It can’t be easy to come within weeks of a $5 million record contract only to wind up in 10th place. But at least tonight’s X Factor evictee received a parting gift via these words of sage advice from guest performer Rihanna: “You have to love what you do.” Um, anything else, RiRi? “If you love it, it never feels like work.”
Wait a second. I love my job, too, but sitting through Willow Smith’s “performance” during last week’s Top 11 results show definitely didn’t feel like playtime. I know, I know…I need to move past that now.
So let’s cut to this week’s results.
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, that wonderful example of artificial intelligence Steve Jones kept reminding us, the acts who received enough votes to go straight through to next week’s Top 9 performance telecast were:
* LeRoy Bell (cue the sound of Stacy Francis cursing on the inside)
* Lakoda Rayne (cue the sound of all eight not-yet-safe contestants cursing on the inside)
* Chris Rene
* Melanie Amaro
* Josh Krajcik
* Marcus Canty
(cue faces of sad children; cue Stacy thinking, “$#@^*# kids!”)
* Drew (Ryniewicz) (whew)
* Rachel Crow
* Stacy Francis
And with that, we came to the “save yourself!” performances. Here’s my breakdown on Stacy Vs. Astro:
Stacy Francis: “Amazing Grace”
Vibrato + Runs x Melisma x Tears = Elimination? Okay, that’s a little mean. It was clear from the opening note that Stacy was struggling to maintain her composure, but less forgivable was the way she delivered such a simple and beautiful hymn with such overblown grandiosity. It would be like Michael Bay remaking Annie Hall (blasphemy!) and interjecting explosions and car chases in the midst of all the jaunty dialogue.
Astro: “Never Can Say Goodbye”
Is it cynical of me to wonder if Astro’s “I’m not gonna perform for people who don’t want me here” was a premeditated tantrum? Think about it: In a post-X Factor world, Astro is going to need to shed his reality show reputation and forge a separate identity as a confident, possibly even cocky, young MC. What better way for L.A. to market his new hip-hop sensation than by labeling him as the teenager who thought he was somehow above a sing-off against a 42-year-old mom with rivulets of mascara running down her face? I know, I know…it doesn’t make his behavior any less noxious, but it’s not impossible to believe this scenario, either.
If you missed the whole dustup, Astro esentially sauntered out on stage, all casual-like, declared the sing-off “unnecessary,” and then sensing a restless audience, added “I’m gonna leave it up to my mentor.” (L.A., obviously, wasn’t going to let the kid sit this one out.) There were, as always, examples of brilliance in the lyrics, but also moments where Astro looked like a bored kid having to present a half-completed science project to his class. L.A. told Astro he was “upset” that his prized pupil was “acting like a quitter,” and Simon went one step further, dressing down Astro for disrespecting his own mother and the X Factor audience, and wringing a few tears out of the little scamp in the process. Heck, maybe Astro’s just, well, a child — a child who doesn’t have the maturity or the life experience to handle a dose of public humiliation in front of an audience of 12 million people. But if he’s going to have any longevity in the pop-culture game, he needs to learn to learn what it means to have humility — as well as a sense of humor. Seriously, does the kid ever look remotely happy?
Judges Votes on Who Should Go Home
Eliminated: Stacy Francis
(See, Nicole? You shoulda picked Elaine Gibbs!)
Now mind you, I wouldn’t have completely blamed Stacy if she’d taken off her shoe and threatened to give Astro a couple thwacks on the hiney, but as dreadfully behaved as the child was tonight, I understand why three out of four judges voted in his favor: As Simon reasoned, it’s Astro who has the better chance of winning the entire competition. And when you compare his “Lose Yourself” and “I’ll Be Missing You” to Stacy’s “Queen of the Night” and “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” Astro had the clear edge.
Stacy, for her part, accepted the bad news gracefully — in spite of Steve’s thuddingly clueless “How are you feeling right now?” (Um, how do you think, Steve?) — thanking the judges, thanking Simon for giving her an opportunity “to sing for the world” at 42, and noting she needed to “suck up my pride and take responsibility for the performance I gave [on Wednesday night].” That right there was some undeniable, if not amazing, grace.
Now, before you hit the comments, a few notes from a telecast that should’ve lasted 11 minutes but somehow took up an entire hour:
* LeRoy Bell might’ve lost his AARP endorsement after having a senior moment and missing his cue during the group rendition of “We Will Rock You.” (I kid! I kid!)
* Also, to continue a tradition I started last week, let’s change the last half of Steve Jones’ sentence about said group number: “You can download that performance…if you hate your spouse/roommate/child/neighbor and want to drive them to the brink of mental collapse.”
* Which was the less-ringing endorsement? Paula defending Lakoda Rayne’s Outfield-Fleetwood Mac mashup by declaring “no disasters in sight” or later predicting their safety by arguing “Lakoda Rayne did just enough.”
* I’m not sure if Rihanna sang or lipsynced her new hit “We Found Love,” but could someone please reassure me that exposing your garters under hideously lacerated jeans isn’t about to become the major denim trend of Winter 2011-2012.
On that note, I leave it to you to hit the comments section and sound off about tonight’s eviction. And for all my X Factor news and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!