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Help! I like and loathe this record at the same time and I am confused

I don’t LOVE the Cher Lloyd debut single, but I do like it and it is stuck in my head. At least the chorus is, the verse is mostly forgettable and the song as a whole is so annoying that I want to shout at myself every time my brain wants to hum the chorus again, which it does a lot. It’s a recipe for madness.

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Coming up: the X Factor Final

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According to the mighty Popjustice, Matt Cardle is Shayne Ward/Steve Brookstein’s “boring” brother (ouch), Cher Lloyd is a “just-about-above-average rapper and nice-but-not-extraordinary singer”, One Direction is a wasted vote as Simon Cowell loves them anyway, and Rebecca Ferguson is their singer of choice.

I’m looking back on the last few weeks thinking Matt has had the highest of highs with his version of “The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face)”, and he’s had the most ratings most weeks, making him the bookie’s favourite. Cher is the next most rated, with “Stay” her biggest week by far, but being in the bottom a couple of times makes the bookies think she will be first to go. You’ll make a LOT of money if you bet on her and she wins! Rebecca and One Direction have both been growing steadily, peaking last week, though Rebecca did have a standout week with “Candle In The Wind” a few weeks ago. It’s the ballads that grab the attention…

If you want a sneak peek at what they’re all doing tonight, it’s on M is For Music at http://www.misformusic.com/2010/12/x-factor-song-choices-for-this-weekends-fi…

Personally I’m hoping Matt wins AS LONG AS they do a better album with him than they did with any of the other male winners so far, and that seems an incredibly big ask. Why? Like fashionistas who want to design for skinny supermodels, are the best song writers only keen to fashion their best songs for girls? Or is there something really hard about writing for blokes and our disfunctional emotions (not that Elvis had any problems getting writers…)? Is it just assumed that men should be in bands being lads and doing everything their own way? Maybe Matt should be in a band, even if it is a very obviously Matt-centred project (like “Daughtry” has done well for American Idol’s Chris Daughtry, although “Cardle” is clearly not a great band name). Robbie Williams has shown how amazing the right partnership can be (the Guy Chambers years) and how quickly everything can go south when you sack your right hand man. Is it too much to hope that a major label can put the perfect team together for someone like Matt? It would have to be a lot better than they’ve done for Joe McElderry, that’s for sure…

X Factor semi finals

OK, we’re down to the serious bit, where everyone looks like a potential winner, and it’s time to start polishing the final packages. So whose idea was “Club Classics”? Anything to do with the radio station which advertises in the show and is owned by the people who manage the winning artists? I’m calling it “Is This Heart?” week.

Rebecca
“Show Me Love” – nice, sounds pretty similar to the original. Not my thing, but it should cross her over to new fans – smart.
“Amazing Grace” – how weird, one of our church interns showed this film about the song and its writer this week, and I thought how amazing it would be if someone did it on X Factor – it is, by lots of measures, the world’s most popular song. I don’t think Rebecca did the best version ever, but the choice was bold and brilliant.
STATS SAY… big week for Rebecca, best ever, she’s in.

Mary
“Never Can Say Goodbye” – more camp than a Butlins showtunes minibreak.
“Memories” – ouch! “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget” sums it up, pitchwise. Oh no, there is a big emotional story… So you’d be heartless not to vote for her, frankly. Grrr. I’m sure Tesco’s aren’t exactly thrilled by how desperately everyone is to get her out of there. I suppose that’s unlikely to hurt Mary’s chances either.
STATS SAY… same as always – most likely to exit if the iTunes crowd is right. But often they’re not, so we don’t know…

Matt
“You Got The Love” – very clever choice of song, thank you Florence for preparing the way, actually quite amazingly good. I like it for being the tune which sounds most like what we love from the artist, and least like what would be playing on Heart every night.
“She’s Always A Woman” – Matt has his own theme this week, songs recently covered by rock people. Nice, don’t know if Simon knows how big a hit it was this year, but it was a bit wobbly for sure. I think it’s still Matt’s show to lose, though.
STATS SAY… actually not a great week for Matt, but he’s still ahead of the pack. He’s in.

