Finnish Line In Sight
This year’s X Factor has become so perplexing you need some Nurofen Plus to hand trying to make sense of it all.
Last Saturday’s Saara treatment came as a big surprise, and thoroughly scuppered the bottom 2 investment on her advised pre-show. At the same time, it wasn’t an all-out Aalto ramp, and the mixed signals for her along with the other remaining acts in this series have become confusing to interpret.
After ‘The Winner Takes It All’ she received enormous fanfare from the judges with Nicole telling the audience Saara ‘just took first place’. This coming from Matt’s mentor, and following Matt kicking off the show.
Come the 2-song stage it is usually much more about the 2nd song, and Saara’s second effort from the pimp slot, if performed from, say, position 6, would have had the hallmarks of a classic Syco hatchet job. She was dressed as an ice-skater, it was described as ‘cheesy’, and there was much distracting chat following the performance including Louis requesting all of Finland vote for her.
A key message from the focus group was, they didn’t like ‘wacky Saara’ and what we saw was wacky Saara. Cowell previously stated he preferred wacky Saara, then spoke with incredulity about the wacky performance he just witnessed.
There has been a sense of them seeking to suppress Matt’s vote and he looks and feels a vulnerable odds-on favourite as things currently stand
Matt endured poor running order positions again and was memory-holed with his first song by Saara and his second song didn’t really suit him and show him in the best light. Louis continued to describe Matt, post-song, as if he is struggling for votes.
Cowell did say he could imagine Matt next year performing on the show as a bonafide artist. But given Matt’s treatment to this point, there has been a sense of them seeking to suppress his vote and he looks and feels a vulnerable odds-on favourite as things currently stand.
Emily has enjoyed much better running order positions series-long but once again the long-awaited breakout into a fully ‘uptempo’ performance did not arrive. ’Toxic’ wasn’t the success it might have been and Emily, as feared, did not have the pipes to do justice to ‘Human’.
She seems partly hamstrung by illness as she was noticeably coughing again, but also continues to be hamstrung by song choices. ‘Human’ has become a hit on the back of Emily’s rendition, and she was credited for taking on a modern track, but again there have been very mixed signals in her treatment with Nicole probably speaking for quite a few among the audience in demanding more from her.
Matt, Emily and 5 After Midnight at least sang contemporary tracks; Saara had tracks released in 1949, 1971 and 1980. This does not look like the treatment of a favoured winner and Saara remains arguably the least commercial of the 4 remaining acts.
Dermot always stresses ‘in no particular order’ and the order the acts were described as safe on Sunday went: Saara, Matt, Emily. So we can probably assume this was not in voting order. This was, however, the third week Emily was called safe last. A bad sign for her? We also had acts on Sunday night’s show name-checking Saara. A positive for her final prospects?
Matt, Emily and 5 After Midnight at least sang contemporary tracks; Saara had tracks released in 1949, 1971 and 1980
With Dermot informing us there was only 1 per cent between 3rd and 4th, either Matt, Emily or Saara was only just ahead of 5 After Midnight, but who? This hints that it should be easy to drag said act below 5 After Midnight if the show so desires, potentially with a view to taking it to deadlock and sending them home this weekend, enabling 5 After Midnight to grab a final place. But is this what they intend to do?
A bottom 2 appearance for one of Matt or Emily this weekend would spoil the suspense somewhat as we would then have only 1 act going into the final who hasn’t been in the bottom 2. It would make a more intriguing final if both Matt and Emily were in the final with neither of them having appeared in the sing-off.
Alternatively, might the show seek a dramatic Emily vs Matt sing-off, as then all finalists would have been in the bottom 2? The difficulty there would be dragging down both acts as 5 After Midnight’s bounce at this stage of the competition is likely to be minimal.
Who is going to the final and who is going to win is firmly on the ‘too difficult’ pile as things stand. We were given a bum steer with Saara’s songs last week. Let’s hope the ‘Christmas’ song choices clarify things more later this week. Keep an eye on Comments for an update following this all-important song reveal.