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'The X Factor' Recap: The Top 11 Perform Songs From the Movies (VIDEO)

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 10th 2011 12:00AM
X Factor JudgesThis week's 'X Factor' theme was ostensibly "songs from movies," but in reality, it was just a week where the contestants sang mostly-commercial hits that have coincidentally been included on lesser-known movie soundtracks at some point in the past two decades. Totally the same difference, right?

I would've had less of a problem with the cheating if it weren't for the fact that Simon Cowell was flagrantly cheating -- if anyone actually believes that 'You, Me and Dupree' is one of his all-time favorite movies (or, indeed, a movie anyone would willingly sit through) I have an excellent Ponzi scheme for you to invest in, and it'll only cost you $5 million. And to follow that up with a song only vaguely featured in a half-finished Michael Jackson documentary about a concert? Spurious, Cowell, very spurious.

Still, questionable song choices aside, most of the contestants acquitted themselves well, with less sour notes than we've heard for the past couple of weeks. Hit the jump for our verdict, and weigh in on the acts you think are in danger of being sent home.

Simon Cowell's Girls
Drew:
I'm more than a little baffled that Simon couldn't be bothered to think up a single legitimate song from a respectable movie soundtrack that would've suited Drew's voice -- since the girl could sing the phone book and sound incredible -- but playing it safe with 'Fix You' probably paid off. Certainly, no voter could say that it was a bad performance, just a little repetitive. As L.A. pointed out, we know that Drew can sing ballads and haunting melodies in her sleep, but if Simon's pushing other acts to prove their versatility, he should be prepared to do the same with his own contestants, and truly give Drew a challenge with something mid- or up-tempo. She's certainly got the tone and control to be the next Adele, but no performer on the market today exclusively performs slow songs. She's still my favorite, though -- and the awkward moment when Paula inadvertently insulted her fashion sense was mortifying TV gold. This is why we don't let 14 year-olds design their own clothing. (I'd totally wear it.)
Melanie Amaro: Either Melanie really loves Michael Jackson, or this was some cynical attempt for Simon to capitalize on the Conrad Murray verdict and tie Melanie into MJ's Google searches (suspicious, me?), but either way, it was an incredibly boring song choice for yet another performer who could conceivably tackle anything. 'Man in the Mirror,' while a touching song, is so very overused in talent competition shows (it comes up seemingly every year on 'Idol,' and made a memorable appearance on 'The Voice') is just too vanilla to make an impact anymore. Why not a song from a Bond movie, or an 80s power ballad that Melanie could've belted? It seemed like such a pedestrian choice, or, as L.A. put it, "predictably strong." Simon called it a tribute, I call shenanigans.
Rachel Crow: Clearly, Simon only has the energy to focus on making one act stand out per week, and after a couple of lackluster song choices, it was finally Rachel's time to shine. Though it was another tenuous movie choice with 'Cadillac Records' (why not pick 'Fame' and be done with it?), Rachel's version of 'I'd Rather Go Blind' was mature well beyond her years. She struggled with the low notes, but at the top of her range, Rachel out-divaed Miss. Diva Stacy Francis this week, with finger-wagging, head-shaking attitude and a pair of lungs that blew me away. This was certainly Rachel's best performance yet -- even better than her audition -- and I'm finally starting to see her as a viable contender for the top spot, even if she doesn't have the range of some of her contemporaries. Even better? She's been succeeding thus far without needing to play up the tragic circumstances of her past.

L.A. Reid's Boys
Marcus Canty:
Marcus' stripped-down performance of 'I'm Going Down' was vocally much stronger than his energetic-but-messy Bobby Brown from last week, but he's still not quite connecting with me the way Drew and Josh always do. He seemed confident on stage (despite the shiny "cabaret singer" jacket) and his phrasing packed a powerful punch. You could feel his passion this week more than usual, and Nicole called the rendition "Ma Gic," but I don't think he quite has the vocal fireworks to make it to the finals. I think he'll be safe another few weeks though, given the way the audience responded to him and the way LeRoy is kind of coasting.



