This week, The X Factor turned the rock genre from this:
After last week’s intense judging, in which Paula’s tears and whining rained down on us like nails on a chalkboard as her second group got eliminated, everyone — except for The Stereo Hogzz — are back and are tougher, more determined, and ready to (sort of) rock. Except for some mystery contestant who Simon seems to be irritated by. More on that later.
First, Steve Jones comes out onstage while the back up dancers bump and grind to “I Love Rock and Roll.” He makes a giant X with his long, gangly arms and calls the welcome “very pleasant.” I imagine that if he weren’t so attractive, he’d be at a convention somewhere gawking at young women in anime costumes.
The judges are brought out to “Livin’ on a Prayer” and they all kind of dance and groove, except for Simon, who looks like he’s reliving a tragic night at the Batcave; a night long ago when he got up the nerve to dance and became the laughing stock of the London club scene. He can still hear the laughter echoing in the background, strands of some Boy George song floating by in the distance. That was the night his twinkle toes died…
Your dress is too short when it ends before your panties do.
Anyway. First up is Old Leroy Bell. I think that’s the name on his birth certificate now. First Name: Old. Middle Name: Leroy. Surname: Bell. DOB: When Moses Was Alive. The judges keep reminding us how old he is, just in case we forgot the previous 14 weeks in which they mentioned his age and made him confront his mortality on stage.
I’m not gonna lie, though. Old looks better and better every week. Whatever voodoo ceremony he’s conducting out in the woods behind his hotel every night is working. His skin and body look tighter every week, and the ladies on the Twitter are goin’ cray-cray for him. If only his performances continued to improve, too.
During his pre-performance video, Old holds his crossed fingers behind his back and says that he really likes working with Nicole because she talks to him in ways he can understand — not too highbrow. They have the ability to just kind of grunt and gesture at one another and know what’s going on.
Old always wanted to be a rock star, but he got into the baby making business and had to put the music on the back burner. Three years ago, he got his entire right arm tattooed so he wouldn’t be tempted to get a real job and would instead focus on his music career. Pussy. You can cover up a sleeve with, well, a sleeve. A face tattoo can’t be disguised!
Gerry, the geriatric, and Nicole talk about how his fan base is mostly women and Old says he never thought of himself as a heartthrob before. But now, he’s like Tom Jones and maybe women will start sling shotting their thongs on stage. Hmmm. He is old. During the video, LA Reid weighs in to say that Leroy is b-o-r-i-n-g. He’ll never get discarded panties being boring. Maybe discarded dental floss or old receipts dug from the bottom of purses, but never warm, damp panties pulled from a fresh pair of thighs.
Old’s doing Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight,” a song that Nicole says anyone who has been in love can relate to. He sings on stage with a band and backup singers and his stay-on-task tattoo glistens in the light. He starts the song slow and strong and as great as his voice is, he doesn’t have a commanding presence and gets lost on that big stage.
Step one in connecting with the audience: looking at the audience.
It’s not much of a rock performance — it’s far too nice and clean for that — but it was a decent cover of a well-known song. LA says the competition is no longer about just trying to get through to the next round; they’re looking for a star. He says that Gerry looks and sounds great, but he’s not working it like a rock star.
Paula says there’s no mistaking Gerry’s beautiful voice, but this is live TV and there needs to be more of a connection with the cameras and audience so people can feel what he’s feeling: frustration and nervousness. Simon adds that it was a nice rendition of the song but had zero originality. Gerry needs to be a shark! But he’s more of a gold fish right now — a gold fish that’s dangerously close to going belly up at the top of the fish bowl. “Right now, you can’t win this,” Simon says, driving the dagger home.
Nicole squints at Gerry and says she believes in him and it’s the best he’s ever sounded. When Simon asks if Leroy can win, she hedges her bet and says it’s a possibility. Smelling blood in the water, Simon pounces and says that’s not good enough. So Nicole pulls out her well-worn ace and says Gerry’s the oldest contestant there and is so brave for competing with all the young bucks.
