The X Factor USA Recap: The Top 12 Perform on November 2, 2011
After weeks and weeks of waiting, tonight is finally the night, y’all! Flex those voting fingers, because the power falls out of the judges’ hands and into ours tonight. The Top 12 will be performing for our votes, and then tomorrow, someone is taken out back and sh-- no, just kidding! They’ll be sent home, and might even get some lovely parting gifts — who knows? Anyway, let’s rock this thing, huh?
It’s always good to start off the show with something high energy, and the Hogzz are definitely bringing some spark tonight. Huh, this is like some Black Eyed Peas kind of crazy, dancers everywhere, and a sort of fancy military theme to the whole thing. It’s certainly entertaining, and the Hogzz look and sound great, and their dance moves — choreographed by Paula, of course — are terrific. It’s just a lot. “The Stereo Hogzz have landed,” says Nicole. “There isn’t a band in the world that’s as good as you,” says Simon. (Really?)
Last week, Chris was kind of just okay, and he knows it. This week, he’s... oh hey, he’s looking very nice. All cleaned up, his hair’s a little spiky, and he’s working it. The performance itself is also a definite upgrade. Vocally he’s not perfect, but he’s good, and the rapping is solid. There’s also lots of fire, which is always fun. “I have so much mad love for you, my friend... you’ve grown so much already in this competition,” Nicole tells him. “This was your song and you owned it, I am so proud of you,” Paula says.
Nicole says she chose this song to bring out LeRoy’s emotions regarding his family (three daughters, six grandkids, and a 13-year-old son). LeRoy’s vocals are gorgeous, as always, but this song is honestly a little cheesy, and LeRoy seems ever-so-slightly awkward. “I can’t tell you that I loved the song choice, but I loved your voice,” L.A. says, agreeing with us. “This is what I think... I think you are a really good singer, I think you’ve got a confidence issue — I don’t think Nicole has quite understood you,” says Simon.
Rachel Crow, “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves
Rachel’s looking like a punky little ringmaster tonight in a red jacket; it’s kind of adorable. The beginning of the song is a little low and she sounds good but not great, but as the performance goes in she gets better and better. There are lots of not-really-necessary changes to the lyrics, though, which is kind of weird? “You must be one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met... it’s tough to criticize you as a performer, because you’re so lovable,” L.A. tells her. “This girl’s gonna be around for a long, long time,” Simon predicts.
So the girls of LKR will be representing the seasons, which Simon and L.A. both think sounds super ridiculous, because it does. It turns out, though, that “representing the seasons” actually just means wearing long gowns in different colors, so... okay! As always, the girls look stunningly gorgeous, and the vocals are lovely. Also, this song is just unbearably awesome and always will be, so that’s working in their favor. “I think I speak for everyone when I tell you that you look incredible tonight... tonight, I felt the blend, I felt the harmonies,” L.A. says, adding that he wants them to be either pop or country, not the hybrid they’ve been so far. (Uh. Why?) “You sound like one voice tonight... it was effortless,” Nicole says.
So Nicole’s chosen “a really fragile song” by a female artist this week, and Simon thinks it’s a mistake because it “doesn’t go” with Josh. And... Simon is so, so wrong, because this is amazing! Josh manages to completely own the song, the emotion is right on point, and he looks the best he ever has is in his black leather jacket. “I take back everything I said, that was incredible... it’s like you wrote the song, it was absolutely stunning,” Simon gushes. “I feel like a proud mom, but we’re like the same age so it doesn’t work... what I love about you is when you sing, I feel your voice in my veins, you make music move through all of us,” says Nicole. Josh looks super emotional, aw!
Has anyone forgotten that Simon initially didn’t pick Melanie and then had to travel to the wilds of South Florida to win her back? Anyone? Well if you had forgotten, here’s your reminder. Anyway, Simon wants Melanie to get out of the Whitney/Mariah/etc box, which is probably a good move. She’s rocking a silver jacket and a black mini-skirt, and her hair is straight and parted on the side. It’s good — despite being pretty young, Melanie can sometimes come across as a little matronly. Vocally, of course, she’s sensational, because that’s like the entire point of Melanie. “The only thing Simon ever did right was going and bringing you back,” L.A. says. “I gotta say... I didn’t realize how good you were! That was... [laughing] …right now, you are the one to beat, trust me,” says Simon.
Astro, “Hip Hop Hooray/Get Your Freak On” by Naughty By Nature/Missy Elliott
So, Astro will only do his own lyrics, which on the one hand is cool and respectable but on the other hand, like, isn’t this essentially a covers competition? And if you completely rewrite the lyrics, isn’t that kind of... not a cover, per se? Oh well! There’s a giant ASTRO on stage behind him, and the performance is pretty tight. It’s also a little cheesy, but then you’re like “well, he’s 14, so” and you can’t really complain. “I wanna go to the club with you right now,” says Nicole. “You’re bold, you’re daring, you’re unique, and I know Jay Z’s got his eye on you for real,” Paula adds. (Does she really know that? Like, literally? Because if not, wow, way to give a guy false hope, Paula!)
inTENsity, “Kids in America” by Kim Wilde
So inTENsity consists of a group of adorable children who don’t want to be considered adorable children. Good luck, you little sweetie pies! Heh. The thing with inTENsity is that yeah, there’s a lot of talent there, but watching them always feels like a theme park performance, because there’s freakin’ TEN of them. The performance is good, though, for whatever it’s worth. “That was fun, fun, fun,” says L.A., and Nicole takes it a step further, adding that it was “fun-tastic and fun-nomenal.”
Simon informs us that this week we’ll be seeing a new side of Drew. The side is... from above! She starts off lying on the stage as we’re looking down on her resting on a bed of flower petals. There’s sort of a whole Manic Pixie Dream Girl thing happening, and she’s barefoot and dressed kind of like a collectible doll, but she sounds great, as usual, and she probably has the most inherent star quality of anyone on stage. She’s like Taylor Swift with way better vocals. “You are really something. You know what you have? You have the spirit of a superstar,” L.A. tells her. “I’m not her mentor, she is my mentor right now... I’m learning from you, and you are doing an incredible job,” Simon tells her, and that’s sort of the most ego-less thing we’ve ever heard Simon Cowell say. Whoa. Drew is magic!
So L.A. has Marcus singing a song that L.A. wrote for Bobby Brown. I guess that means the show didn’t have to pay anything to clear the song, at least. Or else L.A. is making money off of this performance. Hm. Anyway, Marcus is wearing a sort of letterman’s jacket/blazer hybrid, is that a thing? He looks great, and he’s dancing and singing and really putting on a show. His vocal quality comes and goes in inverse proportion to his dancing, but overall it’s a pretty solid outing. But Bobby Brown? Really? If he’s going to emulate a Brown, it should be Chris Brown, minus the domestic abuse and homophobia and general batsh*t crazy. “I didn’t feel like I was watching a competition, I felt like I was watching a concert,” Nicole says. “Marcus, you have come alive. This is what we loved about you in your first audition,” Simon adds.
So last week Simon said that Stacy was a church singer, and Stacy and Nicole gave Simon a hard time about it, but now she’s doing pretty much exactly what he said she should’ve done, and, well, he was right. The performance is a serious lung-buster, and there are a billion candles up on the screens behind her. It’s excessive in parts, but it’s still a much, much better representation of what Stacy has to offer than her performance from last week. “This was a shining moment... you were the shining moment tonight,” Paula says. “I know how much you’ve been though... I said to be honest in your performance, you were just honest, you were the epitome of grace and poise and beauty,” says Nicole.
And that’s our show, kids! What’d you think? Who’s got your vote?