The Top 10 sort of attempt to rock out on another theme night

By Annie Barrett
Updated August 03, 2020 at 06:23 PM EDT
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Welcome back to The X Factor, where it was ROCK WEEK! The top 10 “acts” performed songs that either were rock and roll or “in the style of rock and roll.” The only person who legitimately rocked out was Josh Krajcik, though P.K. Marcus Canty did make a valiant effort by sliding through six sleazy dancers’ spread-open legs, just like Janis Joplin used to do. Simon then attempted to steal Rock Week’s thunder because he had just joined Twittah — and the fact of the mattah is, it worked.

This week’s canned bickering between L.A. and Simon seemed more confusing than ever. What’s going on with all these theme weeks anyway? We keep getting “FIVE MILLION DOLLAR RECORDING CONTRACT” drilled into our brains under the assumption that one of these “acts” can come into his/her/their own throughout the competition and create never-before-seen star power as unique artists. So why even have theme nights? Do they want these kids and their grandfather to be versatile or do they want them to figure out what they do best and then do it better and maybe with a bit of a twist? The rock theme seemed like a crutch for the judges/coaches. Perhaps the best or any real mentoring is yet to come.

Leroy Bell — to whom Simon delivered the ultimate kiss of “I don’t know your name now and never will” by calling him “Lorey” — sang a very pretty rendition of Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” that disappointed L.A. Reid. “You’re still not working it like a rock star,” said the lord of the seated dance moves. What do you want from him, L.A. — he doesn’t wanna throw his underwear onto the stage like Tom Jones. Why is the sleeve tattoo that prevents him from ever getting a traditional job not enough for you? Meanwhile, Paula encouraged LeRoy to get away from the mic and engage with the audience. “WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THESE HORRIBLE COMMENTS?” wondered Steve Jones, who might actually seem less awkward onstage if he was in just his underwear.

NEXT: A 13-year-old can’t get no satisfaction Rachel Crow delivered another bombastic visual playground disguised as the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Sure, it was a weird song choice for a 13-year-old, but at least Rachel wasn’t trying to “sing it sexy,” and the sporty attire helped. The 700 backup dancers inexplicably wearing red bandeaus over black leather corsets might not have helped. Paula, the greatest dancer in the world, had no eyes for these creatures who kept darting around in frustration because they couldn’t get no. Her personal opinion: “It doesn’t matter if you have a hundred dancers. I only see you.” Aww! Simon Cowell likes winners even more than he likes Pepsi, and thought-controlled the viewers at home to respect his protégé as a singer.

Chris Rene, who would like you to occupy all of the streets, spends a lot of his time going to meetings, talking to his sponsor, reading his book, and stroking his chin. I liked that we found out that as a kid Chris used to zip around town with my favorite X Factor character, his mom Joni, listening to Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” on tape. It added some emotional weight to Chris’ very colorful peace sign-animated performance. There were so many hot-bodied people “just hanging out” onstage with him that it seemed like he should be starring in that Miracle Whip commercial with all the hipsters on the roof. Or maybe this memorable Diet Coke (blasphemy!) commercial from 2001. I feel like with this performance, Chris Rene proved he could be the “popular soda lover meandering through a fun crowd on roller skates” of the new generation.

I know that made no sense, but neither did L.A. and Simon’s ridiculous debate on whether Bob Marley = rock. Don’t even worry about it, you two, the themes are useless anyway! Everything’s gonna be alright. If Melanie and Drew’s performances were rock and roll then so was Chris’. L.A.’s threat that they should have a hip-hop week and “see how Drew does” was silly, too, because Drew did that Nelly song two weeks ago.

Ooooooooof. The most palatable parts of Stacy Francis‘ segment were Nicole Headbanger’s fringed boots and Stacy’s bad-idea black-feathered mic. I think the only note she hit on Meatloaf’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” was the last one. Maybe? I don’t know; my ears had shut down. Is there a cat-uh-gry for hot sham rock diva mess? “This is not a cabaret. We are actually looking for a recording artist,” said Simon. Stacy was PISSED. Hers could be the best stinkface any reality competition has ever seen. And it lasted so long — from the moment Simon started off with the “good news” that her hair looked better this week, through Nicole’s somewhat taunting reminder that “you said you wanted to be real and authentic,” to the point at which Steve Jones attempted to wipe the bitch off her face by violently jerking her into his own ribs.

NEXT: Sometimes everything is wrong, so it’s time to sing along“How do you say ‘Melanie’ and ‘edgy’ in the same sentence?” wondered L.A. Reid. You just did, dude. Rock and roll! Simon stripped away the spectacle on Melanie Amaro‘s rendition of R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” so that the only things she had to share the stage with were a piano and sadness. The judges said they wanted to see her let loose because it was rock week, but I feel like if she’d wailed any harder than the small amount she did at the end of the arrangement, it would have seemed too incongruous to the original song. I loved Melanie’s reaction to L.A. telling her “I love you, but that was so not rock.” “Well, hey,” she said. It was not too chipper/fake but also not too meek. It’s kind of the perfect reply to pretty much anything.

