You guys!! We’re almost done with this sh…NOOOOOOOO!!!
Only one more week until we’re through with season one of The X Factor, gang! Try not to dwell on the fact that it will indeed be coming back for a second season…there’ll be plenty of time for tears in 2012 – for now, let’s focus on our FINAL FOUR!!
Wednesday night’s performance episode was the semi-final round for our top four contestants – Melanie Amaro, Chris Rene, Marcus Canty, and Josh Krajcik, who each had to sing two songs – one of their own choosing, and one chosen by America via the Pepsi Challenge.
After last week’s shocking elimination of Rachel Crow – and since he’s survived the bottom two for three weeks running – I think it’s safe to assume that Marcus Canty would have to pull off a stunningly brilliant performance in order to avoid going home this week. There won’t be any judges’ decision to save his butt this time – it’s all up to America’s votes. And here’s how the performance night went down…
Of course, we’re required to open the show with a rehash of last week’s audacious removal of Rachel Crow, which occurred thanks to judge Nicole Scherzinger’s annoying refusal to do her (highly paid) job – when she didn’t want to hurt Marcus’ feelings by being the one to send him home, she instead chose to send the show into deadlock – which meant that the contestant with the lowest number of America’s votes got the boot. Nicole has stated in post-show interviews that she believed Marcus would be the one heading home, and was shocked (and horrified) when it was little Rachel who got the ax instead.
And Nicole wasn’t the ONLY one who was shocked.
Rachel, as we all remember, had a little meltdown on stage before composing herself for her goodbyes. I have since stood up for Rachel, stating that we should all be a little more understanding of her plight as she’s a mere 13 years old. But I’ve also argued from the very start of this damn show that 12 (the minimum age for X Factor) is simply TOO YOUNG to be exposed to this kind of fame and stress. No 13, 14, or 15 year old should be given the opportunity to be openly rejected on national television…they’re just not emotionally ready for that sort of exposure, in my humble opinion. If you look back over the course of the live episodes, you’ll see that the contestants who had the most dramatic (and painful to watch) eliminations were all children – InTENsity, Astro, Drew, and Rachel.
Anyway. Auditions for season two have already been announced, and the minimum age is still 12, so this is all pointless anyhow. ONWARD!
Our final four are rarin’ to go and ready to sing for America’s votes!
Except for Melanie, who is apparently too busy praying.
One contestant will be eliminated this week, and the other three will be heading to the FINALS next week! A three-person finale, how exciting! How will this work, exactly? Will all three perform on next Wednesday’s show, with one being eliminated immediately at the top of Thursday’s show – leaving only two in the ultimate finale? Will the judges get to send someone home on the performance night? Will aliens come down to Earth and replace the contestants with pod people? WE MAY NEVER KNOW!!!
One thing we do know is that Steve Jones has been persistent about wearing that damn pinky ring.
Points for consistency, I suppose.
The judges enter to the tune of ‘Live and Let Die,’ and it’s apparent the audience has been instructed to cheer wildly for Nicole in order to make her feel better about last week’s boo-fest. We’re told that there will be no showdown this week and therefore no judges’ decision, probably because the judges haven’t been doing their job anyway.
Tonight’s twitter hashtag is #facethemusic, which Steve instructs us to use to ‘let the judges have it, they can handle it!’ Later in the show we’ll get to see some of those tweeted gems, because some people just can’t seem to understand that they’re being used for publicity purposes.
The first song each contestant will be performing tonight will be their Pepsi Challenge song, chosen by America out of a whopping choice of three numbers. L.A. says that this is really ‘forcing the contestants out of their comfort zone,’ which I call complete and utter bullshit on, considering the options we were given. ‘Forcing’ Melanie Amaro to sing a Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, or Christina Aguilera song is about equivalent to ‘forcing’ a toddler to eat pixie stix for breakfast.
We’ll get to see what songs America chose momentarily, but in the meantime, let’s talk to our judges, since they are obviously what this show is all about anyway. Steve asks Simon how Rachel is doing, to which Simon replies ‘I haven’t seen her, but I’ve seen the pictures…she’s gonna be just fine.’ I have to laugh at this, since it rips away the pale illusion the producers have been forcing upon us, that the judges are buddy-buddy with the contestants, that they actually give a shit about these people. In reality, all they’re interested in is a fat paycheck and a few photo ops.
Photo ops?!? THIS crew?!? Say it isn’t so!!
