X-Factor USA: Round of 11

As a sports fan, I definitely need a distraction from the news of the week… and two hours of karaoke seems to be a good one.  Live on DVR from Hollywood… here we go… although we start with a bit of disappointment.  I hoped X-Factor was going to avoid theme weeks… so, of course, it’s time for a theme week.

We start with the official montage of last week’s shows, and the “difficult” decision to punt InTENsity.  Oh… now we know why it’s movie night… tonight’s show is a promo tie-in for the latest Adam Sandler disaster, Jack and Jill. 

It’s time.  To face.  The music.

And it’s time to face the least charismatic person in American television, Steve Jones… who quickly gets out of the way for the judges’ introduction.  To the Star Wars theme.  Well, Paula comes from a galaxy far, far away, so I guess it makes sense.

Before we get to the singing, we get a montage of the contestants’ appearance at the Jack and Jill premiere.  Skipping… wait… is that Al Pacino in this truly awful bit of twaddle?  I wish I could waste my talents for that kind of paycheck… speaking of waste, back to Steve Jones… who introduces Nicole to introduce our first singer (who moves from last week’s Pimp Spot to this week’s Death Spot)…

Stacy Francis – “Queen of the Night”, Whitney Houston (from The Bodyguard)
L.A. Reid co-wrote this, and he thinks it’s a bad idea.  Wow.  Stacy all but disappears inside the song and the production – this is a forgettably mediocre performance of a lesser-known song in the leadoff spot of X-Factor.  If Nicole is trying to get Stacy voted off, this was the way to do it.  She should’ve done “I’m Every Woman”.

And we head off to our first break, with a Jack and Jill commercial.  Thank goodness for the fast-forward button.

Marcus Canty – “I’m Going Down”, Rose Royce (from Car Wash)
My God, the stage is on fi—oh, that’s a fog machine. Carry on.  The idea, was to “showcase Marcus as a singer”.  OK.  Hiding him in a ton of fog does that well… but he overcame the setting and showed that there is more to him than just the dancing.  Solid performance.  He’ll be back next week.

Drew – “Fix You”, Coldplay (from You, Me, and Dupree)
The song isn’t on the soundtrack album, apparently, but was the end-credits song?  L.A. hits the problem she’s running into – she’s not showing any versatility,as she’s basically doing the same performance over and over again.  It’s a very good performance, but I wonder if she’s going to burn out the audience without changing up at some point.  And while it was fun to watch Paula backtrack after she slammed the dress that Drew designed for this performance, it was annoying that the judges go so caught up in their squabbling that Steve Jones had to put on the “schoolteacher” voice to get them to behave.

Off to the break… at 5x fast-forward…

LeRoy Bell – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, U2 (from The Runaway Bride)
Wow.  This seems like a challenge for any singer.  This is a really “big” song… and LeRoy pulled it off by pulling back a bit.  He gave a stripped-down, soulful performance and did manage to make this song that we all know (way too well) sound unique.  Very good, and we’ll certainly see him next week.

Promotional consideration provided by… the FF button…

Back for the obligatory TwitterCounter, showing that #anyone #can #use #a #hashtag.  Of course, the count is irrelevant as half the country gets the show on 3-hour tape delay… Smile

Lakoda Rayne – “Somebody Like You”, Keith Urban (from How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days)
Well, after the criticism last week that they’re kind of country, kind of pop… why not do a country/pop song?   This was the first really fun and light-hearted performance of the night – a change of pace from all of the SrsBsns we’ve been through – and it may just stand out enough to overcome the X-Factor voting audience’s irrational fear of groups.

