The X Factor Recap: Rock, Shock, and Four Sniping Judges

In the words of REM — and now, Melanie Amaro — “everybody hurts sometimes.” Unfortunately for Nicole Schpelunker, hurting time may arrive during Thursday night’s results-show telecast, as two of the three acts in her “Over 30s” category look like good bets to meet the same fate as the 15 (!) vocalists TKO’d under Paula Abdul’s watch over the last two weeks.

How bad is the prognosis for LeRoy “Dorian Gray” Bell and Stacy “Paw in a Bear Trap” Francis? Well, when asked by her fellow judges if LeRoy had a chance to capture the $5 million prize, the best Nicole could come up with was a tepid “Of course I’m gonna hold that possibility.” Ouch!

And Stacy, after being hoisted from the rafters and battered with verbal sticks by L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell, got one last thwack from blindfolded partygoer Paula Abdul, leaving a giant hole in her psyche and a pile of bittersweet candy (tastes like…failure!) on the stage that was promptly devoured by the excitable members of 12th-place act InTENsity.

The week in X Factor was also punctuated by excessive sniping among the judges — if their table was replaced by a cage, I swear we’d see Simon, L.A., Paula, and Nicole flinging their dung at one another — and intense arguing over whether or not contestants had adhered to a theme that Steve “Uncle Bryn” Jones so stiffly described as focusing on “rock songs or songs in a rock style.” Of course, considering that producers chose to play Starship’s Lite FM staple “We Built This City” coming out of commercial break, it’s pretty clear that most folks involved in the production wouldn’t know rock if it struck them directly in the forehead.

The good news, however, is that whether or not their performances met the legal definition of “rock,” I counted six performers — Drew Ryniewicz, Melanie Amaro, Astro, Chris Rene, Marcus Canty, and Josh Krajcik — who performed well enough this week to sail into the Top 9 with at least some chance of earning the X Factor crown and sash on Dec. 23. That deep and diverse bench is good news for X Factor‘s overall health, if not for the ladies of Lakoda Rayne.

Let’s review the week’s performances:

LeRoy Bell: Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight”
Nicole would like to remind you that LeRoy is SIXTY YEARS OLD, and not only is he still functioning without the help of a breathing machine, he is also following his dreams for as long as he can stave off the Grim Reaper. (My husband, in a moment of sublime sarcasm, caught a glimpse of LeRoy’s grade-school picture and asked, “They had color photography when he was a kid?”) The problem with LeRoy, though, is that if it weren’t for his age — or rather, the fact that he looks so ridiculously young/hot for his age — would there really be anything special about him? Don’t get me wrong, his Bob Seger cover this week was in tune and heartfelt. But as Simon pointed out, it was also wholly unoriginal. I spent half of LeRoy’s time on stage wondering what was causing one lens of his glasses to fog up, and alas, that lyrical question “Who needs tomorrow?” may prove all too prescient come results time.

Rachel Crow: Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
I love that we saw rehearsal footage of Simon telling Rachel to really read the lyrics to her song this week, when it’s pretty clear he didn’t bother to heed his own advice. I mean, seriously, you’re assigning a song called “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” to a cherubic 13-year-old girl? That’s just unfortunate. Also unfortunate? The whack styling choice of denim vest with red and black fringe sleeves and leather (pleather?) leggings. And the fact that the verses were pitched too low for Rachel’s comfort zone, as well as the brutal blast of backing vocalists that threatened to bury Rachel’s vocal alive. In her defense, the kid finished strong — she’s the kind of singer who needs to be flat-out belting to sound her best — but I didn’t hear anything that would explain the judges’ over-the-top enthusiasm.

Chris Rene: Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”/”No Woman No Cry”
Is Bob Marley rock or reggae or both? Perhaps Simon and L.A. should’ve met backstage to hash out this matter with an arbitrator, because honestly, their episode-long argument (which extended to ballads by REM, Meatloaf, and U2) didn’t make for particularly good TV. Chris, however, was dynamite on this unexpected mashup. As Paula astutely pointed out, the guy may not hit every note of every song he sings, but he’s such a compelling presence on stage, he managed to almost completely make me ignore the tragic “youths pow-wowing on the stoop” choreography going on behind him. And when he’s paired with the right songs, you can easily hear Chris’ performances making the leap to modern radio.

Stacy Francis: Meatloaf’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”
There were moments of screech
And there were flashes of yelp
If you make me listen again
I swear I’m gonna cry “help!”
It was filled with endless shrillness
More bad notes than any laws allow
Baby! Baby! Baby!

Simon dissed her like this
Then Paula trashed her like that
Stacy’s face just went blank
And it’s all coming back to me
She wore black leather gloves
And a tight silver dress
Her voice was a mess
And it’s all coming back to me
I try hard to resist
But it’s all coming back to me
A big ballad got mauled
And it’s all coming back to me now

Melanie Amaro: REM’s “Everybody Hurts”
Yes, one of these days — maybe more than one of these days — Melanie is going to have to do an uptempo number. (Might I suggest Hercules and Love Affair’s “Blind” or maybe even Britney Spears’ “Toxic”?) But putting aside her week-to-week trajectory, there’s no denying the sheer awesomeness of Melanie’s REM cover. I loved the little touches of stank face she dropped during the deeply restrained opening verse. I loved the fact that she brought the crowd to its knees without the use of a jumbotron, a jumbo jet, or a jumbo pack of backup dancers. And I loved that, deep down, you knew Melanie knew that Simon’s rival mentors had to try to find fault with her as a way to make sure she doesn’t have the competition wrapped up by Thanksgiving. Lies, L.A.! Lies, Nicole! The real truth is that this performance activated my tear ducts. So thank you, Paula, and good night.

