Category Archives: Talent

America’s Got Talent Has New Judge – NBC Names Howard Stern?

In the latest instance of reality talent shows that insert high-profile judges seemingly only to garner higher ratings, NBC announced today that Howard Stern will replace Piers Morgan as judge of America’s Got Talent, joining Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel. It’s definitely surprising.

When Paula Abdul left American Idol and was ultimately replaced by Ellen DeGeneres, there was huge backlash. It’s not that no one liked Ellen, as she’s very well-loved in the entertainment world. What fans of the show had a problem with was that Ellen didn’t really have a musical background. It seemed Fox was looking for someone high profile enough to replace Abdul, no matter what their background. Ellen only ended up lasting a year, but it didn’t have anything to do with her lack of judging talent. She did quite well on the show, but left, saying later she found it hard to be critical of people, something Nicole Scherzinger seems to be having a problem with on The X-Factor.

After months of speculation, this past season Idol replaced Simon Cowell with Steven Tyler, a move that worked surprisingly well. So many names were being thrown out there, with everyone from Harry Connick Jr. to Bret Michaels. Yet, it was Tyler who filled that judges’ chair. The addition of him to the show definitely brought in viewers, although producers have to be ready with the bleep button.

America’s Got Talent itself has gone through its share of judging panel changes, as well as host changes. The show started out being judged by Brit Piers Morgan, Brandy Norwood, and David Hasselhoff. Brandy only lasted a year before she was replaced with Sharon Osbourne. Regis Philbin was out as host as well, replaced by Jerry Springer. No one would have ever attached that talk show host with a talent show. He lasted a few years before being replaced by Nick Cannon, who definitely fits in well. A year after that switch, the Hoff was out and being replaced by Howie Mandel. While being known as a very funny guy, was he talent judge material?

It turns out Mandel fit in quite well as judge, and had some huge battles with Morgan, some of them seeming more personal than just for show. According to NBC, this past season, America’s Got Talent was the #1 non-sports telecast on ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox in the total viewers in every single week it aired. That says they had a winning formula on their hands with their judges and host.

By no one’s surprise, Morgan announced he was dropping out to concentrate on his gig as talk show host, a spot he gained after replacing Larry King. The question was who NBC would find to replace the acerbic Brit. It seems the winning formula on both this show and American Idol is an acerbic Brit, a warm/maternal female, and a light-hearted comedian or musician. Idol changed that this past season replacing Cowell with Tyler, and now NBC is picking that up as well, replacing Morgan with Howard Stern.

There is no doubt Stern is acerbic, and he’s definitely not British either. NBC must have really wanted him badly, as they are also moving the live shows to New York, seemingly to accommodate Stern and his radio show. How will Howie, Howard, and Sharon do? There is no doubt they’ll do well in the ratings, but the audience that embraced last year’s show might not be so approving of a shock jock replacing Morgan.

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X-Factor, Dec. 14 – It’s All About Being Original

Much of the enjoyment has been taken out of watching The X-Factor. It’s not so much the people that have left, but the way in which they have left. This show is so much more emotionally charged than American Idol, and I’m not sure why, but I know having pre-pubescent kids as contestants definitely factors in there. I don’t ever want to see a girl hurt like that again. We won’t have to worry about that anymore, as there are no more young people left, but I wonder if that will somewhat kill the drama completely.

Simon Cowell chimes in on the situation with Rachel Crow. Steve Jones asks if he’s seen her and how she’s doing. He hasn’t seen her, but refers to her as a “fighter” and “survivor,” and thinks she’ll be fine, especially since she’s not at the mercy of “these two” any more, meaning Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul. Nicole is asked about her week and is booed, saying she can handle the boos a lot better, as they have made her a lot stronger. She has nothing but love for Rachel, and she has nothing but love and light tonight.

One of the two songs the contestants will be singing tonight has been chosen by the fans as part of the Pepsi Challenge. They were supposed to sing them last week, but some snafu happened, and they pushed it off until this week. Had they sung the songs last week, would that have saved Rachel? Additionally, the judges have no say in who goes home this week. It’s all up to the viewers.

Up first tonight is Marcus Canty with his Pepsi Challenge song. He says the song is for that special lady and launches into I’ll Make Love to You, and it’s definitely a great song choice for him. He has a white rose with him and bends down and gives it to a young woman in the front row as other women in red lingerie dance behind him.

Nicole tells Marcus he is bringing sexy back. Even though she knows he’s making all the girls excited, he’s still doing it in such a classy way and looks like such a gentleman. Paula can always count on him giving 150%. He’s the entertainer of the group and didn’t let anyone down giving a solid performance.

Simon notes Marcus didn’t choose the song himself and sang it well. And just in saying that, he gets booed. Marucs’ mentor is responsible for the staging, and with the rose and zombie dancers, it didn’t fit, and was too many weird things at once. It was distracting and very corny. He doesn’t think L.A. Reid changed the song enough. L.A. believes it takes great taste to know great taste. He couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s a three-time Save Me Song champion, and he’s still here giving his all. L.A. stands by Marcus.

