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You never stop learning. That's what my mother always tells me, but then it's easy for her to say that, she's a teacher. She has a point though, especially when you apply her belief to this year's X Factor.

Last weekend we learned that Gary Barlow is a rubbish mentor, and that Frankie Cocozza is just rubbish. We also learned that Kitty Brucknell, despite having the ability to wipe the floor with Jedward and Wagner in the most hated contestant ever stakes, is actually very good. And let us not forget that we learned that X Factor themes literally mean you can sing absolutely any song you choose, or in the Boys' case, any rubbish song that Barlow chooses for you.

I remember the days when a theme was a theme, like Elton John week for example where you had to sing one of the great man's hits. But now we have themes like England versus America meaning you can sing any song released in either England or America, and Love and Heartbreak, which meant acts could sing any song related to love or heartbreak - in both cases, practically any song that has ever been penned then.

Which makes it all the more surprising that Barlow chose low-tempo, boring numbers for his three acts - Cocozza (The Scientist), Craig Colton (Best Thing I Never Had) and Marcus Collins (Russian Roulette).

Ok, all three songs have been hits in this country for some big artists (Coldplay, Beyonce, and Rihanna respectively) but they are hardly instantly recognisable songs, especially to the older generation. And if there's one thing that I've learned about the X Factor then it's that a large % of voters - like my tone death other half for example - automatically believe a singer to be rubbish if they don't recognise the song.

Not surprisingly Cocozza found himself in the bottom two last weekend, and all three of Barlow's Boys have drifted alarmingly in the Winner market. Colton is available to back at 9.8, Collins at 25.0, and Cocozza at 55.0.

It was a completely different story for Kelly Rowland's Girls however, all three performing well known songs and because so, confirmed their position in the Winner market despite none of them being outstanding at the weekend. Misha Bryan (6.0) was arguably the best performer of the three but there's a sense that she isn't the most popular person still in the competition, whilst the softly spoken Janet Devlin (3.9) and Sophie Habibis (13.0) did nothing wrong but must up their game sooner rather than later.

The only other two acts worthy of a mention from the weekend are The Risk and Brucknell. The Risk (3.5) have now disposed Devlin as favourites to win the competition after another faultless performance on Saturday night, displaying powerful vocals and solid harmonies during their rendition of the Bruno Mars hit Just The Way You Are. I'm not going to back them now at 3.5 when they were available to back at 25.0 less than two weeks ago, but I have to admit that they are fast becoming the act everyone has to beat.

Brucknell (55.0) on the other hand has no chance of winning, but she should have a chance as she is arguably the best singer in the competition. Her rendition of the Bjork classic It's Oh So Quiet was the best performance of the night on Saturday, but her popularity is so low that she will never be able to turn it around enough to be the last act standing.

Onto this week's bets then. Barlow is worth a punt in the First Mentor Eliminated market at 5.0. He is too smug with his song choices and doesn't realise he is getting it completely wrong - or simply chooses not to admit it. Cocozza and Collins will be gone soon, and I'm not convinced that Colton is making a big impression on the public either.

Louis Walsh is the overwhelming favourite in this market at 1.4 but he has the most popular act in the competition - Johnny Robinson - and one of the best singers in the competition in Brucknell. Colton should outlast them both, but at the odds I believe Barlow is the value bet.

In the Sixth Elimination market I backed Sami Brookes this morning at 5.2 but she's now available at just 4.6 so that's the price I'll put up for the sake of this column.

Recommended Bets
Back Gary Barlow @ 5.0 in First Mentor Eliminated market (2pts)
Back Sami Brookes @ 4.6 in Sixth Elimination market (1pt)

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