Josh Krajcik: Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender”
Oh Nicole, always unintentionally hilarious and absurdly self-impressed, introducing Josh as covering “one of the most important rock bands today.” (Someone in the editing bay must agree, since they followed Josh’s comment about Nicole giving good advice with a clip of her suggesting he throw in a “rocker hand” gesture into his performance.) But while Josh certainly rocked hardest of any act this week, and while it seemed like he was hitting his notes like a carpenter with a nail gun, I’ve got to be honest: The sound mix for this performance was so ludicrously bad, there were whole sections where the lead vocal was buried under a shallow grave of electric guitars and ferocious drums. It may have been rock night on X Factor, but I’m not entirely convinced the production knows how to handle this particular genre.

Astro: Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You”
For me, this performance was like the musical equivalent of The Transformers movies: Gigantic, noisy, fast, explosive, and clearly crowd-pleasing. In other words, Astro knows how to deliver a particular type of sensory overload that makes an Oldie Olsen like me want to curl into a ball and hit CTRL+ALT+DEL for my brain. Or as L.A. put it, he has “everything it takes to be a major international star.” Yay?

Lakoda Rayne: The Outfield’s “Your Love”/Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way”
Did anyone else find it a little smarmy the way Steve Jones smirked about Paula being under pressure now that she’s down to a single act? Dude seriously made me think about getting on the Lakoda Rayne bandwagon just to spite him, and I can’t go for that (no can do). Seriously, though, kudos to the X Factor editing team for trying to humanize this quartet with an extended interview package where the brown-haired one (who really should be barred from getting the first solo lines of any performance) discussed the perils of being home-schooled, and one of the blonde ones gave her tragic backstory of spending years singing into her own mirror. As for their musical mashup, I kind of understood where all the judges were coming from. Simon’s “complete mess” critique had more to do with the throw-everything-at-the-wall staging and costuming than the decent (if not spectacular) vocals, while Paula’s boast that the girls have “earned their place” in the competition also held true — at least in comparison to Stacy and LeRoy. If Lakoda Rayne makes the Top 9, though, here’s hoping Paula gives them a stripped-down arrangement — with no backup singers — that allows voters to see just how talented (or not) this pre-fab act actually is.

Drew Ryniewicz: U2’s “With Or Without You”
Take away the misty blue “alien crop-circle” lighting and the complaints by every judge not named Simon that Drew does too many stripped-down ballads, and you’re left with the performance of the night — a haunting, ethereal rendition of a powerful rock ballad that was equal parts Ellie Goulding and Enya. And memo to L.A.: Two weeks ago, Drew covered hip-hop artist Nelly, so she’s already ticked that box, sir.

Marcus Canty: Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart”
No offense to Janis Joplin — who along with Aretha Franklin and Fantasia ranks among my Top 3 most soulful singers in the history of ever — but I would love to get through just one season of a reality singing competition without hearing a cover of “Piece of My Heart.” That said, I can’t be too mad at Marcus for turning the track into a danceable R&B jam. After all, the guy rarely if ever hits a bum note — even when he’s backsliding through the open legs of a line of devilish backup dancers — and he always infuses his performances with a winking humor that lets you know he’s not taking himself too too seriously. L.A. is making good boy Marcus go bad — and gemstone-encrusted sleeves aside — I’m kind of digging it.

Bottom Two Prediction: LeRoy and Stacy
Going Home: LeRoy

What did you think of this week’s X Factor? Who was your favorite? Who will go home? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, 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. Patrick Driscoll says:

    Did anyone else notice SYTYCD’s muggy and annoying Ryan Ramirez as one of the dancers on stage with Marcus Canty?

  2. Allison says:

    Michael! I wait for your blog every week! I love your recaps when I agree and even disagree with your judgements. But where are the letter grades this week??

    • Mary says:

      Michael couldn’t give letter grades because all but one would fail. I blame the judges, but for me the only true rock song was Josh.
      They didn’t follow instruction for the test. FAIL.

      • papoila says:

        Completely agree! I was actually going to ask about the usual poll because this is the firt week that I’ve actually considered not voting for Drew…

        P.S. About Melanie, as much as I hate to say it (and believe me, it’s a lot) I’m kind of with Nicole on this one, mostly it felt flat for me, I didn’t like the “stank look” because I don’t think that that’s the nature of the song and I just didn’t feel it. Sorry.

  3. Bob says:

    Chris Rene is Awful and I wish he didn’t attempt to murder a great song. This guy needs to go home.
    Stacy is so full of herself but empty on talent. “The Franatics” that was laughable.

    Best 3 of the Night
    Drew, Josh, Astro ( i don’t even like the genre of music he does but the kid brings me back to the late 80’s and early 90s when hip hop was fun)

  4. Caroline says:

    I agree with basically everything you said about last night except for Marcus. I thought he was a mess. I did not appreciate his failed attempt at sounding gravelly, nor did I like that half the time his vocals were supported and often overpowered by an overwhelming amount of backup singing. Of course, that can be said about several contestants’ performances, but I especially noticed that he seemed to get drowned out a lot. Definitely Team Drew and Melanie. I admire Astro for his talent, but he’s just not my thing. On the fence about Josh. As for LeRoy, Chris, and Rachel, and Lakoda Rayne, I am completely indifferent to them. Stacy, on the hand, needs to go the eff home. She was a complete mess and made me cringe.

