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. g9 says:

    Favorites of the night: Drew, Rachel, and Astro. It’s sort of funny to see criticism on predictability, when in actuality, most of these acts are sticking to a certain type of song. Melanie sings ballads, the rappers rap, etc. I’d love for Drew to do something a bit more upbeat next week, but she continues to deliver so I can’t complain too much. Rachel finally started doing what she should have been doing two weeks ago — I’m glad she put Simon in his place. The whole Jackson child reborn thing was not working at all.

    • perfesser- says:

      Drew, really? There were moments, but she sort of honked and whispered and slid uncomfortably into her breathy little notes. I’m not getting Drew!

  2. Rohit says:

    Check out the New York Post interviews of Rachel and Astro – big kudos to XFactor for not indulging in their sob stories…..couple of amazingly talented and mature kids.

  3. Becky says:

    1. Josh
    2. LeRoy
    3. Rachel
    4. Melanie
    5. Astro
    6. Drew
    7. Marcus
    8. Stacy
    9. Lakoda Rayne (or Lakota Rain, for those who care about those things)
    10.Chris Rene
    11. Stereo Hogzz (or Hogs, for those who care about those things)

    I press “pause” during the judges’ comments because the @*!(@ audience is so loud my ears bleed. Fix it, Fox.

  4. E says:

    I thought Stacy’s performance made her look really old. Then I remembered that she was old. Then I remembered that she was only 42, which is younger than my mom, who I don’t think of as old. Anyway, Stacy looked old tonight, and not in a Leroy Bell where-have-you-been kind of way, but in a time-to-retire-you’re-embarrassing-us way. I was bored tonight.

  5. GingerSnap says:

    Almost agree, but I rank them differently

    1. Melanie. Thought the choice of “Man in the Mirror” was odd, the first couple of bars left me flat, but she really brought it home. Only performer who consistently brings tears to my eyes every time I hear her sing.

    2. Josh. The first half of that song was a hot mess, but he nailed the last half.

    3. Rachel. She’s a little prodigy, but I’d like to see her do that song when she’s 25.

    4. Astro. Not my type of music, but the kid’s got talent.

    5. Marcus. He is going to be a star. Love his stage presence.

    6. LeRoy. His phrasing was a little stilted, and we’ve already had Michael Bolton (who he sounds like). I don’t think he’s got anything more to show us.

    7. Drew. Like LeRoy. She’s got one note, one tone, one style of phrasing that she repeats over and over and over and over. Plus she sings so SLOW. At 14, she has the potential to develop more depth to her performances, but right now, she’s just dull.

    8. Chris. Don’t get him at all.

    9. Stereo Hoggs. I like their energy and flash.

    10. Lakota Rayne. That “country pop” vibe just isn’t my thing.

    11. Stacy. Really, can she just do something soft, quiet, and subtle? She is just the opposite of Melanie.

  6. Jane says:

    Under-impressed with all of them tonight, except Rachel and I haven’t been a fan of hers so far. I don’t get the love for Drew. Some of her videos on youtube sound good, but I haven’t like any of her performances so far. She’s just not ready. Her delivery of notes is awkward and drawn-out. I suspect she’s trying to control the natural crack in her voice. I’d rather hear her just sing out even if her voice cracked more than it already does. I always found Stacey’s voice/ sobbing way over the top and not in a Whitney Houston good way, so tonight’s performance wasn’t a big shock. Big shock for me was Leroy. Please, give than man a Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, hell even a Usher song would be better than U2. His voice did not suit that song at all. As for the judges, I got the feeling they are being fed some of the feedback, especially Nicole. I saw her glance down at something, (notes, perhaps?) before she critiqued some acts.

  7. Kevin C. says:

    The sublime opening of Drew’s “Fix You”, along with the way it threatened to fall apart as soon as it sped up a little bit in the middle, is starting to make me think she can ONLY sing ballads.

    Brooke White 2.0?

  8. jw says:

    Thanks for the update. I can now watch Psych on Netflix.

  9. ana_muti says:

    I loved Josh, and thought he was easily the best of the night. I would have wanted a little MORE growl in the song, not less. I love his growl!!!

