The X Factor: Squiddly and Diddly Make Simon Squirm

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After weeks of auditions, judges’ homes and poor selections (Caitlin Koch, anyone?), ‘The X Factor’ finally went live with a 2.5 hour spectacular. It was quite the show, I must say. Some stellar performances, some not-so-great ones, and the elimination of five acts before the show ended. Whew. It was a marathon to the end.

The show started off with the debut of a huge new stage, which is pretty awesome. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the acts duke it out on that thing from here on out. We had a short introduction of how the show worked, heard Nicole Scherzinger say it was going to break her heart to send one of her acts home, and then the judges were introduced. I’m pretty sure Paula Abdul raided Nicole’s old wardrobe because she was looking like she was dressed for Pussycat Dolls on Ice. But that was neither here nor there. The performances started pretty quickly (there were 17 to get through), so let’s kick off my take on the show with LA Reid’s category: The Boys.

First on stage was Astro, who you might remember from my (not-so) glowing reviews in previous blog entries as Brian Bradley. As he told us a few weeks ago, his stage name is “The Astronomical Kid,” so he’s now going by Astro. Worst decision. Ever. Anyway, Astro comes out on stage looking like a Kanye West/LA Reid hybrid. Did he steal his glasses from LA’s dressing room? He performed his own version of “Jump” by Kris Kross. Sadly, I kind of liked the performance. I know, I know. I’ve been down on this kid since the get-go, so there must be some sort of arsenic seeping into my apartment, causing me to not be able to think clearly, but Astro is an impressive rapper. It pains me to type that. As Oprah would say, “My brain be painin’.” All the judges agreed that Astro tore the roof off the joint, with Nicole telling him he, “Shut it down.” Deep breath. He did shut it down. He has some great rhymes and could keep up with today’s best rappers. That’s for sure. Does he belong in the competition? I still don’t know, but his performance this week definitely made a case for his inclusion. Although, he needs to tone down his cockiness. It’s just too much. Humble pie will get you a lot more friends. Or whatever the saying is.

Second to perform was Chris Rene, who you might remember as the one who was a few weeks sober during his first audition. Now, Chris is six months clean and sober, which I think is pretty amazing. He’s stuck with it to chase his dream, so I have to give him mad props for that. I can’t give Chris mad props for his performance, though. He just wasn’t on pitch through most of his version of Faith Evans and Mary J. Blige’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” He wasn’t near as good as Astro, so I immediately had to include Astro in the final 12. The judges questioned LA’s song choice for Chris, though Simon Cowell referred to Chris as “100 percent authentic.” Which is true. He does commit to his performance every week. I like Chris, I really do. I just don’t know if he has the stamina to keep going on ’The X Factor,’ especially going against some of the performances later in the show.

The jazztastic stylings of Phillip Lomax were third for LA. After a recent rebirth of my love for Michael Buble, I also experienced a similar reaction for Phillip. I had to revisit some of his past performances, which made me realize how much I really like his voice. This could have curved my bias toward him, but we all have our favorites. LA decided on a version of The Monkees’ “I’m A Believer” for Phillip to sing. The production value for the performance was pretty high. Lots of lighting and dancing went into it all, which also may have skewed my view on everything. However, I really though Phillip was on fire and much better than Chris and Astro. I could listen to his version of the song over and over and over and never get tired of it. Nicole and Paula seemed to agree with my take, but Simon…not so much. His quote: “It’s like you were on a racetrack up there, and LA put you in a tractor.” Ouch. Pretty cold there. I really liked it, and put him as one to definitely go through.

But this was before Marcus Canty took the stage. Remember him? The one who caused Rihanna to freak out because he was so good? Well, he was back and hotter than ever. Within five seconds of Marcus’ R&B version of “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me,” I knew Chris Rene had to go. Right? Marcus made the ladies scream. He was smooth, his voice was spot on, and he had the moves. I kind of want him to sing his name at the beginning of each of his songs like Jason Derulo does. I think that is clearly the right thing to do. The judges loved Marcus, with Nicole telling him, “You make it look too easy.” He did make it look easy. It was like watching a Jason Derulo performance, only with someone who can sing well live.

Four performances down, and the eliminations are jumping right into things. Steve Jones brought all four boys back out on stage and made LA send his top three through, one by one. So…it had to be Chris Rene getting eliminated, right? First, Astro was through. Then Marcus Canty. Then Chris…? What? Not Phillip? Grr. What does this mean? That Simone Battle and Tiah Tolliver will both be through, too? I guess there have been more upsetting eliminations (I’ll bring up Caitlin again), but this one kind of burned. No, Phillip wasn’t going to win, but it would have been nice to get to hear him croon for a few more weeks, at least. Oh well. I’ll just have to vote for people in a different category.

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