  5. Clarissa says:

    Steve Jones and Nicole Scherwhatever need to go home. They had the worst performances of the night.

    • Shindig says:

      To be quite honest, Nicole was one of the better judges tonight. She had pretty accurate critiques. I think it’s Simon and LA that might be in a little over their heads; or should i say, egos?

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        I would tend to agree – other than Nicole pointing out, once again, that LeRoy is so darned old. that’s probably why I didn’t feel up to snuff this morning – Nicole reminded me that I have one foot in the grave, LOL.

        • Shindig says:

          It’s funny you mention that, because last night I was actually timing how long it took in the intro package to hear the word sixty! She just /had/ to get it in there the last second of judging!

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            If you stop seeing posts to this message board from me it will be because I died because I’m so darned old. ZZZZZzzzz…OH, sorry, I dozed off. Hadn’t had my nap today.

          • Shindig says:

            Yo, yo. Dawg. Yo this is what I’m saying. I think the winner of this round was Stacy, Chris, Rachel, Astro, Josh, Melanie, La-whoever, Marcus, my grrl Drew. Yo yo Leroy, man. You gotta be in it to win it!!! Can a 60 year old do that?!?! I was in INXS!!!!

        • Yo says:

          I s’pect a great number of folks woke up feeling poorly, but thanks for the laugh. I could live with them not harping on the guy’s age on a weekly basis, bet he could, too.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        I would tend to agree – other than Nicole pointing out, once again, that LeRoy is so darned old. that’s probably why I didn’t feel up to snuff this morning – Nicole reminded me that I have one foot in the grave, LOL.

  6. Ben says:

    I miss idol.

    The judges having teams and sniping each other threatens to derail the entire show and is not entertaining in any way. If I had to listen to LA talk one more time about Simon’s singers not singing rock when Astro won’t even sing ANYthing, I think I’ll throw something at the tv.

    • Paula says:

      I see what you’re saying. The thing about Astro, though, is that people keep saying this is a singing competition, ergo he should sing. The X-Factor isn’t really a singing competition. Idol definitely is, but the X factor isn’t. It’s really about seeing who has enough charisma to sell millions of records. If you watch the original version, you’ll see the same thing. A few people will rap. In fact, the UK version has women rapping all the time!

      • Shindig says:

        You’re right, but it’s not that he won’t /sing/ it, he won’t even /do/ it. Puff Daddy? Really? Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine rap, and they’re rock. It’s hypocritical when LA calls out other contestants, and that’s what I think Ben is getting at. They all act like immature douchrockets going to the pep rally. The past few episodes have honestly made me appreciate Paula and Nicole more as judges, and at least Nicole is dropping the “spiritual projection” crap.

      • Ben says:

        Then you don’t see what I’m saying. It’s not a comment about Astro, it’s a comment about LA Reid being a hypocrite and the approach to judging being a turn off.

    • janie says:

      one thing i have to say… they do the mentor/teams thing on the voice too.. and even though i cant stand christina aguilera.. i think their “ribbing ” and”joshing” each other was much better than the judges on xfactor.. the judges on xfactor will say something bad about the performer and blame it on the judge.. where the judges oen the voice would say just say something abut the judge

    • Yo' says:

      I hafta say, I don’t get that kid. I have listened to rap, but couldn’t tell you what was really good or bad. I also don’t trust this kid to be doing his own stuff with the mentors hovering all the time. Certainly the singers are getting a lot of input also, but if you take away what may be mentor input for Astro, there well could be nothing left.

  7. Ben says:

    Mike, your love for the style that Drew brings to the competitioin is understood, but she is slipping down the leaderboard fast. When she came into the top 12 she was my favourite, but she may be turning into this shows Pia Toscano at a rapid rate. Last nights performance was nothing new, utterly boring, she really needs to bring the upbeat. I think of getting to the end of the show as presenting across all the weeks what a full album would sound like from that singer. If every song on Drews album sounds the same… ugh!

    Loved LeRoy, Rachel, Melanie, Josh & Marcus. Stacy was tremendously horrid, Lakoda Rayne average at best. Those are the two that should grace the bottom 2. But I really have no problem seeing Chris Rene or Astro there either.

    • Johnn says:

      I keep waiting for Drew to kick it up a little — last night would have been perfect. Lovely, interesting voice but she is becoming extremely boring. Her response to LA is part of the problem with these shows — I’m 14 and this is what I do. Ugh!

      Stacy need to go. Now.

    • Owen says:

      And not a word from the Arrogance Police (Michael Slezak) about how Drew complains how she has NEVER been criticized in her life and how awful that LA said something mean to the wittle girwl last light. Or the stank face she was giving off during her critique that was almost as putrid as Stacey’s. Slezak doesn’t give Astro HIS due because he thinks the little black boy from the Bronx is arrogant, but the pretty little white girl from the ‘burbs is utter perfection.

      Slezak is awful.

