The X Factor 2018 - Live Show 3 Preview

WARNING. This week’s X Factor live show is not live

Yes, you read that correctly. In case you didn’t know, tonight’s live show is being pre-recorded this afternoon, probably at the time of writing. This is because of Robbie Williams’ tour schedule which is taking him abroad. Apparently, this won’t be the only week where this happens. He’s not being replaced by Mrs O but by Nile Rogers, who will sit in on the Sunday night to vote off whatever act the producers tell him to. Hopefully there will be no cringeworthy Kelly Rowland-style phone-in where Robbie still gets to ‘vote’.

A good example of where the judges don’t get to vote as they please was last week’s sing off.  This saw third favourite LMA Choir get eliminated from the competition on deadlock. Any sane person would have decided that Brendan gave the weaker performance and deserved to be sent home. We can only speculate why they chose to get rid of the choir and we will never know, but I suspect it’s because they wanted to keep the judges’ categories more balanced and perhaps they didn’t want to lose Irish viewers. It seems LMA Choir suffered from Stereo Kicks syndrome, where there were so many members that they were unable to sufficiently connect with the audience.

Week 3 has an exciting ‘Fright Night’ (no, not ‘Halloween’. Deal with it.) theme which has been absent for a couple of years. This means there should be some elaborate ‘creatives’ and there could be some unfortunate staging and styling for some of the contestants who are not favoured. The bus came for United Vibe last week but they somehow managed to swerve it and avoid the Bottom Three, which astonished me at the time. I can only imagine they were 0.1% away from the danger zone or something ridiculous. With fourteen acts in the competition the margins were always likely to be very small. It seems the show prefers Misunderstood and Acacia and Aaliyah, so the boyband could well find themselves dropping down this week with the dull song choice of ‘Bleeding Love’.

Former outright favourite Misunderstood underwhelmed last week with a dodgy song choice, as was expected. This week I think they’re likely to impress with ‘Thriller’, which is probably one of the most popular songs of all time. It was a great success for Fleur East a few years ago (despite dodgy vocals), because the production and choreography were so strong.

 I’m not sure what ‘Jump’ has to do with the Fright Night theme, but it’s right in A&A’s comfort zone. The one and only Honey G smashed her performance of this song and I think they will do a good job of it also. Perhaps a spooky staging concept could get let them get away with deviating from the theme.

Molly was left until last to be saved last week, which probably hints that they’ll be targeting her for elimination soon. ‘Toxic’ seems a very difficult song to sing and it doesn’t strike me as particularly suitable. Similarly, Bella somehow escaped the Bottom Three last week after underwhelming and receiving some criticism from the judges. ‘In My Blood’ is a very popular and contemporary song but her lack of popularity/divisiveness could see her in danger soon. Scarlett and Shan should be flying ahead at the front of the pack once again.

The former has been in the press this week because apparently her house burned down, which could see her receive a sympathy VT and/or comment from the judges about it being a “tough week”.

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I doubt very much that Shan will be doing another cringeworthy speech again, though I kind of liked it, in a weird sort of way. Vocally she has been phenomenal on the live shows and much better than she was made out to be in the auditions.

Dalton is now the strong favourite to win after his ‘I Have Nothing’ was the best performance of the series thus far. It seemed a no-brainer backing the two strongest singers to win this year. Despite this, I have actually laid off a lot of Dalton in anticipation of someone else having a ‘moment’ very soon. This has been the most volatile X Factor outright in a while, perhaps ever, and so I expect such drastic market moves to continue for a little while.

It wasn’t a huge surprise to see Brendan in the sing off last week, after they clearly targeted him with an early slot and dull arrangement. I would certainly give him a stronger chance of bouncing and clearing the drop zone than poor Janice last week.

Anthony is now the sole Scouser remaining in the competition. His performance last week was quite possibly the first time I’d ever enjoyed his singing. But he’s clearly one of the producers’ favourites, so I’m wondering how far he can go…

Someone asked me this week who I think will be in the X Factor final. After Shan and Dalton “obviously!”, I quickly said; “along with Scarlett or Anthony”. But, having thought about it a little more, I’m still clinging on to my Surprise Theory somewhat, where there could be an act in the final whom you wouldn’t expect to get there on paper. With LMA Choir out of the picture, could that surprise act be Gio? He’s certainly impressed with his live show performances so far, and the show seems to prefer the Italian to the crooner from Benidorm. However, I’ve also backed Danny in the outright as the value could well be there for a trade if he escapes the Bottom Three once again. An Over in the final would also validate the decision to make Robbie Williams’ wife a judge on the show and could make it a bit easier for producers to bring her back next year.

Week 3 – Fright Night song choices

Acacia and Aaliyha – Jump – Kriss Kross

Anthony Russell – Demons – Imagine Dragons

Bella Penfold – In My Blood – Shawn Mendes

Brendan Murray – Young Blood – 5 Seconds of Summer

Dalton Harris – Creep – Radiohead

Danny Tetley – Who Wants To Live Forever – Queen

Giovanno Spano – Live And Let Die – Paul McCartney

Misunderstood – Thriller – Michael Jackson

Molly Scott – Toxic – Britney Spears

Scarlett Lee – I Put A Spell On You – Annie Lennox (Iza version)

Shan Ako – The Sound Of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel

United Vibe – Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis