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'The X Factor' Recap: The Top 10 Perform 'Rock' Songs (VIDEO)

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 17th 2011 12:45AM
Josh Krajcik I love rock'n'roll -- but it was in seriously short supply during this week's 'X Factor.' Host Steve Jones opened the show with the ominous qualifier that the week's theme was "rock songs, or songs sung in a rock style" which was the first clue that trouble was afoot.

We heard reggae, rap, blues and ballads, but very little in the way of actual guitar-smashing, amp-blasting rock; the only one who really fulfilled the assignment was resident rocker Josh Krajcik -- go figure. Still, I'm pretty sure that Stacy Francis hit rock bottom with a screechy, tone-deaf rendition of Meat Loaf's (via Celine Dion) 'It's All Coming Back to Me Now,' and my eardrums may never recover.

Hit the jump for our full recap of the show, thankfully without the musical accompaniment.

Simon Cowell's Girls
Rachel Crow: I'll never understand why 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction' is a perennial song choice on these talent shows, because it's one of the least flattering arrangements for any voice. I've yet to hear any artist do it justice, and mostly they just seem to bop around the stage sounding breathless and getting lost in the tempo. If Simon was adamant about forcing this song upon her, he should've taken a page out of the Britney playbook (I know, how often does anyone say that?) slowed it down a little, and given Rachel time to toss in more of her bluesy touches, rather than saddling her with dancers and making her jump all over the place. She seemed lost at the start, although the song got a little better when she started finding moments to throw in a random growl or high note to spice things up, but I think what benefited Rachel the most was coming after the human Xanax that is LeRoy Bell, since she kept things lively and at least performed a genuine rock song. It was still disappointing after last week's impressive effort, though.

Melanie Amaro: Unlike Rachel, Simon seems unprepared to take risks with Melanie or Drew, and he appears to have fallen into a rut of mournful ballads with them, even when both girls are talented enough to do justice to any song they're given. As soon as I heard Simon announce that Melanie was singing an REM song, I knew we were in for 'Everybody Hurts,' which is a perfectly serviceable song (though still only tangentially rock) but as L.A. pointed out, kind of boring. After weeks of slow, haunting emo music, I would've loved to see Melanie rock out with Janis Joplin or Stevie Nicks, though once again, she elevated the predictable material and sounded gorgeous.

Drew: I've got to admit, L.A. was totally right when he called Drew's cumulative repertoire boring; we've had three weeks of interchangeable ballads, and while every one has sounded exquisite, they've also sounded the same. She did attempt to defend the song choices by insisting that she's trying to stay close to the genre she wants to be in, but even Adele and Florence mix things up with mid-tempo tracks once in a while, and Drew is perfectly capable of doing the same. Her performance of U2's 'With or Without You' gave me chills, but as much of a Drew fan as I am (and I'm still rooting for her to win), I also want to see her attempt something a little riskier next week, because smoke machines and different lighting are not stepping out of her comfort zone. I did have to laugh when she admitted that L.A.'s critique last week was the first negative feedback she'd ever received, though. Poor, innocent Drew -- you've got wonder whether she could actually handle winning that $5 million contract, or whether the first negative review her album received would send her running to her room in tears. Still, L.A.'s critique did get me hoping that 'X Factor' takes a risk and decrees a duet theme for the top eight or top six, since all the sniping between him and Simon has me wondering what Astro and Drew would sound like on a duet like 'I Love the Way You Lie.' (Or, as Dan Fienberg over at Hitfix suggests, 'Stan.') Start the petitions now!

L.A. Reid's Boys
Chris Rene: Hey, America, did you know that Chris Rene was a "trash hauler" before 'The X Factor' saved him from a life of hauling trash? That's right, he hauls trash, garbage, refuse and other dirty stuff! Hey, there's trash and he hauls it, you guys! Aren't you glad that the rest of the world isn't as obsessed with defining you by your job as reality shows apparently are? (See also: "burrito maker Josh, who makes burritos," and Stacy "I have kids and cry all the time" Francis.) Still, regardless of his trash hauling credentials, Chris Rene sang a song tonight, although that song had even less to do with rock than any weepy ballad coming out of Simon's group. L.A. spuriously chose Bob Marley's 'No Woman, No Cry,' mostly because Rolling Stone called it a rock song and because Bob Marley was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame, but I'm not convinced. After last week's return to form, Chris backslid a little with this performance, once again seeming nervous and out of time with the backing music. Compared to Astro's polished rapping, Chris always seems a little sloppy -- he warmed up by the second verse, but his singing was all over the place. I did love L.A.'s snarky retort "Let's do hip-hop week and see how Drew does," when Simon pointed out that he was ignoring the week's theme, but ... he really was kind of ignoring the week's theme. (I also think that Drew could probably rock hip-hop, no pun intended: Lauryn Hill, anyone?)

Astro: Yeah, he still has that tough-guy attitude that's a little disturbing (but not totally unheard of) for a 15-year-old, and I wish that he could've just admitted that he missed his mom instead of her cooking, but boys will be boys, I guess. Regardless of the 'tude, the boy is one of the most talented rappers in the game today, and I have no doubt that he will be a global superstar once the show is over, just as the judges predicted. Again, while Sting counts as rock, a Puff Daddy R&B interpretation of a rock song is a little more murky, but it was such an accomplished and confident performance, I can't hold it against him. L.A. was also smart in the background visuals, highlighting names of dearly departed hip-hop legends like Tupac, Biggie, Heavy D and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes. I'm not sure if Astro is "the most popular contestant on X Factor" as L.A. claimed while introducing him, but he's certainly a talented performer, and as Simon pointed out, he really does have more maturity and intelligence than a number of the adult competitors.

Marcus Canty: Finally, L.A. nailed the theme, albeit with an odd choice for a guy when there are so many other soulful rock songs out there by male artists. Still, Marcus worked the stage with confidence and swagger, even if 'Piece of My Heart' wasn't a particularly good showcase for his vocals -- he looked like he was having fun (probably thanks in large part to the sexy dancers whose legs he crawled through), which is more than can be said for some of the acts this week. Nicole said he lit the stage on fire, while Paula enthused that he draws her in every week, but Simon thought he was trying to be something he's not. I used to think that Marcus was in constant danger of being eliminated, but I'm starting to see him as more of a dark horse in this competition, and I certainly hope he'll outlast Stacy, LeRoy and Lakoda Rayne.

Nicole Scherzinger's Over 30s
Josh Krajcik: The show's sole rocker saved rock week with an actual rock song, tackling the Foo Fighters' 'Pretender' with great aplomb and attacking the choruses like a true frontman. I was a little less enamored of the verses, which seemed strangely low-energy, but maybe that's just me. It was still an engaging and powerful rendition, which had been sorely lacking from the show up to that point, so I feel like the judges were entirely justified in their gushing, with Paula calling it the best performance of the night and L.A. praising his authenticity and stage presence. Simon once again whipped out his highest compliment: "Bloody fantastic."

LeRoy Bell: Further proving that she can't mentor her way out of a paper bag, Nicole picked yet another somnambulant song choice for the already snoozeworthy LeRoy, whose ageless face and meaningful tattoos still can't make him exciting. 'We've Got Tonight' wasn't ever going to rock our worlds, and as competent as he is, this competition needs more than competence. As L.A. and Simon pointed out, a $5 million contract is at stake, and there's no way he can measure up to some of the more unique voices and charismatic stage presences alongside him. Hopefully he's on his way towards the door, possibly even before Lakoda Rayne, since I foresee the judges saving the last remaining group long past their expiration date.

Stacy Francis: This may have been the worst performance on the show to date, and that's including some of the terrible auditionees. Apparently, Stacy willingly chose Meat Loaf's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (probably because it's better known as a Celine Dion song) and then proceeded to mutilate it horribly; mangling the high notes, singing completely off-key and then wailing madly towards the end like she'd completely given up on trying to make it good and just wanted to punish us instead. The weirdest part of the whole performance (besides the fact that Stacy had obviously gone tone deaf at some point during the last seven days) was that L.A. -- who criticized her last week -- bafflingly decided not to critique her this week, even though her performance was far worse. He had the tone of someone who was about to shoot a puppy, but then wussed out at the last minute, perhaps because Stacy already looked like she was about to cry? Thankfully, the rest of the judges didn't pull their punches, with Simon comparing it to a pebble instead of rock and insisting that she's going backwards in terms of progress, and Paula noting that she was under pitch and that it was her least favorite performance of Stacy's to date. Even mentor Nicole threw her under the bus by blaming the song choice on Stacy. I'm hoping that this week is the end of the line for her, but I'm guessing her "Franatics" will keep her around regardless of the terrible performance.

Paula Abdul's Group
Lakoda Rayne:
I'm never going to get on this bandwagon, and at this point, I doubt I need to. I'm fairly sure that the voting public will once again place the girl group in the bottom two, and even if the judges try to prolong the inevitable by saving them for another week (and I honestly believe Stacy and LeRoy are in more danger after their lackluster efforts) Lakoda definitely aren't going to win this competition. Their mash-up of 'Your Love' and 'Go Your Own Way' was passable, with some nice solo moments from some of the indistinguishable Lakodas, but it always seems as though the girls are shouting over each other rather than gelling harmoniously -- which is all you really want from a band. Simon absolutely hated them, calling it a "complete mess" and criticizing the "stupid choreography." Still, he did say that he hopes America sticks with them, which is more than I can say. L.A. said it was the first time he'd seen them have fun, which I kind of agree with, but they're just not spectacular enough to compete. I do wonder if Simon's ominous threat that "if the groups go ... that's the end of Paula" will buy them a couple of extra votes (are they going to kill her?) but it's only a matter of time.

'The X Factor' airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8PM ET on Fox. Next week, the show will air Tuesday and Wednesday at 8PM instead.

Who was your favorite act, and who do you think is in danger of going home? Share your thoughts below.

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA

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Josh. That's IT.

November 17 2011 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When is Astro going to actually sing?

November 17 2011 at 3:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to strangervessell's comment


November 17 2011 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know why they even have groups. First we don't get their backstory so we don't get to know them. Second, only one original group made it through to live votes. The groups are a joke. I agree Stacy and LeRoy had the worst performances of the night.

For next season there should only be three categories and NO Nicole Scherzinger and NO Steve Jones. Sorry Simon needs a new host.

I agree with what others have said, judges to seem to praise their own acts event though they aren't good just because they're the one's being mentored by them.

November 17 2011 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This X Factor format is actually inferior to American Idol because the judges including Simon mentor these people individually and when that happens, the judges end up defending or praising their proteges to the end even if they do poorly. Simon is even guilty of this on the show. Outside of format, the singing is just plain terrible or average. Same exact concept as Idol, or worse.

Example: Astro. In one year what are you going to think of when you hear the word Astro? Oh yeah, that is where aliens come from!

November 17 2011 at 8:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Neal Powers

There are far worse singerson this show then American Idol ever had.......Marcus butchered that song,singing off key.......And your boy "Dis astro" sounds the same every week......Thats not singing that loud annoying talking.......Josh is the one to beat on this show

November 17 2011 at 7:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this is the worst group of singers and if simon was on american idol and they all auditioned none of them would have made it through get rid of the x factor

November 17 2011 at 6:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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