As the competition hots up, Tony Cowell reveals which contestants he thinks are bound for X Factor glory – and tells us what’s really wrong with Simon...
Simon told me to expect the live shows to be ‘quite different’ – and he was right. It’s the biggest overhaul The X Factor live shows have had in 13 years. There’s been much criticism of dropping the Sunday sing-off, but the staging and production this year has been completely transformed – it’s much more like watching a live concert than a TV show.
This year, there are no novelty acts, no villains (apart from the judges!) and no jukebox. So here are my tips for the acts who I believe can go all the way to the final.
In a perfect world, I expect Rak- Su to win, allowing Grace Davies to avoid the pressure of winning and letting her take her time recording what could be a simply stunning first album. Those who claim The X Factor is no longer relevant need to take a look at the iTunes chart – as both of these acts have already proved their potential by getting their songs into the top 10.
Grace Davies The Girls Mentor: Sharon
Grace has been my firm favourite to win since her first audition when she made Sharon cry with her song, Roots – which got over 3 million views on YouTube. Simon called it, ‘A beautiful, beautiful song.’
She became the first-ever contestant to prove you can sing original songs on The X Factor – as long as they are well-crafted.
There is a danger Grace may have peaked too soon. She should do a few wellchosen covers to show her vocal range. However, she remains the bookies’ favourite to win, for all the right reasons.
Rak-Su The Groups Mentor: Simon
A group hasn’t won The X Factor since 2011, when Little Mix came out on top. Simon told me he is desperate to have a group win this year – and his dream may come true. Even Cheryl has shown her loyalty to Simon by publicly backing the talented group and admitting she is ‘obsessed.’
I also love the fact that Rak- Su are doing original songs, too. The group, who have been friends since childhood, are now beginning to believe in themselves.
Band member Ashley said, ‘I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I think we can honestly do this. Like everyone who values authenticity and originality can win!’
Win or lose, this group will get a recording contract.
Lloyd Macey The Boys Mentor: Louis
Louis tells me he’s backing Lloyd Macey to go all the way. ‘Lloyd brings something different to this year’s show,’ he said. ‘He can sing live without any gimmicks. He doesn’t need dancers or fancy stage props – he’s got it all. He’s going to get the whole of Wales voting for him.’
Lloyd’s version of the La La Land song City of Stars went straight into the iTunes Top 40. Whether he can win the show is still in doubt – but he could make the final and has done enough to secure himself a career in music.
Rai-Elle The Girls Mentor: Sharon
Rai-Elle, 16, has the backing of One Direction’s Liam Payne and last year’s winner Matt Terry. At the Six Chair Challenge, Simon told her, ‘If Sharon doesn’t give you a chair, you can take mine.’
Rai-Elle is no stranger to TV, having been a contestant on the CBBC show Got What It Takes – and her confidence showed when she was chosen to open The X Factor’s first live show of the series.
I believe this girl can make the final, but perhaps is too young to win. Either way, she is destined to be a huge star.
The X Factor is on ITV on Saturday at 8.20pm & Sunday at 7pm
Simon loves spending time with son Eric Tony and his wife Emma either side of Simon and his partner Lauren
Little Eric watches Daddy at work on The X Factor