    Drew’s vocal ‘tics’ are getting boring and annoying, though I think she’s a very good singer in general.

    Melanie has a wonderful voice, I’d like to see her do something that, when I hear it played without looking at who’s singing it, I know instantly it’s her. I do think she’ll get there, but I doubt it will be under Simon’s mentorship.

    (Said in hushed, shell-shocked tones:) Help me now, I’m getting to like Astro.

    I thought LeRoy also has a great voice, but he needs something…a little more animation? I don’t know.

    Lakota Rain will get the country vote.

    Rachel gets on my nerves. I don’t think she’s all that great a singer. I’m over little divas who don’t understand the word ‘modulation.’

  10. Gina says:

    Anybody notice one of Josh’s backup singers screw up or did I just imagine it? She started singing the wrong line and just kind of stopped.

  11. Chelsie says:

    Rachel just had the single best performance of ANY reality competition EVER. She is head and shoulders above ANYBODY who has ever been on idol and the voice and got talent IMO…

  12. Jason says:

    If they take Drew into “upbeat” territory I would love to see her do “Fast As You Can” by Fiona Apple.

  13. darcy's evil twin says:

    I have meetings on Wednesday nights, darn. Just watched the DVR.
    Josh, Melanie (not the best song choice), Rachel (darn, I liked her!), LeRoy (I see GingerSnap also noted he sounds like Michael Bolton, but he was better tonight IMO), and Lakoda Rayne.
    I fast-forwarded through Astro and my husband told me to fast-forward through Chris Rene or he’d divorce me. Missed them both.
    “Queen of the Night” is an awful song and anything by Coldplay is worse. Didn’t care for Marcus (Car Wash??? Cult following??? WTH???) or the Stereo Hoggz.

    • Billy says:

      ” – my husband told me to fast-forward through Chris Rene or he’d divorce me.”
      Your husband not only has good taste, he also is looking out for you, making sure you live a long and healthy life free of exposure to wanna-be gangsta poseurs. True love is sweet, ain’t it?

  14. Amalie says:

    LA Reid exactly right about Drew. I LOVE her, but enough already. Give her something different, she has to mix it up. I’ve heard that song sung so many times – Javier Colon sung it much better on The Voice, for one. Marcus is amazing. I hope so much that he will have some material that will work with his brilliance and originality one of these weeks – so far, he has remixes of disastrous – wait a minute, I’m sorry, just heard Simon say he thinks Drew is Lady Gaga? In that dress, more like Cindy Lauper! Bring it, Melanie.

  15. Amalie says:

    O.M.G. Lakoda Rayne has to go. Pretty girls? Yes. Put em on a billboard. $5 Million Dollar recording artists? Uh. No.

  16. amalie says:

    ok. last post. SERIOUSLY?! ASTRO! Again, put Lakoda Rayne on a billboard. Let this kid write and produce records that, whether or not he sings (raps) them, will make that $5m into $25m in one year. You go kid. Well done.

  17. Mikey says:

    I am shocked and disturbed you didn’t know “Pasttime Paradise” was a Stevie Wonder original. Ftom Stevies most famous album “Songs in the key of life” no less. Michael…huge hit on your music cred. Always made me laugh when Coolio was so upset about Weird Al covering ‘his’ song to do Amish Paradise.

    • Jason says:

      Wait since when did Slezak have music cred? Guys a diva fan!!!

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Hey, give Mr.Sleazak a break! He’s just a youngster. I was in high school when Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” was released.

