Recap: 'The X Factor' - Top 9 Performances Live-Blog
If you love stuffing and you love apologies, Tuesday (November) night's Very Special "The X Factor" is a two-hour block made just for you.
The "stuffing" is going to come from the show's Pre-Thanksgiving theme of "Giving Thanks," which is sure to be as efficiently adhered to as last week's Rock-n-Roll debacle. But "stuffing" is also relevant because Tuesday's show will cram nine performances into two hours, as the field keeps dwindling, but the programming block remains the same.
And as for "apologies"? Well, if self-flagellation involving teenagers doesn't make you uncomfortable, you're gonna love watching Poor Li'l' Astro throw himself at the mercy of Simon Cowell and company begging their forgiveness for last week's lapse of positive mental attitude. With a double elimination pending on Wednesday, how many times will Astro have to say "I'm sorry" in order to avoid packing his bags?
Let's find out!
8:00 p.m. ET. Awwww... We're starting the show with our Top 9 saying what they're thankful for. Some parents. Some friends. "You adopted me and I was tiny and I love you guys," Rachel Crow says. Astro gives thanks to his Astronauts for sticking with him through hard times.
8:01 p.m. Well, there's our clip of Astro's misbehavior this week. And apparently the songs are going to be dedicated to the people they're thankful to. This just might be a manipulative two hours of television!
8:02 p.m. Steve Jones does an admirable job of pretending he knows what "Thanksgiving" is.
8:03 p.m. The judges enter to "Ain't No Mountain."
8:04 p.m. The act receiving the lowest vote total tonight will automatically go home tomorrow. Then the acts with the next lowest vote totals will have to perform for the judges, who will boot one of the,.
8:05 p.m. "This was a very tough week for him, but this is a kid who comes from a very tough background," L.A. Reid says of Astro. Simon hasn't been invited to anybody's home yet for Thanksgiving. Poor Simon. Our first performance tonight is...
8:06 p.m. After the break. That's one way to pad out the time, I suppose.
8:10 p.m. OK. But seriously now. Somebody's going to sing. It's...
Rachel Crow: I'll admit it. Rachel Crow's story makes me a little misty. Wasn't National Adoption Day last week? Rachel's totally a poster girl in the best way possible. Singing "Believe," Rachel's working a more mature look and personal this week. She's a little overwhelmed by the full troop of background singers, there's at least one key change that I'm not entirely convinced was intentional and there's an unnecessary burst of confetti that makes this feel more like a nervous "American Idol" coronation moment than it should. But despite those factors, Rachel sells the song confidently and sincerely in the best way possible. "I really loved it," L.A. Reid gushes. "Oh Rachel, you've made a believer out of me," Nicole coos, calling Rachel an inspiration. Paula calls Rachel and angel, which brings tears to her eyes and I'm getting misty again. Simon's very pleased and repeats that he's glad they lowered the age range. Rachel tells all of the kids out there to believe that they can, because she did. Steve Jones also seems a bit emotional.
Marcus Canty: It's not Marcus' fault that his inspirational tribute to his mother isn't making me tear up like Rachel Crow's story did. Not at all. Much respect to Marcus Canty's mom. Marcus really loves his mom and he's even singing the appropriately titled "Mama," surrounded my oceans of fog. He's very emotionally engaged, even moving to the edge of the stage and holding his mother's hand. But he's perhaps too emotional, audibly cracking on several notes. Three of the judges stand for him, but I think it's much more for the sentiment than the execution. Marcus keeps looking up, even though his mama is at the base of the stage. "You're making all the other sons out there look bad tonight," Nicole says, on the verge of tears herself. "Marcus, every single performance you give is top-notch, but tonight especially," Paula says. Simon vows to be honest and gets instantly booed. He suggests Marcus has had ups-and-downs and gets booed again. Finally, Simon says that tonight was the first time he felt a connection with Marcus. "There were a few little..." Simon starts to say. Oooh. Was he going to have the nerve to point out the missed notes? We'll never know. L.A. Reid interrupts Simon's rational critique to say that Marcus is better than either Babyface -- we'll let David Silver decide that -- or Boyz II Men.
8:35 p.m. We're frontloading Simon tonight. Because up next is...