Up next is L.A.’s other guy, Chris Rene. His Pepsi Challenge song is I Just Wanna Fly, and the performance is a little weak until he starts rapping. And I’m finally with Simon on this dancers-on-the-stage thing. There are a bunch of dancers sitting and standing around not dancing, but just waiving their arms around, and it’s really distracting. I can’t even imagine how Simon feels about it. Despite this, Chris finally finds his place with the vocal close to the end.

What Nicole loves about Chris is that he just makes us feel good, whether he’s offstage or onstage. And as she says this, the crowd starts chanting, “Chris Rene. Chris Rene.” She feels he’s obviously the viewer’s pick and that he looks like a million bucks. Paula doesn’t think he looks like a million bucks, but more like five million bucks. Plain and simple, he has the gift to communicate, and his heart resonates his gift to the world.

Simon loved the choice of song. It was not the best vocal he’s heard from Chris, but was a good performance. His advice for him is to come out with his second song with more conviction and more focus, as he has one more shot to nail this. L.A. says Chris has the sparkle of a star and looks like a major star. He needs to just keep doing what he’s doing.

Melanie Amaro is up next, with Simon adding that they put a little twist on this song chosen for her by the viewers. She sings Hero, and it’s a a great vocal, but perhaps too polished, and we’re just all waiting for the twist. It never seemed to come. Then again, I’m not a fan of Mariah Carey’s, and not a fan of this song, so I may not be catching it, if it’s a subtle change.

L.A. tells Melanie it was really good. He can’t criticize the song choice and call it predictable, since America chose it. What did concern him was that he didn’t feel her usual passion and love for the song when she started, but she did end up taking it there. Nicole loves that America chose the song for her and loves the message of the song. It’s perfect and fitting for her to sing it. They all knew she had that voice and talent, but she’s grown into the woman that she is and has her own power and strength. She’s liberating and inspiring to all of them.

Paula calls Melanie’s voice impeccable and adds that it inspires her. She wanted to surprise her, so invited the guy who wrote the song to sit in the audience. Her only critique is in the arrangement, as changing the chords from major to minor took the uplifting tone to a sad and somber one, yet she made it work. Simon tells Paula and L.A. that what it wasn’t was karaoke. It was unlike the first song they heard tonight. It’s what they call putting a stamp on a song and making it original. He thinks she’ll be remembered for that version of it and calls it “bloody fan-tas-tic.”

Josh Krajcik is the last to sing a Pepsi Challenge song. The song America has chosen for him is Come Together. His raspy voice is perfect for this. This song I’m much more familiar with. I think even Simon and L.A. have to like everything about this. There doesn’t seem to be anything not to like.

In fact, L.A. rather enjoyed it. He calls it the best he has heard Josh in a few weeks. As far as he’s concerned, he’s one of the best in the competition, and he’s always picked him as a guy who could win. The last few weeks he felt it went down a little bit, but he made a return this week. Paula tells Josh he has the ability to attack our souls when he sings and gets into us with every nuance of his vocal. The industry isn’t just about selling records, but about wanting to pay for tickets to see someone live onstage, and she would pay to see him.

Simon has to hand it to Josh. He totally agrees with L.A. He has come back, and he’s come back strong this week. It’s what they liked about him. This is an honest performance. the good news is he hasn’t got Cruella Deville putting weird dancers around him anymore. It’s just him and a song. He thinks it would be a massive shame if he doesn’t make the final. “Cruella” wants him to know she’s the one who took the dancers off. She tells Josh what she loves about him is that he never rehearsed. No matter how many times she works with him, something else comes over him. He’s living and breathing that fire. She realized that look in his eyes that Simon recognizes is the look of steel. Simon is confused; so am I.

What’s Hot on TV Tonight – X-Factor Semi-Finals

For two weeks in a row, we have watched sad young girls leave The X-Factor. This past week was somehow even worse than the first. There aren’t any fans out there who want to watch little girls drop to their knees and cry. We won’t see it again this week during the semi-finals, as we only have left a young woman in her 20s and three guys, with none of them being minors. It will be hard to lose any of the four, but there is no way it will be as tough as what we witnessed last week. Check out your other favorite shows at TV-Links.

1. The Talk. Donnie Wahlberg and Gayle King are today’s guests. 1:00 PM CT CBS

2. The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Charlize Theron, Kevin Nealon, and Christina Perri are the guests today. Syndicated, check local listings.