      • Yo' says:

        Aw. C’mon. Actually, what she said was astonishingly honest; I don’t recall hearing that from a performer on one of these shows before. I appreciated it – hey, she is young and has not been criticized, didn’t we know that? I think Drew is blowing it, because she definitely has become tiresome, but her attitude was good.

      • Shindig says:

        She wasn’t acting like LA was horrible, LOL. She said “this was the first time I got negative feedback so it’s new to me” — I didn’t find Drew very arrogant. Stubborn, perhaps. But not like how Astro was having a little tantrum in “boot camp” about how he “doesn’t dance.”

  8. RT says:

    Drew continues to be my favorite. I am continually irritated by L.A. Reid’s comments that she is boring or does the same thing each week, when the same could be said for Astro. I have never understood why, on shows like this or American Idol, there is some expectation that a singer needs to sing all kinds of genres to be successful. That is not the case in the music business. I respect people like Drew, and Astro, who know what type of artist they are/want to be and stick to their guns. Not sure why it’s ok for Astro and not for Drew.
    Speaking of Astro, I am one of those who has not been a fan of his at all, mainly due to his attitude. His performances last week and this week have completely changed my mind – and I’m not even a fan of rap or hip-hop in general. The producers definitely did a good job of making him more likeable this week. As a mother of a 9-year old boy, it’s hard not to go “awwwwww” when seeing how much he loves his mother. It seemed sincere and not just a play to the cameras. Anyway, personality aside, I have been inexplicably (for me) captivated by his performances the last 2 weeks.

    • Colleen says:

      I completely agree. It pisses me off to no end that every week they say Drew needs to do something out of her comfort zone (um, didn’t she sing Nelly 2 weeks ago, and didn’t she rock it?) when Astro has yet to sing an actual note in a singing competition. I also am not an Astro fan because of his attitude. He’s like a baby Kanye, conceited and egotistical with no thought for anyone but himself. It’s sweet that he gave a shout out to his sister on her birthday, but what I got from his opening package is that he misses his mom’s cooking, but it’s OK because he’s going to win $5million. I think he’s talented, but his attitude will keep him from winning.

  9. Em says:

    The thing about this show, is that being just a good singer is not going to cut it in end because Simon is looking for the next pop “supa-stah” and I don’t see much in this particular lot filling that bill. All of Simon’s girls can sing, sure, but look at Pia Toscano – she sung her face off on Idol, got a contract out of it, but is she likely to be the next big thing? I doubt it. So, that is obviously not enough – and from what I have seen so far (never mind the singing aspect) – the only real contender is Astro. Love him or hate him, at least he is interesting and he definitely has the X-Factor. For the record I am no fan of rap/hip-hop or whatever his shtick is – but it’s not about what people like me may want to hear, it’s what will sell. I see him definitely having a career, no prob. For the rest, doubtful. I mean okay Josh can certainly sing, but is he going to better out there than any of the males who have come off Idol in recent years? Doubtful. And Chris Rene? Well, okay, I guess if they autotune him he may have some chance, but why him when you already have Astro who does what he does and much better?

    • Jane says:

      Hmm Astro and Chris are two completely different artists and I don’t see why they are compared everytime. Astro talk raps and Chris sing raps. Completely different! And just like Micheal said I think any of these 6 contestants could win it depending on who ups hi/her game in the coming weeks.

      listen to Chris’ pre-x factor album below that he wrote, and produced himself and you’d know he doesn’t even need autotune lol!
      And he owned the stage yesterday!

  10. Becky says:

    I kept repeating throughout the show: I can’t wait for Idol, I can’t wait for Idol.

    XFactor is too much of everything (except talent): too much audience, too much judges’ arguing, too much dancing, too much lighting, too much intro packaging, too much back-up singing, too much stage. I long for the a cappella auditions, the smaller stage and the more refined audience of Idol.

  11. Kevin C. says:

    Two weeks ago, Drew turned Hip-hop artist Nelly into a sleepy ballad. This week, Drew turned Rock artist U2 into a sleepy ballad. Her performance 2 weeks ago was as “hiphop” as her performance this week was “rap”

    As much as I love her voice, at this point I just can’t see myself buying Drew’s album. A whole album worth of what she’s brought to the show so far would be too much of the same good thing.

    • Kevin C. says:

      er…”rap” should have been “rock” there. Guess my mind was on Astro (another artist I’d love to see stretch himself some more).

    • Mary says:

      I think that is why Drew is popular. Yes, her songs are ballads, low key, with a different sound. But with everyone else, except a few, there is so much going on with the dancers, lights, backup singers, it is hard to focus on the voice. I for one like singers more than auto tune pin up robots. I like real entertainment.

  12. RD says:

    Here’s what’s insufferable about X-factor- #1: LA Reid needs some humility-He and Astro are made for each other and the whole ‘not rock’ fiasco got old very very quickly.
    #2: Rachel Crowe singing song after song which is not appropriate for any 13-year-old-ballsy voice or not.I lost it at ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ #3:Stacey Francis(I don’t know how she got to # 3-I guess LA was just more insufferable,which seems hard to fathom since she barely hit one note on key last night and then looked infuriated to have received any adverse criticism whatsoever).#4: Nicole Whatsherfinger -should not be mentoring anyone.#5-I just wish the audience would shut up for just one minute.
    IDOL all the way!

    • BeachBum says:

      Spot on !!