Melanie Amaro: Well, if you're gonna give thanks, there's no harm in aiming high. Melanie Amaro is thankful to God, because God's the only person who hasn't let her down. "He's the greatest," Melanie says simply. She's singing "The World's Greatest," a song that challenges the very bottom of her lower register. But in the verses, it's another comfortable performance from Melanie, who is turning the "X Factor" stage into her own personal church platform, complete with people in the crowd pointlessly waving their arms with glowsticks. When Melanie does what she does, nobody in this competition is better. "That was really good," L.A. Reid says. Melanie pauses the rapturous comments to thank Simon for bringing her back into the competition, lest we forget that narrative. As Melanie gets emotion and tears pour down her face, her accent comes out and she gets a standing ovation. "You are so courageous," says Nicole, who requests the chance to come up to the stage and give Melanie a hug. "Always show that vulnerability," Paula tells her. Suddenly Steve Jones is realizing that they don't have as much time as he thought they did. "I'm very, very proud of you," Simon says, reminding America to vote for Melanie.
8:46 p.m. I would say that it's fairly clear that anybody who doesn't cry tonight is going to get sent home. And that means ALL FOUR OF YOU, Lakoda Rayne. No stragglers.
8:48 p.m. Bruno Mars and Kelly Clarkson will perform tomorrow. But back to the crying portion of our presentation. Up next...
Chris Rene: It's seven months sober for Chris, who is using is counsellor Tim as his inspirational figure. I don't think we're going to need to worry about Chris crying tonight. Go Tim. As for Chris? He's rapping along with fog, Greek columns and "Let It Be." It's not especially good, with Chris not quite feeling the rhythm of the sing-rapped Beatles lyrics. Then he bridges into "Homey Whatcha Trippin' On," the original we already heard Chris perform in his audition. It's a "Glee"-style mash-up and the difference between Chris as cover artist and Chris as original artist is vast. That isn't to imply that Chris' song is as good as "Let It Be," because that would be stupid. But I know which song Chris is better with. Anyway, it's yet another performance driven much more by sincerity than anything else. But that's the name of the game tonight, I guess. "To me, you're such an example and such a blessing in this competition," Nicole says. Paula thanks all of the sponsors and all of the counsellors and says Chris did an amazing job. Simon didn't like the "Let It Be" portion of the performance, but he appreciated the honesty of the second half. Simon adds that Chris can actually help people. L.A. Reid believes in Chris. So far, Chris is all smiles, keeping his emotions in check. I guess he figures he laid himself bare with his original song.
9:01 p.m. Time for our last remaining group...
Lakoda Rayne: The ladies of Lakoda Rayne are collectively thankful for the people who shaped them. In Dani's case, it's her dad. In Paige's case, it's her boyfriend. Hayley is thankful for her dad. Cari is giving thanks to her grandma. [I'm not sure I knew there was a member of Lakoda Rayne named "Cari."] I'm not quite sure that "You Belong With Me" is as emotionally connected a song choice as the other acts tonight have chosen. Again and as usual, the Lakoda Rayne women function best when they're singing semi-solo, while most of their harmonies (the closing note excepted) fall a little flash. I think Paige shines in this one, but otherwise? Meh. L.A. Reid says that it was "pretty good." Nicole loved the song choice and felt that she was watching them in concert. "This is by far your best performance to date," Simon says, though at least he acknowledges that there were some frantic missed notes in the performance. Paula cries and says that they've proven to her that the sky is the limit. I think that the adorable Dani-on-Hayley high-five may win some votes.
9:10 p.m. Are they saving Astro's Triumphant Apology for the pimp slot? Sigh...
9:11 p.m. Oh right. We haven't had an Over-30 yet, because we lost Stacy last week.
LeRoy Bell: Uh-oh. Watch out, Marcus. LeRoy is certain that his mother is the best. I love how LeRoy's family photos seem to go back to the 1880s. He's old, yo. But youthful. We've never seen LeRoy outside in the sunshine, but I suspect he sparkles. Alas, LeRoy's inspirational story has a sad ending. His mother passed away two years ago. Sniffle. It's finally the night's first completely stripped down performance. No church chorus. No fog. It's just LeRoy on a stool and for the first time in two weeks, I actually feel like LeRoy is connected to what he's singing. Ooops. I take back what I said. Her comes the angelic chorus. There is no way this man is 60. "That was really good," L.A. Reid says, before saying that it wasn't his very best. "I could not disagree with you more," Paula says, basically in a perpetual sense of blubbering at this point. Simon also disagrees with L.A. Reid. It really is ludicrous that L.A. Reid has begun every piece of empty praise this week with, "I wanted to dislike that, but I just couldn't..." and *this* was the performance he decided to have negative words for. Nicole tells LeRoy that his mother is shining down on him. LeRoy is choked up, but holding back his tears.