    • joy says:

      Everything you said, Mikey. I was so thrilled they put the Stevie Wonder lyric back in, I opted to momentarily overlook the fact that the performance was a hot mess, and send a vote Chris’s way, before getting back to speed dialing for Melanie. :-)

  18. Melinda says:

    (No particular order)
    Marcus: He is a star. He is really versatile, which is bank. I can see him on an album and performing in concerts. He has fantastic stage presence.
    Chris Rene: Finally! Why are the people here such haters? I love him. To be honest, his performances have been sketchy, but this song. He did. He’s back.
    Astro: Talent. Talent. Talent. He is going to sell out. No doubt. That’s all I gotta say.
    Melanie: Good song. Good performance. A little weak at some points I noticed, but she’s still got more to give.
    Drew: She’s sweet. I enjoy her tone, but yeah, I’ve gotta agree with some of the people here that she’s getting a little boring. I’m sorry. She really holds a note to I guess, emphasize it, but she does it too much.
    Rachel: Thank the Lord! Yes. She did it. She’s found her niche. If she sings songs like these on her album, it’s going to be gold. I couldn’t believe that she is only 14. Wow!
    Leroy: Soulful. Yes. Enjoyed it. I kind of wish I could hear his diction more, but I’m going to blame that on the X Factor production.
    Josh: Lemme be honest, I wasn’t really on the Krajcik train. I knew he was great, but I didn’t connect with him. Here, I did. Discounting all of the ridiculous gimmicks, I loved his ‘growling.’
    Stacey: I really wanted to like it, but it was all over the place.
    Stereo Hogz: I like them! I really do. But I don’t think that that will be enough though, sadly. I do like their 1st performance better though.
    Lakoda Rayne: Never really connected with them. Still haven’t. I can say that they sound nice together, but I can’t buy them as a group yet.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I do not hate Chris Rene. I just can’t stand rap. At all. Period. Again, too old, too white, too female.
      On the other hand, I am liking Lakoda Rayne! They’re actually singing. And harmonizing. we call that “music”.

      • Billy says:

        You’re not too old, too white, too female. That has nothing to do with it. You have either a musical education or were exposed – as a youngster – to good music. Or, it could be that you are just exceptionally perceptive and can see that the Emperor has no clothes.

  19. Gorm says:

    Stacey – It was a hot mess in red leatherette. Its a shame she cant be content with the broadway/small time LA music career she carved out for herself. She was bad and deseperate up there. She is my 1st choice for the bottom 2.

    Marcus – His vocal is in an unpleasant vibratto the entire song. The tacky discoball jacket is a perfect metaphor for this show. There was no doubt in my mind he could do a male-diva version of a song, but who cares? It wasnt a momentum-gaining performance.

    Drew – Weak performance. Boring song. She should have spent a few more episodes getting away from her funeral dirge versions of a song to make it count when she brought it back.

    Leroy – Just kind of there. Lots of hooks in the song so it is pleasing if done by even a semi comptent singer. He was completely upstaged and lost into the red menace the set turned into for his number.

    Lakoda – Missed this one. They looked better and looked like a cohesive group this week, which counts for something.

    Astro – Did well. He has an easy route to walk, but he didnt seem to stumble and shouting out Heavy D (who stopped charting before astro was born) warmed my bitter heart, if just for a moment.

    Melanie – She looked good. She sounded fine. Michael Jackson is a polarizing figure, that cant help get votes. But i doubt parents/abuse survivors/children dangled off Parisian balconies vote in significant number.

    Hoggz – What else could i possibly say about THE BEST BAND ON THE PLANET. Was anyone else amused that despite having 5 members, they still got a set of 6 more backup singers to help the deadweight since they probably didnt want to risk another lipsync gate. Im willing to be the 4 useless Hoggz didnt get mics with batteries in them. Hogs are liekly to get booted off as the other half of the bottom 2.

    Josh Burrito – Just good to see him with clean hair. He was pulling a few ugly Casey James-type faces up there. Which is never a good thing. But he is safe for at least 7 more weeks.

    Chris Renee – GOT OUT RAPPED HARD BY A CHILD. Chris stunk up the joint. His lyric changes were terrible and simplistic. He has a weak voice that cant even rap well and he didnt ride the beat or find any sort of flow. He just said the words he hastily wrote down. He is not yet going home, but someone needs to keep his luggage tags at the ready.