Steve Jones arrives on stage to ask Gerry what he thought of the horrible comments. Simon jumps all over Steve, telling him to shut it. Steve tries to argue, but he, too, is a goldfish.
By way of introducing the next act, Simon tells us that Rachel is covering one of the greatest rock bands in the world: The Rolling Stones. He’s proud of how Rachel has grown over the past couple of months. She went from a giggly girl to an opinionated artist. He chose “Satisfaction” for her because it has a blues influence.
Nicole weighs in, saying she has faith in Rachel, but worries that her young age will hold her back from connecting with the song. That sounds like the opposite of faith, actually. But Nicole didn’t work on having an amazing body and ability to pop her booty so that people could listen to her words, so we’ll take them with a grain of sand.
Rachel starts the performance at the mic stand. The start of the song is a bit wobbly, but during the first full verse, she takes off across the stage and gets warmed up and sounds a lot stronger.
The difference between Rachel and Leroy — aside from age — is that tiny little Rachel can take up the entire stage. No matter what’s going on around her, your eyes stick with her. And not just because the stylists keep putting her in terrible clothes: this week it was a white washed denim jack with sleeves made of red and black fringe. It’s nice that The X Factor is employing blind matadors, but it seems like there might be other jobs on the show for them.
After her performance, LA says he wonders if Rachel can sell records and tickets. “I can!” she assures him enthusiastically.
No, let ME answer, he says. These judges are all me, me, me. He says that she can. Ass.
Nicole tells Rachel that rock originated from rhythm and blues — someone got on Wikipedia before the show! — and this was a perfect song choice. It was her favorite Rachel performance.
Paula says basically the same thing everyone else has said. Simon adds that he can see that Rachel wants to win this and there’s nothing wrong with that; SOME contestants — who remain nameless — think that now that they’ve had some TV exposure they’re going to get a record deal whether they win X Factor or not. LA Reid assures everyone that his “guys” aren’t in that group.
When LA introduces Chris Rene, he’s sure to remind us several times that Bob Marley is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is because LA knows he’s going to get some flack for the song choice.
Chris is singing “No Woman, No Cry,” which reminds him of his mama who used to play the song on a tape in the car. For the kiddos out there, he’s referring to a cassette tape, a contraption that played music from a spool of magnetic tape; you used to have to fast forward and rewind entire songs before you could listen to what you wanted. The tradeoff, though, was that you could use it to steal songs from the radio and there was no record of your theft.
Not only does Chris’s version of “No Woman, No Cry,” NOT include rock, he’s actually written a couple of rap verses for it. And he sings the chorus in a Ja-fake-an accent. He sounds better than he has in previous weeks, but he’s still pretty bad and too shouty. Also, the backup singers are dancing to different beats.The whole performance is odd, plus he’s wearing an Occupy All Streets t-shirt. The shirt that wealthy 1 percenter Jay-Z started selling this month so that his massive corporation could profit from the demonstrations protesting massive corporations. I can’t decide if this is brilliant or evil, but apparently the shirts have been pulled from his website, so I’ll go with evil.
Nicole says the song confused her, but she loved it. Paula points out that the only reason that they got away with that song is because Marley’s in the R&R Hall of Fame and it doesn’t matter that Chris sucks as a vocalist; she still likes him.
Simon loved the performance and it would have been great if it was Reggae Week. What’s the point in having a theme if we’re going to ignore it, he asks. LA wants a hip hop week to see what Drew would do with it. Simon says OK.
A chastised but unremorseful LA appreciates that Chris stayed on key and in a last ditch effort to justify the fact that he ignored the rules, adds that Bob Marley was on the cover of Rolling Stone more than any urban magazine. Kind of a weak argument. Britney Spears has been on Rolling Stone; so has the cast of True Blood, Rihanna and Justin Bleeper.