Nicole was “confused” by Melanie’s performance because it hadn’t made her cry. Well, hey. Maybe no one wanted to see that either.

Finally, REAL ROCK! Nicole made up for her lack of a Best Actress in a Reality Series clip reel potential during Melanie’s number with her convincing performance as an insane woman during Josh Krajcik‘s take on the Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender.” At a few points, she even fluffed her own hair while head-thrashing. I’ve not seen this before. She probably deserves the Emmy. Anyway, Josh was soooo good! I was so relieved for everyone’s sake that someone had finally rocked out. He was by far my favorite of the week — as much for the fact that he used sign language during his plea for votes as the fact that he has yet to miss a note.

Also, I know this is so cliché, but when Josh smiles (which is like all the time!) he looks exactly like this tiny teddy bear I had, who used to sit on a shelf in my bathroom. I’m going to ask my mom to send in a photo, though I’m guessing that in the 13 years since I last lived at home, he probably got sick of the view and walked away. If you made it through this paragraph, I am so sorry.

“I miss you, hip-hop,” Astro claimed. Because it was rock week? He didn’t need to stray too far from his comfort zone with his reworking of Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You,” which I guess qualifies as rock because it samples the Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” I had no problem with the song choice but found it a little weird that Astro’s coach L.A. kept questioning everyone else’s. Anyway, talk about a contestant who does the same thing every week. Astro is still really good, and the names of deceased hip-hop stars on the GIANT SCREENS behind him were a nice, subtle touch. “Can you just suck for once?” wondered Paula, who was already afraid for her last remaining group, still to come.

“THANK YOU FOR THOSE UNIVERSALLY POSITIVE COMMENTS,” bellowed Stevecrest. I can’t help it — I know you all think he’s terrible, but the Jonester consistently prompts my most hearty X Factor giggles. He also keeps calling tweenage Astro “a nice man.” Tell me you don’t want this to continue happening.

NEXT: Lakoda Rayne don’t wanna lose your love toniiiiiiiight Okay, so better late than never, I’m going to jump on board the Lakoda Rayne trayne, because they amuse me almost as much as Steve Jones. I thought their pre-performance package was the night’s best, delivering glimpses of each girl’s background and personality. Hayley is home-schooled in Texas! That’s definitely something. I loved the shot of Dani waiting tables in a bar right after she said her family moved to California from South Africa to give her an opportunity to sing. Anyway, I’m hoping the ladies’ mashup of The Outfield’s “Your Love” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” was enough to keep them in the competition, because otherwise who is Paula going to hug and keep repeating “I love you” to throughout the week?

Simon thought this was a complete mess, but as a viewer, I didn’t mind the complete sugary spectacle of the “awful blocks,” or the grid of sexy lips in 50 different shades behind them, or the giant bow in Paige’s hair. With the solo contestants, I tend to get annoyed by too much backup dancing/singing or an over-the-top visual assault, but is anyone really expecting that much artistry from Lakoda Rayne? They are fun to watch, and their singing definitely doesn’t suck. I don’t yet agree with Paula that they’re the second coming of the Dixie Chicks, but I do think Stacy should go home before they do.

Show-schooled (for three hours a day) Drew gamely took on U2’s “With or Without You” atop a deep blue cloud of emotion and fairy dust. Like Nicole, I was waiting for the tempo to pick up, but when Drew finished I had the same reaction I did when Nicole’s own underling Josh Krajcik sang “Forever Young” — so what if the beat never kicked in? The vocal was great anyway. Drew has such a good sense of where to place her own notes in comparison to the backup singers or, in this case, the original melody of the song.

The producers and L.A. hilariously did everything they could during Marcus Canty‘s interview package to convince us he’s a pure-hearted, church-going, volunteers-every-Sunday mama’s boy who would remain that same wonderful person no matter what evil deeds he was about to execute during a rendition of “Piece of My Heart” that would make Janis Joplin sit up in her grave only to be knocked back down by the nearest writhing hoochie in hotpants. Whatever — I mean, at least he committed to it and went all out to wrap up the night. The sexually suggestive (probably not intentional, but still) “rock and roll” hand gesture at the end was a nice bad-touch. Now that’s how you rock your church out! “I know you rocked them out proud,” promised Nicole. Marcus’ “vote for me” hand gestures were not quite as effective, as he presented an 0-1 to the camera instead of a 1-0. I think he’ll be fine.

Congrats to Marcus for raising the sparkle-bar even higher this week by wearing a shirt with the gem-to-fabric ratio of a Dancing With the Stars bangle. I’ve nearly fallen in love with him!

Remember, kids — you too can go your own way, as long as it’s under the careful orchestration of a reality show. Well, hey. Rock and roll.

L.A. Reid *Uprooted* Dance Move of the Night: Stirred and Shakin’

Which “act” will head home tonight, Ameriker?


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