3. Cocoon. A retirement community finds what amounts to be a fountain-of-youth, but it’s really aliens looking to return home. Stars Dom Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, and Brian Dennehy. 3:10 PM CT OMax

4. Patch Adams. It’s May 1st! Need to be further uplifted? Watch this Robin Williams movie about a doctor who sees medical benefits in having fun. 4:30 PM CT AMC

5. Survivor: South Pacific With only original Upolu members left, they begin to turn on each other. 7:00 PM CT CBS

6. X-Factor. The final four perform with the absence of any teenagers left in the competition. 7:00 PM CT ABC

7. Don’t Tell the Bride. In the first hour, a music has difficulties during wedding planning. In the second hour, a man tries to plan a wedding to make his demanding bride happy. In the third hour, A Boston sports fan wants a themed wedding to reflect that. 7:00 PM CT OWN

8. Criminal Minds. The team investigates Philadelphia’s boxing scene after a series of bludgeonings, and Hotch makes a connection with a fellow running in triathlon training . 8:00 PM CT CBS

9. Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. The artists draw inspiration from a Hudson Valley town. 8:00 PM CT Syfy

10. Baseball Wives. Cheri wants to settle an old score, and Jordan embarks on a new relationship. 8:00 PM CT VH1

11. Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2011. The annual list of the top newsmakers includes the Kardashians, Simon Cowell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, Derek Jeter, Donald Trump, Katy Perry, Pippa Middleton, with the top spot being kept secret until the end. 8:30 PM CT ABC

12. I Hate My Teenage Daughter. The girls prepare for the father-daughter dance as Jack plans to act as stand-in if Matt stands up Sophie, and Mackenzie is concerned Nikki will embarrass her. 8:30 PM CT Fox

13. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The team investigates when Dr. Robbins’ wife finds a nude corpse in their bedroom. 9:00 PM CT CBS

14. Funniest Commercials of the Year: 2011. The best commercials throughout the world from the past year. 9:00 PM CT TBS

15. Psych. Shawn and Julie are interrupted on a romantic getaway but a robbery and a dead body that turns up. 9:00 PM CT USA

16. American Horror Story. Vivien goes into labor, and Tate and Violet try to get the ghosts out of the house. 9:00 PM CT FX

17. Hot in Cleveland. In order to find Melanie’s dress, the ladies go funeral-crashing, Joy and Victoria find themselves being forced into facing their pasts, and Elks gets back together with someone who might become part of her future. 9:00 PM CT TVLand

18. Top Chef: Texas. The contestants group into pairs to cook for famous chefs with a passion for hunting. 9:00 PM CT Bravo

19. Toddlers & Tiaras. Cadence’s secret weapon is her sassing grandmother, with Samara’s being her tattooed mom who is a heavy metal singer. A pageant mom throws a huge fit. 9:00 PM CT TLC

20. The Real World. Nate gets blasted at Frank’s charity event, Zach and Ashley need to come to a decision regarding their relationship, and the roommates bid adieu. 9:00 PM CT MTV

21. The Exes. Holly introduces Star to a “professional” woman, and Haskell an online persona for himself to one-up his ex. 9:30 PM CT TVLand

22. Conan. Bob Costas, Mike Zohn, and Evan Michelson are the guests tonight. 10:00 PM CT TBS

23. Late Show with David Letterman. The guests tonight include Robert Downey Jr. and Lisa Lampanelli. 10:35 PM CT CBS

X-Factor Xtra – Elimination of Rachel Crow Raises Questions

It’s the next day, and it’s still hard to move past the trauma we witnessed Rachel Crow going through last night on The X-Factor. It wasn’t just her trauma, either. It was clear it was being felt by everyone. Nicole Scherzinger perhaps was the one person who was nearly as visibly upset as 13-year-old Rachel. This is the second week in a row we have witnessed such a thing. It only makes everyone uncomfortable to watch it, but how do we solve it? 

The overall problem with this is, of course, the entertainment value. Reality TV falls under entertainment. It’s not news, and it not informational. It’s supposed to be entertaining. While I was definitely entertained during the performances on Wednesday night, there wasn’t anything entertaining about watching a young girl break down sobbing and screaming. Absolutely nothing, and it makes me enjoy it that much less the next time.

Last week’s elimination was similar, although the disappointment of Drew was masked somewhat by Simon Cowell’s anger at the situation and his fellow judges. It came out later that he was somewhat blaming himself, as he had been choosing the songs for Drew himself, and the other judges were telling him he had to mix it up. He declined, and she was voted out.

The X-Factor doesn’t have a lock on dramatic eliminations. American Idol has become known for them. They make it dramatic on purpose, as they know it brings up the water cooler talk the next day and heightens the excitement. Sometimes it can be quite cruel, but the youngest person going through it is 16, not 13. They stopped making it quite so dramatic, and it could have been because of public backlash. Separating performers into groups and telling a single person they are safe, and telling them to guess which group they belong with is just flat out cruel.

During Rachel’s original audition, Simon explained they spent a long time deliberating how low to make the age minimum, and she was the reason why they made it the right age. He warned we should remember her name, as he knew we’d be hearing more about her. He also told her to get ready for a new bathroom.

This makes me wonder how Simon is feeling about that decision today. While he was one-hundred percent correct that not lowering the age would have prevented us from hearing Rachel’s amazing talent, it also means it would have prevented her from being slaughtered on live TV. That’s exactly what it was like, a lamb in a slaughter. I can only remember myself falling to my knees and sobbing one time in my life, and it was after a death in the family. Is that how devastating this was to Rachel?

