The X Factor Recap: The Pledge of 17

The X Factor stage, with its 973 flashing screens, 1,247 spotlights, and floor covered in twinkling, cascading strobes, is reminiscent of a big-budget sci-fi movie, and that can cause the strangest kinds of daydreams:

No one ever gets eliminated on The X Factor. Instead, they are assimilated into Intensity, a Borg-like collective that operates with a single consciousness and questionable pitch, and is fueled entirely by the power of Tweets with the hashtag #xfactor (as well as as Nicole Sherpazumba’s eyelash flutters). Its leader, a tall, menacing, personality-free being called “Steve Jones,” has one mission: To keep the telecast to its allotted 150-minute running time without displaying the slightest bit of charm or good humor. Oh, and in case you were trying to find them on YouTube, Simone Battle and her saucy/hilarious debut single no longer exist: She, too, has now been assimilated. Resistance is futile.

Okay, okay…you wanted a recap, not my half-baked attempts to channel Philip K. Dick. So let’s talk about Tuesday night’s Top 17 performance show, which kicked off with a blast of Enrique Iglesias’ Auto-Tuned musical gasp on his Jersey Shore-approved hit “I Like It.” The not-so-subtle message? “Sit back and enjoy! Nothing you hear from our finalists is going to sound this tragic!” And the good news is, almost nothing did!

So let’s review the performances by the 17 acts who put everything on the line for the chance to “star in their very own Pepsi commercial,” keeping in mind that only 12 of them would survive to next week’s viewer vote.

BOYS UNDER 30 (mentored by L.A. Reid)
Astro: L.A. Reid is an evil genius, pressing my nostalgia buttons by choosing Kris Kross’ infectious 1992 chart-topper “Jump” for the Obnoxious Little Rapper That Could (Exceed My Early Expectations). I won’t lie: I bopped my head right along as Astro turned the chorus into his own personal victory anthem. “Astro will make ya/ Jump, jump/ Da X Factor makes ya/ Jump jump/ Hip-hop will make ya/ Jump, jump.” Astro flowed along on his personalized verses — swag to the maximum/ ain’t nothin free so I hit the freestyle/ but I’m taxin ’em” — as steadily as the Hudson zips through New York, and in the process, he managed to be one of the few acts to never get upstaged by his background dancers. The kid’s biggest problem, though, is that while bravado and swagger are hallmarks of the hip-hop genre, they’re as unwelcome as a Randy Jackson critique in the world of reality TV competition. If L.A. wants this kid to make the finale, I suggest rehearsal footage where Astro gets denied his computer privileges, is forced to complete his household chores, and isn’t allowed to leave the table till he finishes his lima beans.

Chris Rene: After Chris’ wheezy rendition of Rose Royce’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” — complete with sputtering falsetto — Simon declared that he wasn’t the strongest singer in the competition, but was one of its best “recording artists.” Which, on one hand, is pure nonsense, seeing how Chris is an undiscovered talent with no track record of putting out recorded music. And yet, on the other hand, I kind of know what he means: There’s something compelling about this recovering addict that makes you want to hear what he’s singing, even as you wish there was a magical Auto-Tune button on your remote to make it all a little more tuneful.

Phillip Lomax: You knew this dude was doomed the minute L.A. introduced him as “The Sensational Phillip Lomax” (overcompensate much?) and his intro package showed him talking about how he lives in “a two-bedroom apartment in Seattle.” DUDE, THAT IS NOT SMALL ENOUGH OR DEPRESSING ENOUGH. Phillip should’ve said he lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Seattle — with 27 of his relatives whom he’s singlehandedly supporting down at the frozen-pizza factory. Sheesh, hasn’t reality TV taught him anything? But really, Phillip was doomed the minute L.A. saddled him with the Monkee’s “I’m a Believer” and a pack of choo-choo girl backup dancers in plaid pillbox hats. The staging, the arrangement, the lights, and the backing track swallowed the kid alive — in much the way those little creatures got gulped down by Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi  — and his vocal was reduced to a quavering background noise. How Nicole found it “amazing” is beyond me, unless she meant it was amazing that his mentor sabotaged him in such a cruel and blatant fashion.

Marcus Canty: It doesn’t hurt that Marcus is easily the best vocalist in his category, and even though “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” seemed like an odd choice for him on paper, I liked the fact that he was able to add a little bit of modern, club flair to Culture Club’s timeless melody. Going forward, though, L.A. needs to help Marcus with his dance moves, since the squat-bounce-and-pounce wasn’t really in perfect harmony with the soulful ballad Marcus was singing.

Results Reveal: Astro safe! Marcus safe! Chris safe! Any parting words from Phillip? “It’s such a shame that L.A. sent me home tonight, but I’m just so happy to be here in the first place.” Buh-bye!

GROUPS (mentored by Paula Abdul)
Stereo Hogzz: Did anyone think the group’s lead singer, with his black vest, sleeveless white dress shirt, and black tie, was dressed like the head waiter at the world’s gayest restaurant? No? Just me? Okay then. Paula may have herself a contending act in this quintet of guys who were smart enough to cede the spotlight to their most talented member on “Try a Little Tenderness,” but not if she doesn’t put the kibosh on ridiculous choreography like that bit where four of the guys circled the band’s tepid rapper, bent forward at the waist, and zipped around him like he was a maypole. Also, note to aforementioned lead singer: Never end a performance with the Full Caruso (aka whipping off your shades as if you’ve just discovered a crucial clue on the dead girl’s body).

The Brewer Boys: Wait, how did the most promising entry in the “Groups” category get booted in Week 1? Maybe because their mentor marooned them on a stack of trunks, surrounded them with nonsensical “dancers,” then saddled them with a “Rich Girl”/”Faith” mashup that turned into a car crash between Mumford and Sons and Hee-Haw. I’m not sure why Paula didn’t add a rap interlude, or have a fork-lift operator crash through their set mid-performance, just to complete the sabotage.

