Hmmm – it’s strange how dramatic and unpredictable this series of X Factor has been in recent weeks; ever since around the time it was announced it was losing the ratings battle with Strictly Come Dancing. What a coincidence! We’re not accusing anyone of cheating or fixing things to happen at convenient times, but was that really the first time drugs were found in the X Factor house? Really? After people had to spend weeks on end living with Jedward? Unlikely. Surely mandatory sedatives all round were the order of the day with the brothers Grimes bouncing around the place.
After a start that was slower than Gary’s reluctance to praise any act that’s not his own, the series of X Factor has been nothing but a whirlwind of cabaret, controversy and of course clichés. Another genuine contender and not one of the ones we expected to see back working in Top Shop next week got the axe last week as Craig fell foul of the little-known and possibly nonexistent ‘don’t sing a song in a sing-off that asks a question with a potentially ironic answer’ rule. Craig sang Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? so naturally enough he went the way of other ironic exits such as the time Diva Fever sang I Will Survive, Aiden Grimshaw who told us Don’t Dream It’s Over and Rachel Hylton who defiantly crooned And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going prior to ‘not surviving’, ‘realising it’s over’ and ‘going’ respectively.
We’re down to the last five and the end is so near you can hear the clicking of keyboards as nerds across the globe try to manufacture a largely pointless campaign to stop another X Factor act claiming the much-coveted Christmas number 1 spot that no-one has really cared about since about 1998. This week’s stats are attempting to identify the potential winner based on the history of the winners’ odds.
When it comes to the betting trends, there is one thing that stands out. When all the truly awful contestants have been sent home from auditions, boot camp and not really the judges’ houses, the likely winner has generally been identified and placed them amongst the leading group towards the head of the betting. With the exception of surprise winner Leon Jackson who shocked everyone by winning X Factor en route to going back to living his life as a trendy vampire, they’ve all been between about 3-1 and 5-1 in the betting at the time of the first live show. In a contest that features a number of acts going up to the low teens, that’s a comparatively short price. The presenters and judges like to talk about ‘the journey’ the contestants are one, but for most of the eventual winners, it’s a journey from being ‘a likely winner’ to ‘the actual winner’ with not a whole lot of fluctuation in price.
By week 5 (which roughly represents the halfway point in most of the X Factor series to date), the eventual winners have almost always (the trendy Scottish vampire providing the exception I have to keep referring to) shortened up even further – sometimes to just north of Evens, other times around the 2-1 or 3-1 range. There isn’t really a miracle story as one plucky underdog overcomes unfavourable odds over the course of the show, no matter what all the slow-motion montages sound tracked by inspirational music try to tell us.
The evidence would suggest Little Mix won’t win it, but it’s been a strange year on the karaoke parade so I wouldn’t rule anything out. Who knows, maybe even Kelly Rowland will arrive back on planet earth at some point before the show is over. At the time of the first show, the girls were 50/1 outsiders to win the X Factor and about Even money to be one of the many caterwauling girlbands we’ve immediately forgotten about. After week 5, they were bigger than the price you’d normally associate with the profile of a winner, but in the last couple of weeks, the odds on them have tumbled. Their price has followed the general trajectory of previous winners, albeit on a much grander scale and now they’re in with a chance of making these statistics look even more foolish than they do normally.
He wasn’t exactly in the same no-hoper bracket of the girlband at the outset, but equally Marcus Colson wasn’t exactly picked out for inclusion in the likely group of winners – more ‘possible’ rather than ‘probable’ is the mildly condescending way of sounding wise after the event. He started the live shows as a 12/1 shot, but was very much amongst the contenders after week 5 and he’s gone on to edge even further up the betting. If he were to win his profile would be more dramatic than other winners, but it’d still be in keeping with the trends so maybe there’s reason to think he’ll be hanging up his scissors and curlers for at least a couple of years until Sony inevitably cancel his recording contract.
You could make an argument for including Amelia Lily amongst the group of possible winners after the first live show. She was on the outskirts of the leading bunch, but still in the single digits, so not quite a no-hoper. The ‘unnecessarily cruel axing of one act per category’ of the first week makes her difficult to assess. She was staring into an abyss of about 3 months of post-X Factor work before having to find a real job in week 5, but since coming back into the show has done well enough not to be ruled out with a casual dismissal.
Despite her talent for making every song sound like a sleep-inducing lullaby, Janet Devlin remains a real contender, but ironically, her price from the first week of the live show through to week 5 has drifted, which goes counter to the semblance of logic I’ve tried to uncover from the betting patterns. She’s not exactly an outsider of Leon Jackson proportions, but she’d need to buck the trend in a similar way to the 2007 winner. Misha B has attracted more than her fair share of ‘you smashed it’s with some strong performances in the series, but after being accused of bully/being honest about other contestants she seems to be about as popular as Sepp Blatter at a Nation of Islam rally. She was chalked up as a likely winner at the outset, but she drifted by the midway point and right now she’s the rank outsider to win the competition.
When you strip away the manufactured tension and needless bickering between the judges and focus on the betting, the path from hopeful to X Factor winner isn’t as dramatic as it may first seem. The price trends seem to illustrate this fact rather starkly. That’s not to say that this year someone can break the apparent rules and go on to win it. After all, if wasn’t for breaking rules, we’d probably all be watching Strictly.
– X-Factor Betting
– X Factor Statistics of Dubious Value Part 1
– X Factor Statistics of Dubious Value Part 2
– X Factor Statistics of Dubious Value Part 3
– X Factor Statistics of Dubious Value Part 4
– X Factor Statistics of Dubious Value Part 5