I certainly don’t want to slam any parents, but I do have to question allowing your child to be subjected to this. I understand wanting to help your child pursue their dream, but if you knew this could be the outcome, would you still do it? My son tried to get me to let him audition for Idol. He’s a good singer, and wouldn’t be made fun of, but also wouldn’t have made it through. If he did, it would have been on his personality. I couldn’t allow him to be subjected to that, and when I said no, he called me a bad mom. I knew better. However, if I had a child with Rachel’s talent, would I have said no? If my son wanted to try out for something he was exceptional at, like comedy, would I have let him?

L.A. Reid had mentioned hearing rumors about Hollywood circling their wagons around Rachel. This very well could have hurt the vote for her Wednesday night, as people may have thought she didn’t need the record contract and the $5 million. Has there already been irreparable damage done, though? Will this girl ever feel the same about her talent? Will she be able to retain that same spunk?

I also keep thinking about Nicole Scherzinger. She struggled to make that decision. While she’s been extremely emotional throughout, it might not have been the only thing holding her back from a decision. She and Paula Abdul received death threats last week after they voted out Drew. It would have been hard to say goodbye to Marcus Canty, and that seemed to be the easy answer here, but Nicole chose to leave the decision in the hands of the viewers. Was it because of the death threats? She voted out Rachel only to make it a split vote and force the person receiving the lowest amount of votes into going home.

Every person there, it seemed, figured Marcus would be going home. Whether that’s what Nicole thought is unclear, but it’s certainly what Marcus thought. His eyes opened in wide disbelief when Rachel’s name was called as the act that was leaving. Being that it was his third time to the bottom two, it was assumable that he had the lowest votes. Is that what Nicole thought? Did she think she’d let the public tell him to go home instead of doing it herself? Simon believes that Nicole definitely was trying to soften the blow for Marcus.

Maybe that’s where we need to look for answers to be assured that it doesn’t happen again next season. While it makes for some fun competition between the judges to have them mentor their acts, maybe they need more than a celebrity judge for this when it concerns a child. It’s nothing against Simon, but is there more he could have done with Rachel to prepare her for this? He’s not a parent, and probably didn’t understand completely the impact it would have on her. He cared for her a great deal, but could he have done something more to help her be ready for possibly being eliminated?

Another possible answer could be not having the judges responsible for eliminating the acts if there are going to be young contestants involved. That at least gets Nicole out of having to make that horrible decision. Why not leave it up to a group of nameless viewers? That’s apparently what she decided to do in the end. It would have lessened the blow slightly if she and Marcus would have just been brought to the stage to receive the news and be done with it. It would have been better than the drama of being bottom two, singing for their survival, listening to every judge struggle with their decision, etc.

At first I thought I heard Rachel telling her mom who had rushed the stage that she had promised. I was worried her mom had promised her she wouldn’t be eliminated or something. Watching it back, it seems she is asking her to promise her, and this is after her mom is telling her it’s going to be okay. She wants her mom to promise her it’s going to be okay.

Is it going to be okay? I hope so. Certainly Hollywood will be circling their wagons even tighter around her, and that’s if Simon doesn’t get her signed to something before anyone else can get to her. She’d be perfect as a Disney star with that cute personality. I just hope she hasn’t been permanently damaged because of this and that she’ll be able to find the same enjoyment in entertaining others.

Rachel told her fans at the end, through her tears, that without them she is “nothing.” I certainly hope she doesn’t really believe that. While it definitely boosts her confidence, she is an amazingly talented, beautiful girl with or without the fans. When she sang I’d Rather Go Blind, she had so emotion packed into the performance. It seemed she was saying she would rather go blind than leave the show, and that was before being eliminated.

I don’t think any of these questions will be answered by next week, but I do know that I will find less enjoyment watching The X-Factor.

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X-Factor, Dec. 8 – And She’d Rather Go Blind

Last night’s X-Factor was filled with great performances. I can’t even hazard a guess on who wound up in the bottom two, or how the judges are going to decide which of the two goes home. There are bound to be even more hurt feelings than last week; let’s just hope people handle it a bit more maturely, and by that I mean the judges, not the acts. Either way, I disagree with Steve Jones that someone’s dream will end tonight. I think they can keep their dreams going, and are still onboard to have fantastic music careers.

Here’s something I didn’t even think of until just now as I sit down to watch the show. Did L.A. hurt Rachel Crow’s chances by saying the rumors are that Hollywood is already circling their wagons around her? People might thing she doesn’t need the votes if she’s already guaranteed a career. Did he do that on purpose? I wouldn’t think so, but that may be the result of that comment.

Before we get a group performance or any results, Lenny Kravitz takes the stage with a new hit, Rock Star City Life, and the older hit Are You Gonna Go My Way. I don’t know what it is about that guy, but he is always hot. And his music ain’t so bad either. Apparently there won’t be a group performance tonight. I’m okay with that.