Intensity: Welcome to the modern-day answer to those Japanese cartoons that triggered seizures in hundreds of kids back in the ’90s! Or maybe this is simply a prelude to a Broadway production of Children of the Corn: The Musical! Either way, this 10-member act’s mashup of Cupid’s “369” and Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” was atrocious: That poor blonde girl’s lead vocal was the musical equivalent of striking out at whiffle ball, and that Ellona chick’s howling was like smashing said whiffle ball with a titanium bat. Nicole declared the group was a “pumpkin patch of yummy pumpkins” (she’s got a way with words), and Simon said he had the “new young Glee in front of me” (he wishes), but I say Intensity too much of everything all at once.

Lakoda Rayne: Maybe they’re just the beneficiary of extremely low expectations, but this manufactured quartet sounded pretty solid covering Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come on Eileen” — a song I’m not sure Paula understands is about a guy trying to get in a girl’s pants. Then again, maybe Paula understands it perfectly. (It’s disconcerting either way, no?) I just don’t understand what awful backstage offense the brunette chick committed to wind up in those ridiculous spangled genie pants.

Results Reveal: Stereo Hogzz safe! Lakoda Rayne safe! Intensity safe! “I’m sorry we didn’t live up to your expectations,” said the crafty/cherubic Brewer, and I’m certain it was a passive-aggressive attempt to activate Paula’s guilt sensors. Mission accomplished!

OVER 30s (mentored by Nicole Regnizrehcs)
“Dexter Haygood, Y’all!”: Sometimes I think Nicole is brilliantly channeling Maya Rudolph’s Up All Night character, and sometimes I think she’s simply intolerable, but that’s a story for another day. Right now we have to talk about Dexter’s deranged mashup of Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” Actually, on second thought, we don’t. You’re welcome.

Leroy Bell Is 60 and Still Jogging: “He represents that dreams never die,” Nicole explained in Leroy’s intro package, so you knew there was no way she would send him home. I mean, Pussycat Dolls are dream makers, not dream takers. Weirdly, though, as much as I think Leroy is one of the competition’s most promising vocalists, and as much as he hit the bulk of his notes in his first live performance, I agreed with L.A. that the dude deserved a better song than Pink’s “Nobody Knows,” and I understood what Simon meant about Leroy seeming a little nervous and disconnected. I had no clue, on the other hand, what Paula meant with that comment about knowing Michael Bolton since he was seven. (Maybe one of her teacup chihuahuas is named Michael Bolton?)

Stacy Francis: Yes, Stacy even cries in rehearsals (as long as there’s a camera crew at rehearsals, anyhow), and she also refers to her doubting inner voice in the third person. But that ridiculata aside, there’s no denying the woman’s talent. There were moments of her cover of George Michael’s “One More Try” that threatened to go off the rails — where her delivery swooped into a squeak, where her bellow dove into dangerous territory — but somehow all of it worked for me. Stacy seemed to really connect with the message of the song she was singing, and she wasn’t afraid to get a little ugly in her delivery, so on those counts, I think her mentor served her well. But Simon was right, the feather-sleeved jacket and sequined pants did not suit this particular diva. And L.A. made the comment of the night when he instructed Stacy, “you’re not crying, so don’t start.” Correct! The woman is actually really gorgeous when she smiles.

Josh Krajcik: Amidst all of the lighting effects and backup dancing and general white noise of American Idol: Roid Rage Edition, it was the quiet moments that resonated most. (Kind of like that old perfume ad goes: “If you want to get someone’s attention, whisper.”) That certainly held true for Josh’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” the arrangement of which was so sparse it almost felt like he was singing a capella. There’s an honesty to Josh’s voice, and a world-weariness in his delivery, that’s completely magical, although I think it’s a little early for Paula to be pulling out critiques like “you have my favorite voice of the last decade.” Then again, she’s known Michael Bolton since she was seven, so maybe she’s got her own Tardis and knows everything?

Results Reveal: Stacy safe! (Watch her point violently at Nicole!) Josh safe! Leroy safe! “I’m kinda confused,” says Dexter. That’s okay, Steve Jones already has your desk packed up into a cardboard box and will have you escorted out of the building before the commercial break is over.

GIRLS UNDER 30 (Mentored by Simon Cowell)
Simone Battle: I got so excited when I heard the sounds of Beats International’s “Dub Be Good to Me” that it took me a good 30 seconds before I realized Simone was taking a jagged hunting knife to its stomach and violently yanking out its intestines. The whole promise of a dance-pop diva covering an underrated classic was like getting the world’s most spectacular party invite and then finding out the big event is merely some dude microwaving a Mama Celeste and serving it on paper plates. I guess I should’ve known trouble was on the way when Simone’s rehearsal package found her fretting, “I have to sing and dance, and I have to sound good.” (Yep, that’s the object of the game.) Nevertheless, I’m not mad at Simone, and I’m not ashamed to say her debut single, “He Likes Boys” is already stuck in my head, and headed for my iPod. I just don’t necessarily want to hear her singing it live is all.

Rachel Crow: So many questions raced through my head during and after Rachel’s mashup of Justin Bieber’s “Baby” and the Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go” (a pretty genius combo, if you ask me): Why is Rachel wearing that weird white blouse with a bow at the neck under a Scottish foxhunter’s plaid blazer? Why is she stuck on a platform that she’s terrified to climb down from? Why is L.A. lying and saying she’d make a terrific actress? (The era of the sitcom moppet is more than 20 years past its prime, dude!) Why is Paula telling Rachel she could run for president? (Okay, actually, given some of the jokers in the race…) But ultimately, the biggest question I have is this: While it’s clear Rachel has a really good singing voice, is she simply too young to be more than a Ghost of American Juniors Past? More and more, I’m thinking the answer is “quite probably.”