Cher
“Nothing On You” – also a great song choice, sounds like Cher the actual artist instead of last week’s “Cher! The musical”. Hope she’s not damaged by the apparent identity crisis of the last few weeks.
“Love The Way You Lie” – very well delivered, we’re particularly loving the flame effects, and it worked for us. Not everyone has to do ballads to be successful, surely? Glad she’s looking like at least she knows who she is.
STATS SAY… most ratings for her for ages, but she is a “marmite” artist with as many awful reviews as good ones. Should be through, but I don’t think she’s really winning the most votes.

One Direction
“Only Girl” – nice twist on a girl’s song, though it did sound like they were singing “I’ll make you feel like a man”. Good enough, but I doubt it’ll win them any new fans. The big question for these guys is how big their fanbase really is now.
“Chasing Cars” – another hugely popular song made even better by having five singers and a key change. They’re also looking more polished than ever. By the numbers it works.
STATS SAY… a big step up for the boys this week, but will it be enough to get them all the way to the finish?

SO WHO’S OUT?
The numbers point to Mary, but she may have overwhelming support from the older audience who never goes on iTunes and finds her distinctive against all the other acts. To me it looks like these acts have grown, however, while Mary just does what she does, and I’m going to guess that her fanbase isn’t big enough to take her to the final. Let’s see at 8pm.

X Factor week 8

Watched the show this afternoon, jotted some thoughts and crunched the stats. Looked at how each contestant’s songs did relative to each other in terms of stats too, to see if we could spot standouts. Mostly all went as expected, with a few odd exceptions…

Wagner
“Creep” – totally worked for me (?? did I just write that about Wagner??). Love it that Louis totally misunderstood the lyrics and thought it was about a “winner” instead of a “weirdo”. Sums it all up somehow. Can Wagner do some more classic misheard lyrics, like Bonnie Tyler’s “Nothing but a hard egg” and Macy Gray’s “I wear goggles when you are not here”?
“Addicted To Love” – this is all very “cruise ship” – ideal if you want to entertain people who like what they like and can’t go anywhere else.
STATS SAY… better than last week – probably safe! 64% of his ratings are for “Creep”, the standout song.

One Direction
“Summer of ’69″ – short and sweet, felt like a slightly unsatisfying snack, but not unpleasant. Hmmm.
“You Are So Beautiful To Me” – for rock week? Never mind, it was really good. Shame the harmonies seemed a bit low in the mix, but the lead vocals were outstanding.
STATS SAY… better than last week – probably safe! 53% of their ratings are for “Summer of ’69″, so both songs were liked pretty evenly. I think their fanbase just like everything they do, and I’m surprised their second song didn’t stand out more. Did it connect as well as the judges thought?

Mary
“All I Want Is You” – very good!
“Brass In Pocket” – also very good! Has Mary found her real niche? Good luck writing original songs for her, though – she looks like a karaoke queen tonight.
STATS SAY… worse than last week. We know she doesn’t generally have many fans on iTunes – could that now be a crucial problem for Mary? Could be danger. Ratings split evenly between the songs – no standout song. Not a good sign.

Cher
“Girlfriend” – ouch, no. I think Cheryl has drastically failed to understand Cher’s fanbase – she needs to be credible urban, not cheesy Disney pop-rock. Judges totally disagree, but I’m hearing alarm bells…
“Walk This Way” – OK, but still another scene from “Cher! The musical” and I suspect not a big fanbase pleaser or builder.
STATS SAY… not much better than last week. My gut feel is DANGER, DANGER (but I got it totally wrong and said she was safe last week, so what do I know?!) 58% of her ratings are for “Girlfriend”, but lots of them say “urgh” and “really?” Hmmmmm…..

Rebecca
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – loving the song choice, not so much the Simply Red-esque lite funk backing track. I liked it on paper,  weirdly still wanting to like it more in practice.
“Satisfaction” – soulfully done in a very nice way, like an undiscovered Motown original. Someone really should unglue her shoes at some point, though.
STATS SAY… in a bit of decline. 59% of her ratings are for “Satisfaction” – a definite standout. I’m hoping that is good enough to save her.

