ And this was before Emily came out and performed, standing there with a guitar…

While the re-styling of wildcard Samantha was X Factor at its most gratuitously confected, it has propelled her into the live shows with a degree of momentum. And she is clearly a talented live vocalist with plenty of range.

She was labelled ‘distant’ and only seen ‘with a mask put up’ by Cowell. ’I want to get to know who you really are,’ he told her, offering up his best David Brent impression. Confiscating Samantha’s make-up bag had the required effect, according to the pop Svengali. Hailing from County Durham, Samantha has a potentially strong regional vote to aid her.

Gifty is a talented and distinguishable Girl too. She has a powerful voice and is a confident performer. The clear concern with her is, she is maybe too fierce for ITV prime-time viewers’ sensibilities. It will come down to how palatable she can be made for the audience – and whether TPTB even bother to soften her image – but pre-lives there are more question marks over her potential popularity compared to the other 2 Girls.

As for the Boys, Matt Terry could hardly have been shown more favour up to this point. He has the looks, and his vocal seems assured enough to navigate the live shows. He also got to perform at judges’ houses in front of a perfectly setting sun and Nicole teased, ‘You haven’t even heard his full range’. While the press has tried to make a big deal of his break-up from his girlfriend being over-played that doesn’t look all that damaging to his chances in the long run.

It is perhaps a further plus for Matt that some of the other Boys the audience has been encouraged to emotionally invest in such as Christian and James got the Spanish archer. Freddy is fundamentally a weak vocalist and it is difficult seeing him have much of a say in this series. Ryan Laurie’s inclusion is more intriguing, after he got the boot at bootcamp, returned as part of a manufactured boyband at 6 Chair Challenge, and was then thrown back in as a wildcard.

He has the looks to melt teen girls’ hearts too and his live vocal is better than Freddy’s yet he was initially overlooked. The whole wildcard thing may well have been dreamed up to get him back in the lives, purely because producers want to contrive a Ryan vs Emily sing-off at some stage.

Given Syco’s track record for seeking to create drama and shamelessly tugging on viewers’ heart-strings you sense they will try their utmost to make this happen. Whoever survives this potential sing-off would certainly gain some momentum, with the other half of the Scottish vote poised to lend its future support.

The alternative to this would be producers liking the idea of a feel-good Emily vs Ryan narrative as part of this year’s final. Taking into account how malevolent Syco consistently is, this latter scenario seems less likely. Ryan has been given the huge One Direction hit ‘Perfect’ to perform on Saturday which could be viewed as at least a short-term endorsement.

Last year’s X Factor was all about culling the Boys with the most potential pre-lives and stuffing the Groups and Overs chock-full of easily disposable fodder to ensure Louisa Johnson had the easiest passage to victory possible. And Syco succeeded.

This year, it appears to have teed things up in a similar manner, this time clearing the way for Matt. Things can and do change on X Factor once the live shows get underway but in theory, it is also a lot easier to guide a favoured Boy to victory compared to a favoured Girl, and Matt appears to have a lot going for him.

The main question surrounding Louisa last year was her likability. The only question regarding Matt is probably the one raised by Nicole, ‘Is he interesting enough, distinctive enough, unique enough?’ In a field as anodyne and limited as this one, and with Syco so adept at its hatchet jobs, not to mention its ramping of Plan A, the most likely answer is, yes. Similar to Louisa Johnson last year, there isn’t much juice in Matt’s pre-lives price of 9-4 but given the paucity of competition there is also an argument he should be even shorter and he certainly looks the one to beat.

Mentoring the Overs, Cowell was out by week 4 last year. After failing to get an act in the final last year, it looks an odds-on shot one of his Girls will go all the way this year.

Second favourite Emily looks like getting off to a good start at least doing a slowed-down cover of Britney Spears ‘Toxic’. This has been done very successfully in the past, one of the first of which was by The Chapin Sisters in 2009 (found here), and since copied many times over including by X Factor USA 2013 winners Alex & Sierra, as seen here.

For those looking for some e/w value, Samantha, Ryan, Brooks Way and, whisper it, Honey G should come under consideration but in the end it is hard not to gravitate back to Matt. We have not had a Boy win the show since James Arthur in 2012 despite the category being the best fit with the voting audience. If backing Matt, it is probably wise to cover on Ryan, because he looks the most capable replacement should things go awry with the former waiter from Bromley.

Interestingly, it was edited as Emily vs Caitlyn with Samantha breezing through. Similarly, with the Boys it was Niall vs Ryan with Matt breezing through. At the odds Samantha looks a reasonable bet at 3-1 to be Top Girl as there was arguably a touch of Fleur East in the way she was edited as coming out of nowhere and impressing Simon at judges’ houses. A more gold-plated investment potentially lies in the Overs, where Honey G is taken to outstay Saara, with Relley looking most likely to be first out in that category.


Outright – Matt Terry – 4pt win – 9-4 – Paddy Power, Betfred, Skybet
Ryan Lawrie – 1pt e/w (a quarter the odds) – 16-1 – bet365
Top Girl – Samantha Lavery – 2pt win – 3-1 – William Hill, Ladbrokes
Top Overs – Honey G – 4pt win – 15-8 – William Hill


  1. hemsby

    Thanks for the article Rob.

