The second season of Fox Television's "X Factor" has had a rough go of it in 2012 in the ratings wars. It's push to make Britney Spears a star on the judges panel hasn't quite panned out, her reticence and observable stiffness not coming across well on live television. There was near credibility debacle of CeCe Frey continuing to rise in the competition, cut short at sixth place after Simon Cowell flat-out told her she wasn't worth a $5 million recording contract. And then there is the walking fiasco that is co-host Khloe Kardashian, still unable to get her hosting chops down after 14 shows of on-the-job training. But the one thing the show can be proud of: The acts that made the finale. And although odds are against Khloe and Britney making a return for "X Factor" Season 3, the odds seem to be in favor of the trio of finalists graduating and doing well in the music business, given their collective talent. But which one will get that extra boost by winning the season title? Does Fifth Harmony, a surprise entry into the Top 3, actually have a chance of winning it all?
According to Bovada.com, the group does. However, their chances stand at 12/1. In fact, their odds of winning the Season 2 title are the same as they were at the beginning of the season going into the first live show (Top 16). However, after Judge Britney eliminated one of her strongest singers, a rethink brought 13-year-old Diamond White back to make the Top 12 the Top 13. After Jason Brock's elimination, the girl group (formerly known as the LYLAS, but altering their name to 1432 before mentor Simon Cowell asked America to choose a name for the apparently uninspired vocal band) saw their odds of winning increase to 10/1.
Who, then, stands to win the 2012 prize? The professional oddsmakers at Bovada still post 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar as the singer to beat in the competition. She now posts 5/8 odds to win. Country singer Tate Stevens now posts 6/5 odds, quite an improvement over his Top 16 odds, which were just as good as the LYLAS (12/1). By the time America had a say in the voting results, the 37-year-old had increased his chances to 4/1.
So, whereas Carly Rose and Tate have watched their odds of winning "X Factor" become increasingly better, Fifth Harmony seems to have retreated back to where they started.
But does that really mean anything? Could Fifth Harmony have just as good a chance of winning as Tate and Carly Rose? Perhaps. Still, groups rarely win singing competition reality shows. Last year's "X Factor" UK saw a girl group, Little Mix, win that show's Series 8 (eighth season) title, the first time a group had won. No group has won "The Voice," "Nashville Star," "America's Got Talent," "Britain's Got Talent," "Pop Idol," or "American Idol" (although, to be fair, groups aren't part of the make-up of the "Idol" franchise participants).
So it looks like a third place finish for Fifth Harmony. And yet, they weren't expected to make the Top 3. Even their mentor, Simon Cowell, was visibly surprised when the group's name was called on the Semi-Finals results show. Cowell, who had been desperately supportive of the all-girl quintet, had noticeably pitched the trio, Emblem3, as the underdog to come from behind and win the season. Instead, they were eliminated.
Simon said he was a guy that believed in miracles. He all but got one when Fifth Harmony made the Season 2 finale. He'll probably need one to see the girls win it all.
But, like the title of the song they performed for the Semi-Finals suggests, anything could happen...
It did once before...
"X Factor" airs its live season finale performance show at 8 p.m. (EST) on Fox Television Wednesday, Dec. 19. Results of the voting will be revealed beginning at 8 p.m. on Thursday evening.
Take Home Message: Odds are not infallible, immutable, or even inerrant. They are probabilities based on perceptions and calculations. In competitions such as the "X Factor," the "sure things" often turn out not to be so sure after all. Word to the wise: forget the odds, whether you're an underdog or a frontrunner, and concentrate on simply giving your best performance. Win or lose, you'll still have a performance of which to be proud.
(photo credit: X Factor, Freemantle North America, SycoTV, Fox Television)