X Factor USA 1.15 – Top 10

It’s Rock Night, and you know what that means! That means the rockers who make up the Top Ten will finally get their chance to shine. Rockers like…um…that is…ahem…Josh Kracjic when he’s drunk? Oh, this is gonna be good. And by good I mean GLORIOUSLY BAD. 

Before we get started, let us set aside our biases and prejudices on what we consider “rock music” to mean, lest we give ourselves a debilitating stroke. No matter what your definition is, someone tonight is totally going to fuck that up, so there’s nothing to be done for it. Paula says she suspects (because nobody tells her anything I guess, she just shows up and starts babbling) they have themes every week so the contestants can show diversity. And nobody is good at everything, right? In fact, most singers are only good at one genre, so we can throw diversity down the same well that creepy little girl from The Ring lives in, and hope tonight lets our contestants at least show poise in a humiliating situation, or possibly a sense of humour.

Regardless, we can safely assume the judges are going to defend their song choices lo, to end times no matter how awful they are, and also that they’re going to shred the other judges’ choices into little wee sarcastic tatters, because that’s just how this show rolls. ::rubs hands together in anticipation::

Okay, let’s get started on this here rock and roll fantasy.

LeRoy Bell – “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger: This is one of my favourite songs ever, so I’m a bit protective of it. LeRoy does a good job singing it (in fact, my husband hustled into the room to watch because he thought from a distance that it was actually Bob Seger singing). I am, however, starting to understand why LeRoy isn’t already a professional. He just can’t seem to emotionally connect to the songs he sings. Also, I think he forgets his words again, or is unusually mushy-mouthed (does he have dentures?? I’m scared to look too closely to find out). The judges are right when they all (except Nicole, natch) tell him he’s good, but not good enough. Steve asks LeRoy what he thought of the judges’ “horrible” comments, which is ridiculous. They’re there to judge using their experience as a guide, so they damn well better JUDGE.  Plus, they all said he was good, so I can think of worse insults to bear.

Rachel Crow – “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones: Nicole and I have reservations about the legitimacy of a 14 year old girl who can’t even legally drive yet singing this song, but whatever. Rachel is my favourite at the moment, so it’s hard for me to say I didn’t enjoy it as much as her other performances. She has a unique and marvelous tone to her voice that’s not in evidence tonight (possibly because she was strutting around the stage trying to have them moves like Jagger). But what do I know, because the judges give her a standing O and Nicole even tells her it’s her best performance to date. Funnily, on a second listen (without watching), I can definitely hear how she sounds like a young Michael Jackson. Simon tells three people tonight he can see them going all the way and winning this thing; Rachel is the first.

Chris Rene – “No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley: Chris seems to have a huge amount of fun singing this song, which is contagious. Speaking of contagious, when the stage doors opened I thought a bunch of zombies were spilling out, which would have been very cool. But no, just backup singers/dancers. Too bad! Anyway, Chris’s voice is sweet but shaky. There’s a big scrap amongst the judges as to whether this is a rock song, but what’s the point? Chris is not, nor will he ever be, a rocker. And if the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says it’s a rock song, that’s good enough for me.

Not zombies, sadly

Stacy Francis – “If you Touch Me Like This” by Meatloaf: That’s right, I said Meatloaf. You want to make something of it? As it turns out, Stacy chose this song herself. The reason I know this is because Nicole tells us so because she  totally isn’t going to take the blame for this disaster. Stacy, with her soaring range nowhere in sight, screeches her  way through this song like she’s trying to encourage falcons to land on her arm (that also explains the feathers on her mike stand).  Regardless, when LA says that Stacy was pandering to him last week because she chose a song he wrote, that still rubs me very much the wrong way. Way to be contemptuous of a contestant while simultaneously sounding like a pompous ass. The judges are awfully mean to her all around, to the point where she’s unable to smile even at the end while begging  people to call and vote for her.

Melanie Amaro – “Everybody Hurts” by REM: Another one of my favourite songs. I’m not sure where Simon gets off complaining about some of the other songs not being “rock” enough, then letting Melanie sing this song like she’s in church. Not that it’s not great, because Melanie probably couldn’t be bad if she tried. However, like Paula, I keep waiting for the soaring violins to kick in and for Melanie to belt out the top song choice of everybody who ever drunkenly cried over a lost love. There’s no belting to be had, nor even sorrowful hushed tones. It’s too bad, because from what we’ve seen of Melanie’s past she must have plenty of personal emotion to draw from if she so chooses.

