Tag Archives: xfactor

A bit of X Factor learning, or “Paije against the machine”


Having just blogged about the benefits of constant learning over expertise, I’m happy to declare that I’m still learning…

We watched the X Factor results excitedly, mainly because we were waiting to see who was right – me or the predict-o-graphs. Here’s what I wrote on Saturday:

Matt and Cher still top for me.
Rebecca and Paije – growers
Mary, Treyc, One Direction – solid, probably safe for now
Wagner and Katie – now both on planets of their own where our laws of physics don’t apply, anything could happen
Aiden and Belle Amie – DANGER! DANGER!!!

while computer said Mary had little interest and was trending down, with Paije and Treyc also worryingly quiet on the ratings front. Belle Amie and Katie were next lowest.

So if I’d combined those two into a prediction of who would face judgement (which I didn’t) it would been like this:

Computer says Mary – we say NO
Computer says Paije – we say NO
Computer says Treyc – we say NO
Computer says Belle Amie – WE AGREE!
Computer says Katie – we say “NO IDEA!”, could be…

And it turns out that it was Belle Amie and Katie in those slots, in that order.

Actually, I pick music for radio stations in a fairly similar way – we do some number crunching and some gut feel judgement and bring the two together. So “yay” for that process.

I had another look at the numbers to see if they, on their own, could have predicted that bottom two. I tried separating out the “love” comments from the “hate” comments, but Mary has the least love on iTunes as well as the least ratings overall. I might try a slightly more sophisticated model than counting the reviews, but I’m guessing we will have to conclude that the iTunes crowd doesn’t represent the whole. But we’ll try again next week and maybe be a bit bolder with the predictions – it’s fun! Well, we think so.

X Factor predictions – week 4

If the iTunes ratings reflect viewer votes, it’s looking like Cher is last night’s winner by a long, long way. Matt really did have a “not so good week”, but is still second.

Rebecca is growing nicely into third place, and Aiden’s fans are rallying round – although reading the reviews, a lot are pointing out how out of tune and weird the whole thing was. Could be that he’s polarising people almost as much as Wagner now…

One Direction solid as always.

Wagner getting a lot of reviews saying how rubbish he was. This will be a good test to see if that means he got enough passion going for as many people to vote for him, but there’s not much love on iTunes…

Katie didn’t have a good week, and has a lot of bad reviews too – she could be in danger. Belle Amie not bad, growing, but still at the lower end.

There is a clear bottom three in the numbers of ratings – Treyc, Paije and Mary. Of course Mary’s fans might be older, happily phoning in but not into rating songs on iTunes, so she might be safe, but her TREND is still very clearly down. This suggests that the iTunes users, at least, are less interested in rating her week by week. If they represent many of the voters, Mary is in big trouble.

I think Mary will be a “surprise” bottom two contestant in the very near future. I wouldn’t fancy Treyc, Paije, Belle Amie or Wagner’s chances up against Mary when the judges have a say, though.

This week’s X Factor

OK, I really want to post another graph. But in a vain attempt to avoid being typecast as the “statto” of X Factor, here’s what we thought of the contestants before we get any ratings info…

Mary - aiiit for me. She’s a cheese feast, but an entertaining one. I’d like to hear her sing “Bad Romance”.

Aiden - No. No. No. No no no no no no no no. Everything about this was wrong. It looks like he must have done SO much better in week 1, someone had the idea to do a “Mad World” with “Thriller”. But Thriller has to be EXCITING (clue is in the title). Pitchy, droney, dull. We kept yelling at the TV hoping to make the performance kick off, but no joy – half the cast on stage were dummies after all. And the clock going backwards just puts “this is wrong” into underlined bold italics. Aidan looks like a failed 80s popstar right now. Not a good look.

Belle Amie - also aiiit. “Girlband doing girlbands” is fair comment, it’s not very exciting. They’re looking good, sounding OK-ish. Hmm. Can’t see this exciting enough people to vote.

Rebecca - PHEW! Someone we like this week! A strong, siren voice ideal for radio – she’ll be instantly identifiable. She’s got to be a grower.

Treyc - very solid, but Treyc makes me think of Beverley Knight. I love Beverley Knight, but she’s rarely had a massive hit, and I don’t get why. I’m afraid Treyc will get lots of “likes” but not the “loves” which turn into votes.

Matt - yes – that’s how you do it. The bravest song choice, and he sounds like a proper artist. Although it is a bit odd without a band backing him up. I hope he writes decent songs, or can get together with someone who does and make some proper music…

Wagner - WTF? The show is the dancers. Wagner looks like a nice old bloke who happened to be at the bus stop when the Kids from Fame broke out into a routine around him. No singing ability required, none supplied, but still weirdly entertaining. I’ll bet most of the votes are just put in cos it’s fun to annoy Simon.

Paije - knew he had to start taking some risks, and had a proper go this week. Simon said “diva”, and that’s what he needs to build on – if he sings Cee-Lo “Forget U”, he’ll knock it out of the park.

Katie - I thought she was going to sing “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”, I didn’t even know the theme to “Bewitched” was a song. A dreadful novelty which shows you shouldn’t take success with one novelty song choice too seriously. A rare misstep for Cheryl, I think. Cute but… no.

One Direction - look a bit like a group that was forced together on an old Idol boot camp, just to see if they could work as a team. They sort of did, but there’s something not quite right… Louis seems to disagree totally. Oh well. It was a good song choice, though.

Cher - really brave to strip it all down. It felt shaky until the last minute, but that could have been very endearing and drawn people in. When the power kicked in she was amazing. I didn’t think there wasn’t much expression on her face until she broke into tears. That’ll seal it – she’s safe as. Actually, watching the replay, that good bit was really, really good.

