The X Factor Top 11 Performance Night: Follow Along With Our Snappy Judgments

The X Factor’s Top 11 acts will perform “Songs from the Movies” this week, which means we all have to brace our ears for an inevitable Disney princess ballad or perhaps the American Idol Death Anthem known as “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now).”

If you don’t want to face that kind of music alone, then please consider this live blog post as your pithy, mildly inebriated viewing companion.

The X Factor Top 12: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Suggested Song Choices

As the episode rolls on, I’ll update you on who’s performed what and offer my opinions of said performances in five words or less. So keep refreshing the page for all the good, the bad, and Steve Jones robot impersonations. (“I. Am. Your. Host. Someone. Forgot. To. Flip. My. Personality. Switch. Please.”)

* Stacy Francis, Whitney Houston’s “Queen of the Night”: In tune-ish, but cartoon frog-ish.
* Marcus Canty, Rose Royce’s “I’m Going Down”: Solid. Soulful. Still miss Jazzlyn.
* Drew Ryniewicz, Coldplay’s “Fix You”: Sublime. (Maybe not the dress.)
* Leroy Bell, U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”: Total B+, and that’s enough.
* Lakoda Rayne, Keith Urban “Somebody Like You”: 27 members? Rough final harmonies.
* Astro, a modified version of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”: Annoyingly impressive. Unhand him, Steve!
* Melanie Amaro, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”: Monster voice. Monstrously flat arrangement.
* Stereo Hogzz, Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man”: Not perfect, but I dug.
* Josh Krajcik, The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends”: Powerful but growly. GRRRRR! ARRRGH!
* Chris Rene, Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise” (reconfigured as — I think? — “Pastime Paradise”): Award for ‘Most Improved’ goes to…
strong>* Rachel Crow, Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind”: Solid, but not entirely believable?

Full recap will post early thursday morning, but until then, hit the comments and share your own opinions! And for all my X Factor news and commentary, 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. BeachBum says:

    Finally…a little criticism

  2. Victoria E says:

    Perhaps Marcus should have “forgotten” his jacket backstage– taking it off just looked awkward.

  3. Elaine says:

    Gotta agree. Finally. Criticism.

    Who is dressing Stacy? Agree with Simon.. that red dress didn’t do it…and she looked lovely with the bangs… she needs the bangs. I thought she seemed almost out of breath. Not totally comofrtable with what she was doing. 6/10 for me. A tad off-key in parts as well…. not a lot but definitey there.

    • Erin says:

      To me, Stacy was, without question, the worst of the night. Her vocals were totally brutal.

    • g9 says:

      Stacy was the weakest of the night, no question. It was awful. Her wig was, too. She looked like she had been bald boothed. Eugh. I’m not sure how big her fanbase actually is, but she probably will be in the bottom two alongside Stereo Hogzz.

    • Mapuana Naipo says:

      tonight for stacey was HORRIBLE HORRIBLE AND MORE HORRIBLE she honestly believed she was good OMG she needs to return to earth her head is getting to a BIG

  4. BeachBum says:

    Picking a song that the show has used as background for every promo of Chris Rene was just weird, Simon.

  5. Margo says:

    Really Simon…L.A was right…what is the difference between all her performances…that was super underwhelming

    • Shindig says:

      I need to say the same thing about Astro, Marcus, and Melanie as well. That’s what I always find funny about LA’s comments.. they always apply to him just as much as the people he puts them towards.

      • julesmn says:

        I agree. I don’t get LA’s comment about her sounding the same when you can say that about all of them. And that’s ok. I mean does any artist put out an album that has a bunch of different genres in it? No.

        • M-E says:

          “does any artist put out an album that has a bunch of different genres in it?” Only Adam Lambert’s exceptional “For Your Entertainment” which covers many genres and each song a masterpiece on its own.

          • Jason says:

            I had to laugh at this statement. A masterpiece? Every song!! I could barely get through it and I was a fan of LAmbert on Idol!!!

          • Popeye says:

            Um, no. I absolutely loved Adam Lambert on Idol but didn’t like FYE at all. Hope his new album is more successful, would hate to think that his finest moments are when covering other artists songs.

