The X Factor: I Love (Soft) Rock and Roll…and Reggae

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The theme for the night of the top 10 performances on ‘The X Factor’ was rock. Judging by the class of the dancers who ushered Steve Jones onto the stage, the theme was going to be loosely followed at best. Let’s just say they were probably dancers who got their start as groupies for Whitesnake and ended up as Pussycat Dolls rejects. So, Steve comes out on the stage and informs us it’s rock night. Then the judges are introduced and walk out to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer.” Now there’s a good rock song! Nicole Scherzinger is introduced and looks like she took the rock week theme a little too literally. She’s missing a sleeve and looks like a raccoon did her makeup. DARK EYESHADOW ALERT!!! Then Steve made a big deal about Paula Abdul only having one group left. Which he continued to do throughout the show. Paula is probably already in a relatively fragile state, Steve. So sure. Let’s provoke her and bring out nutso Paula. Seems like a good idea to me. After all that, it was finally time to get to the contestants.

First to take on rock night was Nicole’s oldest contestant, LeRoy Bell. Now, LeRoy doesn’t exactly strike me as the type who rocks out on a regular basis. Was I incorrect in this assumption? Not at all. During the introduction package, we learned that LeRoy thought he had to “bring it more this week” and that he likes his mentor, Nicole, because “she doesn’t speak in a high brow way.” Is that his way of saying she’s kind of stupid? Because if so, that’s my new favorite phrase. Let’s test it out: “Well, I really like Britney Spears because she isn’t too high brow.” Yep. It will work on so many levels. When LeRoy started singing, he performed a version of “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band. While it was a fully competent and decent performance, LeRoy did not rock it at all, and was pretty much the same as he has been every week before now. Don’t get me wrong, I still think LeRoy is a great singer, but he never really pushes it as hard as I think he should. He really needs to push it, push it real good, if he makes it to next week to prove he has what it takes to win ‘The X Factor.’ The judges thought LeRoy was all right, but nothing beyond just okay. The worst comment came from Simon Cowell when he told LeRoy, “Right now, you can’t win.” Steve pounced on it and asked LeRoy how he felt about “such horrible comments.” LeRoy failed to talk back to Simon. Sigh. It was his chance to give me the attitude I want! Massive fail.

Second up was one of last week’s standout performers, 14-year-old Rachel Crow. When mentor Simon introduced her, he couldn’t remember Rachel’s hometown, which I found kind of hilarious. Smooth move, Simon. During her introduction package, we did find out that Simon is actually pretty nice when he’s not judging and seems to be somewhat caring toward the girls in his category. If there’s one upside to ‘X Factor’ over ‘American Idol,’ it’s that we get to see the softer side of Simon every now and then. Rachel’s song choice for the week was The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” which I am not entirely sure is appropriate for a 14-year-old to be singing. Mainly because the version I know best was performed by 80s singer Samantha Fox. If you aren’t familiar with Samantha Fox, I strongly suggest a little Wikipedia break to brush up on my random pop culture references. Anyway, I just think the song is a little mature for a young girl to be singing. Having said that, Rachel did infuse her trademark soul into the song and was very cute moving around the stage. But that’s about all she brought this week: cute. Sure, she was good. But it wasn’t her best performance by a long way. After tearing up “I’d Rather Be Blind” last week, I guess the bar has been set, and I don’t think Rachel really met the bar this week. She was still fantastic and won’t be in the bottom two, but she was just off a little. The judges all loved her and told her they were proud of her. Then Nicole gave us a brief history lesson on rock and roll, which wasn’t a high brow explanation at all. Ah, Nicole. Perhaps she missed her calling as a history teacher. Those kids would be ready for the Ivy League for sure.

Rock week took an odd turn after Rachel with LA Reid’s first mentee of the night, Chris Rene. During his package, Chris told us more about his Mom and growing up. He talked about how she would always put in Bob Marley tapes in the car and about how Bob Marley was one of his biggest inspirations. So, it was rock week. Why not do what makes perfect sense and sing Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.” Because when I think rock song, that’s the first song that comes to mind. Obviously. That and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Both incredible ROCK songs, right? No. Not even close. LA invited us to “watch what happens” when Chris takes the stage. I’m sure those three words got Andy Cohen on the phone with his lawyers to sue ‘The X Factor’ because that is clearly Bravo’s channel tag line. LA ripped it off with no apologies. Beyond a possible lawsuit, I did watch what happened with Chris Rene. He looked cleaner than normal, was dressed better than normal, and also performed better than normal. Did he bring a rock and roll performance to the stage? No. But he did bring a performance he should be proud of. Nicole was confused by it, Paula liked it and Simon said it would have been great had the week’s theme been reggae. I completely agreed with Simon. Chris was pretty good, and had it been any other week, I would have said he was great, but it was rock week. He needed to do a ROCK song, not a reggae song. Regardless of any of that, it probably was his best performance thus far, even though I think he copped out by not doing flat out rock.

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