Oh, boy… after the break, we get to see what movie song lends itself to freestyle rap…

Astro – “Lose Yourself”, Eminem (from 8 Mile)
Not sure this was a good idea to have Astro freestyle within one of Eminem’s most memorable songs.  The shoutouts to Joe Frazier and Heavy D might pick up a few votes, but this is a performance that highlights some of Astro’s shortcomings, and at this stage, that’s not what you want.  He doesn’t do someone else’s lyrics well, and he doesn’t sing.  While he’s got talent, I wonder if America is going to really take this to heart… and he’s not helped by the judges’ fear of being booed.  Oh, no… is he really calling his Twitter fans “Astronauts”?  Someone talk him down from that ledge, please… you have to know that VFTW is loving every minute of this.

After the break, the bonus semifinalist is back…

Oh, look, more Twitter pimping, with a count of “judges’ tweets”.  #IAmOverThis.

Melanie Amaro – “Man In The Mirror”, Michael Jackson (from This Is It)
She’s apparently fighting laryngitis, which seems to be a storyline in every televised singing competition at some point.  And having laryngitis while tackling MJ?  This could go bad… but then again, it is one of the favorites in the competition, and you kind of knew she’d rise up to the occasion.  The judges talk about “looking like a star” – well, Melanie does.   She sounds like one, too.  She nailed it again, best performance of the night so far.

The survivors of last week’s Bottom Two… after the break…

The Stereo Hogzz – “Ain’t No Other Man”, Christina Aguilera (from Get Smart)
And Paula, predictably, almost forgot to pimp the movie… at least they remembered to gender-flip the lyrics… they went to a big production to try to pull out of the Bottom Two this week… but I wonder if it was so big they got lost in it.  The groups really have to kill it to get ahead in this competition, and I’m not convinced this was enough.  It was good, but… felt like it was missing something.

Wow… they’re starting to cut the Charisma Vacuum out of the shot more often… or maybe I just started noticing it.  I mean, is Seacrest out of the shot this much when he pimps the toll-free numbers?  I don’t think so…

Josh Krajcik – “With A Little Help From My Friends”, Joe Cocker (from Across the Universe)
Nicole misses her cue… and… ummmm, Earth to judges… “With A Little Help From My Friends” is not a “Joe Cocker song”… it’s a “Joe Cocker doing Lennon/McCartney” song… so, of course, Josh sings it just like Joe Cocker, complete with the trademark inflections and rasp.  For the first time tonight, we get a truly “karaoke” performance, and given how late in the show this is, it’s going to hurt him.  After everyone else made the songs their own, he channeled someone else.  Bad, bad idea.  Strong, but unoriginal, performance.

It’s clear the judges have been put on limited time… why they wait until the end of the show to remember that the judges prattle too much is beyond me.

Chris Rene – “Gangsta’s Paradise”, Coolio (from Dangerous Minds)
Talk about a gamble… rewriting Coolio?  Who does he think he is, Astro?  OK, seriously… at least Chris sings and raps the song, so that’s an improvement… and credit to him telling what sounds like his life story in 90 seconds… I wonder about the relatability to the X-Factor voting audience.  He’s a solid performer, and should be OK for next week, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he winds up in trouble.

One final break… when we come back, the Pimp Spot goes to the youngest competitor…

Rachel Crow – “I’d Rather Go Blind”, Beyoncé (from Cadillac Records)
Covering Etta James and Beyoncé?  Risky business… but Rachel has a killer voice and, not totally surprisingly, pulls it off.  A really solid way to wrap up the show – she could’ve opened the show with it and been safe, too.  This is the best performance of the night.

The girls stood out tonight – I can see, if they keep it up, all three girls making it deep into the competition (and making Simon even more insufferable).   At risk for the Bottom Two?  Josh Krajcik, Stereo Hogzz, Stacy Francis.  And since America hates groups, I think the Hogzz will be sent home tonight.  Because the results show is so much fluff, and I can fast-forward it in about 8 minutes, I may try to blog it after work tonight (around 12:30am).  Otherwise, I’ll see you Friday morning (if so, I’ll try to turn it up to 11 for you on National Metal Day).

Final thought: this may be the X-Factor, but Steve Jones is a non-factor.  They have to lose him for season two.


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