X-Factor USA: Round of 5

Special thanks to my one commenter… Smile feel free to have an opinion, I certainly don’t have an exclusive on them.  Oh, and by the way, this one was done live.  I’m sure you can tell the difference.  I’m actually glad to be doing this – we just had a rare line of December thunderstorms, but I’m not one of the 50,000 homes in Richmond that lost power.  Whether I regret that fact will be determined in the next 90 minutes…

Earlier this week, the Charisma Vacuum claimed he’s as stiff and joyless as he is on stage because the producers are yelling in his ear all night.  To that, I have one question: Steve, you HAVE hosted a TV show before, right?  I mean, you knew what you were in for.  If you can’t handle producers in your ear and still pretend to be a human being instead of a hostbot… step aside.

We’re down to five singers (all soloists, 4 under 30, big surprise), who’ll each sing two songs tonight.  One of those songs for each singer has been chosen by visitors to the X-Factor website audience. There’s no way this can go wrong… can it?

It’s Time.  To Face.  The Music.

Of course, the focus of the opening montage is entirely on the judges… as it has been all season, ensuring that the winner of this competition will probably be forgotten 30 seconds after the confetti drops…

CV notes that we lose one performer tonight, and that there’s a “twist” coming tonight (is that a whiff of desperation in the air?).

The opening round is dance music, X-Factor style, with a couple of DJs… we start with the putative favorite…

Melanie Amaro – “Someone Like You”, Adele
Is Adele’s music considered “dance”?   Well, as long as X-Factor thinks so.  Interesting that she didn’t move a muscle during this “dance” song, either.  But she’s got a hell of a voice and she did a solid job on the song.  She could’ve done more with it, I think.

Break… there was a rumor this week that Melanie has already scored one prize from this season… one of the Stereo Hogzz.  I guess another Idol tradition, hooking up with your competitors, made it through to X-Factor… and now I’ve reached the one downside of doing the blog live… you can’t fast-forward real-time bad commercials…

Marcus Canty – “Ain’t Nobody”, Rufus w/Chaka Khan
Seems Marcus is a bit more at home in this genre… he’s not really dancing, but he’s showing some signs of life while the dancers work around him… and it winds up being one of his better performances.  Not sure if it’s enough (yet) to get him out of the bottom of the vote, though.  He really needs to knock the second song out of the park, I think.

Break… with a spot that reminds us that the original (Idol, of course) returns in January, with a spot filmed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida (I recognize the streetscape at the end, which gives away that I’ve been to Disney World just a few times…)

Rachel Crow – “Nothin’ On You”, B.O.B.
Rachel needs to have that dippy B&W photo removed from her montage… I guess static performances are the rule of the night, as Rachel stands centerstage while the dancers go nuts… and she even had a ready answer for the question of why she didn’t gender-flip the lyrics… girl’s got spunk… and a really good voice.  Another solid performance.  I don’t know if she can win (it’s really hard for someone this young to win an audience vote), but it’ll be close…

Josh Krajcik – “We Found Love”, Rihanna
Josh covers the show’s official Big Star Friend… a song which I think she did on this very stage… which may be a tactical mistake.  But if you want a credible dance/rock version of a Rihanna hit, you got one (complete with Josh standing at centerstage, yeah, we have a pattern here).  I don’t know if it connects with the people he needs to vote for him, though.

Break… putting Chris at the end of the dance round makes sense (if the goal is to help him), as we should get a bit more on-stage energy…

Chris Rene – “Live My Life”, T.I. featuring Rihanna
Well, Chris stood on the turntable set and occasionally remembered to move back to centerstage.  Interesting performance, but where was the song?  Oh, I see, he rewrote it except for the hook.  Right.  As with Marcus, I don’t think he did enough here, and will have to do more on the second song.

