Rolling over in his grave. And not even dead yet.
I’ve always loved and been intrigued by movies. Since I was a kid, “going to the movies” has seemed nearly as special as it must have been in the early days, when massive, loud projectors unspooled scratchy sepia-colored silent moving pictures. Even after seeing hundreds of movies, I still sit in a dark theater and get totally lost — not just in the plot, but in wondering how films are made. How much of Coming to America was ad libbed? Was the battlefield tracking shot in Atonement done all in one take? How terrifying was it to be on the set of Full Metal Jacket? Why was the Statue of Liberty in Ghostbusters II so flexible? I mean, the pink slime from under the subway was only supposed to make objects move around, not actually animate them.
Obviously, a lot goes into making films and one of the most important elements is music. Without music, The Sound of Music would just be The Sound… The Wizard of Oz would just be about some chick who walked around picking up strangely dressed men… We wouldn’t know when to be startled during Psycho… Dirty Dancing wouldn’t exist, and my life would be incomplete!
Needless to say, I was very excited that Wednesday night’s X Factor would be all about songs that have been used in “iconic movie soundtracks.” Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by the song choices. I’m not sure whether it was licensing issues or someone dropping the creative ball, but there was nothing iconic about Wednesday night’s show. Still, there were some great performances, so let’s get to it!
Steve Jones is still staying off the unemployment line and introduces the judges as super heroes/villains. And I guess that’s pretty deep, because maybe one person’s super hero is another person’s villain. I think it’s safe to say, though, that none of the judges should be entrusted with anything more important than selecting shower curtains or pretending to drink Pepsi while trying to come up with clever things to say during a reality show competition.
Good versus evil.
The four Super Villain Friends are brought out to the Star Wars theme, and then it’s off to the prepackaged video that shows us what the contestants have been up to since the last time we saw them. They went to the premiere of the new Adam Sandler movie Jack & Jill” Now, I took film classes back in the day, so I think the movie is supposed to be an existentialist commentary on how familial ties enable one to find purpose and meaning in an increasingly absurd world. It’s either that or it’s Adam Sandler playing the male and female leads in a film so that he can do both fart and boobie jokes in the same movie.
The first time I saw a commercial for Jack & Jill, I thought it was fake, like The Fatties from Tropic Thunder.
All of the contestants on The X Factor are totally in awe of being on the red carpet at the premiere and think it’s amazing. Drew gives Adam Sandler a hug and says that the movie is the funniest one she’s ever seen. The only time she’s ever been to the movies prior to this was the time her grampy took her to the movie house in Phoenix to see The Happening, and that was pretty laughable, but this one was even better. Sandler tells Lakoda Rayne he liked their version of Landslide and Melanie tells us that she wants to go to premieres of terrible-looking movies every day for the rest of her life.
Stacy Francis gets to perform first and is singing a song from The Bodyguard. Sounds predictable, right? No! She’s not doing “I Will Always Love You.” She’s doing “Queen of the Night,” which was co-written by Whitney Houston, Babyface, Daryl Simmons and our very own LA Reid. Question. How could so much talent come up with such a terrible song? According to Wikipedia, it received a Razzie nomination for Worst Original Song. So, if you put stock into such things, there you go.
In her pre-performance video, Stacy says this is the happiest time in her life ever. And her kids raise an eyebrow. Oh, it’s cool, she tells us. The kids get to be around, too, sometimes. She also reminds us that, at 42, she’s got one foot in the grave, so this is probably her last shot at a happy life. LA Reid randomly weighs in to say that it’s a terrible song choice.
Stacy proves him right. For her performance she’s dressed in a shiny red fetish-type dress with a matching crystal mic and an unfortunate hair weave that shows the wear and tear her hairline has taken. She hits one big note at the beginning and is off to a good start, but it quickly starts to unravel from there. She does a lot of dancing, which is unfortunate given how tight her dress is and how quickly she loses her breath.
By the time the back up dancers put her in a cage to wriggle around in a manner that might suggest seduction, her vocals are completely off and her final note is as painful as the visuals.
I realize that it’s hypocritical for me to imply that Stacy’s fatalism about her age is ludicrous while suggesting that she’s no longer of an age where grinding, squatting and writhing are appropriate, so I’ve asked myself what, exactly, do I find so grotesque about her attempts to be sexy. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just her. It has nothing to do with her age and I think that she’s a beautiful woman. But she’s really irritated me from the beginning of this show with her attitude and her crying and her excuses. So, no, I don’t want to see Stacy playing the role of Pussycat Doll. I just want her to sing and work hard and be sort of humble and tough.