On to Stacy Francis. Apparently she and Nicole have been having a great time during rehearsals and have become good friends. They do a lot of goofing off and after last week’s ill advised attempt to cover Whitney Houston, Nicole has gotten Stacy to do Meatloaf. Sigh. There is such a thing as too weird.
Someone in the style department did take pity on Stacy this week and gave her a good wig that hides her battered hair line and frames her face nicely. It’s going to be perfect for showing off her sour puss after the performance!
They chose “All Coming Back to Me” so that Stacy can showcase her soulful sound and they’ve added a rock flair to her sparkly white dress with black leather half gloves.
From the outset, it’s clear that this is a bad song choice for Stacy. She does it in a really low key and has this drawn out Broadway/operatic style that doesn’t go with the song at all. For me, it is literally headache-inducing. Nicole squints at her and nods creepily throughout.
After the final note, LA tells her he’s not going to be mean this week. She sang well and he’s happy for her and will leave it at that. Stacy reads between the lines on that one and is not pleased. Paula says it’s her least favorite Stacy performance and wants to know which of the Idiot Twins picked the song. Nicole punts and says Stacy “wanted” to sing it.
Simon says that the good news is that her hair looks better this week. But he knew as soon as he saw the feathered mic stand that it wouldn’t be good and the song choice was horrible. He wanted rock and this was a pebble. It was something that’s sung at the Hilton while people are eating peanuts. That was a very specific insult. And quite frankly, hotel bars are my fave. Although I will admit that I don’t go for the music. I go for the out-of-town men. They’re much easier to deal with when they don’t live close by….
Nicole defends Stacy’s performance as “glam rock,” but she gets what the other judges are saying. Nicole! How you gonna sell out your bestie like that?!
Throughout the judging, Stacy’s face is getting longer and longer, and Steve has to step over her lower lip as he comes on stage. She tells him that she just wanted to give her “fran-atics” a performance to love. Francis + fanatics = franatics, huh? Worst groupie name yet. While Steve gives us the numbers to call to vote for Stacy, she glares stone faced at the camera. Way to win America over, Stace. Glad to see your true colors there.
As Simon introduces Melanie Amaro, he points out that she’s doing a rock song by the rock band R.E.M. in the style of rock and roll. Since it’s rock week. Rocks. He likes working with Melanie because she has a great voice and he feels close to her since he’s been to her house and seen how many people are living under one tiny little roof.
Melanie works with a choreographer on giving a more rock & roll performance, which is new for her because she didn’t grow up listening to this kind of music. The other judges worry that Melanie doesn’t have the edginess to pull off the song.
Melanie is proof that makeup can be magical as she sits on the foggy stage with a piano and sings “Everybody Hurts.” She puts some soul and attitude into it, so I guess she’s taking baby steps. As she paces the stage, I can’t help but wonder how much the choreographer is paid to tell her to walk back and forth as she growls and does her runs.
Even though it’s a slow song, it’s a strong performance and people get on their feet before the end. To be honest, I kind of like her version more than R.E.M.’s — it sounded less whiny. After the performance, LA sarcastically asks Melanie if that was rock. He again answers his own question, saying it wasn’t. “Well. Hey,” is Melanie’s response. Sharp as an egg, that one.
Nicole thinks Melanie sounded great, but the song usually makes Nicole cry, and she didn’t cry because it wasn’t raw enough. I can imagine Nicole sitting in dark room at home, listening to “Everybody Hurts” and sobbing therapeutically while she wipes her eyes with Pussycat Dolls money. That’s blood money, bitch!
Paula says Melanie took us to church. “Rock ‘n’ Roll church?” LA asks.
These people need to get to the Midwest. That’s where the rock churches are! I keep telling you….