    It looks a very poor field this year,with arguably the strongest contender falling at the final hurdle of JH.As usual at this stage we try to put ourselves in TPTB shoes and attempt to work out what their intentions are.The fact that they’ve thinned out the quality of the field so much,does seem to imply that they have (as usual arguably ) a preferred act(s) this year.Question is …Who ?

    The problem I have with backing Matt is “Why would TPTB want him to win ? ” He’s a decent vocalist without being especially good,quite good looking without being anything special,has a passable personality without being particularly likeable,at the moment we’ve seen very little stage presence etc etc He seems to be acceptable in most departments without being especially great in any.Would he be a success after the show if he won ? ATM I have major doubts and for that reason I’m happy to swerve him at current odds.

    The 2 acts I feel have commercial possibilities are Emily and 5 AM.

    Emily has huge likability,a potential passionate Scottish vote and a “story” given her boyfriend Ryan has been parachuted in to the Final 12.Whilst “quirky” singers have a terrible record in XF,IMO she’s by far the most likeable one there has been so far,and going by her 6CC performance from 2 years ago,she has an endearing stage presence when not performing with her guitar.

    5AM have the look of a set up to me.Lead singer Kieran has been in the industry since a kid,performing in the West End show Thriller as a young Michael Jackson,before being a regular in a BBC children’s programme and then having an aborted attempt at solo success in music.The other 2 lads are former professional dancers and there seems no doubt their performances are going to involve some slick choreography.The huge doubt of course is the vocals,although their likability may negate that to a certain extent.

    No doubt we will get a run from one of the bigger priced acts also….I’m against Sam and Gifty on likability grounds,the 2 joke acts I’d imagine would have a very limited shelf life,Relly looks fodder,Saara I’d expect to have a decent first show singing Let it Go but looks an unlikely winner.

    That leaves Freddy,Ryan or Brooks Way for a long shot stab.Ryan has the built in love story interest with Emily and is a seasoned performer with a smallish existing fan base,ditto Brooks Way (minus the love interest).Fred’s audition was possibly the best boys vocal of the series,however his performances since have been awful.If he’s sitting at the keyboard on Saturday singing a suitable song we may see his price contract.

    Good luck for the series Rob…..after your SCD AP selections,you’ve set a very high bar to live up to !

    • Rob

      Thanks for posting your thoughts, hems. I’d be more than happy if Syco steer 5am (can’t bring myself to write their new extended name) to victory as my 1st play this series was to back a ‘Groups’ victory.

      4 Of Diamonds looked & sounded great to me so it was hard not to feel their exit diminished the chance of a Groups victory this year. 5am seem to have serious vocal issues but as we know that won’t stop the panel of judges telling viewers they are great week after week, & getting a boyband winner would complete the set for Syco (outside of a joke act winning).

      The XF betting market is super-efficient these days & you would have to say it has the right 3 acts at the head of the market & it would come as no surprise if that was the final.

      I am always keen to find one at bigger odds but struggled this year. I can make the strongest case against regarding Emily. The format of the show (the theme weeks) is likely to work against her imho, & without her guitar I thought that 6CC rendition was pretty weak 2 years ago.

      Syco’s plans for Ryan/Emily is a further concern.
      Best of luck this series 🙂

      • Panos

        Ditto Rob re first play of the series! A serious non-joke marketable group is overdue some success on the show.

  2. Rob

    We are still somewhat in the dark ahead of tonight’s show (time of posting 1.30pm).

    Emily has changed her tune so has Freddy. Bratavio are doing a mash up of Boom, Boom, Boom & Barbie Girl. That sounds horrendous no matter how big the production.

    There is a 50-minute crossover with Strictly that will see the early starters at a distinct disadvantage – possible as many as the first 5 will perform while many viewers are still watching Strictly before flicking over.

    Bratavio to be bottom 2 is 4-6 with Ladbrokes and is quite tempting. They are doing poorly in polls and come across as unlikeable.

    Pre-show Relley C looks most vulnerable to end up b2 as well. Having gone to the trouble of choosing Bratavio for the live shows, it would be odd if they kick them out in week 1.

    If they are b2 it would come as no surprise to see them saved if only to fuel controversy which remains the show’s oxygen.

    No bet ahead of tonight – far too many unknown variables.

  3. Rob

    I was keen to flag up the 4-1 Saara to be bottom 2 this morning with Ladbrokes. In a bottom 3 scenario it is hard to imagine much motivation to vote for her against, say, a Relley C or Gifty or Sam Lavery or Freddy.

    Others seem to have agreed with this view as she has already been cut to 3-1, and now 2-1.

    Bratavio look near certs to be in the bottom 3 & if so I would expect them to end up in the sing-off. Despite being a novelty act there seems very little motivation to vote for them.

    Might they have done enough to rise above at least 1 other act so they will contrive a controversial dead-lock save in the sing-off? It’s possible which is why Bratavio at a shade of odd-on to be eliminated does not appeal.

    Freddy is the one worth considering as a bottom 2 lay (in the hope Betfair allow this market to stand). If he is bottom 3, I would expect him to win the flash vote, & he may well avoid finishing in the bottom 3, given his teen girl appeal. And Simon’s mauling would have possibly encouraged a stronger vote for him.

    Given I’d anticipated Saara being around 6-4 to be in the bottom 2, 2-1 is still value in my view.


    Saara Alto – bottom 2 – 2-1 – 2pt win – Ladbrokes

    • Rob

      Hope readers took the advised 2-1 Saara to be bottom 2. A nice winning start on both shows 🙂

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