Steve also asks Nicole how her rough week has been, and she says that she can handle the boos because they’ve made her a lot stronger, which sounds like a lyric she cribbed from a Kelly Clarkson song. You know how she handles those boos, people? By going home and rolling around in piles of cash. Us pleebs can snark and hiss at lil’ miss Nicole all we want – girlfriend could care less. So let’s stop bothering to give her the time of day, shall we?
Finally, we’re done with those dongs judges – it’s time for the contestants to start doing their thang. Marcus is up first, and the song America chose for him to sing is…’I'll Make Love to You’ by the Stereo Hogzz Boys II Men. A fairly bland, predictable choice, but the other options weren’t exactly shocking (‘Saving All My Love’ and ‘We Belong Together’), so what were we expecting? Marcus does an okay if boring job, but it’s all a little cheese-central for my taste.
Lose the white rose and the fog and maybe we can talk.
But I guess this girl liked it.
Is she trying to lick Marcus??
Nicole says that Marcus is bringing sexy back, but in a really classy way, so more like a well-cut suit than ass-less chaps. Paula says Marcus gave a solid performance and is the true entertainer of the group, a comment she’s made three dozen times already. Simon gets booed before he even starts to voice his opinion, but manages to get out that he didn’t like the rose and the zombie dancers and thought it was all corny and distracting.
What, THAT? Distracting??
Look, I’m sure Simon is a grade-A asswipe, but that doesn’t change the fact that I usually find myself agreeing with his critiques of these contestants. The flailing girl in the red slip was totally unnecessary.
L.A. tells Marcus that it takes great taste to know great taste, so I guess that’s why he’s always putting Marcus in those disco-ball jackets.
Chris Rene is up next. The songs America got to choose between for Chris’ performance were some Whitney Houston song I’ve never heard of, ‘Angel’ by Shaggy, and a Sugar Ray number. I find myself hoping against hope that America chose ANYTHING but Sugar Fucking Ray, but as usual, America lets me down. Chris is singing ‘Fly,’ a song that even Mark McGrath hoped he’d never have to hear again.
Because clearly he’s moved on to bigger and better things.
The song is kind of a mess, but it’s always been kind of a mess so it’s not like Chris made it any worse. Though I’m not sure why there were a bunch of hipster assholes sitting around on the stage.
Get out of the shot, hippie!!
I hate that the producers worked to get me to like Chris again last week and then forced this nonsense down my throat. But the audience loved it, because they’re all chanting ‘U.S.A.! U.S.A.!’…uh, wait, they’re actually chanting ‘Chris Re-ne, Chris Re-ne,’ which makes a bit more sense.
Nicole says that Chris looks like a million bucks. But Paula tells Chris ‘you don’t look like a million dollars…you look like FIVE million dollars!!!….after taxes.’ Aaahhhh, so THAT’S what approximately 2.14 million dollars looks like. Also, let’s not forget that the producers won’t just be handing a giant check for five million bucks (or even 2.14 million) over to whoever wins this circus. It’s a ‘five million dollar RECORDING CONTRACT,’ so God only knows how much money any of these poor schmucks is ever going to actually see. I just hope that Disney contract comes through for Rachel so that she can buy those extra bathrooms she kept harping about.
Simon wasn’t crazy about Chris’ first performance, telling him that he needs to come out with more conviction on his second piece, as this one was just a 7 out of 10. Huh. 7 out of 10 actually doesn’t sound so bad to me. L.A. tells Chris that he looks like a major star.
As long as he keeps his mouth closed.
Chris says that he’s gonna come out and handle the next song REAL NICE, in a vocal tone that falls somewhere between smooth R&B singer and serial rapist. Sexy-times!
Now it’s time for our only remaining female contestant, Melanie Amaro. Before you go ragging on me again for ragging on Mel, please remember that I’ve always said that she’s got the strongest technical voice in the competition. It’s not like I’m saying she’s talent-less – she’s just a little boring. A problem MOST of these contestants have had throughout the course of this damn show, most likely because of the stagnant song choices being foisted upon them by the producers. (I don’t for one minute believe the singers get to choose their songs 100%).
And we’re not about to get off the Boring Train, either, because America picked another Mariah Carey song for Melanie to sing. Zzzzzzzzzz. Also, the choice – ‘Hero’ – exemplifies what I most dislike about Melanie…that nagging feeling that she’s sort of full of herself. Lately, it always feels like she’s singing a song about how great she is – ‘Hero,’ ‘When You Believe,’ ‘The World’s Greatest.’ I’m ready for her to switch it up a bit, both in song style AND theme.