  6. rose says:

    this is turning into a bitchfest of epic proportions, i liked you better crying, the whining about you me and dupree, dont ever listen to simon about what to wear, drew designed this dress, yikes this is way too much fun !!!

  7. Elaine says:

    Marcus: 7/10 – the whole “removing the jacket” thing was awkward and distracting. And his arms. wow, could he have waved them around anymore? Also a tad distracting.

  8. BeachBum says:

    Wow, so far I have been underwhelmed with all 3 performances.
    Stacy…oversung and pitchy as usual
    Marcus…just kinda boring to me. Give the guy something current and let’s see what he can do. Right now he seems stuck in the 90s.
    Drew…I’ve really liked her each week but this week left me cold.

    • Shindig says:

      More like the 80s, imo. He’s incredibly boring with what they’ve been giving him, but he just sounds like.. RnB-bot

  9. Kelly says:

    Sheesh! Lay off Drew.. She’s young and fresh.

  10. BeachBum says:

    Good job, Leroy

  11. Jen says:

    Drew: I love this girl’s voice and presence, but I’m up with LA … she’s turning into a one-trick pony. Come on Simon….. give her something fun and ubeat to sing….. She’s 14… f. Let’s hear her have a great time in a song.

    • Victoria E says:

      She’s not there to “have a good time” — she’s there to be entertaining and have us give her 5 million dollars. And right now she’s beginning to bore me.

      • Shindig says:

        But usually having fun/emotion in a song is what actually makes it sound better. Yes, she’s getting predictable (as most of them are), but that doesn’t mean you can’t give her something she can have a lot of fun with.

    • cathy says:

      Being a one trick pony has worked for Scotty and Lauren so why shouldn’t it work for Drew.

  12. JennCho says:

    I feel like the judges expect LeRoy Bell to walk out there each week like he’s Sally O’Malley in that old Molly Shannon SNL Skit. He can KICK! Streeeeetch! And SING! HE’S 60! 60 YEARS OLD!

  13. rose says:

    sorry gong them

  14. Margo says:

    That was a great performance for Lakoda Rayne….certainly the best performance they’ve done. Would like to see them develop more individual stage personas though

  15. Elaine says:

    Drew: 7.5/10 Id like to hear something ubeat from her next too.

    Leroy 8.0/10 Good job

  16. Anna says:

    Drew needs to show she can sing something upbeat, because she will have to sing those types of songs if she wants to be a relevant recording artist. She’s 14 years old…sing something fun and youthful, already!

  17. Annie says:

    Drew is getting boring. Marcus trying to take off the jacket took the focus off of his singing, and it looked awkward. Astro was pretty amazing, and I don’t like saying that. Stacy started out great, but then lost it. Lakoda Rayne is very good, which is a shame, because I don’t want to support a manufactured group. I have to hand it to them for working hard, and making it seem like they have been performing together for years.

    • TinCan says:

      The Monkees were a manufactured group and I enjoyed many of their songs back in the day. I do agree Lakoda Rayne is the best group still standing and they get better every week.

  18. Stacie says:

    They gotta tone down the audience. I can’t even hear the judges anymore, at points during the performances it becomes distracting. Not good at all.

    • BeachBum says:

      I totally agree

    • Paula says:

      This. Agreed!

    • Shindig says:

      Agreed.. I could barely hear Drew’s performance in the beginning. It really takes away from everything

    • rose says:

      at least the swaybots on american idol were quietly annoying, this audience is beyond annoying

    • Tusk says:

      One of the posters on Idolforums said she came back from viewing the show. She said it was annoying because the guy who warms up the audience kept encouraging the audience to scream during the critiques, so she was annoyed she couldn’t hear the judges. It was no coincidence.

      (She also mentioned pretty much everything was inferior to the Idol production except the stage was bigger)

      • tommytomted says:

        Everything about X-Factor is bigger than American Idol. Starting with the auditions. Doing those in front of a live audience was so much better than AI doing it in a hotel conference room. And the production value of the live shows of X-Factor leaves AI in the dust.
        And then there are the judges. So much better than AI. Can you imagine Steven Tyler getting away with “you’re too good, I can’t judge you” on X-Factor?