    • Noelbelle says:

      The thing that really bothers me about LA is his surprising lack of musical knowledge. Yesterday he argued that REM isn’t a rock band. Last week he claimed he’d never heard of Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t no Other Man.” I mean, aren’t these things a major record executive should know??? Even if his genre is more Pop/R&B, shouldn’t he have a broader base of musical knowledge than me?

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        I agree – I found it odd when he argued REM wasn’t a rock band. Well, what ARE they, then? Say what you will about Randy “Yo – Dawg!” Jackson, but he seems to know every song ever recorded and he’s played bass with every artist out there, LOL.

  13. Leo says:

    Chris was so much better singing compared to other weeks, so don’t know what you are hearing. He’s not going home , his fans are crazy ass I’ve seen them. Stacy on the other hand, omg the off key -ness was so bad!

  14. perfesseer says:

    I completely don’t get Slezak! I didn’t get his Haley Rinehart adoration, and I’m BAFFLED by his Drew love! During last night’s performance I actually thought he would have to admit–semi-interesting tone, clunky phrasing, painful key change, dull dynamics, and one-trick. Let this poor thing finish high school and other indie, folkie singer/songwriters fill this overstuffed niche!

    • Caroline says:

      I want to preface this by saying that I am only asking out of curiosity and in no way mean to insult you or your opinion, but I, as a big fan of Haley, am curious to know what there is/was to dislike about her? Personally, I thought she was phenomenal almost every week and seemed like the best of her season (and a few others lol). Again, just curious to understand the opinion.

      • perfesser says:

        Thank you for asking so respectfully! I’m surrounded by Haley love. My wife–who has very good taste– loved her. Week after week I tried, I just found her clumsy–musically, artistically, in every way.
        I probably should have left out mention of Haley to keep this focused on Drew. Another poster is right, Haley did have great versatility.

    • Ben says:

      At least Haley knew how to switch it up and stay interesting.

    • Shindig says:

      I’m curious about what was wrong with the Haley love as well — she was without a doubt one of the best of the entire season, and others like Caroline said. Drew.. I agree and disagree with Slezak. I really like her but this week was awful. If she JUST would have picked up the temp at some point, it wouldn’t have been painful. But that’s not all her fault. What I don’t understand is how many Melanie performances bring Michael to tears — I think I should send him a hankie and some eye drops.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        I liked Pia on Idol last season but I kept thinking she needed to pick up the pace or she was going home – and she went home. My neighbors (the ones older than me, and older than LeRoy for that matter, LOL) were devastated. They LOVED her.
        I think it’s important to demonstrate a degree of versatility on a program like X Factor.
        The same goes for Melanie – why didn’t she sing some Pat Benatar, or Tina Turner/Bob Seger’s “Nutbush City Limits”? The girl can SING! Simon needs to give her something she can really sink her teeth into.

        • Shindig says:

          Definitely. It’s not even the song Melanie sang — it’s the arrangement. Everybody Hurts is a very good song. It’s not about the vocals so much as the connection, and I really feel the way it was presented was quite the opposite. If they’re not going to allow Melanie to perform a song like that properly, then showcase her talent in an upbeat manner.. but PLEASE no Tina Turner! No trace! Look what that did to Pia, LOL. “Guys, I promised you I’d do an uptempo! I’m doing Tina Turner!” -gets voted off-

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            Oh yea, I remember Pia leaving – but I think it may have been the song rather than the artist. “River Deep, Mountain High” is nothing more than an uptempo ballad with about 100 backup instruments and I think it’s a little older than “Nutbush City Limits”, a rocking song that I don’t believe has been sung on reality TV (anyone know for sure?). Besides, Melanie could hang “Nutbush” on Bob Seger, who covered it quite nicely.
            So, what song would you propose for Melanie? I agree with your opinion of “Everybody Hurts”, although it’s not my favorite song.

          • Shindig says:

            I’m not completely sure; it’s hard for me to say. I’m not particularly keen with our reality TV category of “Whitney” girls, and the way Simon pimps her into that front just turns me off. Nutbush City Limits does sound like something really fun she could do. Hmm.. Wow, I’m so out of the loop with her style (as we know it) of singing now that I think about it, and can’t come up with anything good.

            When I was growing up I really didn’t have the exposure to that end of the spectrum — my parents were going between Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, then into Pearl Jam, LOL. I’d prefer to listen to Counting Crows instead of Mariah. I just spent more time than I should thinking about what I’d like her to sing, but it all turns out to be “ballad-able.” When I find a song, I’ll let you know, LOL.

            Unrelated note — Just checking out stuff for The Wallflowers, I see James Durbin under related; interesting…

          • ali427 says:

            “Nutbush City Limits” was done impeccably by Melinda Doolittle–as was everything else she sang on Idol!

  15. ohreli says:

    Mention should be made of Drew’s talking back to the judges—she did so without ever coming across as defensive, desparate, insulting or pitiful. In that alone she proved that she understands herself as an artist, which is essential for what XFactor is looking for (and all the more remarkable for a 14 year old-?!) In that department, she is probably equal to Astro (and the polar opposite of Stacy “stankface” Francis!)

    • Johnn says:

      Her response sounded like something Simon feed her and had her memorize. A 14-year-old should not understand herself as an artist.

      “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few” – Shunryu Suzuki

    • Johnn says:

      Her response sounded like something Simon feed her and had her memorize. A 14-year-old should not “understand” herself as an artist.

