X Factor Contenders Taking Shape

Nov 2, 2011 by

Last Saturday’s X Factor was a textbook example of how the show gets rid of contestants it no longer wants on the premises. The destruction of Sophie was remarkable to witness: one of the most clinical and brutal assassinations we have ever seen.
Among many vote-killing ingredients, Sophie endured a vulnerable position in the running order, a poor edit of her sat in a virtually empty north London pub, another slow ballad as her song choice, poor staging, and then the coup de grace: a series of negative comments from the judges, including the dreadful stand-in mentor Alex Burke, supposedly there to support the girls, whose first line tellingly was, ‘There were a few tuning issues, babe’ despite the fact Sophie’s rendition of ‘Bang, Bang’ was, in our view, her best of the series – haunting and beautiful – comments Louis preferred to save instead for Janet despite her making a complete abortion of ‘Every Breathe You Take’.
Maybe it was the fact Sophie sang so perfectly in tune that threw Burke who, as a past winner of the show and fully paid-up Cowell lackey, was content to join the panel in reading from her pre-written script. With Louis describing Sophie as a secretary singing karaoke on her weekends and Gary calling her boring this was more than enough to bury her.
As Sophie was our pre-lives pick this was all especially disheartening to witness. On reflection, a series of poor song choices, and her awful styling – she was barely recognisable from the sweet girl-next-door we saw during auditions, boot camp and judges’ houses – was the beginning of the end. It begs the question, why did they bother putting Sophie through, at the expense of not only Amelia, but Jade and Melanie back at the judges’ houses stage, when the executioner’s sword was lying in wait for her so early in the series?
We can only come up with 2 possibilities. One, they are clearing the way for this year’s chosen one, Janet Devlin – after all, what with bully-gate, and the continued ferocious styling of Misha, and rapping elements in her songs – she could hardly have been portrayed as any more un-voter-friendly. Or two, they would like a group to win this year.
We remain convinced the show ideally does not want another male winner, and with Johnny being the cabaret act and Kitty the headline-grabbing contestant we are supposed to love to hate – see yesterday’s racism slur plastered across the tabloids – they both appear to be on borrowed time..
Among the Boys, bad boy Frankie is another contestant being kept in purely for the headlines he can generate, while the bizarre pimping of Craig might hint they want him in the final this year but at the same time both he, and Marcus Collins look ripe to be dispensed with as and when the show makers see fit, and don’t look remotely like winners to us.
Which only leaves the groups and, our pre-lives selection among them of the re-named Little Mix looking stronger than ever after a superb performance on Saturday, a vote-winning edit, and hugely positive comments from the judges.
The Risk’s rendition of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ was horribly off-key yet they received absurdly positive comments so still look like contenders. Drafting in Ashford from Nu Vibe as a replacement also looks to us a blatant way to bolster the group’s vocals. And putting them on first, when there was still an overlap with Strictly, was possibly a show of confidence that this bland quarter already have a big enough fanbase to comfortably escape the bottom 2.
And so, we are left with a sense now of where this show is heading, and our idea of the final 4 are Janet, Marcus, Little Mix and The Risk. You might assume it unlikely two groups will make the final but we don’t see this as impossible. But if the sword is going to fall on one of them before the final, we think it is more likely The Risk will bite the dust first, given the market has more than enough boy bands right now, whereas there does appear more of a gap for a girlband. But for Little Mix to fill that gap, they will surely have to reach the XF final.
Marcus is limited vocally but more XF voter-friendly than Craig in our view, so we can easily see him being the chosen boy to make it the furthest, before fading out of contention in the final throws of the competition. We recommend starting to play the ‘Forecast’ market mixing the above 4 in assorted combinations to finish 1st and 2nd.
As Sophie’s departure last Saturday revealed once more – making us look like fools for suggesting she looked pretty safe pre-show – it is dangerous trying to second guess who might fall into the bottom 2 and be eliminated when it really demands watching the show and figuring it out from the edit who the knives are out for. The show makers have proved adept at managing every elimination to date with Nu Vibe, Sami and now Sophie all clearly their desired exit material. Can they pull off a fourth and who is next in line for the chop? Answers on a postcard please.
We did also highlight Misha’s vulnerability of falling into the bottom 2 last Saturday, so we hope you were able to snap up the double figure prices on this happening, and play the Sophie/Misha bottom two combo at juicy odds. It may be worth throwing a few speculative quid at Craig to be bottom 2 this Saturday, as he looks likely to have an early slot, and you wouldn’t expect him to be suited by Club Classics and we see him swiftly coming down from his pimped peak of last Saturday, which to our ears at least was pretty ordinary. The departure of a boy would also even things up among the mentors and maybe the show makers think Frankie is worth keeping for a few more weeks yet. Craig is certainly the value call.
Little Mix look extremely safe this week and they could be a play, laying them on the Betfair bottom 2 market. Cue Little Mix to be the next contestant thrown under a bus!
Rob Furber

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