Drew (Just Drew. No need for the Ryniewicz): The arrangement of Drew’s downtempo cover of Irene Cara’s “What a Feeling” was as delicate as a music box, and her delivery was, in a word, sublime. How a 14-year-old girl can make me believe that “being’s believing” and that I can really have it all is a total mystery to me, though that black-and-white shot of Drew in the floppy hat has me convinced that she could be channeling ’70s-era Carly Simon by way of Dolores O’Riordan. It’s too early for me to say I want Drew to win it all — let’s see how she fares when Simon inevitably weighs her down with a dance beat and 100 backup dancers — but I’ll agree with Nicole that I’d totally go see this kid in concert.

Side note: This conversation with my husband took place when the image of doves flying appeared on the screen behind Drew during her performance:
Hubby: What the hell is that?
Me: Doves.
Hubby: You’re joking. What have doves got to do with it?

(Oh how I wish I’d said, “What are doves but a second-hand emotion?”)

Tiah Tolliver: Everyone on the Internet assures me Tiah’s rendition of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” was a hot, honeyed wreck, but I was mesmerized by the enchanted forest fire, Tiah’s epaulettes-laden bathing suit thingie, the operatic backup dancers, and even Tiah’s scary-committed vocal delivery. I didn’t mind it a bit, and it was certainly more in tune than any live performance I’ve ever seen by Katy Perry or Ke$ha. Which is why I’m kind of bummed we’ve got a Tiah-free top 12. I mean, if we’re going to be inundated with insane production values, shouldn’t we have at least one diva wacky/charismatic enough to handle ’em?

Melanie Amaro: Let’s start the countdown clock till the world starts griping that Melanie Amaro isn’t “current” enough to hang on a pop chart where Enrique Iglesias still has his membership card. Because of all the hare-brained song choices from The X Factor‘s first live performance show, none was more appalling than Simon’s selection for Melanie of Whitney Houston’s dated, done-to-death-on-reality-shows “I Have Nothing.” Still, as L.A. pointed out, it may have been the wrong song, but it hardly matters. Melanie makes her astonishing talent look so effortless that all I can do is raise a gospel hand and get ready to send some votes her way next week. Who’s with me?

Final Verdict: Drew safe! Rachel safe! (Because Simon thinks that’s what America wants?) Melanie safe! Tiah is out! Simone is out — but not without a shoutout to her “He Likes Boys” music video (embedded below)!

What did you think of The X Factor‘s first live show? What did you think of the judges’ decisions? Did you disagree with any of the eliminations? And who do you think will be the first act booted when America gets control of the outcome? Sound off below, and for all my X Factor news, views, and interviews, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Chad says:

    I hope Drew wins it all.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Drew is quite good but she just reminds me too much of that Jewel/Paula Cole/”Whoever that chick was that sang Sunny Came Home” type of music. Not a folk music fan. But I may change my mind, who knows?

    • Wendy says:

      Does anyone else think Simon is just playing a game a la Survivor with Melanie Amaro? She’s out…no she’s in…but I still prefer Tiah Tolliver…oops, Tiah’s out.

      I think he is trying to manipulate us into sticking up for her as the underdog. He is that smart.

    • Medic says:

      And someone punches that obnoxious Astro kid in his face, preferably Rachel Crow.

    • Yo says:

      I have really liked Drew, but I don’t think she can continue to do what she did on this show. Too s-l-o-w a song. It worked last week; this week drawing it out made me suspicious. Can she step it up?

  2. Mike says:

    Anyone know what Stereo Hogzz did with “Try a Little Tenderness”? I assumed they were singing Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Otis’ which heavily samples that song, but I looked up the rap verse and it seems to be original.

  3. kivadiva says:

    still prefer AI. Simon seems to be softening up – don’t like it.

    • dm says:

      I think its hilarious that people say that there is a lack of talent on X factor when the talent they cheered for on American Idol like Crystal Bowersox etc. gets dropped from their record label in extremely fast speed. Could it be that what you find talented may not sell, and “untalented” people like Katy Perry and Rihanna do. So before you get on your soapbox and bash the show, remember you may think you know what talent is but you do not know what sells!!!!!!!

      • Mary says:

        Unfortunately you are right, however just because they sell doesn’t make them talented. A true musician in my eyes, MY OPINION, is one that can sing in key without the use of auto tune. Yes pop stars can sell due to the gimmicks used, but I would never call them a true artist. Many people enjoy the visuals, I prefer the music. As far as the show goes, it is American Idol meets America got talent. I don’t think there is anything that makes it stand out. But think about it Simon help developed both of those shows. The judges mentoring isn’t for me a good thing. The only one who I think has the expertise is LA. Everyone has different taste, who really knows what sells. I think it has more to do with luck and finding the right song.

      • MikeDK says:

        Sadly too true – everyday talented artists are dropped in favor of the “it” factor that sells records – im reminded of the hard satire wielded against the record industri in the movie “Ford Fairlaine” and I wouldnt be at all surprised that people like Simone Battle, Astro, Rachel Crow and for that matter Tiah Tolliver and Lakoda Rayne may have a better shot at succes than the likes of Josh Krajcik and Leroy Bell (or for that matter Crystal Bowersox and Casey Abrams) – the one thing that brings a little ray of hope is that more and more artists “selfpublish” their music on the internet and i’d rather support them than the machine.

  4. danna says:

    I just have to stop reading midway through to say this: Slezak is awesome!!! Best review I’ve yet so far, and funniest as hell. The only thing I’d love more than your reviews would be the loonies~~~~ Pretty plz!!!

    • lisa says:

      I cannot agree more. Slezak- where do you find this much truth, hilarity and creativity for each recap?! Please IDOLOONIES – X FACTOR STYLE!!

