"The X Factor" took on rock music Wednesday, with decidedly rocky results.
The debate of what really constitutes rock overshadowed the proceedings, with the increasingly catty judges sniping at one another over their song choices and whether they fit the evening's theme. In the end, only one performer, Josh Krajcik, turned in what could truly be considered a rockin' performance, plugging in and kicking out the jams with the Foo Fighters' "Pretender."
Krajcik was the evening's big winner — inspiring mentor Nicole Scherzinger to head-bang her way through his performance — along with teen rapper Astro, who is quickly becoming a favorite in the competition. Astro's original song, a dedication to hip-hop rapped to Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You," caused L.A. Reid to gush that he not only has what it takes to win the competition, but also to become a "major international star," while Simon Cowell told him he has more maturity and intelligence than the older contestants he's up against. Astro's consistency, meanwhile, irked Paula Abdul. "Can you just suck for once?" she pleaded. "I don't think you can!"
Here's how the remainder of the contestants fared:
Chris Rene, sporting one of Jay-Z's controversial Occupy All Streets T-shirts, did Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry," which Cowell argued wasn't nearly rockin' enough. "Loved the performance. Would have been great if the theme was reggae," Cowell quipped. Marcus Canty's take on Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" earned high marks from everyone but Cowell, who said it felt like he was pretending to be someone he's not. L.A. Reid shot back with a simple, "You rocked!"
Coming off a strong performance last week, Rachel Crow took on the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," which more than satisfied the judges. "The question is, can you sell records? Can you sell tickets? And the answer is yes," Reid beamed. Melanie Amaro's piano-and-vocals version of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" was dismissed as "so not rock" by Reid, and Scherzinger questioned why she wasn't moved to tears by the song (she explained that, normally, she is a weeping mess by the song's close). Cowell, however, boasted that the performance reminded him of Adele and Alicia Keys — performers who are not the least bit rock, mind you, but who happen to sell a lot of records.
Fourteen-year-old Drew, meanwhile, took on U2's "With or Without You" — which was similar to her version of Coldplay's "Fix You" last week — and Reid, Scherzinger and Abdul all stressed they'd like to hear her do something outside her comfort zone. But Cowell dismissed their comments and praised her, saying he's confident she'll be in the competition "until the end."
The Over 30's
LeRoy Bell's straightforward reading of Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight" was smacked down by the judges. "You're good, man, but I need more. This is the big time," Reid scolded him. Stacy Francis dedicated her performance of Meat Loaf's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" to her "Franatics," but Cowell trashed her performance with his most stinging critique of the season to date. "It was the sort of thing I would expect someone to sing at the Hilton hotel with people turning their backs eating peanuts," he said. (It's safe to say he is not a Franatic.)
Lakoda Rayne, Paula Abdul's sole remaining group, got hammered for what Cowell called their "stupid" and "gimmicky" choreography, and he called the group's performance of the Outfield's "Your Love" mashed up with Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" "a complete mess." When Reid called Cowell's critique harsh, Cowell barked, "Watch your back" at Reid. Me-ow, you two!
One finalist is due to be sent home on Thursday's (November 17) show, which is also set to feature a live performance by Rihanna.
What did you think of rock night on "The X Factor"? Let us know in the comments!