X-Factor USA: Round of 9

Even if you don’t follow X-Factor, you had to have heard about the dustup surrounding teen rapper Astro (Brian Bradley) after his visit to the Bottom Two – and his petulant reaction – last week.  He’s accused Simon Cowell of rigging the show (which doesn’t surprise anyone who has followed Cowell’s TV career) and basically acted like a pissed-off 15-year-old.  Some of the reaction is Cowell’s fault – he and his team of judges have been telling Astro that he’s going to be a superstar.  Why shouldn’t Astro believe them?  So he’s convinced he’s got it made – and that he’s so good, there’s just no way he’d be legitimately in the Bottom Two.  He’s 15, and has Twitter and Facebook accounts that the show forgot to take away.  There’s your recipe for disaster. 

In more ways that one, we’ve gathered a night early this week because…

It’s Time.  To Face.  The Music.

The opening montage is the top 9 telling us what they’re thankful for – because they’ll be dedicating tonight’s songs to those people.

Speaking of someone who should be thankful, here comes the man who should be thankful that he hasn’t been fired yet – and he doesn’t even get an intro.  The Charisma Vacuum tells us that this is a double-elimination week – yes, to shorten the season, they’re cutting two acts later tonight.  On the results show, there’ll be a Bottom Three. The lowest-voted perfomer goes home. The 2nd and 3rd worst go to the Final Showdown.  With that announcement, is there any chance Astro makes it to next week?  Probably not. 

Oh, look, Nicole Scherzinger looks like she took a bath in spray tan… and the show awkwardly tries to handle Astro’s comments, failing miserably.


Rachel Crow (for her adoptive parents) – “I Believe”, Yolanda Adams
Not sure why they’re tossing her into the Death Slot – they should be pushing this girl to the moon (unless they’ve decided to cut their losses on the teens?).  Her montage tells her story (crack baby, adopted as an infant).  The performance is, as she has been all season, entertaining, although having the choir behind her kind of hid her singing a bit.  Even still, a solid opening to the show.  She’s probably safe.


Marcus Canty (for his mom) – “A Song For Mama”, Boys II Men
The montage portrays him as a “momma’s boy” in a violent neighborhood… the song is a chance for Marcus to show a more soulful side after taking on Janis last week… and it may well pay off.  This is the kind of music he’s going to do if he wins this – and if this is any indication, he’ll do it well.  Big hug for his mom after the song.  Now if only the judges weren’t so afraid of being booed by the X-Bots that they shy away from any constructive criticism.  We can only hope that the criticism comes during the week…

Break… the 2nd of the girls is next… already?  Must be a reaction to Astro’s claim that the show is set up for one of the girls to win…

Melanie Amaro (for God) – “I’m The World’s Greatest”, R.Kelly
Something tells me she won’t be hugging her inspiration tonight…interesting choice of song (R.Kelly’s ego-stroking to thank God?)… another performance held back slightly by a choir taking focus from the singer, but there was no doubt… of anyone remaining, she’s probably the one who has already got it made regardless, so it was almost expected that she’d nail the song.  She’s a bit fired up tonight… for the first time, they’re actually letting us see Melanie as more than just “that girl Simon brought back” (while the Charisma Vacuum frantically tries to keep the show on pace, and Nicole gives Melanie a big hug – mind the spray tan!)…

Break… and the announcement that Bruno Mars and Kelly Clarkson (hmmm….) will be performing tonight on the results show.

Chris Rene (for his rehab counselor) – “Let It Be/Young Homie”, the Beatles/Chris Rene
Title the montage “from meth addiction to X-Factor”… he starts with a dangerous song choice, as if you tackle the Beatles, you have to get it right – even if you use it as an intro to your own original song.  Of course, he had to toss in a rap as the bridge between the songs, but it was a more lyrical rap than we’re used to (and did he sample Jason Mraz in there?).  A very enjoyable performance, glad to see he toned down the rap and focused on singing tonight, it may be what he needed to stay around for a while.

Break… as I fast-forward past the Kohl’s Black Friday ad that I hate with a deep passion…

Lakoda Rayne (for their varied influences) – “You Belong With Me”, Taylor Swift
It’s for two dads, one grandmother, and one boyfriend… I guess the song choice was for the boyfriend?… slow start, but the song picked up speed as they got into it… and they sounded more like a group than some of their other performances.   And how can you go wrong doing Taylor Swift (if you do it right, and they did)?   Did Simon say he’s sorry that they’re “going home tomorrow”?  It sure as hell sounded that way… did he pick up the wrong script?  Or is Astro right???

Break… while I rewind to check what Simon said… “I genuinely wish you weren’t going home tomorrow”.  Um… oops?

LeRoy Bell (for his late mom) – “Angel”, Sarah McLachlan
When you think about it, it pretty much was the right song for him to sing… unfortunately, it also showcased a lack of power and strength in his voice… while it was a good performance, it was definitely not as good as what had preceded him… this time, the ever-present choir may have hurt him… he may be our first Bottom Three candidate tonight.  And of course, the X-Bots booed L.A. for suggesting that this was anything short of perfect…

Break… the kid who made all the headlines is next… after a pointless Twitter moment…

Astro (for his supporters) – rap based on “Show Me What You Got”, Jay-Z
The opening montage is, of course, Astro’s apology to America… and the rap is rewritten as a shoutout to Astro’s fans… after which he officially got the apology for last week’s tantrum in.  This was designed as his Official Redemption Moment… while I expect a lot of dumb moves from the X-Factor producers, I can’t see them letting him hit the Bottom Three tonight.


Drew (for her best friend) – “Skyscraper”, Demi Lovato
The dedication, it seems, is a way for Drew to try to connect with the tween voters (no, I’m not cynical)… I am not sure if this is good or bad, but she clearly has a vision for who she is as a singer… the problem is, she hasn’t varied a bit.  I hope her audience hasn’t tuned her out, as while this was another very good peformance, it felt like every other performance she’s done until she briefly picked up the tempo at the end of the song.  She’s got “it”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she wound up in the Bottom Three.  I’d vote for her just for ripping L.A. … on the other hand, I don’t need to see Simon and L.A. fighting – the inter-judge battles need to stop.  ProTip to FOX and the X-Factor producers: it’s about the singers, stupid.

Final break…

Josh Krajcik (for his daughter) – “Wild Horses”, Rolling Stones
Wow… did he rework this song down to its roots… I’m not sure if it was his best (and, frankly, there were moments where it sounded like Josh doing Joe Cocker doing the Stones)… but overall, it was a good job, and I think the Pimp Spot will be enough to save him.

Everyone pretty much stayed in their comfort zones tonight, making a prediction difficult.  The only certain Bottom Three act, to me, is LeRoy Bell.  After that, it’s really a coin toss.  If I had to guess, I’d say Lakoda Rayne (because America hates groups) and Marcus Canty (because his performance got lost early in the show) join LeRoy in the Bottom Three, with the girls and LeRoy going home.  I’m probably totally wrong.  We’ll find out tonight – and I’ll be back on Thanksgiving morning to see who’s thankful for the chance to come back next week.


Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, slightly less occasional improv player/ref/tech, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

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