      • Goujac says:

        Something is definately up with the lack of video. I’m thinking its conflict between Slezak and his boss the ever-watchful Michael Auseillo. The ‘Seillo might not want the site to “do” video and take the spotlight from his beloved textual glee spoilers that seem to garner a hell of a lot more traffic and comments. Also, video, as poorly hosted and integrated it was on this site can be time consuming and difficult. As long as they make the bone-headed decision to host it themselves with that awful flash player (much more capable producers, like whiskymedia have already switched to the more technically and econmically sound youtube for hosting) I dont think we are going to get Factorooines this season.

        • karenb says:

          Or maybe Slezak is just plain exhausted from writing the longest, yet most Freakin Hilarious Recap yet!! And there are way too many acts to cover at this point of the competition with video, anyway. Maybe later in the competition? We can only hope! But I love love love his writing!!

        • karenb says:

          And the videos worked great for me! Which is very odd..because I have the work luck with technology.

    • BA says:

      Yes (Slezak is AWESOME) and yes (we want Loonies!).

  5. Danielle Notaro says:

    Wow. Great title for a song-you know it’s gonna blow up cause so many straight girls identify with this.

    They tried to do up little Rachel like Janelle Monae- I think

  6. kate says:

    Steve Jones will be the first act booted.

    • Michael Slezak says:

      OH. SNAP.

    • Princess Adora says:

      That would be wonderful! I didn’t realize Ryan Seacrest’s job was so difficult!

    • Al says:

      I live in the UK and Steve Used to host a show over here called T4 which is basically a Saturday morning talk show for teens. The Steve I know from T4 and the Steve on X Factor seem like two totally different people. On T4 he was very quick witted, sarcastic and had bags of personality (He even once made out with Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters for the LOLz). He seems to have totally lost everything that got him the job in the first place. Maybe it was just the time restraints or nerves or something but hopefully he’ll relax into it soon because he genuinely is a really good host!

      • BeachBum says:

        He did look too “buttoned up” in that dull suit and would look much better in a tight t-shirt and jeans (wishfull thinking), but I liked his no-nonsense take with the judges,even cutting them off, instead of Seacrest’s inane attempts at clever banter.

  7. Mike says:

    Given that my favorite two performances came from Josh Krajcik and Drew, it’s becoming evident to me that I am not going to be happy as the X Factor season continues. They are clearly going for an over-the-top spectacle with each performance, which is unfortunate considering that Josh and Drew proved that sometimes, less is indeed more.

    • Sandi says:

      I agree completely. If I have to pinpoint my favorite AI moments, they are almost all of a stripped-down, honest vocal moment that has absolutely nothing to do with lighting, back up dancers, gospel choirs, or any other wonky theatrics. So it only stands to reason that the most moving performances of the night were Drew and Josh. I’m hoping that lighting/choreography onslaught lessens in time.

      Anyone know what’s on the agenda for next week? Will they get rid of four again or is it one at a time from now on? I would like to see the Mickey Mouse Club 2.0 sent packing for sure!

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I do like Josh Krajcik but I’m probably the only person here that didn’t care for the song choice. I was never a big fan of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, etc. Love his voice, though!

      • stella says:

        ahhh . . . joan baez and peter paul & mary covered a few of bob dylan earliest songs 45 years ago. if you haven’t heard (and apparently you haven’t) bob’s written a few hundred effin’ amazing songs since then.

        you might want to check ’em out . . .

        • Texas girl says:


        • darcy's evil twin says:

          Believe me, I know. Still don’t care for most of his music. I don’t argue that Dylan is an amazing poet and songwriter – it’s just not my thing. I applaud his success, though.

          I loved the story about how Dylan was someplace recently to give a concert and decided to go out for a morning walk. It happened to be a somewhat upscale area – I think it was someplace back east. Possibly Connecticut. The local police stopped him because he looked out of place and suspicious, but he was not carrying any identification. They took him back to the station and the young officers that picked him up had never heard of Bob Dylan. I bet the cops’ parents chewed them out for not getting autographs, LOL.

      • Yo says:

        Geez, you musta had a rough decade of music drought.

    • Mercedes S. says:

      But didn’t all the spectacle people get kicked off?

  8. Joline says:

    I don’t like that this show takes away all artistic integrity from its contestants. At least on American Idol the singers can choose their own songs, their own versions of the songs and their own stage set up. X Factor is creating commercialized packaged for each act and the actual talent has almost nothing to do with it. I understand that this is still a huge platform for a singer, but they have ZERO artistic license with their own careers from what I can tell. There are actually three people who are required by contract to allow Nicole Scherzinger to tell them what kind of artist they should be. Doesn’t seem right.

    • Yo says:

      This show is pure entertainment, not much contest, as the contest is prefabbed, anyway. Yes, the contestants have little to do with much of their own performance; consequently, it is hard to care about them. A muted rah, rah for your fave is pretty much it. I suspect this will impact post-show careers. The winner needs to hold on to the five million dollars.

    • Jake says:

      yeah, I think this is a flaw in this show…by the judges (producers) picking the contestants songs, arent the singers at the mercy of other people…they are essentially saddled with something they might not agree with…Simon and company can just give good songs to their favorites and bad/boring/cheesy songs to those they don’t like that much…seems like last night, everyone that got eliminated had the cheesiest of song choices to make it easier to get rid of them

    • Noelbelle says:

      I think this show needs more day-to-day background of how the judges are mentoring the contestants and less info on how hard all their lives are. I’m hoping the contestants have more input than the show is letting on.

  9. DAG says:

    Michael, do you think Simon had Melanie sing Whitney to show how awesome she really is? He always said no one should attempt the greats like Whitney and Mariah. Maybe, he think she’s in the same class of singers? And, you may be laugh so hard with the doves comment! Your hubby is a hoot!

  10. Joline says:

    And too many lights. Too many dancers. Too many giant blown up screen savers. It’s not the VMA’s so let us get to know the performers a little better before you drown them out with all the distractions. This show has a lot of potential but they are ruining it for me.

