The X Factor: Losing age and beauty (spoiler alert)
Two contestants were sent packing on Wednesday's X Factor instead of the usual one. And all I can say is that both eliminations were inevitable; it was just a question of when they'd go, not if.
I do feel sorry that LeRoy Bell didn't get the benefit of singing so strongly for his life. His final performance was much better than Marcus Canty's, who joined LeRoy and Lakoda Rayne in the bottom three. In fact, LeRoy's "Don't Let Me Down" was probably the best I've heard him sound since the live shows started.
But LeRoy's fundamental problem is that he's dull, despite his nice voice and his nice face.
LaKoda Rayne had a similar problem. They're lovely girls but ultimately forgettable. Their Tuesday performance of Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" just showed once again that Hayley Orrantia was the only one of the four who sang consistently well.
The girls never got a chance to sing for their lives on Wednesday; they were sent straight home, but not without giving host Steve Jones his comeuppance. As he tried to commiserate with them about their dream being over, Paige Elizabeth snapped, "The dream is not over, for one. We're still gonna go on and there's so much for our group."
"You'll be seeing Lakoda Rayne in concert everywhere," added Hayley.
I won't hold my breath for that.
The producers tried to amp up the drama by putting the girl group onstage with Drew and pretending there was a chance that Drew was leaving. As if.
I'm sure L.A. Reid's continued attacks on Drew's song choices are only serving to outrage her fans and increase her support.
And while we're on the subject, I picked a bad performance show to miss on Tuesday as L.A. and Simon Cowell went at it with real animosity after Drew sang Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper."
I don't know the song. That teen angsty stuff isn't my cup of tea, but I would presume that a record executive like L.A. would know it, so I'm not sure why he told Drew that the song was too old for her.
I think Drew was as mad at him as Simon was. She'd chosen the song as a way of giving thanks to her best friend Shelby (Tuesday's show had a Thanksgiving theme). "This song actually means a lot to me no matter how old I am," she told L.A. "It goes out to every girl who's felt the way that I felt ... it's going out to everyone who's felt worthless or like they're not good enough."
Simon took up the fight. "L.A., I am sick to death of your pointless, stupid criticism," he said, telling L.A. to shut up when he shot back an insult about Simon and Drew's "limited vocabulary of music" and accusing L.A. of "trying to make me feel that she's worthless."
They would have gone on if not for Paula Abdul and Steve breaking it up. "This has to stop, please, Thanksgiving," said Steve. (At which point I was imagining a Scrooge-like character breaking in with "What's Thanksgiving got to do with it?") Apparently they did go on later, because we saw backstage footage on Wednesday of Simon telling L.A. how annoyed he was and then ordering the cameras to go away.
The other big thing I missed Tuesday was Melanie Amaro's reveal that she speaks with a Caribbean accent, the result of having been raised in the Virgin Islands by her grandparents when her parents couldn't afford to keep her in Florida. "This is really Melanie! This is me, this is Melanie!" she exclaimed joyfully after L.A. praised her for being herself.
That part was sweet. I'm afraid her song choice, R. Kelly's "The World's Greatest," which she dedicated to God, did nothing for me.
If I had been ranking performances on Tuesday, this is how they would have gone for me: Josh Krajcik, Chris Rene, Rachel Crow, Drew, Melanie Amaro, Astro, LeRoy Bell, Marcus Canty, Lakoda Rayne.
Josh is my pick, or at least my hope, to win the whole thing. I thought his take on "Wild Horses," dedicated to his 13-year-old daughter, was brilliant. The vocals were great, the staging was great (just Josh at a piano, surrounded by shafts of light), the performance was powerful and emotional, and I loved it, as did all of the judges.
Chris still isn't the best singer, and I agree with Simon that the first part of his performance, "Let It Be," didn't work, but when he launched into "Young Homie" he got to me emotionally as I'm sure he did to thousands of voters out there. He dedicated the song to his rehab counsellor Tim.
One criticism: what was with the gates of heaven behind him on the big screen? He's in recovery, he's not dead.
I have to give Astro credit for being one canny kid. Not only did he apologize for last week's outburst, when he ended up in bottom two and didn't want to sing for his life, he dedicated Tuesday's performance to all his supporters. He explained that when he went online last week, expecting to find messages of hate, he found words of encouragement instead.
The teen turned the whole experience into a rap to Team Astro. "No tantrums this week, I'm 15, 15 is the new 25," he began. And he gave shoutouts to places where his fans live, including Canada. I didn't get the "names I can't pronounce, like Nova Scotia" line, but whatever.
As Simon noted, "the music business needs unpredictability. I don't like everybody just to tow the line," and the fans seem to agree.
As for the rest, I liked Drew's vocals this week except for that one tortured high note near the end; Rachel was on her game although I didn't love the song choice; and I found Marcus's performance underwhelming and sappy.
A couple of other notes on the results show: I know celebs appear on shows like Idol and X Factor to pimp their own projects, but don't they usually let the host do the promo? "Enjoy the rest of our show before you enjoy your show, okay? I've got to move on," Steve told Howie Mandel after he turned a shout-out into an extended commercial for Mobbed.
And what was up with that Pepsi Choice performance, that had the top nine, dressed like Grand Guignol refugees, singing and rapping Pink's "Raise Your Glass" and "So What" on a revolving turntable while dancers cavorted dressed as clowns? It was just bizarre.
What did you think? Please feel free to share comments here, @realityeo or on my Facebook page.
Next week, I'll have a proper performance show recap. It airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CTV.
(The photo of LeRoy Bell is by Ray Mickshaw for Fox.)