LA Reid wants to know why Stacy didn’t do “I Will Always Love You” and Stacy says it’s because she wanted to dance. This is followed by her flinging her plastic hair around a lot, which is not the kind of dancing that’s appropriate for this show. Paula says that Stacy is a diva, but she never liked “Queen of the Night.” LA complains that that’s disrespectful, but Paula says she’s just being honest.
Simon wishes that Stacy would wear her constricting red outfit off stage — at his house, in fact. Ew. Anyway, he says she still has work to do to convince America that she should get a $5 million recording contract, and he essentially tells her to stop dancing and focus on singing.
Nicole tells Stacy that she looks gorgeous, she shined from within and her performance was empowering for women. Yes, all women should feel empowered to wear skin tight clothes and have men lock them in giant cages while they dance, and then they should stand on a stage while a man in a position of power tells them that they should wear their skin tight clothes to his house. That comment was so fucking stupid I’m getting pissed. But I’m sure that Nicole thought she moved feminism forward a few steps by helping make the Pussycat Dolls popular. I really want to like this lady, but it’s hard when she’s working so earnestly against me.
On to Marcus Canty, who is doing “I’m Goin’ Down” from “the cult classic” Carwash. We’re helpfully reminded that Marcus’s mom gave him two years to make it in the music industry, or she’s putting him on a chain gang on the side of the highway to mow lawns. She flies in from Baltimore every week to make sure he stays on task, although this week she seems to have flown in too late this week to tell him that his costume choice was ill-advised.
Marcus starts the song dressed in a tuxedo jacket covered in silver sequins surrounded by copious amounts of fake fog. On the giant screens behind him, playing cards spin and twirl. What. Is happening here? Is he a black jack dealer at a casino in the woods? Magician at a magic club that’s on fire?
I like his performance. He sounds good and there’s not that frenzied energy that he had the previous week. He hits most of his notes spot on. And then he takes off the jacket. Or he tries to anyway. It got stuck on his arm and he had to struggle with that for awhile. So maybe next time he’ll know that taking off a jacket while holding a mic is a little too advanced for him right now. He eventually gets the jacket off and ends the song on his knees while winking.
Nicole says she’s got two words for him: “ma” and “gic.” Put two fake words together and you get one real word: magic. But say it backwards, and you’ve made up words again: cigam. She thought that he was a beautiful dream happening and he tastes and means every single word he sings. In essence, he is a superstar. Nicole is James Lipton’s idiot little sister.
Paula, who looked mesmerized throughout the song, says everything about him resonates star. Simon says it was a thousand percent better than the previous week and advises him not to wear such stupid clothes in the future.
LA thought Marcus looked and sounded great and has better taste than some people who sit at the judges’ table. He also says that he has a crystal ball and inside the crystal ball there’s an artist’s picture in it. And that picture is of Marcus. And a groupie. Who’s going to give him the clap. But he’s not going to reveal who the groupie is. It’s not time yet. He’s just going to advise Marcus to go ahead and get some antibiotics and be on standby.
Drew is singing “Fix You,” which was on the soundtrack of You, Me & Dupree, which Simon claims is one of his favorite movies. During her video piece, Drew reminds us that she’s a 14-year-old kid from Chino Valley, AZ and her class only has nine people and seven of them are supporting her. Simon acknowledges that the song choice is unexpected, but adds that she’s the type of girl you can take risks with. Oh, man. That kind of attitude will get you into some Marcus Canty-type trouble.
Drew takes the stage in some sort of Betsy Johnson-meets-Rainbow-Bright type of prom dress that’s made from leftover tissue paper and twine and unicorn tears. The song starts out soft and slow and she does her yodeling thing, which sounds kind of nice. When the tempo increases, so do the RPMs on the wind machine that’s pointed at her head and the lights.
So, I made it sound like a lot going on, but it was a relatively boring performance and I started to sort of daydream partway through it and couldn’t quite understand all of the words she was singing. So, it was not for me.
LA says that Drew was good but he can’t tell the difference between that song and all of the other songs she’s done so far, and I think that’s spot on criticism. Also, he’s never heard of this You, Me, & Dupree film. Is it a feature? A documentary? Yes, it’s a documentary on how to make a comedy that’s not remotely funny.
Nicole says that Drew is brilliant beyond her years and is a little slice of heaven. Which is the name of the pie that she eats backstage after she takes her glaucoma medication.
