Nov. 18, 2011 at 9:09 AM ET
One of the differences between “X Factor” and other singing shows is the lower restriction on age limits, with singers as young as 12 being allowed to audition. Thursday night was a good referendum on why that might not be such a good thing.
Astro, the stage name used by Brian Bradley, was 14 when he auditioned, just turned 15 over the summer and has the stereotypical teenage attitude to match. Sometimes it comes across as brash, like when he and Simon got into it briefly in his initial tryout before he wowed the judges by telling them to stop looking at his mom. In recent weeks, it’s been a sort of precocious confidence, putting his own spin on the likes of Eminem and getting everyone to love it.
But Thursday ... Thursday made L.A. Reid sound prophetic when he told the rest of the judges during the Boot Camp phase of the competition that he was just too young.
Astro and Stacy Francis found themselves the two lowest vote getters this week. Francis wasn’t a shock, given that she was brutal covering Meatloaf on Wednesday. But Astro, who the judges all loved, was decidedly unhappy to be there.
So after Francis sang for her survival with “Amazing Grace,” Astro took the stage and first asked L.A. if he should perform. It looked like a staged bit, where Astro would then explode into another solid routine.
Only ... it wasn’t. He sullenly did a little hip-hop to “Never Can Say Goodbye,” and then let the background track do the rest. After it was finished, he stood on the stage sullenly, arms crossed, waiting for the verdict.
L.A. called him out for the lackluster performance, but said he had to stick with his guy and voted to keep him in. Nicole Scherzinger made the same call for the same reason for Stacy Francis, but Paula also decided to side with the kid. That left things in the hand of Simon, who asked Astro what the deal was.
He said that he meant no disrespect, but after being in the bottom two, “I don’t want to perform for people who don’t want me here.”
And for the first time in reality singing competition history, the crowd booed one of the finalists instead of the judges for criticizing them. They said it couldn’t be done, but congratulations Astro – you just set the bar.
Simon then asked if Astro would pull the same stunt if he was in the bottom two next week, and Astro mumbled a noncommittal response. So Simon took a deep breath, glanced at L.A., shook his head ... and sent Francis home.
It makes sense. Francis wasn’t going to win, she wasn’t developing as a contestant, and she doesn’t provide the drama that Astro will from this point forward. On the other hand ... how much must it stink to be Stacy Francis and have your dreams crushed by the judges and a teenager who did everything but dare them to kick him off.
Of course, there were a lot of people with reason to be happy. Steve Jones said he was reading the names of the contestants who’d passed the audience muster in no particular order, so it was no doubt a coincidence that the first two names called were Leroy Bell and Lakoda Rayne, two acts thought to be in danger. That raised the tension level considerably among the remaining acts, but Paula Abdul was ecstatic to see Lakoda Rayne safe, ensuring that she would at least make it to Thanksgiving week without losing all three of her finalists.
Instead, it was Nicole who had to say goodbye to a mentee. But based on what happened Thursday, Astro won’t be far behind.
Should Astro's talent trump his attitude? Or would you vote him off next week for pulling that stunt? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!