Matt
“I Love Rock And Roll” – errrr…?? It looks like the whole routine – song choice, style and dancers – have been mixed up with Wagner’s. Did they swap for a bet? I suppose he doesn’t always need to do fragile numbers – “Creep” would have been amazing, though…
“Nights In White Satin” – ahh, there we go, that’s the tortured soul we paid to see. Well done on avoiding Coldplay obviousness too. The biz.
STATS SAY… back in growth, back on top. 76% of his ratings are for the clear standout “Nights In White Satin” – GIVE THE PUBLIC WHAT THEY WANT!!!

Katie
“Sex On Fire” – you couldn’t pick a more popular rock song for all the Heart listeners out there. I’m still not sure who I’m watching post-haircut. The “moves” looked too stage school, more “We Will Rock You – The Musical” than actual rock. For me, that’s really offputting, perhaps not for the great ITV1 public.
“Everybody Hurts” – sounds like classic Sunday night “please don’t chuck me out” Katie. Pretty good, not amazing – Simon’s right about the short edit being a problem – maybe the judges should have been asked to talk for 30 seconds less, would that improve things?
STATS SAY… bit of a decline from last weeks peak. Slight majority (53%) of Katie’s ratings are for “Sex On Fire”, but not a huge standout.

OVERALL
Really hard to say who is in danger. I’m going to suggest Mary, Katie and Rebecca for bottom three, but Cher is a bit of a worry and Wagner is… still Wagner. It’s unbelievable that he would make the final… isn’t it?!

X Factor week 7 ratings

It’s REALLY close… Cher leads, Katie stands out in second (lots of her ratings are poor, but not as many as usual), Matt is having an off week, Wagner has more ratings than usual (most stinkers), One Direction and Rebecca both a little down. Paije looked like he had an amazing upturn, but is still one of the two lowest ratings shares. Mary is lowest, but also with a sharp upturn, and we know she’s never been in the bottom two despite usually having the lowest ratings share.

So. To be honest, I don’t think iTunes is going to be much help this week – it’s all too close, and there are too many artists who prove to be exceptions with more support than we can predict.

Lowest shares: Paije and Mary

Lowest trending down: One Direction and Rebecca

Last night’s predictions from my musical judgement + a bit of modelling: Paije and Wagner

Let’s see which, if any of these, are right…???

EDIT – AFTER THE RESULTS

OK, Cher in the bottom two was a total shocker. Can’t say we could have predicted that from iTunes or the music itself. I’m guessing she alienated her fanbase more than expected, and other people aren’t yet warming to her. Either that or she seemed so safe, people didn’t bother voting. Or maybe Simon was right about the damn stairs, and no-one could remember the tune after all the time the judges spent bickering about them. If the judges are more memorable than the talent, the talent gets no votes, even if they were really good…

Paije, on the other hand, was the only person predicted for bottom two by two of the models above, so is the least shocker, but it’s still a shame he had to go.

We’ve got to come back to the question of why Wagner hasn’t been bottom two yet, and when that will happen. Clearly his fanbase is bigger than expected, but I suspect not much bigger – reality is catching up for him. When he is finally bottom two, it will be the shortest final judging bit ever. I still prefer Tony Ferrino. (Why can’t Wagner be a short term affair?)

X Factor week 7 review

Matt - smoking, a bit of “I’m a serious artist, me”, cleverly produced, but maybe a bit too different from what he’s done so far. Loving the “wake em up” key change near the end – not a trick the Beatles felt the need for, but we’ve learned so much since then, haven’t we? Not exactly bottom two material (unless everyone else is Amazing) but not his biggest week either.

Cher - really smart choice which I think will broaden her fanbase. Hope she’s not overshadowed by some memorable ridiculousness from the judges – Louis on his own planet, and everyone else arguing about stairs.

One Direction - definitely another standout week for them, nicely arranged, and hippy chick crowd invasions are sadly underused these days. Safe as.