    • Erika says:

      I’ve always known the x factor is the reality show version of the vma’s and that’s why I love it. The vma’s provides both over the top beyonce performances and also subtle Adele performances. I for one enjoy the diversity. I think that the show makes the contestants work harder than the idol kids bc they raise the bar on the expectation level. Plus there is no way we are going to get personality lacking robotic like performances w this set up which is a plus.

  11. Ang says:

    “Oh how I wish I’d said, “What are doves but a second hand emotion?” Oh how you crack me up!
    I was just about to go do something productive when you finally posted your review! :)

  12. Rolfe says:

    Love Simone Battle! She is a pop star. Who cares if she can’t sing live, she looked hot!

    • Delon says:

      Simon clearly tried to duplicate the Cher Lloyd performance of Just Be Good to Me from last year’s The X Factor UK, where Cher Lloyd was mentored by Cheryl Cole. Watch infinitely more talented 16 y/o Cher’s performance here:

      You can also watch her amazing first audition which has garnered 20 million hits:

      While you are at it check out this year’s Mischa B, mentored by Kelly Rowland, kill Rolling in the Deep with a great urban arrangement on the first live show(Top16):

      This is what she did last week:

      These are the things i like to see on The X Factor, not “I Have Nothing”.

    • RS says:

      how old are you, like 12?

  13. annabelle says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t see the appeal in Rachel Crow? Her whole schtick seems so rehearsed and inauthentic. Like she’s playing the sassy sister in 80’s movie. I’m not saying she isn’t a good singer, but I don’t buy the act.

    i want loonies

    • Princess Adora says:

      I agree with EVERYTHING you said Annabelle! :)

    • dan says:

      I usually hate disgustingly super-sweet saccarine … anything, but I actually like Rachel Crow. Maybe because she can actually sing. I also think she would be a good actress.

      That being said, I can’t pretend I won’t enjoy watching her sob when she gets the boot. Hopefully, she won’t act surgary sweet when she gets repelled from the show.

    • Goujac says:

      She has 4 nauseating faces she’ll pull when being spoken too. She would be bearable if she didnt switch to a cinnamon-and-sugar routine right after singing a song, its so very paegent and saccherine. Her parents are very smartly trying to get her into disney-esqe teen tv where she will make a hell of a lot more money than as a 15k lifetime album seller. I dont enjoy watching her, but she’s playing a smarter game with her 15 minutes than many of the others.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      She’s a decent enough singer but I don’t care for her – she’s certainly not my cup of tea.

    • Sybil says:

      I actually don’t think Rachel’s that good a singer — yet. She’s got tons of raw talent, but unlike Drew, who’s just a little older, she doesn’t have full control of her voice. I would have rather seen Caitlin Koch go through to the live rounds.

      So glad Simone and Tiah are done.

    • marie says:

      I might check her out in about eight years or so. Not into teen pop – definitely not into prepubescent princess pop.

  14. matt says:

    Intersted about Simone Battle’s video release…Dont contestants sign a contract forbidding them from releasing music until some time after the show ends? If every eliminated contestant releases a single before the winner is crowned..whats the point. Doesnt XF have the same restrictive contracts as idol?

    Also the video is so auto tunes…If she would have sounded at least as good as the video, she might have made it. She was easily the worst sounding contestant – add that to the time she forgot all her lyrics- Simon gave her many chances. She’s too cocky and arrogant and thinks she’s better than she is. She may be a pop star (hey whens the last time you heard Britney sing live) but she’s not a singer …but maybe todays music industry doesnt want talented singers -and thats why these shows don’t deliver many pop stars. But it was a train wreck. I didn’t realize that she was a backup dancer with the Blackeyed Peas tour so she has some experience…She just unfortunately can’t sing so maybe should do a little detour and still can have an entertainment career. Her attitude would’ve never gotten her votes.

    • Noelbelle says:

      I liked the song. It was sort of like the lyrical antithesis of Katy Perry’s “Ur so Gay” from way back when she actually wrote songs (ya know, 2008). Also, gotta love a nod to Clueless.

  15. danna says:

    Done reading ^^

    Here’s my thoughts after playing the performances on repeat today:
    Steve, relax!
    Lakoda Rayne is growing on me. Weird. But they’re such damn fine eye-candies. And they can sing.
    Song choices sucked. Big time!
    I really want Cheryl back *sobs*
    Astro’s perfomance is brilliant. I wish people would stop hating on the little boy. He’s kinda cute, no?
    Drew should pick something more uptempo next time. I love her vids on Utube. It could very well be a start?
    The weakness in Melanie’s voice was exposed. I noticed it in her audition. But it’s even clearer now. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just think she sounds really strained when reaching the high notes. Blame it on nerves or whatever, I just don’t find her vocal that flawless.
    I pretty much don’t care about the guys. Why again did LA make that statement?

  16. jb says:

    Exactly what I thought about Steve Jones. No personality to handle time running behind the way Ryan Seacrest or Tom Bergeron can. He was a tool, if you ask me. Love the girls, Stacey, Lakoda Rayne. The rest can go. I did like Thia in a weird way. She would have been a watercooler contestant. This show penalizes strong categories. It is not as fun as American Idol. Way more about the judges. The judges want to brag on each other like they are the ones who got up there and did the singing.

  17. Dan says:

    Is there any form of dancing you wouldn’t mind? I appreciate that the show is trying to develop current stars. Unlike Idol, which has contestants stand behind a mike the whole time singing theme weeks about every decade but the current one.