        • Shindig says:

          LA – “You’re too lovable, I can’t judge you”
          The judges suck. It’s a bitchfest about the whole “competition between the judges.” The biggest critiques we hear are about the OUTFITS. There’s no “you’re having some pitch issues, you need to work on that” or “try to avoid oversinging” and such. Maybe it’s because the judges “mentor” them, but when you sit there complaining about being one-trick, outdated and doing the wrong stuff when you pick their songs for

          Honestly bigger isn’t better either. The stage is the corniest damn thing I’ve ever seen on one of these competitions. Really, flames last week in Chris’ slow song? With the flame projection? 10032949203 dancers everywhere? And the out of place audience reactions in the auditions and people riling up the crowd too much to the point you can’t hear anything?

  19. Jason C. says:

    This is a singing competition, right? So how is “Astro” (I can’t with that ridiculous name) still here? He’s annoying, full of himself, and never performs the REAL song — always with his own “lyrics.” So. Over. Him.

    • Stella says:

      Completely agree with everything you said.

    • Gorm says:

      Add Chris Renee to the list of people that get to fumble through a rap about how great they are rather than tackle a difficult song that requires control and harmony. We now have two contestants with license to stomp around saying words at whatever pace suits them. Bleah.

    • cathy says:

      He’s here because all the music award shows have rappers included. It is considered a genre of music. Someday you will be watching that kid on the AMA’s.

    • cat says:

      i dont understand why people don’t like him….he is incredible. i would say he was the best of the night, he’s the most impressive. are the contestants even choosing their own songs on this show with the exception of a few? right now, i would argue he wants it the most, he’s original and he never fails to amaze me. Jason-not sure why “lyrics” is in quotes….he writes his own material, just because he’s not singing they’re not lyrics? either way, he is no doubt the most impressive contestant on the show.

    • Melinda says:

      Wow. Just…wow.
      Astro deserves to be there. He’s original in every way. He IS an artist. X Factor is trying to find the next best “recording artist” and Astro is just that.

    • Alex says:

      Simon never said that The X-Factor was a strictly a singing competition. They’re looking for someone talented and marketable who can make them millions. And hip-hop is huge. Besides, he’s actually a pretty good rapper for his age, and the fact that he writes his own verses puts him a level above the other contestants who are just banging out karaoke.

  20. karenb says:

    Keith Urban=cool
    Lakoda Rayne=not cool
    Eminem/Astro=da bomb

  21. Elaine says:

    Lakota Rayne: 7/10 The best they’ve sounded so far. Imroving for sure.

    Astro: He still irritates me, but there’s no arguing with his talent. The kid can write and erform (and I’m no hip hop/rap fan). Good job 8.5/10

  22. Victoria E says:

    Anyone want to place bets on which Simon will Melanie sing — Celine or Whitney?

  23. karenb says:

    Oh no she didn’t!
    Oh yes she did!
    Paula used the Phonebook Comment.
    Channeling Randy!

  24. Elaine says:

    Melanie: 9.0/10 That voice is perfection. I’ve never heard her sink a sour note. BUT Simon has go tto give her a current stop the nay-sayers about her being questionable as a “current” singer. Give it to her Simon. She’ll kill it.

  25. BeachBum says:

    L.A.’s comment about Melanie always singing the same type of song was ridiculous…Man in the Mirror and Desperado? C’mon man !

  26. Elaine says:

    Stereo Hoggz: 6.5/10 Dunno about these guys. They just never have captured me emotionally….

  27. Eminem says:

    Astro is cr@ptastic

  28. Shindig says:

    The judges just really irk me. Especially LA. I dunno if it’s just me, but is he pretty much just a hypocrite? All this stuff about x singing the same stuff over and over. Meanwhile, we look at all three of his contestants.. and that death sentence of a song for Phlomax in the first show.. ahem

    I’m SO glad they didn’t give Melanie the “Titanic song” though. Really, you have no idea — we had a betting pool on it lol. But even Man in the Mirror wasss.. bleh, boring. I -half- agree with LA (Desperado is not the same, sorry). Melanie has an excellent voice, but I find her absolutely boring.