Rebecca - nice, but is she trying to be Mary? She didn’t do it that well. Why was she wearing some of my old pen tops as earrings? Still, it was engaging and original, hopefully solid enough.

Mary - “and tonight I will be Shirley Bassey.” And she was! I like her now. Next week Goldfinger please.

Paije - great song for him, and what a difference a gospel choir makes (where did they come from?!). I thought they were going to keep doing key changes until his voice broke, which it kind of did at the end. Still, best Paije week yet. Hmm – and I had him down as a definite before bottom two before that…

Wagner - what’s worse than hearing Wagner murder a Beatles song? Hearing him murder three Beatles songs? With total random nonsense from the dancers, this is beyond pop, it’s a surreal drug-fueled art rant against reason itself. Heaven help us, lots will want Simon’s universe to end.

Katie - history tells us haircuts = death on these shows, but she’s singing really well, like the Sunday Night Katie we’ve come to know so well. I’m conflicted. Dannii nailed it when she asked “who is the real you?”

It’s really hard to make predictions without a bit of method this week, so I’m going to try a guesstimate formula…
SUPPORT = fan support + everyone else’s support
                = (fanbase size x how well they pleased the fans) + (non-fanbase size x how well they won them over)

Here’s how I’m rating each act out of 10 for pleasing fans:
Matt: 7 (bit of a break from his normal style)
Cher: 8 (pretty solid, but lacking a bit of uniqueness)
One Direction: 9 (really good)
Rebecca: 7 (trying hard, but a bit stressed)
Mary: 9 (very solid)
Paije: 9 (they will feel excited, I think)
Wagner: 8 (they love him almost whatever, but this was cheesemongous)
Katie: 6 (good voice, but a totally new look appears desperate and alienating)

And here’s how I’m rating them out of 10 for winning over new fans:
Matt: 7 (people are seeing a different side of him)
Cher: 8 (different and good enough to turn heads and change minds)
One Direction: 6 (also good, but not revolutionary)
Rebecca: 4 (not amazing or groundbreaking)
Mary: 6 (very good, but not massively out of keeping with expectations)
Paije: 6 (good enough to reach out a bit, not amazing)
Wagner: 1 (if you don’t love him already, he won’t convince you now)
Katie: 7 (very appealing performance, but it’s just quite difficult for her to win against very negative perceptions)

Now I’ve guessed the fanbase size from the average of the last three weeks of iTunes ratings share, and the “non-fanbase” as 100 – fanbase size.

For my formula, fan support = fanbase size x fan rating
Other support = non-fanbase size x win over rating x 0.1 (in my experience of marketing, it’s ten times harder to make an impression on people leading to action if you don’t already have a working relationship)

This produces numbers which kind of look sensible to me – of course, if you disagree, you can change the figures and make your own predictions… but to me it looks like this:

It’s a shocker! This suggests the bottom two will be Paije and Wagner
Paije because his fanbase is fairly small and he’s not doing quite enough to win new people over
Wagner because although his fans love him, no-one else will, and we’ve reached the time when that will limit him

Katie comes out third from bottom in my estimates, so I’ll be with everyone else not being too surprised if she takes her usual spot, but I’ll stick my neck out and say Wagner will be this week’s “shock” exit…

We’ll check the new iTunes ratings tomorrow to see if they agree.

X Factor week 6 stuff

OK – just back from a weekend away, firing up the V+ to catch up before tonight’s results…

First impressions from the show, before seeing the ratings:

Paije - not bad, we can see him in musicals, but Crocodile Rock in a pink dinner jacket isn’t helping… Why do so many artists about to get voted off go on about how “versatile” they can be? That’s what you need for a stage career, not for being instantly recognisable on the radio and selling hits.

Aiden - he has a weird voice, but it works for me because it’s the opposite of what Paije did. I think he’s developing nicely.

Mary - I’m still not convinced by her voice (just one good last note), and the arrangement was pure cheese, but her story is always good, and she’ll connect with her fans.

