I’m really starting to think that X Factor should just do away with Theme Nights all together. It’s just not their strong suit. Thus far, they have messed up Iconic Movie Soundtrack Theme Night, Rock N’ Roll Theme Night, and last night they managed to screw up two themes.
In the first half of the show, the theme was, Popular Songs Sung in a Dance Style, however the contestants only vaguely sang dance songs. That’s not to say that they weren’t good, because for the most part they were. They just didn’t sing “Popular Songs Sung in a Dance Style”. Although, with a title like that, I suppose that is entirely subjective.
More egregious, however, was the screw-up in the second half of the show. It was supposed to be songs chosen by viewers, but due to “an error in communication”, according to host Steve Jones, it ended up being songs that the contestants themselves chose, with only 24 hours notice. Hmm. A “glitch”, or more manufactured drama? You decide. I have my own thoughts on this.
Anyway, here is how I saw the Final 5:
GIRLS UNDER 30 (SIMON COWELL)
Melanie Amaro: (Dance Song) Melanie came out, looking like the young superstar she is very quickly turning into, and belted out a slightly up-tempo version of Adele’s Someone Like You. It actually sounded very much like the original in the sense that it was similar pitch, tone and register. None of which are easy tasks as Adele’s voice is so powerful. But it really is no surprise at this point that Melanie pulled it off with ease. The only problem was that it was extremely short. About a minute. No idea why.
(Singer’s Choice) Melanie is really starting to show us what she has now. She’s breaking out the big guns for this one, singing Whitney Houston’s When You Believe. At this point, I don’t know if there is anyone in this competition who has a shot of beating her. Her voice is nearly flawless and she is smart enough to choose the right songs to put herself in the best possible light. Now, she needs to stop talking before and after the judges’ critiques and let them do their jobs. We don’t want to hear your opinions. We don’t want to hear why you chose the song. We don’t want to hear about your undying gratitude to Simon. We don’t care. We just want to hear you sing.
Rachel Crow: (Dance Song) While Bruno Mars’ Nothin’ on You wasn’t Rachel’s best performance, it was passable. Some of the lyrics were strange coming from a girl because they were clearly being sung to a girl, and when LA Reid asked her who she was singing to, she very quickly told him, “Nicole and Paula”. She does think quick on her feet. I know that she is only 14, and she has an absolutely phenomenal voice and stage presence for her age, but I wish someone (Simon maybe) would teach her to just stand there and shut the hell up during the judges’ critiques. What is it with his girls anyway? Both Rachel and Melanie have this problem. They won’t shut up!! She does not have to respond inanely to each and every thing they say. When Paula says, “Your fantastic!”, Rachel does not have to respond with, “I think YOU’RE fantastic!” And when Nicole said that she was a role model, she doesn’t have to immediately spout “I just want to be an inspiration to the kids!” It all sounds canned and forced and fake. Put a lid on it kid, and just do that thing you do: Sing, sing, sing.
(Singer’s Choice) This round, Rachel was actually much better. She chose Michael Jackson’s very simple, but beautiful Music and Me. There is something about this girl that when she takes the stage, she becomes someone else. It’s as if she becomes taken over by a much older persona. Her entire demeanor changes. Her facial features, the look in her eyes, her voice… Almost like the expression “she sings with an old soul” is literal. It’s kinda creepy. But in a good way. During the critiques, LA told her that he had heard rumors of Hollywood swirling around and Rachel appeared surprised. More phoniness. However, after a little research, I have found that there talk of Disney in her future, but right now, it’s talk.
OVER 30 (NICOLE SCHERZINGER)
Josh Kracjick: (Dance Song) During this segment of the show, Josh was more uncomfortable then we have ever seen him. He was clearly out of his element and he let it get in his head. The funny thing was, his performance of Rihanna’s We Found Love was actually very good. I don’t even like this song and I found myself enjoying his version of it. I think it was just the pure quality of his voice that ultimately won me over. Of course, Nicole had to have more obnoxious dancers flitting about the stage, doing who knows what (at least none of them threw underwear at him this week). She really needs to get over this choreography problem she has. It’s insane. If her friends need jobs, I’m sure there are other bands out there on the road that can use them, or nightclubs that can put them behind silhouette screens, or something. Just get them the hell off X Factor. They are annoying as hell and quite distracting.
(Singer’s Choice) Josh was clearly much more comfortable with his second song, his own choice, Something, by The Beatles. The unique tone to his voice made this a perfect song choice for him and the different arrangement that he put on it really modernized it and made it his own. And the best part, no crazy dancers moving around him. I don’t know what LA was listening to, however, when he said it sounded a little karaoke. The arrangement was changed up enough that it was pretty unique.
BOYS UNDER 30 (LA REID)
Marcus Canty: (Dance Song) Marcus was in his glory for this portion of the show. This gave him the opportunity to really shine and after being in the bottom two the past two weeks in a row, he needed to. He went old school with Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody and really did well with it. It was his best performance in several weeks. Once again, the distracting dancers needed to be booted, but he was solid. LA shamelessly pushed for his votes, reminding people that he was in the bottom 2 twice and compared him to Muhammad Ali who was knocked down twice and still came back as a champion. Interesting comparison. A little hopeful, but why not.
(Singer’s Choice) Marcus dug deep into his soul for this and came up with Ray Charles’ soulful hit, A Song For You. There was little doubt that Marcus felt every word and note that he sang. And it was one of his best performances. If he sang like this the past few weeks, he wouldn’t have been anywhere near the bottom 2.
Chris Rene: (Dance Song) Chris stayed with what he does best, rap verses with a vocal overlay of the chorus during his decent performance of Live Your Life by T.I. feat. Rihanna. And the one thing he does really well, mixes in his own lyrics to really make the song his own. Vocally, it wasn’t great. But this guy has that special something that makes you want to root for him to do well. I’ve talked about it in past columns with both him and Josh. They both have a connection that really can’t be ignored. Even if neither of them win this competition, and I don’t think they will, I think that they will both do very well as they go forward.
(Singer’s Choice) Chris dazzled us all last night in this round breaking out his guitar and singing, yes singing, a completely original song with no rap whatsoever. It was mellow, reserved, and very, very good. We’ll go with the name Where Do We Go from Here, because he repeated it about 100 times. Like his first original song that we heard during the audition round Hey Homey, the one that got him advanced to begin with, it was catchy and meaningful. Simon said that heading into the semifinals doing an original song was either stupid or brilliant, and in this case it was brilliant. That comment alone might have helped keep Chris in for another week. Like others at this point in the competition, he may not win, but he should have a great future from here.