L.A. says the song choice was predictable (exactly), but since it was America’s choice he can’t really criticize Melanie for it. Agreed. But he COULD criticize the producers for giving America such a crappy selection to choose from. Nicole says it’s amazing that Mel has grown into the powerful woman that she is, and Melanie happily nods in agreement.
Paula tells Melanie that her voice is impeccable, and that she wanted to surprise her by bringing the guy who wrote ‘Hero’ to the show, and that he’s here somewhere but Paula doesn’t have a clue exactly where he might be, soooooo…yeah. Way to go, Paula. I bet when Paula throws a dinner party she forgets people were coming over and has to throw a bunch of hot dogs and Ritz crackers on a platter and call it done.
She also says that by changing the major chords to minor, Simon and Melanie took all of the happiness out of the song. Is anyone else amazed that Paula picked up on that?? I sure as hell didn’t – it sounded just like the same ol’ version I heard a million times over back in my junior year of high school. I mean elementary school. Because I’m totally still in my 20′s. Totally. Ahem.
Simon, of course, thinks that the performance was bloody fantastic and NOT karaoke. Duh, we know it’s not karaoke, Simon, there aren’t any screens with the words on them or drunk old geezers singing Kenny Rogers’ ‘Lady’ to any unattended woman who accidentally glances his way.
Josh is up next, and for his Pepsi Challenge song, America once again went with the easiest choice possible – ‘Come Together,’ which just happened to have been covered by Joe Cocker, who everyone with ears thinks Josh sounds exactly like.
They look a little alike, too.
This song choice is just as predictable as the other contestants’, but it felt like Josh put a lot more of his heart and soul into it. L.A. says that Josh has made a return and that he always said that Josh is one of the strongest in the competition. Paula tells Josh ‘you don’t affect our souls, you ATTACK them,’ and ‘I’d pay anything to watch you on stage.’ Of course, not only does she not have to buy a ticket, she’s even getting paid to watch him sing, so that last statement really doesn’t have much impact.
Simon says that this is a real comeback for Josh and that it would be a massive shame if he didn’t make it to the finals. When it’s time for Nicole to comment, she puts on a weird squeaky little girl voice and says that what she loves about Josh is that he’s not rehearsed, that it doesn’t matter how many times she works with him, something else comes over him once he starts to perform in front of an audience. She says that he’s got the look of steel.
That looks more like a room-temperature mercury to me.
Now that we’ve made it through the utterly obvious Pepsi Challenge songs, it’s time for the contestants to sing their second song of the evening, which is ‘their’ choice. Sure.
Marcus is up first, and the producers give him a nice little intro piece detailing his journey through the desolate landscape we know as The X Factor. We once again have to watch Rachel Crow’s elimination from last week, and Marcus says that he genuinely thought he was the one who would be going home.
Yep. That looks like surprise, alright.
We also get a glimpse backstage at a touching moment between Simon and Marcus.
This has ‘creeptastic’ written all over it.
Marcus says that having his mom at the show every week keeps him positive, and I want to know where his mom works so I can take advantage of the plentiful vacation days they give their employees. I bet they get full medical too, the kind with vision and everything. Lucky bastards.
All this background smoosh is really snooze-inducing, so I’m REALLY looking forward to having to go through it three more times this evening. Sigh.
There’s a clip of Simon calling Marcus a ‘ball,’ because whenever you try to throw him away he just comes bouncing right back. I had an ex-boyfriend like that once. ‘Ball’ wasn’t exactly the word I used to describe him, but it’s in the same general vicinity.
FINALLY, it’s time for Marcus to fucking sing. He’s doing ‘Careless Whisper’ by Wham, but unfortunately it seems that Marcus has gotten his weeks confused because he’s doing a dance version. Uh, Marcus…electronica week is SO over. But it’s okay, because Marcus isn’t the only one who got their schedule mixed up.
Nicole apparently thought it was circus theme week.
Y’all can call me biased against Marcus, but believe it or not, I like the kid. I did NOT, however, like this performance. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I completely LOATHED this performance. I think the arrangement took all of the power out of the song and made it into a shleppy, tepid mess. But what do the judges have to say?
Nicole thought the song was unexpected but she loved how he did his thing on it. Her positivity seems forced and lacking conviction, and I wonder if she’s just trying to make him look good because she’s saved his ass for three weeks in a row and feels the need to convince everyone it was the right move.
