Last Saturday ITV viewers were treated to something approaching an X Factor miracle – no, not the return of serial-warbler Lola Saunders but the phoenix-like comeback of Stevi Ritchie.
While Andrea Faustini and Ben Haenow look set to battle it out for the big prize, here at Ladbrokes we think Ritchie could be the kind of act to follow in the footsteps of Jedward and Wagner.
Ever since arriving on stage in an outfit looking like a member of the TOWIE cast doing their best impression of Richard Branson, we’ve loved the 34-year-old crooner with a questionable love of Olly Murs and think he’s a great pick to make the top six.
Here are five reasons why we are backing Stevi Ritchie over the rest:
The Boy can Dance
Like the Moon landings of the 1960s, we all remember where we were when Stevi arrived at the first audition phase – I myself was sat in front of the TV enjoying a Curry Pot Noodle. That night Mr Ritchie taught entertainers everywhere a valuable lesson: when in doubt, dance.
Facing a potentially-awkward pause, the 34-year-old did what any self-respecting man would do– he wiggled his hips while moving backwards and forwards – those smooth moves should be enough to secure him safe passage for a few weeks yet.
Stevi knows his audience
The arena phase of the audition process was a rough ride for everyone involved, with the Wembley crowd giving short shrift to anyone who forgot their lines (you let us down there Kitten – if only you had had The Hip with you) or were just plain rubbish.
So when Stevi approached the stage, it’s fair to say the viewers were expecting an X Factor bloodbath to rival Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding. Instead, Mr Ritchie got the audience onside with a sing-a-long version of Queens’ “Don’t Stop Me Now”– thanks in no small part to another dance – and we expect him to deliver more crowd-pleasers in the coming weeks.
He’s a Lover and a Fighter
It’s rare that you meet an entertainer who combines pure sex appeal with a take-no-prisoners physicality but in Stevi Ritchie the X Factor may have finally answered the question: What would happen if science allowed Enrique Iglesias and Phil Mitchell to have a love child?
Viewers were treated to this sight during the deadly “seat” section of the auditions when Stevi performed a high-energy version of “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” that saw him quite literally rip a woman from the audience for a bit of dirty dancing.
Expect more mad moments, and some potential whiplash injuries, on the live shows.
Because Jay James is the devil
As dodgy as some of Stevi’s auditions have been, they are far more enjoyable than those of James Blunt stand-in Jay James and his love of stretching single lines of songs to breaking point.
We thought we were going crazy in the auditions when the crowd went mad for James’ versions of “Say Something” and “Fix You” – but then he unveiled the equivalent of an X Factor war-crime at Judges’ Houses with a cover “Everybody Hurts” that even Simon Cowell hated.
Stevi’s biggest obstacle to a top six finish, he must be sent packing before Mr Ritchie and on current form looks likely to do just that.
The King of X Factor is in his corner
Despite failing to make the cut at Judges’ Houses, we know Simon Cowell has always had a soft spot for Stevi and it’s this support that could see him through the live shows.
Given the low-quality of the Over-25s – Ben Haenow and Fleur East aside – we were pretty sure Simon would have put Mr Ritchie through until perennial thorn-in-the-side-of-X-Factor Sinitta – whose own pop credentials are definitely questionable – convinced him otherwise.
Thank goodness for a contrived twist in which each judge picked their rivals wildcard entry – a development that allowed Stevi to get onboard with the king of X Factor and a man capable of turning water into wine. Having already danced within a cloud of specially-made Cowell dollars, during his last number, anything is possible!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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