      “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few” – Shunryu Suzuki

      • Noelbelle says:

        I think a 14-year-old is perfectly capable of understanding his/herself as an artist. That’s not to say Drew’s ideas won’t change in 10 years time, but doesn’t everybody’s? It seems obvious to me that both Drew and Astro are completely aware of the kind of music they want to make. You shouldn’t dismiss their opinions about their careers because of their ages.

      • Tim says:

        Agreed. At 14 I just barely understood my Social Studies homework.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          I think I understood my schoolwork but I’m sure I drove my parents nuts when I walked around the house belting out “Natural Woman”, which is did NOT understand, thankfully. :-)

  16. beegeethree says:

    Was anyone else worried that Rachel was singing Satisfaction to Astro?

    Seriously, Simon. Get a clue.

    • Yo' says:

      They dressed her like a bumble bee; she coulda been singing to any flower. The song choice was bad and the version was as unoriginal as anything anyone else did all night. She is too young; she needs to come back in ten years: all of the performers over eighteen get the criticism which is inappropriate for the young teens. Young teens need not to be there.

  17. Red in Denver says:

    IMO: Josh Krajcik is so much better than any of the others (with the possible exception of Melanie). I actually like the cool, smooth voice of L. Bell. Having said that, I’m not ‘into’ strict rap, AND also not a fan of the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters, so I’d be happy to see both Astro and Chris go home. I also liked Drew initially, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that she is a one-trick pony. Perhaps she’ll gain in versatility when she’s a bit older. Stacy is too much of a diva for me, and the others are just ‘okay’.

  18. Mary says:

    Michael your recap saids it all. I can’t believe Rachel got a standing O. I have to laugh, Simon would of mutilated the contestants on AI. Josh was the only one who came close to rock, but I found it hard to hear him at times. I do get what the judges said about Drew. She still is my favorite, but she does need to do an up tempo song. Yesterday would of been prefect. I don’t feel she really did justice to the song. Leroy has a good voice, but X-Factor was not the place to show it. He is being swallowed alive. Bottom two will be Lakota Rayne and Stacy. If there is justice, Stacy will be gone. I have to say I didn’t think anyone could be worst than Danny Gokey Dream on, but she managed. Funny thing is she looked bewildered by the remarks.

    • as says:

      Rachel got a standing O??????????????
      The Rolling Stones in Disneyland for the Disney channel…..ridiculously bad.

      • Shindig says:

        Yep, when the camera cut to them they were all standing. I was pretty baffled by that. That, and the fact of how often Simon chooses this song worries me.

        • Noelbelle says:

          Simon’s choices are ridiculously predictable. I knew what all three songs were going to be before they even opened their mouths. And the first week I knew Melanie was going to sing Whitney. And I am absolutely positive that by the end of the season he’ll have someone sing “Hallelujah” (another song that desperately needs to be retired from all reality singing competitions).

      • BeachBum says:

        Yep, if I wanted to watch a singing munchkin I’d rent “Wizard of Oz”.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          We represent the Lollipop Guild
          The Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild.
          And in the name of the Lollipop Guild……………….
          We wish to welcome you to Munchkin Land!

          Sorry, BeachBum, I couldn’t resist. ;-)

  19. darcy's evil twin says:

    Oh Mr. Slezak, how about “SCHLOCK, shock, and Four Sniping Judges”. I was SO excited about “I KNOW, IT’S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL, BUT I LIKE IT!” theme night, only to be tortured right out of the gate with LeRoy Bell taking every ounce of passion and grit out of one of my most favorite Bob Seger songs. Then came the rap, crap, hip-hop, reggae, dreadful ballads, Shirley Temple meets the Stones, Lillith Fair, and the worst cover of Janis Joplin’s masterpiece “Piece of my Heart” since Faith Hill’s unrecognizable country/pop version. Only Josh, Melanie, and Lakota Rayne were enjoyable for me. I really think Lakota Rayne has improved and has some potential.

    Melanie needed to cut loose with some Pat Benatar – STAT!

    And I loved your song about Stacy Francis!

    All the great rock songs out there and we got stuck with these turkeys. Happy Thanksgiving!

  20. Jeff says:

    Melanie & Drew – Pretty voices, DULL singers.
    Those 2 stripped the emotion out of 2 of the most heartbreaking of songs and gave blah performances. I don’t understand the fascination around them.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Not wild about Drew, but I think if Melanie breaks out of the Whitney Houston/Celine Dion mold she has potential – but she needs to do it yesterday.

  21. tekwzrd says:

    I’m so over Drew and she was one of my faves coming into the live shows. She murdered (not in a good way) on of the best known U2 songs and rock anthems to date. She does the same palm circles all the time as if she’s trying to counter balance the crack in her voice.

    I agree with LA that her performances all sound the same and the further into the season she gets, the more affectation of her “unique” (read annoying) voice appears. She’s kind of like fish ice cream on Iron Chef America…it’s new and different in limited quantities, but do you really want to buy gallons of it.

    • Mary says:

      If you like this type of music the answer is YES. I have to give her props for knowing what type of artist she is. I do believe she could sing a song that maybe makes you move you feet, maybe even dance to it. Paula said it prefect last night. You have a fan base, step outside your comfort zone. Simon needs to switch it up for both her and Melanie and last night would of been prefect to do just that. Even if they fall flat, I could name about 5 others who would of been worst.

