The X Factor 2018 - Live Show 1 Preview

*Spoiler alert*

The Judges’ Houses stage of the competition seemed to tell us less than usual in terms of narratives and potential trajectories of individual contestants. One thing that struck me, was the huge effort that Simon had gone to in order to create a buzzing and prestigious atmosphere for his Girls category. That particular episode was by far the strongest of the series, and very nostalgic, with former American Idol faces Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul giving up their time to watch Simon’s acts, in addition to talent show royalty Leona Lewis and Adam Lambert *and* A-List songwriters such as Diane Warren. This suggests to me that the plan might well be for a Girl to win this year, though one could argue until the cows come home about which one.

Elsewhere, Misunderstood continued to impress the market and remain outright favourites. Dalton Harris has shortened in the Boys category after impressing with another undeniably excellent vocal. We have a Final 16 this year, but only seven weeks of live shows in which to get the numbers down. At the time of writing, it’s still unclear as to what elimination format the producers have planned for this first weekend. What we do know, is that this series the acts will perform live on the Saturday night and get eliminated on the Sunday night. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to presume that this weekend there will be a Bottom Three, with the 16thplaced act being eliminated immediately and 14thand 15thbattling it out in a sing-off.

The song choices have been revealed this morning courtesy of Telly Mix. As you can see, some of the acts have also had their stage names tweaked.

GIRLS

Bella Penfold – Beneath Your Beautiful – Labrinth and Emeli Sandé (w/ original rap)

Molly Scott – Fake Love – BTS

Scarlett Lee – Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin

Shan Ako – Imagine – John Lennin

GROUPS

Acacia & Aaliyah – Finesse – Bruno Mars

LMA Choir – Circle of Life – The Lion King

Misunderstood – Chewing Gum – Original

United Vibe – Slow Hands – Niall Horan

OVERS

Danny Tetley – Hero – Mariah Carey

Giovanni Spano – Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting – Elton John

Janice Robinson – Clarity – Zedd ft. Foxes

Olatunji Yearwood – Jiggle It – Original

BOYS

Anthony Russell – Issues – Julia Michaels

Armstrong Martins – Story of My Life – One Direction (w/ original rap)

Brandan Murray – Break Free – Ariana Grande

Dalton Harris – Life on Mars? – David Bowie

Unusually at this stage, we also have a provisional running order, thanks to @TellyStats on Twitter, who posted many accurate running orders in advance last year. It is of course subject to change but apparently looks like this at the moment;

1. Misunderstood

2. Shan Ako

3. Janice Robinson

4. Brendan Murray

5. LMA Choir

6. Olatunji Yearwood

7. United Vibe

8. Dalton Harris

9. Bella Penfold

10. Danny Tetley

11. Anthony Russell

12. Molly Scott

13. Armstrong Martins

14. Giovanni Spano

15. Acacia & Aaliyah

16. Scarlett Lee

I would be surprised if the running order ends up being exactly like this, but regardless, I’m not going to get too hung up about it in terms of looking for the outright winner. James Arthur won from performing second in the first live show, Sam Bailey from performing third etc., so I don’t think Shan or Janice backers should be panicking just yet. Last year, Rak-Su were the first winners to ever perform in the pimp slot in week one.

Should that honour go to Scarlett tonight, I think that the choice of ‘Natural Woman’ is designed to give the show a competent finish without letting her gain too much traction in the vote. My eyes pricked up when I saw LMA Choir in the number 5 slot, which seems early enough to put them in danger, especially with the cheesy ‘Circle of Life’ song choice which is obviously far more suited to Britain’s Got Talent. Still, one must be especially open-minded in the first live show, and it’s possible they could get praised for being something different. I don’t think there’s much else to say about the above running order apart from, Misunderstood were/are the obvious choice to open the first live show.

It seems especially difficult to figure out some of the category alphas this year. In the Girls category, Bella is already extremely hated online as far as social media comments go. With her Amy Winehouse-on-speed, brash personality, I expected this to be the case, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Regardless, I expect all of Simon’s Girls to be treated well tonight in order to see which one(s) do well in the vote. His ego might also want to keep all four around for at least a little while.

It’s possible to make a case for three of the four Boys in terms of who is the alpha. As stated previously, I’m very much hoping it can end up being Dalton as I am quite a strong backer. With his relative lack of screen time, Armstrong is probably first in line for the chop and adding a rap to a One Direction song doesn’t seem like the wisest of choices. Brendan and Anthony both seem a bit divisive, but it’s likely that both of them will be pushed in this first weekend.

Viewers were fuming at Ayda last weekend with the acts she apparently chose to get through to the lives. West End performer Giovanni seems almost completely unvoteable, and plenty of acts have been eliminated in week 1 from late in the running order. Danny Tetley is totally marmite but should provide a niche for oldies watching and has some appeal as an everyman living his dream. The alpha here is therefore probably between Janice and Olatunji. I’ve backed them both at high prices, hoping to perhaps trade later.

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As stated above, I think LMA Choir could well be the first group out despite hailing from Liverpool. Free app voting has the effect of diluting regional votes and so I don’t think they are quite as strong as they used to be. If Misunderstood are the alpha group then the other two will be battling it out to make it far enough to get onto the X Factor tour. The running order, if correct, suggests that the potentially commercial Acacia & Aaliyah might be preferred over the new boyband, who would undoubtedly sell a lot of tour tickets to families and young girls and could be kept around for that reason.

I’m hoping we get some iTunes downloads at some point this evening, to get an idea of what the arrangements and performances will be like. If so, I will be watching Strictly on mute as I make my way through all sixteen.

We are obviously still waiting for the elimination format, but right now I’m expecting at least two of; LMA Choir, Armstrong and Giovanni to be going home this weekend. It’s important to remain especially open minded in this first weekend, and that it’s possible for the producers to push pretty much anyone to the final with the right kind of treatment, e.g. Reggie N Bollie in 2015.

I may well add some post-show thoughts to the comments section tomorrow, should I wish to, rather than writing an entirely new article. Let’s make lots of money!