Astro: Say what you want about his attitude and arrogance, this kid could go toe-to-toe with any hip-hop artist on the market today. The fact that he's writing his own lyrics with such poise and maturity makes me wonder just how much stronger he can become given the right connections and guidance. I do wonder how much mentoring L.A. is really giving him, though, since it seems like the song choices are pretty much all Astro at this point. His speed and flow are really quite astounding, especially up against the less polished -- but more heartfelt -- lyrics that Chris Rene writes. Eminem's 'Lose Yourself' was a great fit for him, even though the majority of the words were his own. And the thing I find most fascinating: those small, brief moments where you actually catch his tough-kid facade slipping and you see Astro smiling like the awed child that he is, overwhelmed by the reaction he's getting from the crowd or the judges. I wish we could see more of that Astro.
Chris Rene: As Simon so succinctly put it, "welcome back, Chris Rene." This is the best he's been since his first audition, with far more confidence and comfort in his presentation (probably due to the fact that most of the lyrics were his own). He didn't find a way to rap about his pancreas, but it was clear that Chris was fully connected to the song and thus fully connected to the audience, and the way he worked the stage was far more engaging than how lost and stationary he's looked in recent weeks. If he's allowed to keep writing his own lyrics as Astro has been, I think he'll be in this competition for a long time.

Nicole Scherzinger's Over 30s
Stacy Francis:
When I heard that 'X Factor' was tackling songs from movies, I commented on Twitter that I hoped 'I Will Always Love You' had been preemptively banned, since it's a choice overdone and very rarely accomplished with any success on talent shows. When Nicole announced that Stacy was performing a song from 'The Bodyguard,' my heart sank, but I needn't have worried -- she butchered a lesser-known song from the soundtrack instead. I almost would've preferred 'I Will Always Love You,' simply because I know Stacy would've sounded good doing it, but 'Queen of the Night' was just a mess. Stacy is confident and competent when she's standing still and belting a song out like any good diva, but trying to make her dance at the same time apparently results in vocal roadkill, with too many pitchy moments and an assortment of distracting background dancers further muddying the water. The judges pulled their punches with her, as usual, but once again, L.A. summed it up best when he opined, "I like you better when you cry."
LeRoy Bell: I'm starting to internally refer to LeRoy as auditory Ambien -- his songs are all pleasant to listen to, but each one is just dull. Nicole finally found what she was looking for (ha ha) in U2, since the song complimented LeRoy's range well, and it was certainly a solid performance, but it just wasn't spectacular enough to hold my interest. Simon called the rendition "dignified" and "classy," but we're not looking for a monarch, we're looking for a recording artist worthy of $5 million, and with his inability to connect to the songs emotionally, LeRoy ain't it.
Josh Krajcik: LeRoy's shortcomings stand out even more starkly when compared to a performer like Josh, who has yet to meet a song he doesn't empathize with. 'Across the Universe' is another cheat movie (a greatly underrated film that uses the music of The Beatles the way 'Moulin Rouge' used everything else) but Josh's husky, emotive version of 'With a Little Help From My Friends' showed off so many dimensions in that powerful voice that I found it utterly transfixing. Paula called it "chicken soup for the soul," while Nicole insisted that he was so worthy of that $5 million contract (I concur).