9:20 p.m. Nope. The Artist Formerly Known as Brian Bradley is up next... Let's get ready to mea culpa!
Astro: Ha. Astro is already referring to "The Incident," but the first person to use the word "sorry," is actually L.A. Reid. Astro remains indignant. He admits he could have handled it better, but he asks how we'd feel in his position. Astro's mom and stepdad and sister all speak on his behalf and Astro tells us that the Internet actually totally supported him last week. THERE WE ARE. "I made a mistake. I'm sorry," Astro says. "No tantrums this week. I'm 15. 15 is the new 25. What do you want me to do? I'm sorry. I'm from Brooklyn," Astro says live, launching into his performance. He's doing his own Astro-verses to his fans over Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got" and it is, once again, very proficient. It's an interesting strategy, to eschew humility in favor of buttering up his established fan base. I don't know if it's a good strategy, but at least Astro isn't pandering to the people who posted on message boards that he sucks. After his performance, Astro again says that he could have handled things better and he vows to Team Hip-Hop that "I'll never let you down again." Nicole is very proud of Astro, but tells him to always remain grateful. "Astro, can I be an Astronaut," Paula asks. "Anyone who's hating on you, well, they must be perfect," Paula says. "I admire you," Simon tells Astro, before reassuring him that "the music business needs unpredictability." L.A. Reid tells Astro that he did the necessary thing.
9:32 p.m. So what do you think, Kids? Did Astro come across as repentant to you? Did he come across as sincere? Will your thoughts about voting for him be impacted by what he did tonight in response to what he did last week?
9:36 p.m. So we're saving Burrito Josh and Drew for last? This night seemed likely to be a fruitful night for each of them. Up first...
Drew: Shelby is Drew's best friend and her inspiration. She's doing "Skyscraper," because it's their song. But will it be different from all other Drew songs? Nope. Drew's determined to stick to her guns. This would have been a weird week to branch out anyway. This song is perfectly set to Drew's perpetual sense of pained yearning. She appears to be slowly descending from the Matterhorn (sans yeti), which is a screwy piece of staging. The song moves a little more up-tempo in the end, but it remains Drewish. L.A. Reid doesn't understand why a 15-year-old girl is doing songs that aren't age-appropriate. "This song actually means a lot to me, no matter how old I am," Drew says, basically telling L.A. Reid to go get bent. Nicole isn't frustrated and she felt Drew rocked it out. Paula Abdul awesomely points out that the song is performed by Demo Lovato. "I am sick to death of your pointless, stupid criticism," Simon says, accusing L.A. Reid of spewing rubbish. SIMON, FTW. "This has to stop right now," Steve Jones says, stepping in to rescue a visibly uncomfortable Drew.
9:49 p.m. And, finally...
Burrito Josh: As you knew he would be, Burrito Josh is dedicating his song tonight to his 13-year-old daughter Rowan. Awww. Burrito Josh and Rowan are totally "Suburgatory," minus the financial stability and suburbs and all. Awww. Burrito Josh has a lot of fog going, but he's also actually playing the piano on a passionate version of "Wild Horses." Go Burrito Josh! I think the arrangement here is just a bit too low-key. I'd love to see Burrito Josh let loose just a bit more. He means every word and sounds great, but he's been stopped just short of truly opening up. "You have the right amount of everything," L.A. Reid says. Just like a perfectly crafted burrito! "It's such a pleasure and honor knowing you," Paula says, calling Burrito Josh "larger than life." Simon nods and agrees, "That's what it's all about." Simon's so happy he even praises Nicole. "Beyond this competition, I strongly believe that your music can change the world," Nicole says, crying. Josh thanks the audience and the people who support him. Steve tries to shut him up so that we can watch a recap of the episode.
Bottom Line: If I'm guessing, I feel like Marcus Canty and Lakoda Rayne are probably in trouble. That means that, naturally, the first week I don't assume that LeRoy will be eliminated, he'll get sent home. But really, the big question will involve Astro and whether all of the people who were so darned offended by Astro were ever the people voting for him in the first place. Because if he just offended a bunch of Stacy Francis fans, he didn't really lose very much, did he?
Anyway, who'd y'all like tonight? Who do you expect to be sent home?