Tabloid Favourite Katie - always sounds from the promo film like she’s going to come out with something different and amazing, then always does something just about OK. At least there weren’t many words to forget in this one. Fun, but not game changing. Should have sung “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”

Matt - solid enough. Elton John really did a lot of odd songs, didn’t he? “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is one of the better ones, and Matt’s version wasn’t very surprising, but he’s still a class act. Expectations very high for him.

Cher - great song, I bet there was a scramble for “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”. Bit of marmite in the middle, great for the fans though. Woo hoo.

Wagner - oh no, I actually enjoyed this, but I was thinking of “The Tony Ferrino Phenomenon” at the time.

One Direction - one of their best weeks. I’m slightly surprised Simon didn’t wheel in a gospel choir to top it all off, but it had everything else. Nice one.

Rebecca - wow. Brave song choice, and done like a proper artist. A bit understated at the end, but I think she’s the standout from the week.

Now to check the ratings…

There isn’t a runaway favourite from this week – in fact, there are fewer ratings overall than any previous week. Cher has a narrow lead with a much better share than last week. Matt didn’t have his best week, but is still doing really well. Rebecca carries on growing her share with great performances, and One Direction had a standout week.

Katie has her highest share of ratings so far, but they are mostly awful – “her usual crap” (from someone who gave her 5 stars…), “this is not an eyelash competition”, “absolute rubbish”, “bye bye” and “really can’t stand the girl”, just from page 1. She’s got to be going this week.

Paije will probably join her in the bottom two. He’s not growing, and unless he has a secret fanbase hidden away, we can’t see him having enough support to carry on for long. Shame really.

Wagner and Mary are still wildcards, though. Who knows when people who have kept them in up to now will get fed up of them? Wagner especially is a “phenomenon“…

EDIT: AFTER THE RESULTS

Hmmm. Didn’t expect Aiden to have the least votes and go. We’re no longer surprised that Katie sounds much better on the Sunday than the Saturday, though – it’s looking like it’s written into the format of the show.

But there was something odd about the “no particular order” the safe contestants were announced: the EXACT SAME order as the graph above (ie. decreasing order of ratings share), only skipping over Katie and Aiden. So we’re guessing we’re still onto something… We already worked out that Wagner and Mary have fans/voters which aren’t touching iTunes, and now it’s looking like the same goes for Paije. Good onya. Probably won’t keep him out of the bottom spots next week unless he gets much, much better though.

X Factor ratings and predictions – week 5

It was definitely Matt‘s night, with four times more ratings than anyone else.

Cher had a relatively poor night, but still scrapes into second on the ratings – she’s got a good fanbase, helped by last week’s stunning performance.

Rebecca is third, growing nicely, hopefully solidifying a fanbase, but she’s not yet had the kind of massive breakthrough week Matt, Cher and Aiden have enjoyed.

Aiden looks safe enough, though not a contender for the top spot unless he can do something stunning as he did in week 1.

One Direction - hmmm… we thought they did well, but their share of ratings has slipped a bit. Probably nothing to worry about – Matt did deserve an extraordinary share of attention – but if they are going to get to the final they need to have their own moment of brilliance.

Katie - I think she’s in the danger zone given that most of her ratings are pretty awful. She’s also been in the bottom with higher shares than this week.

Wagner - was growing, now declining in share of ratings. Have things finally turned? I’m going to guess that he still has enough fans to keep him afloat, but not for long.

Mary - from previous weeks I think we’ve established that Mary’s support isn’t anything to do with the iTunes crowd, so who knows? I thought she had a rotten week, but fans are fans. At least Mary is unique, and has a strong story behind her, but vocally it wasn’t good. Probably safe this week, at a complete guess.

Paije - oh dear. In danger on every level, I’m afraid.

Treyc - whatever she did last night didn’t boost her share of ratings – in fact, she has her lowest ever, so she also has to be in danger. People who get her are speaking well of her, but are there enough of them paying attention?

So I’m thinking the bottom two have to be from Paije, Treyc and Katie. Treyc was actually pretty good though, and we want her to stay. So I’m going to stick with last night’s gut feeling prediction of Paije and Katie…. what do you think!?