Paula says that Drew gave an honest performance and she’ll give props to Simon for the song choice but not the outfit. It took away from the seriousness of the song and it was hideous and should be pooped on and then burned and then the ashes should be buried above the Arctic Circle so that no human will have to handle them — at least until the Artic Circle thaws out, so with global warming, that’ll give us a good 35 years before anyone has to look at that dress again.
Simon smugly informs Paula that Drew designed the dress. HA! Haaaahahahaha. That was amazing. Paula’s face falls immediately and she says she feels bad but she was just being honest. Simon tells her not to be honest and says that the dress shows Drew’s individuality. She’s like Lady Gaga. Yes. Drew is an individual just like the lady who pretends to be Madonna.
Steve comes out to put in an end to this and comfort Drew, who looks a bit stunned.
“Wha jus happened?”
Leroy Bell is doing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which was on the Runaway Bride soundtrack. During the red carpet, Adam Sandler told Leroy how young he looks, which set the tone for the whole video package, which they just keep playing over and over again. Yes, we get it. Leroy is an old who looks super young. He can be a spokesmodel for AARP.
For his performance, Leroy is wearing the exact same outfit he’s worn since his audition. But he gets two groups of backup singers this time around, rather than the one lone piano player who Simon mocked last week.
I’m not really sure what to say about Leroy. It’s been a few weeks now and he does the same thing: stand still and sound incredible. This week was no different, although he does seem to have more confidence and energy and he kept his eyes open throughout much of the performance. It was better than his previous performances, which have all been really solid, and I thought the song choice was perfect for him.
LA says Leroy finally got it right after weeks of boring performances. Paula says that America has found what they’re looking for. She claims it’s Leroy, although most of the people I know are looking for jobs and better healthcare and buried treasure. Those are just my friends, though.
Simon tells us that Leroy sounded like a 20-year-old, which is why there shouldn’t be an age cap on these sorts of shows. He adds that it was a dignified and classy performance — the best Leroy has given so far.
Nicole wants to put aside Leroy’s age and says he’s just great and she felt like she was at a rock concert and he took us to church at the same time. Someone has clearly never been to Rock Church.
Jesus wants you to rock out with your cross out.
Paula picked “Love Somebody Like You” from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days for Lakoda Rayne. The Lakoda ladies tell us in the pre-performance video that their classmates have been giving them all shoutouts. We see that Cari’s class did, at least.
Remember last week when LA Reid said that he can’t tell if Lakoda Rayne is country or pop and they need to pick a style? Well, Paula has decided to address this by choosing a song that is BOTH country and pop, thereby ignoring his criticism, adding to his confusion, and making his head explode. If she can eliminate the other judges one-by-one, then surely one of her acts will win. Genius, Pauline. Pure genius.
So, Lakoda Rayne have given up their bridesmaids look and opted for a version of country chic that you can find on the racks of the stores my mom shops in when she’s on vacation in Colorado. So there’s lots of fringe and modest lace and everything’s in muted colors.
Their version of the song is very twangy and they harmonize well, although Dani’s solo was the weak link. They’re the first group to utilize the part of the stage that goes behind the judges and I kind of like that they’ve absolutely given up on them even attempting to do any dance that’s more complicated than step-touch-step-touch.
LA says that they’re his favorite girl group in the competition. Not really praise, since they’re the only ones. Nicole says that she grew up in Kentucky and she’d be very popular if she took them home.
Simon says that after last week’s “absolute horror show” when they looked like Stepford wives, they have now become the group he always hoped they’d be. He also thought that they were great individually. And he also thinks that Paula should be in a movie called “How to Lose a Guy in One Day.” Which brings up a thought I’d like to explore a little more: what kind of man does Paula Abdul date? Or maybe a better question would be: what kind of man dates Paula Abdul?
Astro is covering “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile, which is another great song choice. And because Astro is way too cool for everything, he wears headphones to the premiere of Jack & Jill and actually has them on over his ears while he’s talking to Adam Sandler.
I’m imagining this as a conscious and brilliant social commentary.
Sandler tells Astro that his wife likes Astro… a little too much. Please, take my wife, he basically says. Oh, that movie is going to be a laugh-and-a-half, isn’t it?
In the video, Nicole tells us that she thinks LA is putting too much pressure on Astro to write his own verses every week, but Astro tells us that he’d rather be inside writing than outside playing with his friends.