    • Gorm says:

      Its not just you! Tonight something broke inside LA Reid, he bends over and speaks all his comments directly to Simon as if looking for approval. Also, he has given over to indulgent comments about the movies he has or hasnt seen. Everything out of his mouth is “I” statements. He has dropped the filter & personna of “Business Executive” and is letting his ego do all of the talking. The restraint is gone, something that always comes out after the 3rd stiff drink.

      • BeachBum says:

        Maybe LA has his head stuck down the R/B and hip hop well but it seemed incomprehensible that someone who is supposed to be a top record exec had never heard of Xtina’s huge hit. Really?

  29. Elaine says:

    Josh: 8.0/10 Agree with Simon. Jusst let the man sing without all the distractions (mind y9u, I could say that for most of the singers). All this overproduction is irritating. Let the voice shine, damn it.

    • Kim R says:

      Totally agree. It is all distracting. WHY does a group of singers need 6 backup singers? It’s all too much. And I find you can’t hear the main singers as well. Frustrating.

  30. BeachBum says:

    I figured it was only a matter of time before Josh sang a Joe Cocker song.

    • Janet says:

      Last I checked… this is a Beatles song.

      • GIngerSnap says:

        It’s both a Beatles song and a Joe Cocker song. Lennon and McCartney finished writing this song in mid-March 1967 (they wrote it for Ringo’s voice), it was released on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album. Cocker rearranged the song in a slower beat, it became a hit for him 1968; he also sang it at Woodstock in 1969.

        Josh’s version reminded me of Cocker, but I agree with Simon. Take away all the crap and let the man sing. Didn’t like the beginning so much, but he found his groove in the last half of the song.

      • BeachBum says:

        True, guess I didn’t phrase it well. He sang Joe Cocker’s hit version of The Beatles classic.

  31. Shindig says:

    Ohhhh man. I think Josh’s performance was my favorite on this show so far. And I love Nicole Shirthanger’s comment on Steve. Thanks for not making him sing a Katy Perry song or something.

  32. GingerSnap says:

    Ok, so you guys are ahead of me. Just finished hearing Drew. LA was right – she sounded exactly the same as she did last week, and her phrasing was bad. Didn’t understand a single word she sang. BORING.

    Marcus – you can see this guy becoming a star.

    Stacy – really just a 5/10.

    Melanie – haven’t heard her yet, but, really, “Man in the Mirror”? That’s an odd song choice, and Simon should have chosen better.

    • Tusk says:

      …And if she doesn’t make it through, it won’t be because she sung bad. It’ll be because America was not ready to look at itself in the mirror…..

  33. Gorm says:

    And Chris Renee drops a deuce on the stage. His whole vibe was a bare-souled singer. Now we get to hear him fumble through old rap full of sharp notes while he goes through the braggart genertic rap rhymes. Someone please find a massive fork and stick it in Chris, he is done.

  34. karenb says:

    I dug the Hogzz, too, Slezak. Agree with you, too, on Josh. And he did a weird thing with his eyes. Anyone else catch that?

  35. Elaine says:

    Chris: 7.5/10.

    It’s starting to irritate me that some people are critical of the girls being “one trick poniess” when the reality is most of the singers on XFactor have been one trick ponies – Astro and Chris – nothing but hiphop/rap; but I don’t haear anyone criticizing that. GRRRR

  36. Gorm says:

    I’ve called her crap repeatedly for her affected precociousness, but its refreshing to see rachel crow drop the nonense and sing a song that aspires to somethign greater than a Shirly Temple copy. Lets see if she can carry herself like a 14 year old as well.

  37. rose says:

    can’t lisgten to this song without seeing weird al singing amish paradise with his buggy and beard and churning butter

  38. Margo says:

    Best vocal performance for Rachel but talk about aging her, why didn’t he give that kind of song to Melanie??