    • Sen says:


      If I am to believe that one of these 12 will be a superstar, i’d like to see what they have to offer. The past few winners on Idol have been duds because NONE of their song choices were relevant. At least now we get to see relevant performances and judge accordingly. Well done XFACTOR :)

  18. Luann C says:

    I think it’s pretty obvious that each judge deliberately picked 1 of their 4 to “take the fall”. Why else would Dexter be asked to be one of the 17? Although I am liking some of the talent, this show appears to be way too orchestrated and predictable, as it was with everyone who was eliminated last night.And I don’t buy the “Melanie mistake”. I feel it was planned by Simon to make her look like the underdog, as we all know from Idol that the “talented underdog” gets votes! And from the chanting audience, it seems to be working. My favorites are definitely Josh.I can’t wait to hear him sing something with a little more rock/edge to it. And Drew I like, but I think she’s too young still for the audience that buys folksy music. Not sure if the pre-teen/teen crowd listens to “Jewel”-esque music. It will be interesting to see how she does with other genres.

    • Volcfom says:

      I was about ten when Jewel was really big, and she was one of my favorite artists at the time. I don’t know if today’s kids would “get it”, but I’ll definitely buy what she’s selling!

  19. Tusk says:

    They weren’t even subtle with their cannon fodder; Phil, Dexter, Brewer Boys, Tiah and Simone were all obviously a goner, which makes you wonder what undiscovered talent was pushed aside for the sake of this faux drama. This alone invalidates the show as a genuine opportunity for hidden, diamond in the rough, talent.

    Chris Renee, Tiah and Simone were exposed leaving no doubt that the stage is too big a venue for them. I expected Simone to fail, but was hoping for Tiah to whip up some underdog mojo and surprised all of us. Unfortunately, she was not up to the task.

    The pre-Live show favorites underwhelmed me. Though, talented, I was not impressed at all by front runners,
    Drew (is it time for her to try to get out of her comfort zone?)
    Josh (I didn’t see/hear what other did, was bored by the performance)
    Stacy(Did anyone else get a, “you should love me, I deserve this” attitude during the critique from her?” Not so much the Pity Princess, once the live show starts…huh?) She took the spot Elaine Gibbs deserved.
    Chris Renee (Yup, he doesn’t have the vocals, and my sense that I’m seeing a sob story in lieu of an act is being confirmed every time I see him perform.)
    Rachel Crowe (Too much too early, X Factor US decided to combine “Kid and Play” with “Sideshow Bob” to come up with Rachel’s outfit)
    Melanie (Lots of power, but performance….meh, I’ve heard that song sang many times better by performers with miles more talent)

    Count me underwhelmed, and “Idol does that better” ran through my mind a few times during the show.

    • BeachBum says:

      Spot on, Tusk. The cannon fodder was so obvious it was insulting. L.A gives a jazz singer an overproduced Monkee’s song making him easier to boot than Brennin would have been; Nicole picking Dexter (Katy/Brittney?) or often out of control Stacy over true talent Elaine (hey Simon, there’s your gospel star);Simon picking Simone/Tiah over Caitlin/Torah/Jazzlyn…we’re not as naive as you think we are !

  20. Clarissa says:

    Lol I love Simone. Girl is a genius.

  21. the real wendy says:

    For the last several seasons, I have heard the judges complain about song choices (generally – I agree). I was super-exciting to see what they would come up with themselves. With one or two exceptions – blah. I would rather hear what the contestants want to sing. GET RID OF ALL OF THE DANCERS!!! What is this – employ hollywood dancers season?

    • Tusk says:

      Did you notice the acts that needed the most “support”(aka least talented) had the biggest production and number of dancers?, except for Astro, who actually surprised me as the best performance of the night. He was unfazed by the size of the audience/venue like Simone and Tiah seemed to be, and I hated the kid

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Am I the only one here old enough to remember the programs “Hullabaloo” and “Shindig”? Honestly, there were a few performances last night that gave me flashbacks to my childhood – particularly those of Phillip Lomax, The Brewer Boys, and Tiah Tolliver. The dancers, the lights – yikes!

        • Tusk says:

          Donny and Marie variety show came to mind with the Brewer boys

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            Made me laugh! :-)
            That’s definitely a possibility but I do think those boys have talent.
            Best variety show ever – Sonny and Cher.

        • marie says:

          You are definitely NOT the only reader to remember Hullabaloo and Shindig! From what little I saw (DVR’d the show and fast-forwarded through all the crap, which included the bulk of the performances), I get the resemblance – but those shows, with the effects available then, weren’t seizure-inducing, like XF is.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            Yay! Marie is here! “Seizure-inducing”. Funny. glad I’m not the only old person here.

  22. G-Mom says:

    Last night was the first time I actually watched X Factor. I like A.I. much better and think some of the acts wouldn’t have made the preliminary round on it. A lot of people really like Drew (my daughter included), but I just don’t get it. I kept thinking she would actually start to SING. She would put me to sleep. Although, for a 14 year old, (and she seems very sweet) her voice is very mature. My faves were Josh, Stacy, Melanie, and Rachel. As for Lakoda Dayne – did they turn their mics down? Because I couldn’t hear them very well (or maybe that was the point). While I won’t be watching, I am interested in seeing who wins. BTW, Simon is a lot nicer now!

  23. NanCeE* says:

    I confess I haven’t been watching much of X Factor, but caught last night’s show. I have to say I’m shocked – SHOCKED – that Rachel Crow and Stacy Francis are still in the competition. I’m sure it’s a complete coincidence they were so heavily featured on the show’s promos before the season began, and now they’re in the top 12! First time I’d heard Drew sing, and I think I love her. Excited for future shows – think I’ll start watching again. Despite the completely coincidental attention Rachel has received (haha), I find myself rooting for her.

  24. shaunna says:

    x factor Jazzlyn Little should have made it to live show if only Simon or any other judge encouraged her to her c0nquer her nerves- she was best female- anyone else thbnk she was awesome and should have been put through to top 4 girls- her audition at Simons was so good.Also JUdge Nicole should have put through some of the over 30 girls over her picks ?

  25. Jerry says:

    Simone’s video: We like Auto-Fune.