X Factor week 5

I think we’re at the stage of the competition where there are two ways for an act to progress. One is to have lots of fans who love them for who they are (so that has to be clearly defined), and will keep loving them as long as they keep doing what they do. Matt, Cher, One Direction, Aiden, Wagner and Mary all have this going on. Treyc and Paije definitely don’t. Katie might be starting to.

The better way is to be unexpectedly brilliant and cross over to new people. Only people who do this several times eventually win, but it’s hard – one bad week brings doom. Rebecca has been building like this, and has to keep going.

So how did they do? Here is what we thought at home…

Cher - pretty good, if a bit predictable. Simon knows she was better last week, and so does Cher. Nothing wrong, it just plodded when it should have wowed – it needed more dramatic execution, more light and shade, not more gimmicks but some vulnerabilty. But she’s got the fans, didn’t let them down and is safe.

Mary - oh dear. She’s not at her finest – this week it’s Tesco Value Mary, reduced to clear. Very pitchy and losing the emotional connection in the song, though endearingly blubby in the chat at the end. She’ll need a lot of dedicated fans to stay in. Can’t tell how many she has – they’re not on iTunes, that’s for sure.

Katie - great song choice, but voice all over the place, and what’s that weird black and white horror video of her teary self in the background? Looks like she’s been reading about herself in the papers. A miseryfest. “You’re not a whinger” said Simon – but it sounded like that in the performance. Plus, it’s a departure from the things that might have been building the fan base. DANGER!!!

Aiden - is there something wrong with our telly or ears? Everyone is out of tune tonight. The judges love the intensity and flames, and I’m sure the fans will agree. I’m not one of them, but at least he’s solidifying his identity, so he’s safe.

Paije - I’m not sure he’s coming in with many fans, so he’s got to reach out with great performances. This ain’t one of them. “Hey I’m a Believe-Ya?” It’s cheesy mash. “You’re like a little Lenny Henry,” says Louis, comparing Paije to a funny guy who’s not famous for his singing. Best performance? Nooooo… I really want him to stay in, but he’s not safe.

Rebecca - that’s more like it! That was “a moment”. Simon’s already planning the world tour, quite rightly.

Wagner - I’m already wound up before he starts with all this argument about how to say his name, with Louis who made such a fuss about getting Storm’s name right. But now he’s singing, all that is forgotten. I just want it to stop. I doubt his fans are ready to give up on him, though. Let’s see how many there are.

Matt - back on top. A beautiful song, with a unique voice which takes you everywhere you could hope for and then bursts into new and amazing places. Best performance from any X Factor show I can remember. Ooh, tears and an emotional mystery story too – can’t beat that.

Treyc - we’re worried by the intro where she’s refusing to be pigeon holed – random shuffle doesn’t win fans. Having said that, she’s doing a great (and staggeringly popular) song very well. I can’t see how she can have problems this week – but she needs to build consistently on these good weeks. Simon is right about the passion thing – it’s not enough just to sing well, she’s got to know where she can take a big leap of faith and do something really extraordinary, and she hasn’t done that yet. Weirdly, Wagner does that every week. Aaagh, no, please don’t let Treyc go before Wagner. I don’t think she will this week.

One Direction - loving the build up, excitedly guessing the song choice, praying it won’t be a boyband classic… phew! “Kids in America” is inspired – sounds like old school Simon A&R goodness. But as fresh and energetic as it was, it could have been more musically interesting. Our discussion about that at home is stopped by having to shout “shut up Louis” repeatedly. Well done lads, you are through.

SO IN SUMMARY
Top performers – Matt and Rebecca
Good and safe – Cher, One Direction, hopefully Treyc (ouch, crap clip in the summary though)
Saved by the fans? – Aiden, probably Wagner (also a dreadful summary clip), possibly Mary
Really not safe – Katie, Paije

Not sure I’ll have time to crunch the numbers tomorrow, so I’m going to guess Katie and Paije for bottom two, though I wouldn’t at all mind if Wagner or Mary made an appearance.