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