Matt and Cher still top for me.
Rebecca and Paije – growers
Mary, Treyc, One Direction – solid, probably safe for now
Wagner and Katie – now both on planets of their own where our laws of physics don’t apply, anything could happen
Aiden and Belle Amie – DANGER! DANGER!!!

X Factor: computer says… (and we say…)

According to iTunes customers, The X Factor is pretty much decided. And the winner is…

….. (longer pause than strictly necessary for dramatic effect) …….

…. going to have to try very hard to beat Matt Cardle.

It looks like the number of ratings people get on iTunes (good or bad) correlate pretty well with whether or not they stay in the competition. This week’s bottom two, Treyc and John, had the lowest number of ratings. The graph above shows the percent of ratings each contestant’s song currently has on iTunes for each week’s performance. The others knocked out – Diva Fever, Storm Lee, Nicolo Festa and FYD – didn’t get many people rating them either.

Of the survivors, Treyc Cohen, Belle Amie and Paije Richardson look most consistently starved of ratings support, while Matt Cardle and Cher Lloyd are by far top of the pile.

If that’s not too surprising, take a look at which contestants are getting a growing ratings share, and which are shrinking into the danger zone…

  • Katie Waissel is GROWING – was any of that stuff in the papers about hating the song choices even vaguely true? She should have faith in Cheryl Cole who is starting to look like she – or someone she trusts in her team – is an A&R genius…
  • Aiden Grimshaw is SHRINKING FAST – his “Mad World” was easily the most rated week 1 song, but he’s shrunk back to middling performances the last couple of weeks. He might have sung much better this week, but he didn’t make up much ground.
  • Wagner is GROWING – his first couple of weeks may have attracted just enough interest to stay in, but his latest megamix put him in the top 6 in number of ratings. Mind you, if he was ever going to do well, it was in “cheese week”…
  • Paije is also GROWING – although he’s getting very little interest compared with the leaders
  • The biggest surprise? Mary Byrne is SHRINKING STEADILY – if the ratings do match up with viewer votes, she would have been in the bottom 3 this week. Cue “national tragedy” expression from Louis. If she doesn’t reverse the trend this week, she’s heading for the exit.

Of course none of this is a done deal. The show has a long way to go. The share of attention can change dramatically with a great performance, but it’s easier to lose momentum than to gain it. One clunky week can lose a big lead (Aiden), and it takes a few great weeks to win people back.

We think the people who win are often the growers who start to capture public imagination in the last few weeks. Rebecca Fergusen could be one of those people, but there’s no evidence for that yet in the iTunes ratings. One Direction are looking solid, but not big enough to win, and without growth they’ll be out before the final. (We call them “One Dimension” at home – they desperately need to show a bit more range and surprise us. Simon needs a few genius song choices for them, and he seems oddly short of those this year…?)

Otherwise, for now, it’s looking like the Matt v Cher show. We think that Matt is fantastic, but must avoid the “novelty cover” trap that did for Andrew Garcia in this year’s American Idol – he was the guy they loved for covering Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” with acoustic guitar, and he did a pretty good “Genie In A Bottle”, but then people realised they liked his clever covers more than they liked the rest of what they saw of his artistry. That’s not sustainable. Matt needs to show he can do the kind of songs people will want to play often – so no more cheese for a while.

Cher looked like she should be good, and this week looked like she IS good. What puzzles us is how much the judges are raving over how unique she is. We’re guessing they don’t listen to Rinse FM much (or 1Xtra or Choice). Cher strikes us a bit of a lite version of Rinse’s signing Katy B – not that that’s a bad thing, just not totally unique.

It’s going to sound a bit odd comparing Cher Lloyd with G4, but we think the same thing happened – there was a lot of a certain talent around (in G4′s case, classical vocalists who did pop songs) but for whatever reason, very little of that kind of talent wanted to go and be judged on X Factor. When someone showed up, they got the judges’ attention, and went a long way. There were much better acts than G4 in the same style, but G4 showed up first and got the £1.5 million deal. How many people do what Cher does, but a bit better? Probably quite a few, but Cher showed up.

The moral: show up – what’s the worst that could happen?

Getting out before Wagner? Hmm – yes, I suppose that would be pretty bad.

Ambitions are already starting to fade

Quite an appropriate lyric from the new Joe McElderry single.

Normally I don’t post about stuff I don’t like – life’s too short – but I just don’t get this. A big label has a popular guy with an up-for-it fanbase. They make a website for him which looks like a Myspace page, complete with banner ad for himself just above his own logo, and another ad for himself just below, festooned with shop logos, just so you don’t forget where you can buy music. It’s a mess. And then the song. Hmmmm…. Is it just me, or does it not even sound properly mixed when it gets to the chorus?

And as for the video… A very random collection of music and showbiz types on a film set which looks a lot like they had NINETY different ideas for how to style Joe into some sort of understandable look, couldn’t decide, and eventually went “sod it, let’s just put them ALL in and get them to wiggle about a bit, that’ll do for the kids.”

My favourite bit of the “storyline” is around 1 minute 10, the bloke who looks a bit like Will Young who is carrying around some important documents, possibly the Joe McElderry Master Plan, drops them and scrambles around trying to get things back together. Joe comes over to help, and almost instantly the guy gives up, throws all the paper in the air and flounces off.

Just about sums it all up. Joe – you might be very good, I want you to be good, but this isn’t helping. If you and your mentors are trying to make a statement about who you are, the answer seems to be “dunno, who cares?”

Who knows, it might be number 1. I just don’t get it.