The standard complaint about the British X Factor's rock night is that it doesn't rock, favoring the sort of soft, post-Adele singles that end up charting No. 1 on Christmas all over Europe, while the Internet rages against the Simon Cowell machine to get the likes of Nirvana or "Surfin' Bird" or two Irish rappers who wear shopping bags over their heads. Meanwhile, the standard complaint about American Idol's rock night is that everyone's going to sing "Satisfaction" or "Piece of My Heart." You might think the U.S. X Factor combining these two would cancel everything out; you'd think wrong.
That said, Rock Night wasn't a total disaster; the top-tier contestants are too good for that. We'd have killed to hear Tiah Tolliver or Tora Woloshin or, hell, even Dexter Heygood's song choices, but since that's not an option, this was fine. The theme, however... well, read our ROCKED-OUT power rankings (they've got "power" in the title--what more do you want?), and you'll see.
For stern teachers, giddy aunts and other things that may or may not be rock, click NEXT.
|X FACTOR POWER RANKING: Top 10|
|15.Chris Rene: He doesn't embarrass himself this week, but go to your local karaoke night and you'll hear Bob Marley performed just like this. Dude really needs a bottom-two stint to get him to stop coasting.|
|14.Departed Hip-Hop Artists: During Astro's performance of "I'll Be Missing You," names such as Left Eye, Tupac, and Heavy D were projected on the background screens in memoriam. Completely understandable and laudable, but given the judges' lengthy bickering over rock, shouldn't there be a "Hendrix" or a "Lennon" up there?|
|13.Drew (We're Not Gonna Stop Calling Her "Ryniewicz," Fox): Paula's defense of Drew amounted to "do whatever fuckery you want; your stans won't know the difference," no? Similarly, no matter how we write this blurb, someone's going to yell at us. We don't dislike Drew at all, but face it: her "With or Without You" was still a yodely mess, and yeah, it pretty much was another example of Drew adding rubato, sighs and Taylor Swift-isms to an already slow song. The way the judges went on about her unique voice, you'd think she was freakin' Diana Vickers from the British version delivered U2 almost exactly like this. To Drew's credit, she has found her niche like we said she needed to post-"Baby"; in her defense, she's only 14, and it's a good sign that you forget this. But bottom line, her vocals need work. Sorry. Start yelling now.|
|12.Donna Corwin, Contestant Teacher: "Nobody gets a free pass just because they're in this competition. They go to school for 3 hours a day," says Drew, Astro, and Rachel's on set teacher. Corwin suggests Drew write a paper on Odysseus; Drew no doubt cranked out a chilling literary piece comparing the mentor/mentee relationship of she and Simon with Odysseus and Athena.|
|11.Head Adornments: 3 knit caps + 2 forwards caps + 1 backwards cap + 2 fedoras + 1 flower + 1 normal-sized bow + 1 abnormal-sized bow = 11 in total and in rank.|
|10. Nicole Scherzinger: Considering all the ado about rock week, it was really smart for Nicole to bring up her time in alt-rock group Days of the New. (Hear it yourself.) Maybe it'll sell her some records and reverse that Killer Love delay!|
|9.Simon Cowell: Speaking of, Simon may or may not have dropped a PCD reference ("I really hope America decides to -- stick with you" to assembled girl group Lakoda Rayne) and was probably parodying himself on purpose ("I am the most popular judge!" during the Twitter segment that was otherwise so tiresome it practically justified SOPA. If we gave Nicole bonus points last week for being in on the joke, then Simon gets them too.|
|8.Marcus Canty's Aunt: Canty and his auntie (cue uproarious laughter from those of you who pronounce aunt "ant") video-chatted from the church where she is the pastor. She said she missed him, "especially on Sunday mornings," and a bunch of church kids behind her chimed in adorably. Canty should continue to flaunt his aunt (cue uproarious laughter from those of you who pronounce aunt "awnt.")|
|7.Marcus Canty: That segment suggested something else: namely, that Marcus, consistently good but not yet distinctive, might be trying to distinguish himself by becoming the family values contestant, pro-church and anti-raunch. His beliefs, his business, but that's not an attitude conducive to singing Janis; his performance was decent in both senses of the word. And yes, thank god someone's actually leaving their comfort zone--that's the point of theme weeks--but sing-shows have already given the world more than enough decent performances of "Piece of My Heart."|
|6.Leroy Bell: My notes say "adequate" about six times. Sounds about right.|
For our top 4 performers and top judge, click NEXT.
|X FACTOR POWER RANKING: Top 10|
|5.Lakoda Rayne: They're still claiming they're best friends, which is admirable even if I was secretly hoping for some Nadine Coyle-style "Girls Aloud are just my coworkers, not my friends" real talk. I was much less secretly hoping that even one judge would point out that the reason Lakoda Rayne sounded so good on their individual rock verses is because they were forced into a country group. That said, they really did sound good--no wonky harmonies, not even interference from the Kendo team of background dancers. I hate that they're creeping up my rankings so quickly. Girls, just... please change your name so I can feel less gross about this.|
|4.Paula Abdul: At least Paula Abdul genuinely seems to care about her group, with absolutely no duress; it's also really, really, really refreshing to hear her genuinely compliment Nicole's mentoring where the show could have easily tried to gin up some cheap rivalry-of-the-women. She wasn't too nice not to give honest criticism when due (to Stacy Francis); in fact, she was more honest than L.A. Reid. That's impressive.|
|3.Josh Krajcik: The Foo Fighters, according to Nicole, were "his cup of tea" and "right up his alley." Apparently Nicole's not in on the Fox mandate to only refer to Josh using burrito metaphors. That said, of course Josh Krajcik was going to do well on rock week; he's the only natural rocker left in the top 10. The electric guitarists went HAM; he remained steely and composed. If anything, he was too steely and composed when his breakout moments have always been about letting loose the growls and yowls, but he still gave one of the few performances not even a persnickety judge could say didn't rock.|
|2.Melanie Amaro: The front-runner returns to her rightful place in the top three. In the intro package, L.A. said what we've all not really wanted to think: "How do you say 'Melanie' and 'edgy' in the same sentence?" Her performance of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" wasn't the answer to that question, but it stripped away not only the staging but all residual chintz from last week's "Man in the Mirror" and became everything that performance should have been. Do we even need to mention she sang fantastically?|
|1.Astro: In Paula's words: "Can you just suck for once? I don't think you can!" Kudos to Fox for backing off the "but he can't siiiiiiiiiiiing! but hip-hop's so scary! and not rock!" critiques (for all you stragglers who still insist that he's bratty, he spent the entire intro package gushing about his parents, took the time to shout out the Stereo Hogzz in the crowd.) Choosing then-named Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You" is a move only topped in obviousness by last week's "Lose Yourself," and if Jay-Z didn't convince the world of the death of autotune, 14-year-old Astro's "hip hop, where did you go?" requiem isn't going to be convincing either. Nevertheless, we don't even need to mention that he not only killed it but outdid his previous killing it. Steve introduced him thusly: "New York, this is Astro!" He's long past just New York by now.|