Simon says the performance reminded him of Adele, and LA pipes in again to ask if Adele is rock. Ugh! Can we fire him please? I was so excited when he was named as a judge and he’s just turned out to be mean and whiny, and not in a fun way. He has displayed absolutely no likable qualities, other than a willingness to butt heads with Simon, who seems to wave him away like an annoying fly.
As she’s introducing Josh Krajcik, Nicole tells us that he’s singing a song from one of the most important bands today: The Foo Fighters. During the pre-performance video, we see her advising Josh to “just think of this:”
Excellent mentoring. Keep up the good workings.
Josh tells us that he’s wanted to be a rock star since he was 12. He’s been working at it for 15 years but all he’s got to show for it is a burrito named after him, greasy hair, and teeth made of the yellowest wood.
Stay away from the Marlboro Reds, kids.
Crackerjack is singing “The Pretender” and is on stage with two wild haired guitarists and a mic stand that looks like a chain. Initially, his voice gets a little lost in the music and it’s hard to see him between Nicole flinging her hair around at the judges’ table and the crazy graphics in the video monitors behind him. But by the end of the song, his voice is at his growly best and he gives us an actual rock performance. Finally.
LA says that Crackerjack has authenticity, stage presence and is the only person who rocked out. Paula agrees that it was the best performance of the evening. Simon thought it was “bloody fantastic.” Nicole gives herself props. Even though she did not choose the song, she did get it cleared because she knows Dave Grohl from back when she was in a band that toured with The Foo Fighters.
Steve Jones comes on stage and says “Josh rocks” and he’s booed off the stage and stoned and throws to the commercial break from a bloody heap on the floor.
After the break, LA introduces “the most popular contestant on X Factor:” Astro. Ironic given what happens during elimination night, no?
This week Astro’s performing “Missing You” which was once a soft rock song before it became a rap song. It’s a fitting choice because he’s really missing his mom this week. She had to go back to NYC, leaving his “step-pops” in charge. Step-pops is a good parent, but he’s no mom and he can’t cook like mom.
So this week he’s doing a love song about a down on her luck older woman. And at first I thought it was about his mom. But it turns out the song is about hip hop, the once young and beautiful star who has fallen on hard times of late. I actually think it’s pretty brilliant writing and a great performance, although showing us the names of dead rappers was a corny touch.
Nicole says it was a smart song choice and even though Astro’s very young, he could handle winning a $5 million recording contract. I’ll let Mrs. Snarklesbee handle that one in the elimination recap….
Paula asks him to suck for once, but she doesn’t think he can. Simon adds that Astro has more intelligence than some of the older contestants. Damn. Who is Simon so mad at this week??
LA wants to go into what Astro has that will make him an international star, but Astro’s had enough of this and wants to just wish his little sister a happy birthday.
“A showman to the last!” Steve Jones declares before he’s pummeled by dozens of unopened cans of Pepsi. He tosses to commercial from a bloody heap onstage.
Paula irreparably mangles the English language as she introduces Lakoda Rayne a/k/a Wannbeetwood Mac. This week they are changing things up by doing a Fleetwood Mac song mashed up with a The Outfield number.
After nearly being eliminated last week, the members of Lakoda Rayne were nervous. It sounds like they have pretty horrible lives to go back to. Hayley is home schooled and wants to stay away from that. Paige “runs” a daycare center, clearly the job from hell. Dani’s family moved from South Africa to California so she could follow her dreams, which is an awful lot of pressure on her. Cari’s life has been pretty awesome, but this is cool, too.
To get into the spirit, Paula raided her personal closet and dressed the girls in her 80s jazzercise hand-me-downs. They’ve got a set that looks like a little plastic stage that I got for Christmas one year for my Barbies: “a pink nightmare.”
Hayley has to carry the group yet again as they do “Your Love” and “Go Your Own Way.” She sounds much better than she did during the survival song last week and this time Paige is the weak link.
