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X Factor – Final Five Betting Preview

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Out of 75,000 auditionees only five remain and are just a few short weeks from winning the biggest talent competition in the UK and securing a life changing record contract. After simultaneously laughing and cringing at some of the truly awful auditions and whittling down some of the finalists only there to make up the numbers, the competition is starting to get serious.

If you are not familiar with the "X-Factor", the premise is simple. Each week all the contestants perform a song live with the television audience voting for who they want to keep in the competition. The two singers with the lowest number of votes have to perform their song again before the judges decide which one lives to fight another day and which one has to go home and back to the day job.

The main hotbed of talent this year has come in the "Over 25s" category, with three of the four original singers making up the final five contestants, proving that the great British public are not just interested in teenage pretty boys who struggle to hold a note. It would have been all four if judge Louis Walsh had not cruelly voted to send home the talented Maria Lawson in favour of the dire Conway Sisters who also hail from his native Ireland.

The viewers vote is not the only way you can get involved as there are also plenty of betting opportunities to get stuck into. Here is a look at the final five contestants and predictions on who ultimately has that "X Factor".

Shayne Ward

Odds: 10/11

The only remaining contestant from the 16-24 category. Shayne has been the bookmaker's favourite and hotly tipped by the media to win the competition since his confirmation as one of 12 finalists. However, it's not always that simple. Last year's rocker-by-numbers Tabby was favourite all the way until he eventually finished third and has since disappeared without trace.

Shayne is a sort of poor man's Justin Timberlake. His fondness for hitting the high notes during live performances and his shuffling across the stage is wearing a bit thin. He peaked too early and his rendition of Daniel Bedingfield's "If You're Not The One" on October 22 has not being matched since.

Whether or not he is as good as some of the other finalists makes no difference as he has that all important "teen appeal". It has been suggested in the press that the singer, 21, may have a record deal lined up in any case regardless of whether he wins the competition or not.

Andy Abraham

Odds: 9/4

The show's underdog and the contestant with the most romantic tale of the X Factor to date. Andy works as a dustman in order to support his family and has only been singing on the local pub and club circuit for the last few years.

He is arguably the most talented singer left in the competition and has wowed audiences with his smooth and soulful voice with perfect renditions of "The Greatest Love of All", "Unforgettable" and "Me and Mrs Jones".

If this had been last year then Andy would win the competition hands down, but two words are likely to prevent him succeeding this time around – Steve Brookstein. Last year, with a similar heart-warming story to tell, Brookstein revealed he had been trying unsuccessfully to crack the business for years and the X Factor was realistically his last chance of making it as a professional singer.

He beat novelty operatic quartet G4 to win the competition and had a hit record but has since sunk into obscurity. X Factor supremo Simon Cowell is keen to avoid a repeat of last time which will surely scupper Andy's chances of success. Which is a shame.

Journey South

Odds: 3/1

In what was a very weak "Groups" category, Journey South are the only performers with any real substance. The two brothers from Middlesbrough gave up their day jobs five years ago to make the journey south (geddit?) To London in a bid to find wealth, fame and glory.

Brothers Carl and Andy have been the "steady eddies" of the competition so far, putting in solid performances of "Desperado", "Livin 'On A Prayer" and "Angels" among others, proving week in, week out, they are genuinely good live singers.

The duo have a cross-generational appeal which puts them in a stronger position overall than say, Shayne or Andy, and this could be the edge they need to win the competition outright.

Brenda Edwards

Odds: 11/2

The only woman left in the competition after Simon Cowell voted out his own act, The Conway Sisters, on November 26. Brenda has grown in popularity as the weeks have progressed and has proved there is more to her than performing motown hits with a sparkling rendition of weepy classic "I Will Always Love You".

There's not a lot to say about Brenda. Yes, she has talent, but does she have that "X Factor" that would elevate her from being a "good singer" to a best selling recording artist?

Simon Cowell is not entirely convinced and while he acknowledges her vocal ability, doubts she could "sell a million records" and I tend to agree.

Chico Slimani

Odds: 25/1

With every mass talent search, the inevitable "novelty act" surfaces. However, Chico has taken this to an entirely new level and his 15 minutes of fame looks set to last a lot longer.

The former goat herder, bodybuilder, hairdresser and goodness knows what else has scraped his way into the final five and has even performed his own instantly forgettable single "It's Chico Time", out of tune, naturally, which is bound to be inflicted onto the buying public in time for Christmas.

The joke became unfunny weeks ago, so why does mentor Sharon Osbourne persist with the wafer thin argument that he's a "great entertainer"? Surely his "appeal" is only appreciated by 50-something women who shriek manically from their front seat at a Chippendale's show making it clear they can supply their own baby oil? Oh.

The rank outsider to win the competition, Chico's time on the X Factor is drawing to a close, although a lucrative career as a professional Reality TV personality awaits. Good grief.

Summary

Shayne does not represent good value to win the competition at odds on, especially if a recording contract is already a done deal. With every glittering performance Andy makes, the name of Steve Brookstein must be echoing in the judges minds while I do not believe Brenda and certainly not Chico have what it takes to win. That just leaves Journey South, the talented duo from Middlesbrough, who could well become Simon Cowell's second winning act in as many series of the X Factor and at a good price too.

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