Paula Abdul's Groups
The Stereo Hogzz:
Oh Paula, a shouty rendition of 'Ain't No Other Man' was really the best "movie song" you could think of? Someone get that woman a Netflix account, stat. I did enjoy the staging and the Broadway-esque, gangster vibe they were going for, but for me, the song did nothing to showcase the group's impressive vocals or the harmonies they first wowed the judges with, and I think they need that emotional connection if they want to make an impact with the audience. The groups are obviously the most vulnerable category at this point, and as much as Paula's probably trying to ignore that fact, she's going to have to work harder than flashing the group members' names on the screens when they perform if she wants them to have any longevity in this competition. Nicole called the performance "bananas," and Simon and I both judged her for it. I also judged L.A. for apparently being unfamiliar with the song. For someone in the industry, that's ... bananas.
Lakoda Rayne: No longer seasonal, but just as bland, the girl group's interpretation of Keith Urban's 'Somebody Like You' was pleasant in (brief) parts and painful in others. Singing solo -- gee, what a novel idea -- each Lakoda (or each Rayne?) illustrated why they were put through in the first place, but the chorus was just a discordant mishmash. Further, why does a group need six backup singers? I loved how excited they were when L.A. declared them his favorite girl group in the competition, and how they didn't catch on to the insult until Simon explained it to them. Still, they're not they're to think, they're just there to look pretty and sing inoffensive pop-country for the voracious country contingent of voters who will keep them in the contest long past their expiration date. Ah, democracy.

'The X Factor' airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8PM ET on Fox.

Who was your favorite contestant and who do you think is in danger of going home? Do you think the groups will still be targeted, or perhaps LeRoy is in trouble this week? Share your predictions and reactions below.

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA

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cmoore6098

I thing Stero Hogzz should have stayed. They came in as a group, not one made up by the judges, I feel this is so unfair to the others who formed their own group. All the judes can form their own groups without using xfactor as a sounding board. Unfair! Unfair! Unfair!

November 11 2011 at 11:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kristina

Sorry to burst your bubble Neal, but Rap is music. And Astro has so much talent and potential. I would love to see someone like Jay-Z or even Eminem take him under his wing and really mold him. Astro is already more talented then most rappers out there today (looking at your Lil Wayne and Drake).

November 10 2011 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
brad008

Anyone else uncomfortable with Rachel Crow singing "I'd Rather Go Blind"? Its an earthy,sensual blues number totally inappropriate for a 13-year old child. She sang it well, but did you really believe it when she wailed "I'd rather go blind than to see you walk away from me........I love you so much....." I didn't. Had Simon chosen the song, I would have called him a pervert.....but since he approved Rachel's choice,he's merely a dirty old man. Where is the parental supervision? Where are Child Services?

November 10 2011 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mitchstn

What a night. Paula showed her ignorance not once but twice, first by saying she did not like the song Stacy sang because thats what she thought LA said. What he said was I did not like the song for her but he did like the song he co wrote it. Next trying to keep up with Simon she complains about Drew's dress which Simon had nothing do do with. Her I.Q. gets lower and lower each year. She critiques do not fit what we are seeing and are pre written which is obvious to see. Now to the show. I hate that I have watched this show because it really is not good but now I have to watch to see how bad or o.k. everyone is. There really are very few contestants anyone will end up becoming fans of. Marcus could be nurtured by someone and become famous. Drew and Rachel are still too young and need lots of work. Melanie has a great voice but no real personality and Astro is the most obnoxious and big headed kid who does not deserve to win just because the win would make him more obnoxious and big headed.

November 10 2011 at 9:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Neal Powers

I agree this is a singing competion , not a talk show......Rap isnt music ....Lets hear the singing and the real talent

November 10 2011 at 7:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gibson Family

You talk about cheating and I agree. But I feel the cheating was done by LA. All the other singers had to sing the songs they were given, even if they didn't want to. (Josh said he just had to make that song his own, and did.) But, the two rappers were allowed to write there own lyics because that is "who they are". Yet, LA insulted Simon for his singers singing the same kind of songs each week even though that is " who they are". I hate the rap being on this show. It is suppose to be a singing competition and they do not sing. If you want to be fair, let the singers use original songs if they want. I know all these shows are fake and staged, but this one throws it in our faces. My son went through to Hollywood week on AI so I understand how the behind the scene stuff works. I will continue to watch the show for the entertainment value but I will not vote or be involved with who stays or leaves because it is already a done deal and that is sad.

November 10 2011 at 7:19 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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