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The X Factor: Chaka You Ain’t

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LOS ANGELES — For the first time since ‘The X Factor’ started airing, the five remaining contestants had to perform twice during the live show. The first round featured performances of hit dance songs. The second round was supposed to feature songs voted on by viewers on Facebook, but due to a technical glitch, that had to be changed. Or else the songs selected by people on Facebook were so bad that producers had to scramble to come up with an excuse to get those songs off the show. Either way, it added moderate drama to the show.

The introductions to the show were relatively short because we had ten performances to blow through in a mere 90 minutes. Starting off the show was one of Simon Cowell’s remaining contestants, Melanie Amaro. Since Melanie had her outburst a few weeks ago, she’s been using her British Virgin Islands accent a lot more, which I am totally fine with. However, I’d like her to switch back and forth between that accent and her American one, just to spice things up. I’d accept one sentence in one accent and the next sentence in the other. It would be fun. So, Melanie kicked off the dance song round with a version of Adele’s “Someone Like You.” This is a song that I generally don’t like hearing when I’m up in the club, mainly because it’s not a song that people should be dancing to. It’s a ballad. It’s not a dance song. It’s not like the song is Jennifer Lopez’s “On The Floor,” and it definitely doesn’t feature Pitbull. Having said all that, if I were to hear Melanie’s dance take on “Someone Like You,” I’d get my dance on for sure. The beats were pulsating, the tempo sped up, and Melanie’s near perfect vocals soared on top of everything else. The verse of the song was a little shaky, but the chorus was the bomb diggity. Yes. I used the phrase bomb diggity. Get with it. The judges all apparently were with it because they all loved Melanie’s performance. In fact, Paula Abdul thought it was too short. I agreed. The song went by much too quickly. I need more Melanie dance anthems. Now.

The next club hit came from one of LA Reid’s two remaining boys, Marcus Canty. Marcus had been in the bottom two in both of the two previous weeks, so he felt he had a lot more pressure on him than the other contestants. Yawn. I’m bored. Let’s talk about Melanie some more. But the judges can’t get enough of Marcus. According to LA, Marcus is a survivor. Whatever. The problem with Marcus is that he’s rarely on key through his entire song. Was his dance song any different? No. It was not. Marcus and LA thought it would be a good plan for Marcus to sing Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody.” The only problem is Marcus ain’t Chaka Khan. He’s not every woman. I’ll admit, I did like the whole performance of the song. I just didn’t think Marcus ever got on pitch through the entire thing, which is problematic for me. When vocals take a back seat to everything else, you might as well just lip sync the whole thing. Regardless of my opinions, the judges disagreed completely. Nicole Scherzinger told Marcus he took people to church and the club at the same time. Then Paula Abdul and the others oohed and aahed over him. Were they listening to the same thing I was? Or has my pitch gone off as well?

Third on stage with her club hit was Simon’s other girl, Rachel Crow. Simon made a big to do about Rachel choosing her own song this week. Perhaps it’s because he picked Drew Ryniewicz’s song that got her eliminated during Michael Jackson week. Whatever the reason, Simon wanted everyone to know he did not pick Rachel’s song for her. Perhaps they should have discussed the song selection a little more, though. Rachel’s song choice was moderately unconventional, even though she performed it really well. She chose “Nothin’ On You” by B.O.B. and Bruno Mars. Rachel did what she needed to do: she tore it up. But like LA said after she sang, I was confused by the lyrics. She didn’t change “Beautiful girls” to anything else, which made me wonder if it was an oversight. When LA asked Rachel who she was singing about, she quickly quipped, “Nicole and Paula.” Which was a good answer. Good save, Rachel Crow. Good save. Especially on a night when Paula and Nicole were each looking pretty hot. The judges all agreed Rachel made a good song choice and continues to be one of the stars of the competition.

After Rachel was the person most likely to have a problem during club week: Nicole’s remaining over 30 contestant, Josh Krajcik. Let’s face it: club music and Josh Krajcik aren’t things that belong in the same sentence. Ever. And after hearing him, I’m still not convinced club music is something Josh should ever sing again. Nicole (and maybe Josh, too) selected Rihanna and Calvin Harris’ number one single, “We Found Love,” for Josh to perform. It was a pretty good remix of the song, but one that would have been far better suited for someone more club oriented. LA and Simon agreed that the song didn’t really work for Josh. But surprisingly (not so much), Nicole and Paula loved it. Josh talked about how he loved the song because it was a club song and dark at the same time. It’s not necessarily my favorite song to begin with, but Josh didn’t make me like it any more. So, I’d say he was the weakest of the club songs so far.

But there was still one more club banger to hear from LA’s other boy, Chris Rene. I really want to like Chris from week to week. He has a good background story and he seems like a nice enough guy. He can rap well, but when it’s time for him to sing, it’s usually hit and miss. That trend continued with his club anthem, “Life Your Life,” originally performed by TI and Rihanna. (Side note: why so many Rihanna songs? Is there a shortage of music in the world and all we’re left with are songs from Ri-Ri?) So, Chris started singing, and it was not so good. Then he started rapping, and it wasn’t the best I’d ever heard him, either. Then there was the dancing around him, which was straight up ridiculous. It wasn’t the best Chris had ever done, but it still wasn’t as awkward as Josh, so Chris got 4th in my book for the club round. Once again, the judges and I apparently weren’t watching or listening to the same thing because they did nothing but talk about how wonderful it was. Maybe the judges just aren’t willing to give criticism after last week’s Drew debacle. Either way, they had multiple opportunities to lay into people and didn’t take them. Missed opportunities will come back to haunt you.

Thus ended the first round of the double song extravaganza. Who took the first round? I’d say Melanie and Rachel scored the biggest hits while Josh was definitely the bottom of the bunch. But there was a second round for the bottom to rise to the top. However, there was a glitch. Apparently there was some sort of technical problem with the Pepsi Challenge, which allowed viewers to vote on which song they wanted to hear each contestant sing. The contestants didn’t find out about this glitch until 24 hours before the live show, which caused some of them to freak out. So, instead of the Pepsi Challenge songs, each remaining act had to sing their save song. Would they rise to the occasion?

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