    • as says:

      I think Drew is a lovely singer, but what does she do that’s any different than let’s say Christina Perri in “Jar Of Hearts”???? The answer is NOTHING and she doesn’t fit on Simon’s gaudy Las Vegas stage.
      She’s not unique Simon.

      • Shindig says:

        You’ve got a point there, but how unique can these guys really get? They’re on an extremely overproduced show having songs chosen by them, working with a dude that’s going to milk them dry. The most it seems they’re able to do is suggest a song and implant a few lyric changes (unless you’re Astro). And if the contestants are allowed to tweak any of the arrangements, many of them..wel, suck at it LOL

    • janie says:

      you know what kind of artist that drew reminds me of… something like Jack Johnson… not that she sounds anything like him.. but here is why.. I love jack johnson.. however I cannot sit and listen to a whole CD of his music.. I get bored to tears! so instead i put him on my Mp3 player and do random play so he gets mixed in with other songs..

      that is what i would do with drew.. she is a good singer but a whole album of her songs would bore me!

  22. Brazen says:

    Michael, loved the re-work of Stacy’s song!

    As to the appropriateness of Rachel’s song: I’m pretty sure only one verse of that song deals with sex. The rest of it is all about the frustration of dealing with “the Man”. In reality, I thought that Drew sang the more age-inappropriate song, even though she did a nice job of it. After all, what 14-year old do you know who can truthfully convey the agony of desperately loving someone who is completely wrong for you?

  23. Paloma Pigeon says:

    Sigh. This show is boring now. Two hours where I muted 75% of it and just watched the actual performances. I like Josh, and I love me some Foo Fighters, but Josh is no Dave Grohl and the song didn’t work. Nice try, though. Josh is more in the Bob Seger – Van Morrisson mold to me, and he can’t pull off the screaming. But everything else – the lights, dancing and judges’ competition (because that’s what X factor is really about, rooting for judges vs. contestants) just equals over produced blah to me.

  24. as says:

    Come on Michael….it’s time to let loose your inner snark. The X-Factor is AWFUL. It’s STAR SEARCH where the judges compete for the $5 mil.

    • Tim says:

      I’m reluctantly starting to agree. There’s more glitz and glamour than there is actual talent. I wish we had an “Idoloonies” type show to make fun of it all.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        No kidding. Mr. Slezak could be seated under a mirror ball with flashing lights all around him. There could be hundreds of dancers behind him and loud back-up singers singing his comments. Then he could run subtitles because we wouldn’t be able to hear a word he was saying. “Idoloonies…in X-Factor style”.

  25. Leon says:

    X Factor is awesome! If you don’t like the show don’t watch. X Factor is having a great initial season and chamade/improvements will be made. Just enjoy the show!

  26. Elena says:

    Michael, I agree with you for the most part except for Drew. Yes, she sang well, but she’s quickly turning every song into the same sort of thing — a lullaby. Can you imagine an album of songs that sound exactly alike? She could take an AC/DC song and turn it into a snoozefest. Thing is, she has talent. It’s just not being applied in the right way here. Never thought I’d say this, but Simon is clueless in how to manage his talent. He needs to let Rachel choose her own material since she seems to have a better feel for what suits her than he does. Ditto with Melanie. I have a feeling she’d much rather be singing something that was released in this decade.

    Overall, this was possibly the worst night of television that I’ve ever seen on one of these shows. I can’t even think of an AI show that could top it.

  27. Jane says:

    I’ve watched idol since the first season and after last season’s mess of judges/ contestants I swore it would be the last one. I had high expectations for X-factor, but it’s actually worse than idol. Apparently, you can either slow down a song and sing with just a piano or have 20+ backup singers and dancers. And why can’t the performers play instruments? Wouldn’t it have been cool if Josh played guitar on his song or they let Astro do a little spinning mid rap? The judges need to take a cue from the Voice. Christina, Ce-lo, Adam, and Blake bicker with each other but not in a spiteful hateful way.
    Poor Paula. They gave her the shaft with the group category and I’m sure they made her pick the thrown together acts. She should have stuck with the Brewer Boys who actually stood a chance of going far. I’m actually staring to miss Steven’s leers and JLO’s camera mugging. It’s certainly better than Simon’s pencil chewing. And idol is more about the singing.

    • as says:

      One of the main things that Simon had going for him on Idol was that he spoke the truth….on the X-Factor he has lost all credibility. He can’t sell this bloated gawdy product and stille be believable….who cares about Simon’s new baby (his TV show)and its’ judges cause that’s what the X-Factor is about.

    • Gary says:

      There was nothing wrong with the contestants this last season on idol. It was one of the strongest groups ever. Not sure what show you were watching. I can see why people would think the judges were a mess, but there was nothing wrong with the contestants on Season 10.

  28. BeachBum says:

    I truly don’t think Simon knows what to do with Rachel Crowe. First he gives her a couple of poppy, kid-friendly songs (Sunshine, etc)that didn’t go anywhere. Then “I’d Rather Go Blind”, a song that should be sung by a heartbroken, world-weary older woman (uh..Etta James) not a 13 yr old moppet. And now “Satisfaction”…hmmm maybe they should just ship her to Disney and let her grow up.

