Saturday 25 November 2017

X Factor and HMV in 'fixing' row ahead of ITV show's weekend final

Andrew Hough

THE X Factor and HMV are at the centre of a "fixing" row after the music store inadvertently published an advertisement for the "winner’s" single days before the final show.

The High Street music retailer’s website crashed and social networking sites went into meltdown after the advertisement was posted on Tuesday, appearing to disclose that Amelia Lily had won the ITV reality show.

On Tuesday night both organisations denied this weekend’s final had been rigged, instead blaming a “regrettable technical issue” on HMV’s website.

While HMV apologised and said "nothing further (should) be construed" from the mistake, X Factor sources admitted executives were “really annoyed” over the blunder.

The X Factor final, taking place at Wembley Arena on Saturday, is still open to a public vote, with the results not being counted until Sunday. Coldplay, Leona Lewis, Bublé, JLS and One Direction are the star guests at the final next weekend.

Ahead of the final, fans of the popular television show noticed the page, titled “Amelia Lily X Factor 2011 Winners (sic) single”, that had been published in HMV's online music section.

Meanwhile, searches for any winner's singles produced by the other two finalists, Little Mix and Marcus Collins, failed to produce any results.

In the advertisement, HMV said the single, as yet untitled, would be released next Monday through record label Syco, the company owned by Simon Cowell, the media mogul and the show's boss.

The website said the single would retail for £3.99, and would be shipped in "three to six working days".

But the blunder provoked thousands of angry postings from fans on Twitter, the microblogging website, claiming the show should be renamed “Fixfactor”. It also led HMV's website to crash for a period.

While all three finalists have recorded versions of the unnamed song, fans quickly suggested the show had been "fixed".

Among the criticism was from the Middlesbrough teenager’s mother, Aranka, who was shocked when told of the blunder.

"I just hope this hasn’t been some kind of stunt and doesn’t stop people voting for her," she said.

"I’ve said before there’s no way she can win it after being in the bottom two, but after what’s happened on the show so far, who knows?"

Versions of the winner’s single by all three finalists will then be placed on the site for pre-order on Wednesday morning with purchases for the eventual winner to be processed.

On Tuesday night, three key words about the controversy – #fixfactor, #HMV and #Amelia Lily – were in the five most popular “trending topics” in Britain on Twitter.

At one stage the term #fixfactor was the most highest "trend" throughout the country and the second most popular topic of discussion around the world.

In this weekend's final, Lily, 17, will face Marcus Collins and Little Mix, the first girl group to make it to the talent show's finale.

Lily reached the final after being voted off by her mentor Kelly Rowland in the first week of live shows.

A public vote later brought her back to replace disgraced Frankie Cocozza, who was booted off after boasting he had used cocaine.

Meanwhile, the victor of the ITV1 singing contest has largely dominated the festive charts, although in 2009 a backlash prompted music fans to push Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine to the top instead of X Factor winner Joe McElderry.

Whomever wins the X Factor will likely do battle against Gareth Malone's choir of military wives, who have become the bookies' favourite for the Christmas number one.

A flurry of bets has pushed the group's single Wherever You Are into prime position, according to new figures issued by William Hill.

The military wives are releasing the track after winning fans during the BBC TWO series The Choir: Military Wives.

It is the second time the X Factor has been accused of vote-rigging after a phone poll last month, which saw Lily voted back on to the show, as disclosed online an hour before phonelines closed.

A story was published on the website of STV, which broadcasts ITV shows in Scotland, announcing the teenager as the winner of the vote to replace axed Frankie Cocozza with one of four former contestants.

The TV channel apologised for the blunder but disappointed fans accused the programme of vote-fixing.

That mistake was the second glitch to hit X Factor during the sixth live round of the series, after a technical fault delayed the show's start time by 15 minutes.

The new "fixing" row comes a few weeks after Sir Bruce Forsyth, the presenter of Strictly Come Dancing, unleashed a strident attack on his Saturday night reality television rival the X Factor, denouncing its “scripted rows”.

The 83 year-old entertainer said the artificial feuds had put viewers off and were the reason the X Factor was falling behind Strictly in the ratings.

Sir Bruce, who was knighted last month, said that despite being a “reality show”, Strictly had a better format, music, singing and comedy.

In comparison, the X Factor, whose boss is Simon Cowell, the media mogul, had repetitive singers and “judges making up rows between themselves”.

Sir Bruce, who has performed for 70 years – 50 of those on prime time television – believed the fights were “scripted”.

On Tuesday night a spokesman for HMV denied the store had been involved in vote-rigging and apologised for the error.

" was looking to accept customer preorders for versions of the xfactor winner's single recorded by each of the three finalists," he said.

"However, due to a technical issue only Amelia Lily's details were uploaded. These have been temporarily removed so that all three finalists details can go up at the same time.

"Once up, fans will be able to preorder the single by their preferred finalist, though only orders for the eventual winner will be processed and charged for."

He added: "This has been the result of unforeseen but regrettable technical issue, for which we apologise and ask that nothing further be construed."

A source close to the show said: "We are really annoyed."

A spokesman added: “This is absolutely nothing to do with The X Factor, HMV have admitted this was due to a technical error on their site."

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