L.A. Reid’s personal highlight of the night was Chris Rene, as he thought “it”, presumably his self-crafted song Where Do We Go From Here, was just amazing. Nicole Scherzinger’s personal highlight is also Chris, but she also thought Josh Krajcik killed it on Something. Paula Abdul thinks all the contestants are on phenomenal terms right now. She hopes they all do well and that Simon Cowell and L.A. sign them. Steve brings up a Simon tweet about Chris being his personal highlight, and Simon agrees his last song was really special.

The finalists take the stage to hear the names of the three acts who are safe. Called safe are Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene. We’ll have to wait to see if the other person called safe is Marcus Canty, Rachel Crow, or Melanie Amaro.

Steve addresses the remaining three and asks how they feel. Rachel looks completely freaked out, and says she’s a little scared, but loves everybody, and thinks her fans are amazing. She wants to be in the semi-final really badly, and loves everybody. It means the world to her. Marcus doesn’t find this to be a good feeling having been here before, but God’s been good to him, so he just has to step up. Melanie is really nervous and doesn’t know what to feel, but is confident that her fans love her and kept her on. She’s so happy to have even gotten this far.

Mary J. Blige is the next to perform. She sings Need Someone. She’s shining in a white dress with a hologram of some type of a huge diamond circling above and behind her. I don’t really get the significance of the diamond with the song.

Steve congratulates Josh and Chris for making it through. Chris feels amazing and is so happy and thankful to be there and have so many supporters. He loves his life today and is so happy to be there. Josh always believed in himself, but thanks everyone back in his hometown, his supporters, and his family. He’s excited to get back to work. He’s ready to go.

Going back to the results, the final act called safe is Melanie Amaro. This leaves Rachel and Marcus as the bottom two to have to compete and sing their safety song for their survival. Marcus can’t believe he’s there again, but he has to do it again from his heart. Rachel is okay and is going to sing the best she can. She also tells Marcus she loves him.

Nicole is looking for the same thing as they always look for with the safety song. She’s looking for them to sing their hearts out to show them they’re reading for this. That’s why it’s called a Save Me song. Paula wants them to sing from the heart and be honest with their performance.

Marcus is up first tonight, and he interestingly enough sings a Mary J Blige song, I’m Going Down. He throws the emotion in like only he can. But I’m tempted to say if the audience has put him here three times, that it’s time for him to go.

Simon introduces Rachel, who is obviously nervous, and sings I’d Rather Go Blind, and she’s apparently decided to match Marcus emotion for emotion. Damn, this girl is throwing it all out on the floor. I think she’d rather be blind than go home is what I’m thinking. I think she just secured her place.

L.A. admits this has to be the toughest part of the show, to make this decision, as they were both great. Rachel surprised him and really pulled that thing out, and he didn’t expect it. He was prepared for her to be slaughtered by Marcus. He came out and slaughtered it like he always does. Based on principle, he’ll stand by his man and vote to send Rachel home. She tells the booing audience it’s okay.

Simon says there isn’t any point of saying anything. He is sending home Marcus, though he will miss him.

Paula says first and foremost this was the most unbelievable sing-off, and they both did an amazing job. If she’s being honest with her heart, the one who really blew her away is Rachel Crow. She is so sorry to have to send Marcus home, as she loves him.

Nicole, in tears, tries to gather her thoughts, and Rachel grabs the mic and begs her not to cry. Nicole can’t make the decision, saying it’s because she’s been up there before. She pushes it to a deadlock, just because she can’t make the decision. She doesn’t want to send home Rachel, but doesn’t want to make the decision at all. Simon is pissed off about that. Steve announces in that case the act that got the lowest amount of votes and is going home is Rachel.

Rachel falls down on the floor in tears, and her mom rushes the stage. She tells her mom that she had promised her. Paula has to console Nicole. Nicole and Paula go to hug Rachel onstage, and Nicole can hardly even stand up. Rachel tells everyone that she loves them so much, and she thanks them for the votes, because without them she is nothing. She hopes it’s not her ending, and she promises them it’s not. She also thanks her family for making so many sacrifices for her.

Simon feels like talking this week and thanks everyone who has voted for this young girl and believes she went out on the highest she could have. He promoses that just like he said the first time he heard her, we haven’t heard the last of her. Steve looks for a comment from Nicole, and she can’t speak. It’s not that she won’t; she can’t.

You know, I’m not so sure Nicole was expecting this. I think she just couldn’t bare to send Marcus home, and figured he’d have the lowest amount of votes, so thought she’d let the viewers send him home instead of herself. Remember, she had death threats after sending Drew home last week, so was finding it hard to spit out a decision this week.

But this one was even more gut-wrenching than last week. That girl collapsing on the floor and screaming, then telling her mom that she had promised her was very difficult to watch. And again, I go back to the parents. I understand wanting your kids to realize their dreams, but to leave your kid open to this is just rough. My kids have had a lot of sorrows, and thankfully they’ve never gone through a disappointment in front of the live TV audience. I have complete empathy for the parents for letting their kids pursue their dreams, but watching this was absolutely brutal.

