It's movie night on The X Factor! And in X Factor-land, the medium of film is represented entirely by Adam Sandler flicks and films that conveniently showcase the oeuvres of legendary, oft-performed artists like the Beatles and Michael Jackson. What better reason to resign yourself to TV forever? Or to Twitter, where TV is resigning itself to forever. It's a topsy-turvy process, which makes sense, because last night's episode was full of topsy-turvy performances, where front-runners dropped to midpack and cannon fodder crept out of cannonball storage.
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|X FACTOR POWER RANKING: Top 12|
|15.Nicole Scherzinger: Give Nicole this credit: she's in on the joke. She casts herself as the louche Leporello; notice, for instance, her laugh after "two words: mah-jick!" Oh, right, and:|
|14.Nicole Quotes: To Marcus: "What I love about you as a singer is you taste every single word." To Leroy: "Aside from being 60, you're just great!" To Stereo Hoggz: "That. Was. Bananas. Bananas. Bananas." To Simon: "Don't hate - Congratulate." To name a few.|
|13.Adam Sandler: The contestants were treated to the premiere of Sandler's latest vehicle Jack and Jill. Unlike co-star Al Pacino, who barely acknowledged the singers, Sandler joked with them ("We initially wanted Paula, but I stepped in"), complimented them ("'Landslide' was sweet!"), and even offered his wife to Astro. That said, the clips from Jack and Jill didn't exactly compel the $13 out of our wallets.|
|12.Leroy Bell: The take-away from his intro: Leroy's just gonna be Leroy. That he was: perfectly competent, perfectly tasteful, making a gospel choir and key change-bolstered "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" sound more subdued than other contestants would have allowed. TVLine called it a total B+, and that's enough; basically, yeah.|
|11.Steve Jones: Neither twirls nor does much at all, but straightforwardly affable can work for you. Did you know he's a ladies' man abroad?|
|10. Steve Jones' Accent: Every week, we find ourselves jonesing for Jones' mispronunciation of US city names. Tonight brought us "Los Anjeleez, CA" and "Hooston, TX." To be fair, it's doubtful we'd pronounce his hometown of "Rhondda, Wales" correctly on the first go.|
|9.Melanie Amaro: Did "Man in the Mirror" from the Conrad Murray trial, flubbed on screen as This is It. It was both flawless and anodyne, and it might be the beginning of something I really hoped wouldn't happen. Think back to Idol and Melinda Doolittle, who was so competent week after week that she was slowly deemed boring, then eliminated in favor of a beatboxer and a moppet (who, to be fair, had one all-time standout moment.) Granted, Melanie's drop this week is as much due to exploitatively timed, kinda-cheating MJ as to her performance, but it's still a worrying sign.|
|8.Simon Cowell: His sniping was largely self-defense, and his commentary was largely accurate. That said, as above, he needs to pick (if he's picking) better songs for Melanie. Someone might also tell him that calling anyone in the overs "cute" is really patronizing.|
|7.Marcus Canty: Jazzlyn Little does not exist; her preternaturally pained take on "I'm Going Down" has been tossed down the recap hole. Marcus, now the first to this song, did well, and the stage was well-ensconced with fire. But at times he seemed just off pitch, and his final falsetto never quite floated. It was a good performance, but maybe in the sense that Marcus thought Adam Sandler made "a good movie."|
|6.Lakoda Rayne: Their harmonies worked (OK, all but one high, awry note, and maybe the background-singer infusion had something to do with this.) Their solos proved their former mettle as soloists. Their seasons went away. And that's why a group called Lakoda Rayne has made it off page one. It's still telling that we didn't see a single "Go Lakoda Rayne!" during the hometown rundown, just individual singers.|
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|X FACTOR POWER RANKING: Top 12|
|5.L.A. Reid: "I co-wrote this song, and even I don't like it." Reason two: "I liked you better when you cried" (to Stacy). Reason three: "You've become my favorite girl group in the competition" (to Lakoda Rayne, the only girl group in the competition). Reason four: The ludicrous, yet somehow transcendent argument over the existence of You, Me and Dupree. Reason five: Popular (well, Twitter-populace) vote!|
|4.Drew (Look, Simon, Even She Calls Herself "Drew Ryniewicz"): I've finally figured out Drew's voice: a younger, less pirouetting Dolores O'Riordan, or going more modern, Florence Welch when she's not belting. In other words, she's a less distinctive version of singers known for their distinctions--but she's also 14, which means her voice is literally still developing, so that's not a ding. Neither is Coldplay, per se. Coldplay's strengths, if you grant them strengths, are in mooring a human-size voice amid a cavern-sized song. Drew was that--if anything, she was too human-sized. (And the cavern, judging by the staging, probably houses My Little Ponies off hours.) Nevertheless, she made "Fix You"--Coldplay's drippiest song--interesting. That deserves credit.|
|3.Josh Krajcik: Across the Universe: the second "oh, come off it" moment of the night, although to be fair, Krajcik clearly had Joe Cocker's performance in mind. (My mother, texting me afterward: "Who was the guy who did the bad Joe Cocker impression?" To be fair, she saw about five seconds.) Cheap Beatles excuse or not, it was Krajcik's best performance to date because it played to his strengths. He got to be growly and, dare we say it, really sexy.|
|2.Rachel Crow: Good on Simon for admitting he "hadn't done the best job" on Rachel. Cadillac Records might've been another cop-out--and comparing Rachel to actress Beyonce, not originator Etta James, was weirdly revisionist--but again, "I'd Rather Go Blind" played right to Rachel's strengths. She's always been best when somehow channeling maturity or thunder beyond her years; last night, she did both. That said, is it too concern-trolly to suggest such a growly, brash song can't be good for such a young voice?|
|1.Astro: Like anybody else was going to be here. He had swagger from the moment he stepped into the premiere, let alone from when he went double-time, and "this ain't the pity factor" and "I ain't cried once yet," burns or not, are still sentiments really refreshing to hear endorsed in a genre that usually uses sob stories like applause signs. Also refreshing: his acknowledging Heavy D and Joe Frazier, and the show finally recognizing his work ethic and not invented brattiness. He's so good, he even transcended the MIDI-Preset Choir that crowded the chorus. If Chris Rene can rap with no "can America handle it?!" hullabaloo, then Astro has practically won the show already.|