So, he takes the stage in his hipster glasses, a cap and a hoodie and I like the simplicity. Just him, on stage. And also some equipment that shoots flames into the air. And the backup singers, who got really, really into the performance.
Performing on an oil rig.
It was a great performance. The lyrics were awesome, especially the second verse. Thanks to Astro, I now know that the pancreas is the organ that produces insulin. That’s right. I know that the pink slime from Ghostbusters II came from a portrait of Vigo the Carpathian in the Manhattan Museum of Art, but I don’t know what my pancreas is for. Whatevs.
So Astro closes out his awesome performance with “Rest in peace, Heavy D. Rest in peace, Joe Frazier. Swack.” Nicole says she’s in awe and this is what separates the amateurs from the real contenders. Paula says his level of focus is what creates superstars and he can be in a myriad of genres, as long as they’re all rap or hip-hop.
Simon’s irritated because LA is like “the cat who has the cream” because he was able to get the rights to an Eminem song. He says that every star has to have work ethic, which Astro has, and he’s a great role model. It’s nice that Astro seems to really like hearing that. Simon adds that Astro has the x factor — the indefinable something special.
LA is proud that Astro had the audacity to take on an Eminem song and rewrite the lyrics and do a great job with it. Astro then burns my good will towards him to the ground by giving a shoutout to all of the “astro-nauts” who are on Twitter.
Melanie’s song is “Man in the Mirror,” which is on the soundtrack from This Is It. So, at first I thought maybe this was an older movie that I hadn’t seen yet. Then I realized that it’s the Michale Jackson concert documentary. Seems like cheating, no? If you were to make a list of iconic movies, how many films would you have to name before you got to the posthumously released Jack-o documentary. Lazy asses.
Melanie has had a tough week because of a sore throat, and presumably didn’t rehearse much because her doctor put her on “vocal rest,” which means no singing, screaming, talking or deep throating.
Melanie, like Leroy and Drew, is a great vocalist who does not give particularly riveting performances. They tried to district us by flashing bad words in the video screens behind her, but I don’t want to read when I’m watching TV, especially when it’s reading about sadness and pestilence and plagues of locusts and what not.
Melanie looks great and seems comfortable and confident for the first time, which just shows you the slimming power of black and a well-fitted blazer. I don’t think that she showed off everything she could do with her voice, but even without tricks, she still gave me goosebumps all the way to her one power note at the end.
LA says it was predictable, it wasn’t inventive, and he can’t see her range because she does the same type of song all the time. Nicole thought that it was a brilliant song choice and just what the world needs right now. She calls Melanie’s voice a vessel of light and thinks she would have made Michael Jackson proud. I think Michael would have just been happy to have a few extra “french fries” for selling the rights to his song.
Paula says that music heals the world and with her voice Melanie could sing the phone book. Simon thought she was “bloody fantastic” and her best performance so far.
The Stereo Hogzz are performing “Ain’t No Other Man” from Get Smart. After I typed that sentence, I stopped, closed my eyes and shook my head. Why, Paula? Why? I like when artists do songs that weren’t written for their style (R&B singer does country, girl does a boy song, etc.), but this seems like a really silly choice.
The Stereo Hogzz had a rough week last week. Simon called them the best band on the planet, but LA has not been feeling their sound and America sent them to the bottom of the pile along with Intensity. So a lot depends on this performance and Paula picked the most ridiculous song she could come up with.
The Stereo Hogzz don’t sound particularly great even though they have not one, but two groups of backup singers. It seems like overkill considering that Trae Badd is really the only member of the group who does the heavy lifting with the singing, so technically, he already has four backup singers. So maybe 11 singers and 15 backup dancers on stage is too many. Just my 10 cents. But I do think that their dance moves are on point.
Now who’s competing?
LA thought they looked good, but he’s not familiar with the song, which really seemed to bother him. This led to a lot of cross talk. It was like the time I watched Fox News: loud, confusing, nonsensical, useless.
Nicole says the performance was “bananas” and it was her favorite Stereo Hogzz performance yet. Simon smirks and thanks Nicole for contributing the helpful advice of “bananas.” He thinks the Hogzz have an amazing work ethic and great choreography, but he doesn’t see them as recording artists and says they’re not performing the record they’d make. Paula disagrees, of course, and calls Trae Badd out as both a great leader and someone with too many letters in his name.
After a commercial break, Steve tosses to Nicole so that she can introduce Josh Krajcik, but she’s totally zoned out and misses her cue. It takes her awhile, but she eventually realizes she’s on camera and lets us know that Crackerjack is doing “With a Little Help From My Friends” from Across the Universe.