    Rachel – Stopped pretending to be a 6 year old from the 1930’s debuting in her “talkie” for Metro-Goldwynn. Thats progress. But she wont last long once the real stinkers get cut. The next time she brings back that awfuly lispy rendition like she did with the Backstreet Boys cover, hopefully she’ll be gone.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Gorm – you get props from me for having the ability to distinguish good rap from bad rap.
      Another person that posted here pointed out (Mikey, see above) that Chris Rene went back to the original version – Stevie Wonder’s “Pasttime Paradise” from Songs in the Key of Life. But if you’re under the age of, oh, 30 I forgive you!

  20. Idolbeat says:

    Loved Chris Rene!!! He’s back!!! Hopefully next week he can do an original song!

  21. Agustin says:

    I am having a big problem with this show. At the end, the show is about the JUDGES! They will not be objective regarding their alumni and is becoming more and more about “I trained my guys better” or “I am better on my job than you”. Not liking this kind of “all attention on the judges”. On other topic, Astro is astronomically irritating and so late ’90s music… NO, no, no.

  22. Kate says:

    I stopped watching the X Factor US for one reason only: there can never be a “moment” as Simon calls it, with the constant cheering and yodelling from the audience. Drew sang one tone and the audience starts shouting. Horrible. Are the producers deaf? This has never been an issue before on either American Idol or X Factor UK. Annoyed…

  23. basic says:

    wake up sleazak it;s 11;53 where is your review?

  24. Phil says:

    I almost have to agree with Kate. The talent is working hard to provide a great show. Too bad that the sound and camera people are on London time! The show is horrible with sound. Settle the audience before the judging. We can not hear anything the judges are saying! The camera director is skewed. I dont want to see background singers nor do i want to see shots that are so far away that the people on stage look like ants. In one of the group performances they shot one person singing pulled away and shot of of the group just standing there. REALLY… Lightind isnt too great either…fix it and you will beat Idol dont and fade away

  25. Janie says:

    I am really surprised that no one commented on the fact that the “movie night” theme was totally bogus.. i think the judges picked a song they liked and then just searched on the internet for any movie that played it.. I mean come on.. you me and dupris? I really dont think simon watched that movie..

    and i was so excited when they said JOsh was signing a song from across the universe.. if you have seen that movie, they do all beatles songs in it but they sound really different and its really cool.. and then he just did a joe cocker version of th song.. which was still good.. but definitely not from Across the universe..

    • joy says:

      I was kind of glad they didn’t let the movie-night thing constrain them too much, because too many songs actually written for movies are either too cornball, or too embedded in their context to drag out on stage effectively. In other words, I guess, I don’t really like movie nights, so I was glad this wasn’t really one. :-)

      But totally agreed about Josh — when we knew he was getting a Beatles song, I was hoping for some kind of creative reinvention. With a songbook that gives you *so much* to mine for inspiration, it could have been a real genius moment up there. The Joe Cocker impression sounded great, but didn’t really *stun*. I guess the thing I forgot is that he’s working with Nicole — maybe brilliance in song choices/arrangements just isn’t on the menu?

  26. Lana says:

    La Reid is retarded saying drew and Melanie always sing the same….what about the stupid little rapper? All he ever does is rap and none of the other judges criticize it

    • Billy says:

      It’s not just the judges. Fascination with wordplay backed by computer generated beats seems to be the sad result of the discontinuation of music education is our country’s school system.

  27. juniper says:

    OMG stacey’s bulging forehead and that 3 sizes too small red dress along with her howling and grimacing…send her home to her planet. Although her piercing screams are the only contestant you can hear with that annoying audience outdoing the performances. Is that horrific canned cheering necessary? All those lights and extra bad dancers must be necessary to help along this pathetic show. By the time I get through the commercials I find their overhyped attempt to outdo American Idol the biggest joke in TV history!

  28. suziq says:

    Lights, smoke even around the judges, audience on meth, bad camera shots moving aLl over the place except on the performer, quick snippets makes it difficult to enjoy this train wreck of a show. It looks like a “bad documentary” rather than live TV. If they don’t put socks in the mouths of that fake annoying audience so viewers can hear the judges and the performers, this show will flop to the high heavens.

  29. hater says:

    i think astro is a little ugly mooly cry baby and he should go home

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