And then there were nine. Yes, folks, with Stacy Francis’ ouster during last week’s ridiculously dramatic results show, we’re down to the single digits in acts competing for The X Factor Season 1 crown.
Check out my rankings for the remaining contestants, then hit our poll to vote for your favorite!
9) Leroy Bell (Last Week No. 8 ) | His take on “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was solid, but World’s Sexiest Grandpa practically put us to sleep with, um, uh…anyone else remember what dude sang last week?
8 ) Astro (Last Week No. 3) | Just when the kid started to win us over with his inventive, impossible-to-criticize takes on “Lose Yourself” and “I’ll Be Missing You,” he winds up in the Bottom 2 and responds by acting like a petulant child in need of SuperNanny. He might score himself a record deal in the long run, but in a voting landscape where likability counts, it’s hard to imagine him winning the whole enchilada.
7) Lakoda Rayne (Last Week No. 9) | They’re blond and attractive and moderately talented, but their mashup of The Outfield’s “Your Love”/Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” was hindered by 57 layers of costumery, lighting, instrumentation, dancers, and backing vocalists. Mentor Paula needs to remember that old perfume-ad adage: If you want to get someone’s attention, whisper.
6) Rachel Crow (Last Week No. 4) | Proved her vocal might with a blistering Top 11 rendition of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” but she’s just 1-for-4 in terms of generating major post-performance buzz during the live rounds. Worse still, her middling Top 10 cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was overpraised by the judges, meaning she may not learn from her mistakes.
5) Marcus Canty (Last Week No. 7) | It’s not easy to deliver a credible R&B flavored rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” while sliding through the open legs of a cadre of hoochie-devil backup dancers, but this cool cat pretty much pulled it off. Still, his prior take on “I’m Going Down,” while solid, still fell short of Jazzlyn Little’s superior audition-round cover — and that chica didn’t even make the Top 16.
4) Chris Rene (Last Week No. 6) | Got back into the groove — in a major way — with a passionate Top 11 cover of “Gangster’s Paradise,” and his Top 10 Bob Marley mashup kept the momentum going — even if it didn’t fit Simon Cowell’s definition of rock. Song selection will be crucial, though, to avoid spotlighting this charismatic underdog’s vocal shortcomings.
3) Josh Krajcik (Last Week No. 5) | The only contestant who truly and aggressively rocked during Rock Week — even if the sound mix buried his vocal under layers of guitar and drums. We’d still like to see a little more soul from the strongest male soloist in the competition, as frankly, his renditions of “Jar of Hearts” and “With a Little Help From My Friends” didn’t live up to his glorious audition-round cover of “At Last.”
2) Melanie Amaro (Last Week No. 1) | Her cover of “Everybody Hurts,” which Simon stripped down to just piano and vocals, was a stunning achievement — but it left her slightly open to the nagging criticism that she can’t do anything current or uptempo. All of that may not matter to Melanie’s core fan base — nor should it, really — but then again, you know the charming college student would be amazing on an uptempo house track, too. Why not let her unleash her inner dance diva on “Pride (A Deeper Love)” or “Some Lovin“?
1) Drew Ryniewicz (Last Week No. 2) | Shut up, L.A. Reid! Drew already covered hip-hop with her twist on Nelly’s “Just a Dream.” And while, yes, there’s always a predictable lilt in the kid’s voice, and while she’s racked up a slower overall tempo than the latest Enya record, her pitch perfection and emotional connection to the lyrics make us agree with her mentor Simon Cowell that she’ll be with us till the very end. And anyone who doubts that probably hasn’t downloaded her haunting cover of U2′s “With or Without You” and played it 49 times on repeat. (Oh, yeah, I give myself away. And I give, and I give, and I give myself away…)
Who’s your X Factor fave? Take our poll below!
Slezak on Twitter: @MichaelSlezakTV