Break as we end the first round… nobody really stands out, and I think Marcus and Chris are heading back to the Bottom Two if they don’t kill the second song.  Apparently, the performers were given a “twist” during rehearsals last night – we already know the audience chose these songs, what else could they do to the performers now?  We’re about to find out… after a local break where my local FOX affiliate, apparently due to power-related issues, can’t run local spots, so we get a long still frame promoting their reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” and no sound.  Lovely.  And we still get the “This is FOX Video On Demand” plug… REALLY?  I’m watching on TV, not On Demand.

Ah, here’s the twist.  The Sponsored Song Choice Competition got screwed up due to a “communications error”, postponed to next week, and thus the contestants had 24 hours to turn their Final Showdown songs into their second songs tonight.  Wow, this doesn’t seem a bit staged by the producers at all!!!

Melanie Amaro – “When You Believe”, Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey
Melanie is this show’s big-voiced diva, so why not cover two of the ultimate big-voiced divas?  To no surprise at all, she gave it a good run – this is the path her career will take post-Factor, so why not show off a bit?  She clinched her spot in the Final Four – despite her somewhat-manic rant after the song, which probably soaked up all the time allotted for the judges’ input.

Gee, amazing that Arista’s Clive Davis happens to be in the audience so Simon can give him a shoutout after a song made famous by one of Davis’ signings… all these coincidences!?!?

Break…

Marcus Canty – “A Song For You”, Leon Russell
This needs to be big… It was good.  Very good.  But I don’t think this was big enough to pull him out of the Bottom Two again.  The judges will probably save him again, but I don’t think it was enough.  I think he’s reached his plateau (and probably passed it, as this was Drew’s spot, realistically, if Simon hadn’t sunk her chance last week). 

Break…

Rachel Crow – “Music & Me”, Michael Jackson
Wow.  The nerves and the short turnaround got her badly – she hasn’t been this far off-key and wobbly all season.  The first few seconds of this performance were painful.  She did sort of get it back and finished a bit stronger, but this obviously isn’t the time to uncork an off-kilter performance.  I suspect she has enough popularity to slide through, but it’s not totally out of the question that she parked herself in the Bottom Two with this.

Josh Krajcik – “Something”, The Beatles
Give him credit for going to his strength, the rock ballad.  OK, it’s more ballad than rock.  And it’s the most-covered song ever.  You know what I mean.  The problem is that he tends to fall back on his Joe Cocker impression when the chips are down, and we got a bit of that tonight.  We don’t always get to see who Josh is, and that may be a problem.  He’s probably made up for the first song, but like Rachel, could hit the Bottom Two if things break wrong.

Speaking of breaks… it breaks reality to think that Stevie Wonder would just randomly call Chris and Marcus… and that there would just happen to be cameras there… ALL THE COINCIDENCES.

Chris Rene – “Where Do We Go From Here” (most likely title), Chris Rene
This is a gamble, although he did bust out the guitar to try to get the White Guy With Guitar vote.  Another original song, not called “Young Homie”?  VFTW may not be able to save him now.  In a situation where he needed to really score big to save himself, he pulled up short.  Not that this was a safe choice… but it wasn’t really what he needed.  Too… um… bland?  Yeah, that’s the word.  Where does Chris go from here?  The Bottom Two, as even the audience’s obligatory standing ovation was a bit tepid.

Prediction time:  Marcus and Chris in the Bottom Two, with Marcus’ time running out.

We’re close to time, but that’s OK, as nobody needs to see the horrific “(I Hate My) Teenage Daughter”, with the title that even FOX can’t bring itself to say.  How about a show called “(FOX Hates The) 30-Minute Sitcom”?  Would that sell?

I’ll be doing the recap of the results show late tomorrow night – but here’s what it’ll look like:

  • Opening Montage
  • Judges’ Sniping
  • Backstage Montage
  • Guest Star #1
  • One singer is saved
  • Guest Star #2
  • The Bottom Two are announced
  • Final Showdown
  • CV barks at the judges to stop stalling and vote someone off
  • Marcus goes home.

There, I’ve saved you an hour.  See you tomorrow night.

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

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

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