X Factor USA 1.12 – Top 11

This week’s theme is “Movie Music”, all the better to shamelessly flog Adam Sandler’s new movie entitled Artistically Bereft. The Top 11 get to meet him and dutifully squee over his comic genius. “That was the funniest movie I’ve ever seen!!” declares Drew. Well, at least it isn’t in 3D. Small mercies, right?        


Stacy Francis / Queen of the Night (The Bodyguard): OMG Stacy’s forehead is so huge it’s distracting me from the song. Stacy wants to act young and dance and such, so she immediately tosses away the huge success she had last week and sings…well, a song from twenty years ago that wasn’t even that good back then. I try to imagine if she wins X Factor which songs the crowds at her concerts will want her to sing. Guess what? This song is not one of them. Her commanding voice is wasted despite her best bouncy efforts. When Simon tells her it didn’t work, she gets the audience to shout him down like they’re Westboro Baptists. I’m not sure, but it seems he also implies she’s dressed like a hooker. I know rumour has it Stacy used to be a pro, but I don’t think it was that kind of pro.  I myself think she looks like a red iPod case, although that’s neither here nor there.

 Marcus Canty / I’m Going Down  (Car Wash): When you have the budget of X Factor, it’s easy to go overboard on the flashy special effects and dancers, so good for LA to set all that aside this week and let Marcus shine by himself. He takes full advantage of the opportunity, and although his performance has more runs than Courtney Love’s pantyhose, he’s pretty much mesmerizing. And good looking. Not that that matters, because this is about the MUSIC. Heh. It seems that Paula’s new catchphrase is “You’re real”, because she keeps saying it to everybody. It’s handy, because unless they’re androids or CGI, she’s right.

 Drew / Fix You (You, Me, and Dupree):  LA is bang on when he tells Drew that all three of her performances have sounded exactly the same. That’s not the kiss of death by any means as an artist, because people want you to sing songs that highlight your talent, but it’s not good news for her in this competition. She either has to try harder to sing in a different style, or try harder to pick songs that sound good in her style. LA isn’t quite as astute when he rattles on and on about never hearing of the movie this song came from. But surely he’s heard of who sings it, a little band named Coldplay, right? Who cares if it didn’t come from a Michael Bay production? As for Drew’s dress (which she designed herself, much to Paula’s mortification after dissing it)…it kind of looks like she mugged a bag lady loitering outside the theatre. Jinkies.

 LeRoy Bell / Still Havn’t Found What I’m Looking For (The Runaway Bride): Did you know this song was on The Runaway Bride soundtrack? Me neither. I’m beginning to suspect that LeRoy doesn’t hold the notes longer because he can’t, so I’ve given up on hoping he’ll finally start. But aside from that, he sounds terrific. This was an astute song pick from Nicole. None of the judges mention it, but I swear that LeRoy totally messes up the lyrics, mumbling through the last half of the song. That might be on purpose, I suppose, like the emotion of the song renders him mushy-mouthed.

Lakoda Rayne / Somebody Like You (How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days): Lakoda Rayne are Lakoda Rain, looking good and sounding not quite as good. It’s funny, because individually they’re strong, but the harmonies are iffy. LA says they’ve become his favourite girl group in the competition, which makes them so happy and grateful. Until of course it’s pointed out that they’re the only girl group in the competition. Ha ha, way to make a joke on the backs of these nice girls’ dreams, LA you jerk.

Astro / Lose Yourself (8 Mile): All I can say is WOW. Our li’l Slim Shady not only writes his own lyrics every week, he remembers them too, and they’re not some nursery rhyme rhymes, either. They’re complicated and meaningful, and he strings them out like they’re Red Fish Blue Fish. At his tender age, I feel like he wants to win this thing more than anyone else, and is actively plotting out what he needs to do to make it happen. I’m with Nicole when she says he’s a true contender, and Simon when he says that Astro has an amazing work ethic. Simon is also mightily impressed that LA got Eminem to clear that song to be sung by a 14 year old on a television talent show. Ha! True enough. Fun Fact: it seems his fanbase has taken to calling themselves “Astronauts”. Take THAT, Beliebers!

Melanie Amaro / Man in the Mirror (This is It): Melanie has never looked better than she does tonight. This is despite the fact she’s been sick all week, and is scared her voice is going to give out on her, but she needn’t have worried. She sounds, as Simon puts it, “bloody fantastic”. She also has a choir to back her up, which I invariably love. LA thinks she’s predictably good, whatever that means. I’m beginning to not like LA very much. I welcome the judges to be critical, but the more concrete it is, the better. Otherwise it just makes you look like a dink, and nobody wants that. The funny thing is, even though Simon calls it her best performance yet – Melanie doesn’t look that happy about it. I’m not sure if she’s disappointed in herself or just in need of some Sudafed.

Josh Kracjik / A Little Help From My Friends (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band): Let me start by saying that every time Josh smiles, he reminds me of a Dr. Seuess character. I’m not sure which one, but it definitely has something to do with the cheeks.

As per usual, Josh does a bang-up job on his Joe Cocker version of this Beatles classic, although he’s skating the fine line between Joe and Casey Abrams. I’m with Simon that the several dozen backup singers and dancers took away rather than added to the performance. Josh doesn’t need all that; his voice can definitely stand on it’s own. Nicole defends her decisions, telling Simon, “Don’t hate — congratulate.” Hee.

Chris Rene / Gangsta’s Paradise  (Dangerous Minds): Chris I think has been a little bit off-balance in the live shows, having to sing songs and styles that may not have even been his third choice, never mind his first. But that’s all history tonight as he blazes his way through the song like a California brush fire. He’s all swagger and bragger, because he knows he’s kicking ass as far as the eye can see. As LA says, “It’s a long way home, but we’re there now.” I think this is rather emotional and profound when Chris’s backstory is considered. Astro ain’t the only hip hopper in town, kids.

Stereo Hogzz / Ain’t No Other Man (Get Smart): The Hogzz are looking fine tonight in their tailored suits and smart fedoras. It’s been pointed out that the Groups have a harder time connecting with the audience because we don’t get to know and root for each person individually, so the Hogzz try to overcome that by showing the face and name of each member at the beginning of the song on the huge-ass screens on either side of the stage. Smart thinking. Here’s the problem as I see it: although they’re vastly entertaining to watch and about as talented as any famous boy band you could mention (cept maybe Boyz 11 Men, who rocked the house), but in this exact time and place, they can’t stand up against their competition. They’re out-talented, plain and simple. As an aside, LA again makes a stink that if he hasn’t heard of something (this time the song, originally sung by Christina Frickin’ Agulara no less), it must not matter. WHAT.

Rachel Crow / I’d Rather Go Blind (Cadillac Records): We find out before she gets on stage that Rachel is adopted, so this really is a Cinderella story compared to what sweet Rachel’s life might have been. She pays the world back for her good fortune by giving us the performance of the night. Simon admits he’s done a disservice to her by trying to Disney her up in previous weeks, but tonight he has her singing soul, and she smokes it. She has the poise and pipes of a forty year old jazz singer. I NEVER get tired of listening to her. As you might expect, Simon is utterly smug after the performance, encouraging the audience to clap for his good taste, too.

Should Go Home: Stereo Hogzz
Will Go Home: Stereo Hogzz