I think Nicole could be the one hurt more than anyone else. Who wants to live with the knowledge you did that to a young girl? That’s why leaving it up to the audience, without any judge input is sometimes the better choice. No one person is responsible.

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X-Factor, Dec. 7 – “Where Do We Go From Here?”

Last week’s elimination certainly raised a lot of controversy. It waws all touched off by Simon Cowell’s obvious displeasure with his female peers in voting out his girl Drew, and in what looked to many like Drew snubbing Paula Abdul’s hug. Will they all be able to make nice for tonight’s show?

Simon is asked by Steve Jones for his take on last week’s results show. Obviously still not over it, he deadpans that he was “really, really happy.” He follows that by saying that he’ll be a little bit more prepared this week. Well, that’s concerning.

Everyone’s singing twice tonight, and the first set of songs is their versions of dance music. hits. They’ll be helped out by DJ duo Nervo. It’s obviously going to benefit some acts more than others.

First up for the night is Simon’s act, Melanie Amaro. There’s no package behind her, just the performance. She sings Someone Like You, and all I can picture is the bit they did on this song on Saturday Night Live a few weeks back. Melanie didn’t think she’d be good on pop, but it’s actually very fitting on her.

L.A. Reid jokes that the only thing that bothered him about Melanie’s performance is that it was really good. Nicole Scherzinger tells her it was a big risk taking on Adele’s song, but she looked and sounded like the rock star diva she is tonight. Paula agrees she looks stunning and happy, and her only complaint is that it was too short. What Simon loved about it was that it was not karaoke. He mentions the change in her since she let the real her out, and he thinks it’s led to more confidence. He thinks she could have a hit record with that version.

L.A. Reid’s Marcus Canty, who he refers to as a “two-time champion” after surviving two bottom two votes, takes the stage, He sings Ain’t Nobody and has that same confidence that he used to become a two-time champion. They said last week that he was the best entertainer there, and this one proves it.

Nicole feels Marcus “took us to church” and the dance club at the same time. She loves, loves, loves that he chose this song, and calls Chaka Khan the best. He has earned his right to be here today and she is so proud of him, feeling that God has a plan for him. Paula thinks he looks fantastic, and as far as she is concerned, it’s an even playing field, and he performed like it’s the first time she saw him.

Simon just says “Marcus,” and everyone is now worried about what’s coming next, since he’s the one who beat out Drew last week. He shouldn’t be very happy with him, but he has to be fair and judge him within the competition, and he has to say it was a very, very good performance. He has to give him credit. He likes people who don’t act like victims or blame other people, and he came back strong and proved a point. “Good for you.” L.A. states the obvious, that what is needed is for people to vote, if they loved Marcus the way he did.

Simon’s remaining girl in the competition, Rachel Crow, is up next, with her own choice of song. She sings Nothing On You, and just like she has always done on her own choice of songs, she completely shines. She has the Marcus confidence on this one.

L.A. refers to Rachel as “such a little star.” His only concern is a lyrical one, her singing the lyric “beautiful girl.” She answers quickly that she was singing to Paula and Nicole. She laughs, then, and points at L.A. and says she just loves him. Nicole is just waiting for the Rachel Crow doll to come out, complete with her own bathroom. It was a perfect song for her, fun and beautiful, and she’s a star.

Paula refers to Rachel as “beautifully fearless,” and says it doesn’t matter how young she is, because her vocal transcends all generations. She thinks this is her best performance in all the competition. Uptempo, and she nailed it. Simon is waiting for the Nicole doll to come out, the voodoo doll. She starts singing the Grinch song to him. Simon brings up that Rachel also did standup comedy years ago. Years ago? She’s a pre-teen. He likes that as it makes her a triple threat. It was a good comeback to L.A. For some girls her age, you have to sell to grandmas, but she should be selling to teenagers, so that was a good choice in song.

Nicole’s last Over 30, Josh Krajcik, takes the stage, and we know he’s out of his element here. He sings We Found Love, a Rihanna song, which should be making L.A. sit up and take notice. He somehow finds a way to make this song match his style. I would never listen to that and recognize it as as Rihanna song.

X-Factor Xtra – Elimination Controversy Surrounding Drew, Paula, and Simon

There’s been a lot of question on exactly what happened in the X-Factor eliminations last night. Paula Abdul cast the deciding vote to send young Drew home, and Simon Cowell wasn’t happy. The picture here says it all. Drew is distraught, her mentor is pissed, and Paula is …. trying to do something to help.

The Hollywood Reporter was behind the scenes after the elimination and got a few soundbites from host Steve Jones, Simon, Paula, and L.A. Reid. Conspicuously missing was Nicole Scherzinger. She didn’t look like she was handling the emotions of the evening any better than the others, so perhaps she was too upset to talk even an hour later.

Steve Jones was upset with Simon Cowell for not giving him any sound bites directly after the elimination. He knows the people in the audience “want to hear from Simon Cowell.” Steve felt bad, but he had a job to do. He didn’t want to be hammering the crying girl for comments, but that’s his job, and he knew it was what the public was looking for.