Paula says that she likes how Marcus took a classic ballad and made it uptempo, but like Nicole, the praise seems somewhat lukewarm for Paula’s standards, and we move on to Simon pretty damn quickly. Who thankfully speaks his mind and says that although he likes Marcus and his attitude, he thought that performance was horrific.
And he doesn’t stop there. He says the song was absolutely wrong, that it was like a grotesque Vegas show from 1983, that the whole thing was a joke and Marcus deserves better. Sheesh. I’m feeling a little bad for Marcus at this point, so let’s get on to L.A. Reid, who we all know will have nothing but good things to say about his protege.
Sure enough, it’s all about how Marcus comes back swinging week after week, and how he looks like a champion rather than an underdog. L.A.’s really on a roll with this energetic pep talk.
Now please turn around and tell that dude to wax his gnarly chest hair.
Time for Steve to check in with the X Factor Twitter feed, where someone typed the comment, ‘sometimes the judges just spew out random drivel just because they have to ‘say something.” Did that person just now come to that realization? Hilariously, L.A. says that statement is accurate, and I for one think it’s refreshing to hear one of the judges admit that they aren’t really that invested in this damn show.
Steve cuts L.A. off and they have a cute little fake tiff. Boys.
Chris Rene is up, and his back story montage begins with him pushing some nameless kid in a playground swing. Wait, did we know Chris has a kid??? DOES he have a kid??? Who the fuck’s kid is that???
And WHY IS IT REACHING FOR MY SOUL?!?
There’s a trailing hint of creepy little kid laughter, and then the child is never mentioned again. So I’m guessing it’s not Chris’ kid. Just a prop kid, I guess, to show Chris’ softer side. Wait…I looked it up, that’s Chris’ son. I also found out that Chris has ANOTHER son, slightly older, who he wasn’t even told at first was his kid and with whom he was recently reunited. Hopefully the presence of all these children will help keep Chris clean.
Chris is going to be playing piano this week, which is really cool – especially because he was inspired by his father, who used to play the piano when Chris was little. Chris’ dad told him long ago that you’ve only got one life, you gotta do good things with it. Four years ago, Chris’ father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. Telling us the story, Chris starts to cry, and as harsh as it sounds, he has just guaranteed his spot in the finals next week. I lost my father at a young age as well, and Chris’ story and emotion makes me run to grab a great big ol’ pile of Kleenex. My renewed love for this guy has definitely taken hold.
Chris’ story ends with him saying that he wanted to make his dad proud and never did, so now, this is his chance. Great. Now I am openly bawling and there’s snot everywhere…Jesus H., can we please get to the performance before I start trying to hug the TV??
Chris is singing Alicia Keys’ ‘No One.’ The song starts softly, with Chris sitting at a red piano, and I for one am frankly amazed at the transformation this guy has made over the course of this show.
And NO, not just because he’s wearing a tie instead of an oversized Fruit of the Loom undershirt. He just seems to have it all together now. The performance is pretty good, though I wish he’d stayed behind the piano longer.
But at least he’s got Ruben Studdard backing him up.
Nicole tells Chris that she’s gonna have to keep it real, which we know is code for ‘I’m about to praise the shit out of you.’ She admits that he doesn’t have the best voice in the competition but that it doesn’t matter because it’s all about his spirit, which transcends the universe. Because he believes, we believe. And I believe, and you believe, and we all believe, that he believes, because I believe, and somewhere a whole hoard of fairies is coming back to life like manic little pill bugs.
Paula says she loves Chris, plain and simple, and that this performance will get him into the finals, I. Truly. Believe. Simon recalls saying earlier in the evening that Chris would have to really deliver on his second song, and says that he did, big time. He tells Chris that his dad would be proud of him, not just for his performing but also for the way he’s turned his life around, which gets Chris – and the freaking world – a little teary-eyed. Simon closes by saying that Chris may be the dark horse of the competition.
L.A. is up, and he tells Chris that stardom isn’t about singing, it’s about lovability, which Chris most definitely has. Especially when he starts crying again.
Stop getting me invested in this show, damn it!!!
Steve gives Chris a nice little hug, and now it’s time for Melanie to sing her second song, right after we take a 3-hour stroll down memory lane…sigh.