For the pre-performance video, we go to Columbus, OH, where one woman is absolutely shocked that anything good could ever come from her town. The churches around Columbus are very supportive of Crackerjack (I bet they have a lot of Rock Churches in Ohio!) and the restaurant he worked at even has a burrito made in his honor. It’s ground beef, sweat, cigarette ashes, guacamole and a dime wrapped in a spinach tortilla. Plus, there’s a prize hidden inside. Either a plastic ring that only fits on your pinkie or a temporary tattoo.
I’ve been waiting for Crackerjack to do a Joe Cocker song for weeks. His voice seems perfect for it. I have to admit, though, the beginning of the song was pretty disappointing. It was too clean and smooth. But during the second verse, Josh warms up and give us some nice raspy notes. He makes a lot of crazy faces and his hair is attempting to blow in the wind machine and the backup dancers have surrounded him to do some sort of interpretive dance, which was just a terrible idea.
LA thought it was a strong performance of one of his favorite songs. Paula says Josh’s voice is like chicken soup for a sad, lonely soul — even better than her happy pills! Simon thought the first half of the song didn’t work, but the second half was much better. He also thought the staging made the performance look like “Dracula and the brides.”
Nicole drawls to Simon: “don’t hate, congratulate!” And she and Paula cackle like fourth graders. She adds that Crackerjack deserves a multi-million dollar recording contract.
Chris Rene’s mom visited him this week while he rehearsed “Pastime Paradise.” Thank you to Leenieva for pointing that out in the comments of the Minicap. LA said that Chris would be doing a song from Dangerous Minds and I didn’t remember that “Gangsta’s Paradise” had been sampled. I’ve wondered for weeks now why no one actually says the name of the songs that are being performed. It hasn’t happened since the auditions. And it has made me realize that while I do know many of the songs that are performed, I often do not know their official titles. When I’m talking about a song in conversation, I usually identify it by singing part of it. Like: “yeah, you know that song by that chubby guy — “hey now, something-something, something-something get paid. hey now, you’re an all star, something-something, somethiiiiiing. And all that glitters is gold…..”
Anyway, thanks to Leenieva, I realize that Chris was not singing about a “Palestine Paradise.” His version of “Pastime Paradise” involved a lot of weak lyrics and I think he also forgot some of his own words at the very beginning of the song.
OK, I’m done with this guy. I really disliked his performance and I’m not talking about it anymore. Nicole says he’s channeling or something. Paula thought it was amazing. Simon says he’s a real potential star and LA says he’s proud. Snooze.
For the final performance of the night, Rachel Crow is handling “I’d Rather Go Blind” from the Beyonce classic Cadillac Records. Remember when we were all trying to pretend that Beyonce was a movie star? That was a fun five years.
So, the only interesting video we saw this week was Rachel’s because it finally reveals why she’s the only person of color in her family. She was adopted when she was six months old and her mom tells us that she thinks that she and Rachel are soul mates, they just had to find each other. Um. This kid finds a new way to melt a piece of my icy heart every week. I hate it.
During rehearsals, Simon confesses that he hasn’t done a great job with Rachel so far, but he has come up with a game changer. Instead of relying on the charm and sunshine and rainbows she showers everyone with each week, he decides that she should be mature and serious for this performance.
She manages to pull all of that off, but still has a little sassy-ness thrown in. She’s dressed age appropriately, although her face is so overly made up that she looks like a Toddlers & Tiaras contestant.
Her voice reminds me of Amy Winehouse — not because they sound alike. They don’t at all. But because they can both pull of that retro sound. When Rachel hits some particularly big notes (on “baby! baby!” no less), Simon looks very smug.
LA says that this is the first time he’s seen Rachel as a contender. Nicole says that she’s happy that Simon took her advice about song choice from last week. Rachel interrupts to say that she was the one who chose the song. Paula is glad that Rachel is teaching Simon humility. Simon adores Rachel and says she reminds him of a little Beyonce.
Steve doesn’t want to be left out before the end of the show, so he comes onstage to add that he wants to eat Rachel up. Crickets.
As the show closes, Simon says he wants to give his mom a shout out because she’s at his house and she’s sick and he doesn’t want to take advantage of that or anything, America, but if all of his acts made it through elimination tomorrow, his poor mum would probably feel a lot better. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Simone Cowell is so bloody wealthy.
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