  26. GaysWithOpinions says:

    Okay so I’ve listened to He Likes Boys about four times already. I love this girl. I agree with Simon’s decision but I wan’t her to be a star now. Drew was, hands down, the absolute best, and I get the sense I’ll be saying that every week. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this show. Everyone was at least mildly talented. It kind of makes American Idol look like Amateur Hour. Hey Slezak, any chance we’re gonna get some sort Idoloonies type show every week? Nothing would make me happier.

  27. mango says:

    You mentioned that the song performed by Simone was “Dub Be Good To Me”. This song is actually originally performed by the SOS Band ‘Just Be Good To Me.” Classic 80s R&B tune produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. She appeared to mimic the original version. Still a train wreck!

    • Noelbelle says:

      AHHHHH…Thank you! I couldn’t remember the original version which I only recall from the scene in ’10 Things I Hate About You’ when Julia Stiles finds out at the prom that Heath Ledger was getting paid to date her and she runs off down the stairs.

  28. Elaine says:

    I can live with last night’s decisions…… simone and Tiah gone… as they should be …. But Elaine Gibbs…. Nicole sure screwed up in not picking her. I hope she can go on america’s Got Talent because that woman is one fine singer.

    And for some people Rachel’s erkiness is as irritating as Astro’s bad attitude (tho I don’t think anything is as irritating as that), but that kid has talent coming outta her ears….. and I agrwith LA, she’s a natural for acting…. a broadway star in the making.

    Drew.. love her. Josh.. love him. Leroy.. love him Melanie.. mind-blowingly wonderful.

  29. mickyDtroi says:

    obviously you can’t have a name like ryniwicz (i know I didn’t spell that right) if your in show business. But why drop the last name. Just drew is sort of tacky. Reminds me of singer Jewel. It just sounds weird. I was thinking maybe changing it to drew ryan. Or something

    • Goujac says:

      The poor girl was just so badly named by her parents. Drew is a dumpy sort of name that really matches up poorly with her last name. I bet the poor thing dosent even have any middle names to fall back on. Cant blame the poor thing, its her parents fault. I disagree with Drew Ryan though, with XFactor’s clumsy input they have her go by Drewsilla Battle.

    • katherine says:

      In an interview a while back, L.A. and Simon went off on this tangent about showbiz names and how they were totally going to make Drew drop her last name. Guess they did it.

  30. Ivet says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t comment on the host …. He’s lacking charisma and is incredibly boring …. and also , the shows seemed rushed, they didn’t even finish their comments and he was rushing them to finish and so on – I get that they had a lot of singers but come on..

    • Noelbelle says:

      Seriously, it was 2 and a half hours. I am not ok with it being any longer. They should cut the package lengths and the never-ending recaps if they want more judge time. There are several ways this production could be much more efficient so that viewers get a better idea of the judges’ thoughts and the contestants’ abilities and Steve Jones’ personality. In fact, I really kinda feel bad for him. He’s got as much to prove as anyone else on the show, but he’s also probably got producers down his throat and in his ears to keep this telecast from becoming even heavier on time. I’d take a serious delete button to a lot of the show’s rundown.

  31. Jack says:

    Simone’s video =
    She likes Auto-Tune

    Video’s okay, but man, live performances are not this girl’s thing…. shows her weaknesses way too much.

    I agree with the “cat all the dancers comments”. Talk about overproduced.

    We want the artist’s talents to shine…. not the all the distaction of the overproduction. lease tone it down.

  32. Hey Michael,
    I love when you grade the live performances! (I look forward to it every week during Idol.) Any chance you are going to start doing that for X Factor?

  33. Joe says:

    I thought Steve Jones was great. He kept the show moving and it didn’t go past 10:30pm so you end up losing the end on the DVR. I don’t understand the bashing. It’s a live show and someone has to make sure the judges don’t go nuts. What was he supposed to do? Have a contestant call him “Peaches”? You want that schtick again? I also like that there wasn’t too much backstory last night. It was the songs and the judging. I enjoy this way more than Idol. Idol is garbage now with autobot moron Randy Jackson destroying the show each week. I liked the song choices. Liked the over 30’s and groups and loved they put a rapper through in Astro. Astro was excellent and his bravado was fun to watch. All of you way too sensitive getting offended by Astro and Steve Jones. Seriously.

  34. Jorge says:

    Why all the HATERS! Give this show a chance! It’s not American Idol, so just take it for what it is. It’s supoosed to be over the top.
    If this show was around first then you all would be hating on the “smallness” of Idol.

    Give Steve Jones a shot. Get used to him.

    Haters Haters Haters!

    • Goujac says:

      Hello employee of Freemantle Media. you’ve done your hasbara, you can go back to spit polishing klieg lights and waxing up the recap packages.

    • Noelbelle says:

      I totally agree Jorge. Everyone expects it to be AI, but in the fall season. It’s a different concept, and it’s only been on for a MONTH, not 10 years.

  35. Jorge says:

    Lomax was completely sabbotaged by L.A!!! He knew he wasnt ever going to take him through so he gave him a horrible song and production to validate his choice.

    I felt so bad for him and litterally had to turn my head to help him retain some dignity on that performance.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      that was unfortunate. “I’m a Believer” is not a bad song but it was a horrible song choice for Phillip Lomax, and the delivery was so darned bad! Too bad – he was the only boy I cared for.

      • karenb says:

        I liked Lomax, too. It seems like X Factor is on a mission to get rid of any some-what good looking guy…in another effort to be the Anti-Idol. Whatever.

        But I gotta say, darcy’s evil twin, your comments last night had me cracking up! :)

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          I agree, karenb – it’s almost as though Phillip Lomax was put through just so he could get booted! And thanks for your comments about my humor but it was that darned drinking game, thanks to Mr. Sleazak’s new last names for Nicole Whatzername. If he comes up with more than two names per column, I’m toast. I’m a cheap drunk.

    • BeachBum says:

      Jorge, I couldn’t agree more.

