X-Factor USA: Round of 10

It’s kind of an odd situation – with 9 solo singers and one judge-created group left, the soloists have to be thinking that they are singing to avoid joining Lakoda Rayne in the Bottom Two.  We’ve seen that America doesn’t want to vote for groups – but I think it’s a safe bet that the judges will not send their creation home, either.  So for the soloists, it’s simple – reach the Bottom Two, and you’re going home.  Now that we’ve face the cold reality…

It’s Time.  To Face.  The Music.

[Standard Intro, with added dancers.  See the last two recaps.]

OK, great.  Another theme week… it’s “Rock Night”… and we don’t have a real rocker in the competition.  VFTW has to be drooling over the comic possibilities of the next two hours… but wait… the Charisma Vacuum says that it’s going to be “rock songs, or songs performed in a rock style”.  Weasel words if ever I heard them…

LeRoy Bell – “We’ve Got Tonight”, Bob Seger
Interesting that they put LeRoy first, and then let L.A. Reid call him “boring” in the intro montage.  Setup?  Anyway, within the first 30 seconds, we betray the “Rock Night” premise, as LeRoy does this in more of a lite-pop style… and, frankly, he’s proving L.A. right.  This is definitely Bottom Two worthy.  He’s got a perfectly nice voice.  And that’s it.  No presence at all.  Forgettable performance.  The judges’ sniping is more entertaining than the performance, and that’s not a good sign.  And the Charisma Vacuum’s attempt to stir up controversy failed horribly, which is no surprise at all.  Moving on…

…to the break.

Rachel Crow – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, Rolling Stones
Simon bungles the intro, then the local FOX affiliate bungles an EAS alert (we were having serious thunderstorms during the show).  Auspicious start, which cuts a few seconds off the song here.  Sounds like Simon tried to get her to put a Motownish spin on the song, and it seems to be working.  She’s far more entertaining than the previous performance without being the Disney Lite version.  Good job.  She’s safe.

We’re off to break realizing that it’s now a battle to suck less than LeRoy did.  Kind of takes the edge off the show, doesn’t it?

Chris Rene – “No Woman No Cry”, Bob Marley
CHEAT!  CHEAT!
  L.A. Reid justified this by saying that Marley is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer – but still… Chris does a version of the song that’s half rap, half reggae, and all bloodless.  He scrubbed the edge off the song.  I think he’ll get votes for his backstory and his charm, and lose votes for his “Occupy All Streets” t-shirt, but still wind up with more than LeRoy.  This was an opportunity lost, sadly, to really set himself up as a favorite.

From reggae-rap to the resident Scientologist… after the break… and the weekly East Coast Twitter count…

Stacy Francis – “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”, Meat Loaf
Oh, this could be a classic train wreck.  And it was.  I mean, I know Meat Loaf is a very dramatic singer, but this… this was the revival hall version, and it wasn’t even that good.  This performance won’t be coming back to the voters when the phone lines open.   The judges couldn’t even fake enthusiasm for it.  Sadly for them, I think LeRoy still won the race to the bottom, but it’s close.

Four performances.  One good one.  Three “eh”.  We’re definitely in Idol territory… at least the EAS alert ran over the break…

Melanie Amaro – “Everybody Hurts”, R.E.M.
Cue the fog machines… and cue another non-rock performance on “Rock” Night… well, she did try to put some energy into the last third of the song, so give her credit.  Nice performance, technically well-done, but she’ll get through because of others’ failures, not because this was her strongest performance.

I can’t imagine that America finds the judges’ bitchiness is the least bit enterta… wait, this is the same country that watches “Jersey Shore”, never mind, of course the average viewer enjoys this…

Josh Krajcik – “The Pretender”, Foo Fighters
This could be messy.  Instead, it was probably Josh’s best showing so far.  It started kind of slow, which worried me, but when the song kicked up the tempo, he stayed with it.  I’m glad someone finally did a credible rock performance on Rock Night.  Thematically, best of the night.  Probably top three if you allow for the bending-the-theme performances.  Big change from last week’s near-disaster.

Break… before Astro raps his way through a rock song… oh, boy…

Astro – “I’ll Be Missing You”, Puff Daddy
Based on “Every Breath You Take” (The Police), of course, but not technically a rock song.  Astro pretty much does his own rap, as he always does… occasionally remembering to do a few words of Sting’s ode to stalkerism…  I have no idea if he did any of Sean Combs’ words… and I am honestly not capable of judging this.  All I’ll say is that he’s going to go through, and will probably make the top 4, without ever actually singing a word on this putative singing competition.  He’s even got a chance to win, if only because he plays to the tweens with cellphones who overload the vote.

Break… before the last group is thrown to the wolves…

Lakoda Rayne – “Use Your Love/Go Your Own Way”, Katy Perry/Fleetwood Mac
The first part is based on one of my favorite Lost 80’s tracks, The Outfield’s “Your Love”.  And it’s kind of a shame that this is pointless – we know they’re going to be in the Bottom Two (so why the show didn’t put them in the Pimp Slot this week is a mystery).  What’s even more of a shame is that this is the medley where they really found their vibe as a group.   They don’t deserve the Bottom Two slot they’re likely to get…as to me, this is the most fun (if not quite “best”) performance of the night.

Break… and more useless Twitter pimping…

Drew – “With or Without You”, U2
Oh, dear… Drew doing rock… rut roh, Raggy… She started off kind of proving L.A. Reid right… it’s basically the same tempo and sound as she’s done every week so far.  She’s talented, but if she doesn’t do something different, soon, the voters are going to tune her out.  Which is a shame, because she deserves to go deep in the competition, she’s just stuck in a comfort zone she won’t leave.   She’ll be back next week.

Break… here comes the Pimp Slot. 

Marcus Canty – “Piece Of My Heart”, Janis Joplin
A church kid doing Janis?  Well… um… you know what?  He pulled it off.   It was a fairly faithful rendition, actually, and it showcased his voice well.  I think he could’ve used some more stage presence, but that’ll come.  Probably his best, and among the highlights of the night.

So, we’ve seen ten performances, most of which can’t really be classified as “rock”.  Who’s in trouble?  If life were fair, it’d be LeRoy Bell and Stacy Francis in the Bottom Two later tonight. Life isn’t fair, so I think it’ll be LeRoy and Lakoda Rayne, with LeRoy being the first solo performer to leave the show.

And to top it all off, the Charisma Vacuum had to vamp a bit at the end, because the show managed to come in slightly under time, even with all the (staged) judges’ bickering.

Don’t forget, by the way, the Round of 9 next week will be on Tuesday/Wednesday, because not even FOX would try to run the X-Factor Results Show on Thanksgiving night.

See you tomorrow morning for the results, where somehow they convinced Rihanna to appear.

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), improv tech guy, generally nice person (if you ask me).

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