For Simon’s part, he was still very much upset an hour after the elimination, but he didn’t seem to be blaming the other judges any more, which is good, as they didn’t put her in the bottom three. That was the voting public. He was now putting the blame on himself for having Drew sing from a chair. Well, he’s putting blame on the chair as well. “That chair is going to be chopped and I’m doing the chopping.” Despite absorbing the blame, he still indicated he wasn’t ready to speak with Paula and Nicole just yet.

Paula didn’t realize because of the change in the voting order, having her go last instead of third, that she was the deciding vote. She is pointing the blame right back at Simon, saying that they had all tried to tell Simon they needed Drew to be more diverse. He wasn’t listening, and slowed it down more and put her in a chair. “To me, it made it look like Simon forgot what this show is about — it’s not about a chair, it’s all about show biz.” Word.

L.A. is claiming he was prepared to vote for whoever sang the better Save Me song, and that for him it’s not about Team L.A., but X-Factor as a whole. He was also quite blunt, as he usually is, about his feelings about Simon after the elimination. “Meanwhile, Simon acted exactly the way he accused Astro of acting two weeks ago — bratty and inappropriate.” Again, Word.

I have to put the blame for this back on the parents. If your kids aren’t old enough to handle criticism and rejection, not only do they not belong in the music business as children, but they certainly don’t belong on a reality show. Astro reacted badly the first time he was in the bottom, but by last night, he showed he’d learned, although I’m sure he was still absolutely crushed. As for Drew, I have to again bring up her words a few weeks ago, saying she’d never been criticized before, so was shocked at the things L.A. was telling her. L.A. Reid should not have been the first person criticizing her, and it should not have been on television. It was obvious then that we were heading for a night like last night. Her parents should have done more to help prepare her.

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X-Factor, Dec. 1 – The Toughest Goodbyes Yet

I don’t understand the way they’re being so cut-throat with The X-Factor eliminations. Why go from 12 to 11 to 10 to 9 to 7 to 5? Why not 12, 10, 8, then count down singly? Will we get rid of two more next week to get down to a final three? It just seems so odd. Regardless, it’s going to be such a tough night to say goodbye to two more. It was hard enough last week. At least one of the male judges will finally take a hit this week, and maybe both of them. 

The final seven start the night out singing yet another homage to Michael Jackson. It starts out with a very slow song, so of course Drew begins it. They’re singing Man In the Mirror, but I still say it should have been Chris Rene’s song last night. Watching them, the only one that can move like Michael is Rachel Crow. The girl’s got some moves.

Simon Cowell tells Steve Jones he hasn’t got a clue how it’s all going to go down tonight, yet last night was magical. Paula Abdul, who has worked with Michael Jackson, believes with all her heart they did him proud last night. Nicole Scherzinger thanks MJ’s family for coming to the show last night and honoring them. L.A. Reid agrees it was a wonderful night.

With the remaining active mentors and their protégés onstage, Steve starts reading off the results. Safe for the week are Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro, and Rachel Crow. One of the remaining artists will be safe, one will be automatically out, and the other two will sing for their survival to decide which one is leaving.

Steve talks to the remaining four who have yet to hear their results. He asks Astro what the mood is, and he thanks Team Astro, saying it’s not the end of the world for him, and he’s having fun. Steve mentions to Drew that she looks a little upset and asks what’s going through her mind. She admits she’s a little scared, but thinks her fans voted for her. She promises to keep going and fight. Marcus Canty mentions the pressure, but tells his mother he’s staying strong. Josh Krajcik is sporting a nervous face, and mentions out of all seven of them, he thinks anyone can win, and anyone can go home.

Before the rest of the results, Tinie Tenpah, the UK’s biggest-selling rap artist, performs. He has a fabulous light show behind him, but I have to admit, I’d rather listen to Astro. I’m not knocking Tinie at all, I just prefer the message and honesty of Astro.

After an American Idol commercial, it’s time for the rest of the results. The final act who is definitely safe this week is Josh Krajcik. He picks up Nicole in celebration. The act who is leaving without a chance to sing for their survival is Astro. He hugs L.A., Marcus, Simon, and Drew as the crowd goes crazy. They aren’t happy. He says it’s for the better. The only reason why he’s mad, is he won’t get to see his girl who lives in Cali. He gives it up for Team L.A. Reid. L.A. says he’s one of the most fascinating guys he’s ever met, and he promises that he is a star.

This leaves it up to Drew and Marcus Canty to sing for their survival. Through constant tears, Drew hopes everyone can see her true talent and that it helps her “Save Me” song. Marcus mentions being in this place a few weeks ago and promises to give everyone his soul tonight. L.A. just lost one guy, but says he still has two. He’s confident Marcus will do his thing, but wishes Drew luck. Simon calls it the coldest thing, but whoever does the best deserves to go through.