  29. darcy's evil twin says:

    I’m no fan of Drew’s style of singing – she has a nice voice, but like so many other people have pointed out everything she’s sung has been a bit dull. I do, however, understand the attraction. Back in my misspent youth there was a singer named Judy Collins that I hated and everyone else just loved. One of my friends had every album Judy Collins ever recorded, including Christmas crap. Different strokes for different folks.

  30. Rick says:

    The sound mix has seemed bad for the whole competition. Didnt Marcus say he was bringing his pastor or something. Boy that was a mistake xD

  31. blingedup.susan says:

    Oh, Michael!! I was TOTALLY with you all the way through your recap until the last line. If Stacy outlasts LeRoy, I’m going to vomit.

  32. BeachBum says:

    Even though I find Astro to be an entitled brat, I do admit that he has talent in his chosen genre. I’ll let others debate the merits of allowing hip hop on rock night. My comment is about last night’s performance. I just didn’t think it was as good as earlier ones. One of the prime components of good rap is flow, matching the words and rhyming effortlessly to the music. Last night he didn’t flow (IMO)and often lagged behind the sample. Maybe he’s just trying to cram too many words in, but it just didn’t work as well for me as his other numbers.

  33. kellie says:

    Sorry, Michael but I think Leroy has a large fanbase and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. He can sing rings around most of the other contestants left, too (Melanie, Joah and maybe Drew excepted). He does needs to work hard on his stage presence, though and could use better songs to cover.

    Stacy, Chris and Lakota Rayne, meanwhile, should have been off this show weeks ago.

  34. fela says:

    The music & back up singers over power the singing of the contestants. I don’t hear the words of the song. Some of the backup dancers is too much. The group behind marcus was overwhelming. Did Marcus really have to go through the legs of those girls. Kind of Rauncy for a guy who wants to stay true to himself. He could do a good performance without it. Astro is the best when it comes to taking command of the stage. Nicole is an awful mentor she picks terrible songs. Love Josh but he has not gotten the right song yet.Stacy & leroy are on the way out. Rachel sang the song Ok but Simon still struggles to find the right song for her. They dress her Disneyish.Melanie was good but needs a up tempo song. Chris Rene was OK. Drew is one note. Lakoda might survive because Leroy & Stacy were worse this week.

  35. Yo' says:

    A lot of singers offended my ears last night, Josh the least, although I came in to his song in the middle and it wasn’t pretty until he worked his way to the end. Rachel’s “Satisfaction” was entirely unsatisfying and looked silly. Astro is good at what he does, but I don’t really get what he does, so I am unsure how good he is (??). Melanie was okay, Drew is too quirky-voiced to slow every single damned song down that much. Leroy was not at his best, but as a crooner, he didn’t suffer as much from not changing it up as others. Lakoda will be leaving tonight, Staci next week (although I suspect her song was supposed to be that way). Dull show and I am ticked that I didn’t switch over to Modern Family.

  36. Ellen says:

    Really Michael? Leroy??? I’m hoping it’s Stacey…. Honestly, there is a lot of chum in there…. LeRoy, Stacey, Marcus, Lakota, Chris Renee in no particular order. I still like it better than Idol. LA is great entertainment…. love men that are full of themselves. And what was Simon thinking hiring Nicole. I love Cheryl Cole. They need to axe that dud that tries to channel Seacrest. I hope America gets Astro (BTW: One of my students knows him and his family… lot’s of insight and he speaks so highly of the kid) and I adore Drew. Josh belongs at Mohegan Sun in the lounge. Close your eyes and I can interchange Rachel and Melanie (same sort of sthick) although they are both good. Hooray for reality TV!

  37. Louise says:

    People on here always bitch about these shows. They did the same thing about idol earlier.

  38. Teecie says:

    I think I’m done with X-factor. I gave it a good try, but the performances are over-produced and the behavior of the judges is simply appalling.

  39. Jason says:

    Slezak once again proving he knows nothing about Rock. Yes the Foo Fighters are one of the biggest and most imoportant bands in rock. Like it or not!!!

    Here’s the problem with last night’s show. There are eight RNB acts, one country act, and one folk act and they give them a rock category.
    Slezak is right. The show doesn’t know rock and should stay away from it. The performances were all embarrasingly bad!!! The host is awful. The big mistake of the show was firing Cherl Cole. She is a much better judge/mentor then Nicole and Nicole could be doing what she does best. Looking pretty as a host cause she has no idea how to be a mentor and her judging comments are riddiculous to annoying.

    The talent is so one dimensional and mediocre in their categories that the frontrunners appear to be Drew and Astro and they are both limited and would probably end up in eight and ninth place on Idol. I mean Drew is basically Didi Benami without the looks and stage presence. (Although that actually might help her on Idol as the voters don’t like beautiful women). Drew, Astro and Dakota Rain are the only acts close to being marketable.

  40. Lenny Leon says:

    When you consider wo buys cds (not downloads)and show/concert tickets . That would be women. How many millions of cds ,thousands of tickets does Rod Stewart sell of his dopey theme cds? Rap and country artists also do well. MOST LIKELY TO SELL BIG Leroy,Lkota Rayne Astro. They won’t be going home tonight

  41. Mic says:

    Ahh! You mentioned Ellie Goulding! Love her!

    …Anyways. Hilarious, as always.

  42. MusicFan says:

    OMG, Judy Collins is the most beautiful talented singer/musician with a pure voice.

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