Josh Kracjik –  “The Pretender” by The Foo Fighters: Holy crap, someone’s singing a song that was written in the last ten years! \0/ There’s so much to talk about this performance I don’t know where to start. First, the light show makes all the epileptics watching instantly cover their eyes in terror. Second, this show has a massive budget – could they not spend a couple hundred bucks to get Josh’s teeth whitened? It looks like he just finished eating buttered corn on the cob. (They could even make it a money-making ad: “Oh, I have an X-Factor performance in two hours? Plenty of time to use Crest White Strips.”) Third, Nicole is beyond sexy as she rocks out to this song. I just thought you should know.  Okay, on to the singing. I thought Josh was actually not very good this time, that his voice couldn’t handle the pressure of the driving tempo. Yet again, the judges think I’m crazy. They say it was the performance of the night and he was spectacular. As Steve charmingly says, “You rock, sir!” So, I guess I stand corrected.

Astro  – “I’ll Be Missing You (Every Breath You Take) –
by Puff Daddy/Sting: This was a brilliant song choice, because it’s rock AND rap, so Astro can once again do his thang. Simon somewhat hopefully says before Astro starts that he’s been good every week, but he has to come unstuck one week – maybe this is the week? Nope, it’s not the week. I have to say, this was my favourite performance of the night.  He once again flawlessly performs his original lyrics, owns the stage, sounds great (and a little like Gorillaz at one point). I still don’t know if Astro can actually sing, but what he does, he does like a boss. Shake your thousand shiny glow sticks, my babies! Astro is the second contestant that Simon thinks can win the whole enchilada. And I think he’s right.

Lakoda Rayne – Lose Your Love Tonight/Go Your Own Way: Aw, the producers let us get to know each girl before they come on stage, and they’re really lovely young ladies. One of them says how nice it is to wake up and still be living your dreams, which is a pretty cool sentiment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change the fact this group is just not as good as the other acts, plain and simple. The song mashup also doesn’t do them any favours, nor do the posing male Zoolander “dancers”. Sigh. On the good side: that guitarist’s ‘fro was kickin’ it. Um…the girls were also extremely happy and bouncy and fun, as per Paula’s strict instructions. Poor Paula. Simon says that if her last act gets booted, she’s through. I’m not sure what that means, if she won’t be a judge any more or she’ll get shot by a firing squad at the end of the results show, or what, but it’s going to be very emotionally messy, mark my words.

Drew – “With or Without You” by U2: We get a peek into Drew’s head this week as she admits right off the bat that before LA gave her hell last week for being boring, NOBODY had ever criticized her singing. EVER. (Remember, she’s only 14.) So I imagine it must have been quite a splash of cold water for her, and possibly freaked her out enough to second-guess her every subsequent note. Certainly LA being an A-1 creeper and stalking her and Simon back stage couldn’t have helped. She shut him right down with a talk to the hand, which I found hilarious. Here’s the thing. I love Drew’s voice a lot, but I wish she’d darn well stop relying on that yodel thing she does. It knocks her timing off any song with a faster tempo than Amazing Grace, and she still sounds fantastic without it so she doesn’t need it. Like Nicole, I’m a little frustrated with Drew. Be that as it may, Drew is the third and last performer that Simon thinks can go all the way to the finish line.

Marcus Canty – “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin: Marcus wants us to know that he may be a rock star, but he’s still a good boy. A moral boy. That’s why it’s so funny when he slides through the open legs of a whole row of scantily clad women, all in the name of his art. Now, Marcus has the sweet spot at the end of the show and that means the judges and/or producers think his performance is something special. Um. I think it’s so full of cheese it could double as a pita pocket. There’s not a whiff of sincerity or the angst that fills the original song; I wonder if Marcus even thinks about the lyrics as he sings them. No matter, because those girls are shaking their asses and he’s winking at the camera and touching fingertips in the audience, and I guess that’s enough for The X-Factor judges – except for Simon, who agrees with me. He’s practically my boyfriend, we’re so in sync! I like you Marcus, but I did not like that performance. Sorry.

Should Go Home: Lakota Rayne
Will Go Home: Lakota Rayne