‘The X Factor’ Recap: Top 11 Contestants Perform

the x factorS1E13: Last week’s episode of The X Factor was a bit of an eye-opener for me. I realized that this show centers less around the contestants and more around the judges themselves (which should be evident enough in the intro). Does anyone notice how the judges don’t really give the acts any helpful feedback after their performances? Sure they’ve remarked on the contestants’ wardrobe and song choices, but these are all things that were decided for them by their individual mentors (aka the judges). So when the judges bash an act’s song choice or appearance, they’re actually critiquing each other and not the actual performer.

Whatever happened to giving constructive criticism? I know these guys are already amazing, but when you’re brand new to this business you need all the feedback you can get. There are only so many ways the judges can say “You’re a good singer,” so it’d be nice if they came up with some new material. Even the elimination process rests in the judges’ hands. Rather than letting America decide who will be sent home, the two acts with the least number of votes perform once again in front of the judges, who get the final say in the matter. It’s all about THE JUDGES!

But enough with my rant. Tonight’s theme was movie night where contestants sang songs that were used in iconic movie soundtracks. The stakes are higher than ever for the remaining 11 acts, who are determined now more than ever to win that $5 million prize (and did I mention it was movie night?). Knowing that the following night would result in one of them being sent home, the contestants sang their hearts out to win America’s votes.

First up was Stacy Francis who sang a song from the movie, The Bodyguard and was set on proving to Simon that she can do more than sing church songs. She walked like a diva, she dressed like a diva, but did she sing like a diva? The judges’ opinions were split. L.A. Reid didn’t like the song choice, Paula said that she delivered the song in a big way, but Simon wasn’t that impressed with the wardrobe or the performance. Nicole, on the other hand, said she shined from within and was very proud of her. As much as I hate to admit it, I think Simon’s right and Stacy’s talents don’t extend to pop diva status, so her performance fell a little short.

Up next was Marcus Canty who sang the song “I’m Goin’ Down” by Mary J. Blige, which was featured in the movie Carwash. The performance was actually really good and focused more on his vocal abilities than his dance moves which I thought was a smart move. Nicole thought he was like a dream and called him a superstar. Simon said it was a thousand percent better than last week and Reid sang his praises by calling him a massive star. His talents definitely continue to improve each week, so it’s clear that he’s going to go far in this competition. Overall it was an incredible performance, wearing a jacket that looked like it was made from one of those mirror balls that were popular in the 70s.

Next it was Drew’s turn to sing and her song ended up being from the movie You, Me and Dupree (which apparently is Simon’s favorite movie). What I love about Drew is that she has the unique ability to make you love her version of a song, even when you love the original. She sang a beautiful rendition of Coldplay’s song, “Fix You,” which showed once again her incredible vocal abilities. However, L.A. wasn’t that impressed and said that he wants to see more diversity from her since all her performances seem so alike. Nicole disagreed and said that she thinks Drew is talented beyond her years. Paula also praised her performance but absolutely hated the dress she was wearing, which turned out to be something Drew designed herself (awkward). I guess Drew’s lucky this isn’t a fashion competition.

Then came Leroy Bell’s performance who sang “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2, which was featured in the movie Runaway Bride. This was a perfect song choice for him because it really showed everyone just how talented he actually is. Seriously, I’m still having a hard time believing this guy is 60 years old. I guess you can’t put an age on talent and the judges agreed. Paula said that America has found what they’re looking for in him and Simon said it was hands down his best performance so far. It’s official, 60 is the new 30!

Following him was Lakoda Rayne who sang a song from How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. Last week L.A. had criticized them for having an identity crisis in not knowing what kind of group they wanted to be. He told them they needed to pick a side, which they did: country pop. The performance was a great improvement from their season’s theme from last week and they kind of won me over. For one, they looked very classy all wearing white (instead of prom dresses) and they just seemed to blend really well together tonight. You can tell that they’re becoming more used to singing with each other as a group and it definitely shows in their performance. L.A. said they are now his favorite girl group in the competition (which is funny since they’re the only girl group in the competition). They additionally won Simon over who said they had finally become the group he always hoped they would be. And Paula was so proud of them that she cried, but that’s really nothing new.

Brian “Astro” Bradley sang a song from 8 Mile, which as always included some of his own lyrics. I wasn’t really feeling it for Astro tonight. Granted, he’s such a talented rapper and really knows how to work the crowd, but I’d like to see a little more diversity in his vocal talents. He’s such a good rapper, but I’m worried that he won’t survive in the competition if he doesn’t demonstrate more of a musical range. But the judges don’t seem to think that’ll be a problem for him at all. Nicole called him a champion, while Simon admired his work ethic and deemed him to be a great role model. Simon even declared that he possesses the indefinable “X Factor” that they’re looking for.

Up next was Melanie Amaro who sang Michael Jackson’s popular hit “Man in the Mirror,” which was featured in This Is It. The video package showed that Melanie had been sick earlier this week and put herself on vocal rest leading up to tonight’s performance, but it seemed to pay off. It’s a tall order singing a song from the King of Pop, but she did a beautiful job and didn’t sound sick at all. L.A. commented that she’s an incredible singer, but didn’t find the performance that inventive since she seems to do the same kind of song every time. However, the rest of the judges highly disagreed. Nicole said MJ would be proud of her performance and Paula said she’s so good she could sing the phone book…whatever that means.

The Stereo Hogzz brought the house down singing a song from the movie Get Smart. After almost going home last week, these guys were determined to leave their mark on both the judges and America – and it worked. This was certainly the most entertaining performance of the night. It was well rehearsed, the choreography was amazing, and like always they had great vocal chemistry. Nicole said the performance was bananas, while L.A. thought they did a great job was he wasn’t familiar with the song (I guess he hasn’t heard of Christina Aguilera). Simon commended them on their incredible work ethic, but said they need to start performing the kind of music they would want to record as artists. I really hope they don’t end up in the bottom two again!

Josh Krajcik sang the Beatles song “With A Little Help From My Friends,” which was featured in Across the Universe. His performance only helped reaffirm just how talented of a singer he really is. I have yet to hear him sing a song that I don’t absolutely love. Plus, his grooming has vastly improved since the beginning of the competition, which always helps. Paula said his performances are like chicken soup for the soul and Nicole said that he’s ready for that $5 million contract. Let’s hope America agrees!

Then came Chris Rene, who sang “Gangsta’s Paradise” from the movie Dangerous Minds. His last few performances have been lacking in entertainment value, but that all changed tonight. He really seemed at home on the stage and managed to work the crowd in a way that he never has before. Paula said his performance was honest and true and everything that it should be. Simon welcomed him back and said this was what they loved about him from the very beginning. Looks like he’s going to be making it through another round.

And finally the night ended with the adorable Rachel Crow who sang a song from Cadillac Records. The performance was perfect and exactly what she needed to shine – no gimmicks, no flashing lights, just her incredible talent. She is just amazing and I really can’t say it enough. This is the kind of song Simon should always have her be singing. Even if you don’t watch the show, you should be watching her because she’s just THAT GOOD. All four judges gave her nothing but praise. Can’t we just give her the $5 million recording contract right now? Because this girl is going to go all the way!

Find out who will be the next to get eliminated tomorrow night at 8 p.m. on Fox.