  39. Elaine says:

    OMG, Rachel Crow… she fracking killed it. What a performance. That kid’s got soul…. Simon, let her choose her own songs from now on! That was amazing.

    I tell ya… when they played the “summary” after… hearing Stacy right after Rachel like that…. Stacy sounded absolutely painful on the ears.

    Rachel: 10/10 (coy or not, she killed it)

    • Lana says:

      Finally someone mentions Rachel’s fantastic performance, she put so much soul into that song. You need to forget her age just listen to that voice, it was not made for cute “pop” song, it was made for grabbing your soul and going on a journey with it. She definately needs to pick her own songs and I will continue voting for her if she does.

  40. Micaela says:

    Chris Rene is the only one of the contestants trending worldwide right now on twitter. He was great!

  41. rose says:

    rachel is incredible, but she is only 13, you can see her sweetness on the red carpet and I fear for her

  42. TS says:

    OK Slezack, now you’re just sounding like a cranky old man. I’ll be the first one to say that Rachel Crowe’s performances were not that good. But I am also perfectly happy to say that she was amazing tonight. Definitely the best of the night, and that includes my personal favorite, Drew. You’ve been asking for a song that shows off her vocal prowess, yet when you finally get it (and she nailed it!) you still complain. I’d say she’s just as believable as Drew was.

    Also, this was the very first week in which I could understand how Chris Rene made it so far. Much more interesting and better sounding than his previous weeks.

  43. BeachBum says:

    It’s always been suspect just how much singing the backup singers of StereoHogzz actually do and tonight there are 6 studio singers singing their parts along with them….hmmm

    My picks for bottom 2: Stereo Hogzz and Stacy Francis

    • Gina says:

      I thought the same thing about the Stereo Hogzz. I actually really enjoyed the performance, but didn’t understand why they needed 6 additional backup singers.

      I agree with your bottom picks and hope it’s Stacy that heads home.

  44. (!) says:

    I just find it so hard to believe Rachel “chose” that song. I mean, I know she probably went listening through all the choices but.. I just can’t see it, I mean.. the proteins that went into creating the slightest thoughts of her existence weren’t even compounded when that song was out D: But I’m so glad she went with that, and didn’t come off as a Shirley Temple wannabe.

  45. Gutz says:

    Don’t some people think Rachel may have been lip-syncing ?

  46. BA says:

    Melanie and Rachel rock!!!

  47. Christina says:

    Some really weird staging stuff tonight. The cuts to the backup singers were way beyond annoying,and Josh’s set-up was just weird. I also find myself that when there’s dancers onstage I’m paying more attention to see if I can spot the SYTYCD dancers. Spotted 3 tonight Allison Holker, Ryan Ramierez, And Kim Gingras from SYTYCD Canada.

    • JoJo says:

      Hey…good on you. A worthy pastime to prevent gnashing of teeth. I just don’t get what’s up with these song choices, the back-up overload, and the over-the-top set and dance productions. It’s a kind of surreal and creepy parody of Vegas, actually. As is the “banter” and “competition” among the judges, as is Nicole Showmethedoorenmeister. Some of these vocalists and performers are incredible and deserve more integrity. GRRRRRRRRR…

      • Popeye says:

        Totally get where you’re coming from with the surreal comment. Tonight I felt like I was watching an X-box version of a singing game show, all very bizarre, unreal, scripted & phony. But of course I’ll tune in to next weeks show!

  48. CAM says:

    I find it ridiculous to listen to LA Reid criticize contestants for not varying their song choice. How have his contestants shown variety, especially Astro and Chris?

    The audience is WAY TOO loud, even while people are performing.

  49. PatD says:

    Finally, Chris got something he could work with. He. is. a. star. Whether you like his kind of music, or not. The guy is going to sell HUGE.

    Yes, Michael, he was singing “Pastime Paradise,” rather than “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which was a homage to the Stevie Wonder song that Coolio originally blended.

    Plus, he looked HOT tonight!

  50. karenb says:

    I thought Rachel was amazing. Reminded me of the song she sang on the first episode. Glad she went back back to showing off her vocals.