And so the live finals are almost upon us and rivalry is hotting up between the four judges in the X Factor.
This weekend, Gary Barlow (boys), Kelly Rowland (girls), Tulisa (groups) and Louis Walsh (over 25s) will whittle down their respective categories to just four hopefuls who’ll go through to the live stages.
The judges at least pretended to be pleased with their categories when they were assigned last week – but the truth is, if you want to be the winning mentor on the X Factor… some categories are better than others.
In the seven series of X Factor since the programme began in 2004, the groups have never won the competition. Not massively encouraging news for Tulisa in her first season of bringing urban cool to the show.
Indeed, if anything, things have got worse for the groups category since G4 came second in the first series. In 2008 JLS also managed the silver medal… but last year the nation was shocked when seemingly unbeatable boy band One Direction were relegated to third place behind Matt Cardle and Rebecca Ferguson.
Can Tulisa turn things around with an urban outfit like Nu Vibe? It’ll be a struggle, but if anyone can lead the groups into the promised land, it’s probably the N-Dubz star.
There’s similarly bleak news for Louis Walsh. The only surviving judge from last year – Louis has ended up with the over 25s category… not renowned for bringing home the bacon for mentors. Although the first winner of the show, Steve Brookstein, gave Simon Cowell a win in the over 25s – this has never been repeated.
Just like the groups – the trend has been away from the over 25s. In series two, Andy Abraham was an over 25 runner-up behind Shayne Ward… but since then, podium finishes have eluded the mentor of this category. It seems unlikely that Louis will buck this trend in 2011… well, unless the nation falls in love with Kitty Brucknell. Erm?
So that leaves the girls and the boys…
History has shown us that the boys are most likely to produce a win. Four of the seven X Factor winners have come from this category. Shayne Ward (2005), Leon Jackson (2007), Joe McElderry (2009) and Matt Cardle last year.
The girls category has only produced two winners, Leona Lewis in 2006 and Alexandra Burke in 2008.
So it’s Gary Barlow, head judge and new Simon Cowell who on paper has the best chance of winning this year. Kelly Rowland has some bright young talent, but if she wants to get her name on the scoreboard, she’s going to have to hope Janet Devlin et al turn the volume up to 11 when the live finals come around.
The bookies have Kelly as the favourite at 10/11 (mainly because of the young Devlin) with Gary Barlow in second place at 2/1. They agree that Tulisa (5/1) and Louis (7/1) will probably end up fighting it out for the wooden spoon.
What will happen? Well, we’ll have to wait and see. But for now…
It’s time, to face, the music. Oh, and vote in our poll…