Unfortunately for Melanie, having to follow Chris’ sob story isn’t an enviable position, especially when your ‘touching background clips’ are things like you saying, ‘I’m so close to that five million dollars I’ve been working so hard for,’ or a clip about how excited you were to receive a tweet from your idol Mariah Carey, and oh let’s not forget this:
I’ve heard of wearing your heart on your sleeve, but your face on your abdomen is a new one.
I mean, look – she’s hella talented. But would YOU wear a t-shirt with a picture of yourself on it?!? I sure as hell wouldn’t. But whatever, maybe she’s not as conceited as I’ve grown to think she is.
Melanie says she’s gotta make Mariah Carey proud, and it just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Chris wanting to make his dead dad proud. I really do pity her…how are you supposed to follow Chris’ piece???
Simon says that they chose a real old school classic for tonight’s second performance, and it turns out to be ‘Feeling Good,’ originally by Nina Simone but more recently made popular again by Jennifer Hudson’s commercials for Weight Watchers.
Don’t worry, I’m not gonna slam Melanie for this performance, because I thought it was pretty great, aside from those flashing epilepsy strobes. I felt like Mel had a lot more passion than her typical performances, and I don’t think anyone can argue that that final note was freaking spectacular.
The judges concur. L.A. states that Melanie is the greatest female that’s ever graced the X Factor stage, that she has everything it takes (to succeed, I’m assuming). Nicole quotes the song back at Melanie and says that the song is the Melanie Amaro freedom anthem (freedom from the oppression of poverty, I’m guessing). Paula says Melanie is letting go and she loves it, and that ‘I feel you and it feels good’ (‘it’ being Mel’s talent and heart, presumably). Simon says that this is why they brought the show to America, and that this was Mel’s greatest performance of the show so far. At least one of these judges knows how to say what he means…I can’t finish EVERYBODY’S sentences.
Simon begs America to call and vote for Melanie, because he can’t stand the thought of losing on his own show. And now it’s time for our final performance (YES!!!) – Josh Krajcik is up next.
The Josh retrospective reveals that he has struggled for years, chasing his dreams of being a musician. At one point when he couldn’t pay rent, he called his brother – who he ended up living with for years.
And who is a Paul Giamatti impersonator.
You know you see it.
(Clearly this is my calling in life…I have a very special – and very specialized – talent. My mom is so proud.)
We see Josh working with the choreographer backstage, which is funny because other than ‘walk that way,’ I’m not sure the two of them have much interaction. But it does appear that Josh has had quite the effect on the guy.
Josh says that he’s worked in a restaurant and doesn’t want to go back to that, but I’d hesitate to call Chipotle an actual ‘restaurant,’ Joshie. I find myself wondering why his daughter isn’t part of his background piece – maybe they feel like they’re overplayed that bit of drama?
Josh is sitting at a piano for his song, which ends up being Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah.’ One of the most absolutely gorgeous songs ever created…Jeff Buckley had the definitive version, which I firmly believe no one on this planet can touch with a ten-foot pole, but even so, I totally dig Josh’s performance of the song. The cameras cut to Nicole during the performance, and it’s obvious she’s totally enraptured with it.
Or just cross-eyed.
L.A. is first to critique, and he tells Josh that the performance lacked excitement for him. Excitement? Did he want some of Marcus’ dancers to prance around the piano while Josh played? The audience boos like mad, but Josh just nods in acceptance.
Paula is sobbing but manages to squeak out that she can’t believe L.A. would say something like that. She says that Josh opens up his heart and gives every ounce of himself to the audience, that she’s never seen a performer quite like him. She tells Josh that he’s the one to beat.
Hey, po-ta-to, po-tah-to, man.
Simon’s gotta be honest with Josh, so here we go again…he agrees – dur – with Paula. This shit has gotten so transparent, yo! He says it was a sincere performance, sung with great emotion, and he thinks that Josh is going to the finals.
Nicole says that Josh is the simple truth, whatever that means, and that the performance was like a beautiful prayer and Josh is a gift. If this show starts to sound any more like a church sermon I swear to God I’m gonna quit watching.
Well, that’s that – if anything is right in this world, Marcus will be heading home this week. After all, tonight Chris was told he was the dark horse, Josh is the one to beat, and Melanie is the reason the show even exists – the best thing Marcus got all night was that he ‘looked like a champion.’ From that information alone, Marcus should know that his cup runneth low.
Make sure you come back for IceQueen’s recap of the elimination episode to find out if I’m right, and also to read about Nicole’s big guest performance, which I’m sure is going to be AMAZING. <Shudder.>
See y’all next week for the big finale!!! Peace!
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