Nov. 23, 2011 at 12:48 AM ET
The “X Factor” theme on Tuesday was Thanksgiving, with the nine remaining performers dedicating their songs to someone who inspired them. Every backstory was touching, every clip was heartwarming ... and since this is a double elimination week, tomorrow, two of those inspiring numbers will result in a pink slip.
Pass the turkey ... here’s a plane ticket home, and happy holidays from Fox!
The singer under the microscope was Astro, the 15-year-old who reacted to being in the bottom two a week ago by throwing a tantrum and daring the judges to boot him. They did not, but the incident became the storyline of the season this far, giving the show the buzz it badly needs.
He made nice in the intro clip, urging us to “think about how frustrated you would be if you were writing these songs and you ended up in the bottom two.” Personally, I’d be very upset, but I doubt I’d throw a hissy fit either. But then again – and this is the important point – I’m not 15. You bring young people on the show, you have to embrace the unpredictability, which Simon did in offering public forgiveness.
Was that enough? We’ll see. The lowest vote-getter goes home automatically, while the acts finishing in seventh and eighth place have a sing-off to determine who'll stay. So there’s a 33 percent chance we’ll get some Astro drama again Wednesday.
Aside from that, the biggest controversy centered around Drew, who sang “Skyscraper.” L.A. Reid criticized her by asking, “Why are you doing songs that are so old? You’re so young. You don’t do age-appropriate music and I don’t understand it.”
Paula Abdul seized the opportunity to post a correction and pointed out that the song is sung by teen singer and Disney sitcom star Demi Lovato. Simon Cowell was more blunt, saying, “I am sick to death of your pointless, stupid criticism.” Simon, maybe that kind of attitude is why you don’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving yet.
But while the original song wasn’t sung by an older act, L.A. had a point. Drew has an excellent voice, but constantly slows down the numbers and turns everything into a sad ballad, sounding like the most world-weary teenager in the world. Is that going to play until the finals? We’ll see.
She and Rachel Crow could not be more opposite. Crow had arguably the most touching backstory, thanking her adoptive parents for rescuing her from the crack house in which she lived. And yet, she’s the cheeriest person ever, honoring them with Yolanda Adams' “Believe.” If she’d sing about animal crackers in her soup, she could be the modern Shirley Temple.
Not to be outdone, Melanie Amaro dedicated her song to God, but also added a shoutout to Simon once she finished: “Thank you so much for bringing me back, Simon. You have no idea what it means to me.” And she got so excited at the feedback that she broke out her Virgin Islands accent. Whatever you say about Simon, you can’t say he didn’t pick interesting people.
Chris Rene gave the best performance since his first audition, because he finished with “Young Homie,” his original song that he tried out with. He wins points for dedicating the effort to his rehab counselor, and Simon noted that he “may have helped thousands of people in the same place show that with some hard work and some guts, you can turn your life around.”
And among the over-30s, Josh Krajcik also starred again, closing the show with “Wild Horses” and causing Nicole Scherzinger to gush, “I strongly believe that your music can change the world.” Not bad.
But then again, the compliments were flowing even to the singers who did less well. L.A. told Marcus Canty, “You are as great as any great singer I have ever worked with,” specifically noting Babyface and Boys II Men. I’m from Maryland, so I have a soft spot for Mr. Canty, but ... no.
Lakoda Rayne had Paula crying proud tears before the first verse was even over, got compliments from Simon and L.A., and had a sobbing Paula tell them, “The sky is the limit.” Or Wednesday could be the limit, but they were trending on Twitter at one point in the evening so who knows?
Leroy Bell gave a heartfelt rendition of Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” dedicated to his late mother. It touched the judges, but it might not have touched the voters enough for him to stick around. He could well be one of the two acts who are about to have a very unhappy Thanksgiving, thanks to the gang at Fox and the viewers who aren’t voting for them.
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