They start the performance on platforms covered in pink lights. Once they get down, the backup dancers climb onto the platforms to take their places and dance with the mic stands. They look like they escaped the set of “Thriller” and aren’t quite sure what to do. It’s a performance that reeks of mediocrity, which is starting to get irritating when you think about how much $5 million is.
LA says this is the first time we’ve seen Lakoda Rayne have fun, but it wasn’t amazing. Nicole says their niche can be “country rock,” but they need to stop holding back vocally. Um, I’m pretty sure that’s just the best they can do.
Simon thinks they have potential, but thought the performance was a mess and the choreography was stupid and gimmicky. LA says that’s mean. If LA thinks you’re being mean, you’ve probably crossed a line somewhere.
Paula misses the Dixie Chicks and thinks that Lakoda Rayne can fill the space that the Dixie Chicks have apparently vacated. Ha! Don’t tell the Dixie Chicks, Paula. They still think they’re a group.
For her performance this week, Drew is singing a U2 song. But it doesn’t really matter which one — it will sound the same as all of the other songs she sings. During the video before her performance, Drew says that she’s never received negative feedback before (ever in life), so LA’s harsh words last week were a real eye-opener. This week, she assures us, she’s prepared for criticism and the emotions so many of us are familiar with, but that she is just now learning: self-doubt and inadequacy.
From the start of “With or Without You,” she sounds pretty much the same as always: soft and yodelly as she gazes into the camera. During the second verse, soft, hidden voices join hers. They sound like children trapped under a serial killer’s floorboards.
Unlike the other contestants, she sounds warmed up from the start, but never builds up to anything. There were some natural places for her to take some risks and play around vocally, but she never goes there and just plays it safe.
LA says that Drew has one of the most original voices in the competition, but he’s sticking with what he said last week and he wants to push her for more. Drew has been taking classes at the Paula Abdul School for the Peoples Who Wants to Learn the English. She tells LA that she’s trying to keep her base on the genre she wants to be.
Nicole says she kept waiting for more from the song — even for the tempo to just build up — but it never happened and now she’s frustrated. Paula says that Drew’s in a good place because she has such a big fan base that she can show some diversity and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO AN UPTEMPO SONG!
Simon tells Drew to pay no attention to the three witches at the judges’ table, especially Cruella who thought Meatloaf was original; he thinks she’s going to be competing to the end.
The final performance of the night goes to Marcus, who has been nicknamed PK, or Preacher’s Kid, by LA. Marcus learned to sing and dance at church — it’s where he picked up his sexiest wink-n-squat moves. LA wants Marcus to be sexy and dirty while he’s covering Janis Joplin, but Marcus wants his high moral values to remain in tact as he tries to break in to the entertainment industry, which is known as the very paragon of virtue. He tells us this as backup dancers in booty shorts writhe around him during rehearsals.
Marcus starts “Piece of My Heart” with the chorus and gets a few “come ons” in nice and loud. He slows down for the first verse and sounds really good. I like his vocals, although I hated the arrangement of the song.
As usual, he’s a hot and sweaty mess, by the end, although that may have more to do with the devil breathing down his neck than anything else. Or it could have been that he wore a tight, heavy-looking denim and leather jack on stage. What is up with the stylists and their denim-and-weird-sleeves jackets? Is this a thing now? I refuse. I just refuse…
His new nickname: Rated G
Nicole thinks Marcus lit the stage on fire, he put everything into it and that’s all she can ask for. Paula says that Marcus is the entertainer of the competition. Aww… Paula and Nicole seem tired and have run out of things to say. Simon points out that it’s hard for Marcus to be a good boy when his mentor is Satan. He doesn’t think the song suited Marcus, but acknowledges that he gave his best.
LA advises Marcus not to listen to Simon and says the performance rocked. Marcus puts on his sunglasses and says “recognize,” ensuring that Steve Jones won’t have to say anything stupid to close out the show.
And that was the performances, which ended up not being nearly as entertaining as the results show. The recap for that will be posted shortly!
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