    • Joline says:

      I think Phillip would have done much better on Idol. Xfactor was not a good fit to showcase his talent from the beginning. If you compare him to Michael Buble, he wouldn’t have had such an over the top production performing live. It’s about Phillips phrasing and delivery of vocals that makes him so special, not all the distractions. Thought LA also sabotaged him with “Don’t stop the music” during judges houses so I was surprised he got through at all.

    • Tusk says:

      There was definitely a “lamb to the slaughter” feel to Phil’s performance.

      BTW “I’m a believer” is a Neil Diamond song and not really a Monkees’ song (popularized by, maybe…)

  36. lk says:

    Am I the only one who thought that chick in Lakoda Rain (the one who used to look like Hilary Swank) got a nose job????????

  37. karen Anderson says:

    This show frustrates me. The pre-packaging of contenders to make them look like stars before their time epitomizes what I hate about the contrivances in the music industry. The eliminations are happening way too fast. Just when you start to like a contestant, he/she can be axed in 2 seconds with nary a chance of redemption, all based on whether their mentoring judge propped them up in the right fashion. It was too bad that LA Reid completely sabatoged the Seattle crooner with a song that obviously didn’t fit him. The judges are forcing their choices down the throats of the viewing public. Unlike Idol, we the audience don’t have much of a chance to get behind a contestant and root for them through their process. It’s strange and contrived, the X Factor. I want to like the show, but it’s not going to replace American Idol for me, that’s for sure.

  38. Winnie says:

    Simon did the right thing and picked the right people to go home. Nicole should have sent the maskara crying woman home. LA chose the right person to go hone based on the performance but I blame him for his failure. Paula just sabotaged the Brewer boys. I think she didn’t really know what to do with them. I would have picked them over the chicks group based on what I think they can potentially be. They are definitely talented and their genre is definitely not commercial pop. Oh well… I vote for Josh (I call him Mr Joe Cocker) and no one else. Go burrito boy!

  39. andy j says:

    As far as Polish last names go, Ryniewicz is a piece of cake. Imagine if her last name was Szczeczebrzykiewicz?

  40. Joslyn says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t seen more (any!) mentions of the source of Rachel Crow’s mash-up arrangement: Julia Nunes

    Was obsessed with this song all summer. I really hope she gets credit, or at least increased attention out of this!

  41. Charles says:

    Scotty isn’t a dud. He has already outsold the last 2 winners total albums in three weeks.

  42. Dina says:

    Scotty sang just what he needed to every week and he is doing great so far.

  43. brody says:

    Hate to say it, and pray I’m wrong, but my biggest fear is that the seizure-inducing train wreck known at In-Ten-Sity may be around for quite a long time once viewer voting begins. Let’s see…10 INDIVIDUALS…from 10 DIFFERENT cities…with 10 “let’s get out the vote for the hometown favorite” campaigns…equals enough votes to keep them running for awhile. UGH!

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      DO THE MATH! You have a point. Oh dear.

    • BeachBum says:

      Good point, Brody. I hadn’t thought of that.

    • Goujac says:

      Very astute observation. The only sleight is that the show does not have time to make strong City-to-singer connections like they can for a solo act. They can list their hometowns or states, but they’ll never have time (with Steve Jones glowering at them as well) to wrap them up with an actual identity. After last nights show, bits and pieces of the production are being snipped out to afford the judges more time for their banter, as its Simon’s production and thats where he places value. I’d bet against you and say that intensity will be gone before the late rounds where they would have time to fill with sappy hometown stories.

  44. darcy's evil twin says:

    Oh…I am not going to make any more comments about the boys after today. I can’t stand rap (I refuse to call it “music”); therefore, I can’t stand Astro and I don’t care how talented he is supposed to be. Don’t like him OR his performances. Don’t get Chris Rene at all – I thought he was marginal last night. Everyone loves Marcus – except me. For whatever reason I find him “just tolerable”.

  45. GG says:

    What bothered me was the fact that during every critique, it was more about praising or criticizing the mentors instead of the singers. This is a singing competition, and I’m watching to see the singers, not to see a bunch of windbags blowing smoke up each others a**. They need to get over themselves and concentrate on the singers. Of course, I’ve said the same thing about AI for years, but I keep watching anyway, lol. Oh well :)

  46. jane says:

    Simon got on Adam Lambert’s case for wearing a coat during his Mad World finale performance as being too theatrical. Well, Tia’s performance was nothing BUT theatrical. Overall, the show is just too “showy” for my taste.

  47. Jamie says:

    Who else thinks the judges cheerlead worse than the idol judges? There was barely any constructive criticism and most of the criticism was on the other judges by saying “i wouldn’t have chosen that song for you.”

    • Kit says:

      I am reserving judgment on that until the second live show since this episode involved the judges making the cuts. If they keep that up and it’s all them bashing each other and picking on that stuff…it will turn me off to this show QUICKLY.

  48. Michele says:

    I hate the show but I love Melanie Amaro. I like Drew as well.

  49. darcy's evil twin says:

    Mr. Slezak, as usual your review was very witty and hilarious! It was far better than the program.
    I found myself enjoying “Lakoda Rayne” – bizarre song choice last night but they did a good job with what was handed to them.
    I’d like to thank the viewers that commented that Leroy Bell is “sexy” following Mr. Slezak’s previous article. There’s hope for the rest of us old folks!

  50. Jessica says:

    “I had no clue, on the other hand, what Paula meant with that comment about knowing Michael Bolton since he was seven.”

    Dear Michael,

    To answer your question, Bolton apparently babysat her when she was that age because he knew her family. She tells a whole story about it on Jimmy Kimmel, which features a call from the one and only Michael Bolton. Although Paula sometimes behaves as though she drank the kool-aid, she wasn’t in this case (though she probably should have qualified that statement).

    Now my plea: please begin a video review like Idoloonies if possible for X Factor- I love those!