It’s been … eh … different. But different in the X Factor way of being incredibly formulaic and fully within the boundaries of the competition.
Gary Barlow followed the ‘guide to being Mr. Nasty’ notes Simon must have left in the seat by on one hand, issuing some perfectly fair comments that people don’t like and then blindly sticking by his acts in the face of some obvious mimicry of cat-strangulation. Alongside Manchester’s finest manband hunk, Tulisa is excelling at playing the role of the loveable, working class girl with a tough streak done good whose not afraid to show her sensitivity, but equally gives you the feeling she’ll glass you if you point out Nu-Vibe’s similarity to the noise a dog makes when you stand on it’s tail. Kelly fits neatly into the character of the ‘slightly mad foreigner with proximity to success rather than success in her own right’. Mad in the ‘harmless old lady who lives down the road who thinks the government are lacing her petunias with fluoride to permeate mass apathy amongst society’ way as opposed to the ‘multiple fatalities gun spree’ way. Sure she sometimes comes across as ditsy and bonkers, but whenever she comes down from whatever planet she lives on and graces us with her presence, she’s the shrewd and competitive type. And Louis. Well, Louis just sat there thinking of ways to make Sami and Johnny live up to every preconception they’ve had to encounter through the course of their lives.
Week 1 of the live shows was all about the unnecessary cruel mass crushing of the dreams of one act per category, but with a quarter of the acts axed in one fell swoop, the show is now on course to finish in time to earn the winner the much coveted Christmas No. 2 spot, now we can advance in the more familiar fashion of stringing along hopes of the majority who clearly aren’t good enough to win. With the show now reverting to the tried and trusted formula, this week’s ‘research’ concerns The Showdown aka ‘Singing For Survival’ aka ‘the Weekly Cacophony of Contrived Drama, Tears and ill-fated Defiance of one sort or another.‘ For the loser of the showdown the ill-fated defiance is of a ‘I’ll show them by forging a career in the music industry regardless’ variety and for the winner the ill-fated defiance is of a ‘I’ll show you by improving and going on to win the show’ kind. At the risk of bursting a myriad of bubbles – neither is likely to happen – not the successful career in the music industry or winning the X Factor. Hey, very often even when you win the X Factor it doesn’t translate to a successful career in the music industry. Sorry Tulisa, you can make all the noises you want about being tough and fighting for success, but the chances are even if you come through a showdown, it’s a stay of X-ecution* rather than the being some urban fairytale. Innit? If you’re a bit crap at the start, the chances are you’ll remain a bit crap until the public notice you’re a bit crapper than everyone else on the show. Here’s a not very pretty graphic that illustrates the stark task facing any of the acts involved in the showdown:
Yes, that stat is correct. Acts that have gone on to win the X Factor have never once been involved in a showdown. Not once! And that’s why Matt Cardle is smugly residing in the zero. That’s from the 48 showdown’s we’ve had in the seven series to date so it’s quite a substantial sample size. Equally of the acts that have had to content themselves with the position of runner-up, the number is tiny with just four of them singing for survival (thanks to Olly Murs and his hat for representing the concept of the runner-up). And even that low number needs something of a caveat because in the majority of cases, they’ve had to sing for survival towards the middle to end of the series when the true cat-stranglers have already been eliminated and the standard of competition is much higher. Here’s a look at a pie chart, partly to illustrate what a small percentage that is and partly to make this article look longer than it really is:
That’s bad news for Frankie Cocozza and by extension anyone who enjoys the sight of a mass of hair in overly tight pants prancing around on stage. He survived the judges’ vote for one week, but the stats tell us there’s zero chance of him going on to win it. Mr. Barlow may still be making noises like ‘I believe in you’ but we believe you’ll be packing up your skinny jeans and leaving the X Factor house in the not too distant future. Likewise, it only looks like a matter of time before Johnny, Sami and Kitty (hmmm … all Louis’s acts – whoda thunk it?) face a showdown and even if they aren’t sent back to their day jobs or the future panto circuit by the judges in any given week, they won’t be able to miraculously turn it around by going on to triumph against the odds.
So, after all these numbers and pie-charts, the conclusions from this week’s data are;
(a) if you’re a punter, don’t back someone you know has already been in a showdown, they’re not going to win it
and (b) if you’re a contestant that’s been in a showdown, don’t hand in your notice.
*Sorry – when you’re writing about X Factor you’re legally obliged to make as many puns on the letter ‘X’ as possible. It’s the Simon Cowell law.
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