Paula Abdul explains that Drew and Marcus have to prove themselves and she wants them to hijack them and kill it. Simon introduces his “sweetheart,” Drew. She sings List to Your Heart, and definitely has some difficulty with it, as she’s still trying to sing through tears. But remember, this is the girl who said a few weeks back she’d never heard criticism before. She gets very screamy and proves why she doesn’t do uptempo often, although some of it is definitely her nerves. It’s just not a good performance. She’s completely shaky afterwards. Steve does not look to be enjoying this.

L.A. announces Marcus, who takes the stage and thanks everyone before he starts, saying he’s just trying every week. He sings Neither One of Us, and it’s one of his better performances for sure. No hype, no dancers, just him. He’s right that we’re seeing his soul. His tears start to come out at the end as well.

L.A. says that for both Marcus and Drew, it’s been an amazing journey. He’s had fun with Drew, and he knows she thinks he’s been rough on her, but he always believed in her and only complimented her talent. Her Save Me song was quite well done and he loved the walk. He’s believed in Marcus since the first audition, and he’s worked hard to where he couldn’t be more proud. It doesn’t make it an easy decision. He’s very torn, but the act he’s sending home is Drew.

Simon mentions that the reason Drew is in this position is his fault. He shouldn’t have done what he did, and it’s his fault. He truly believes she deserves another shot and is begging Paula and Nicole to give her another shot. He really likes Marcus, but it’s the second time he’s been in the bottom. He believes America wants to keep Drew. Remember, just a few moments ago he said “whoever does the best deserves to go through.” He obviously is realizing Drew didn’t do the best.

Nicole fights back tears and says she’s been hard on Drew the past few weeks, but it’s because she’s one of the best, and she believes in her so much. She know she’ll have a long career ahead of her. She has one of the best voices in the competition and did an unbelievable job with her Save Me song. Judging by what Marcus did tonight, she believes his heart and soul are on the floor for everybody, and he goes to a vulnerable place that very few others can. It’s a tough decision, but she votes to send Drew home.

Paula loves and respects both Marcus and Drew and thinks they’re multitalented, and that both deserve recording contracts. She was asked what she is looking for in a Save Me song, and it has to move, move, move, move her. She’s sorry, but she’s sending Drew home. Simon is so pissed, he gets up from the table and walks away and mouths “whatever.”

Drew thanks her fans and promises to keep singing and keep going as Simon’s eyes look like they’re about ready to strike down Paula. Steve asks his thoughts, and he refuses to answer. Rachel and Melanie rush Drew to cry with her. After her goodbye package, Simon says he doesn’t think she deserves to go home and thinks she’s a little star. He’s asked for his thoughts to the other judges, and again he refuses to answer. Drew shouts out something at the end about Jesus loving everyone, and explains that’s why she was in the competition.

Funny, at the end, Paula goes up and hugs Drew, and finding an icy reception, and none of her own acts to hug, she gets a big hug from Josh. It’s hard to see what happens, but apparently there’s question out there to whether Drew refused to hug Paula. You can see Paula walk up and get close and say something to her, but it’s not a wide enough show to see if anyone reaches out to her or not. It certainly doesn’t seem like it though.

Frankly, Simon has been in this business long enough to know it doesn’t always go your way. Drew can’t get another shot just because he screwed up. That’s the name of the game, for him to mentor her, not for him to screw up and then she be given another shot. Drew did have a lot of talent, but if she has never heard criticism her whole life, I’m sorry, but her parents shouldn’t have let her on the show to hear it the first time from a live audience, a voting public, and four judges.

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X-Factor, Nov. 30 – Celebrating MJ, Not the Scandals

Last week’s elimination on The X-Factor was simply brutal. Losing two acts at once is difficult enough, but to lose Paula’s last group and Leroy Bell was just brutal. I find it really interesting that Simon hasn’t even had an act fall into the bottom two yet. Sooner or later his acts will have to take a hit, as I don’t picture them as the final three or four, or however they will be doing it. And this week, we’ll be losing two more.

The remaining acts will be performing the music of Michael Jackson, just days after Conrad Murray was sentenced to four years for involuntary manslaughter. Paula Abdul is calling herself the only impartial judge with no acts left in the competition. Nicole Scherzinger has lost two, but says she doesn’t plan to lose any more. L.A. Reid has his guys working overtime to stay. Meanwhile, Simon calls this no pressure. He’s apparently not worried. 

Fittingly, host Steve Jones are brought out onstage with dancers gyrating to Michael Jackson music. Marlon, Titio, and Jackie are here for the performances. They walk out onstage, while Katharine, Paris, Prince, and Blanket are in the audience. Katharine says from the audience it’s her favorite show. Wow. That’s some high praise.

Instead of being buried in the middle, Nicole’s remaining act, Josh Krajcik, is up first. When he was a little kid, he’d listen to Michael Jackson, and wore out the records. He thought he was the coolest dude. He recognizes it’s a bit of a departure for him, will be “busting out the guitar,” and is grateful to have the level of confidence back. He got a guitar for Christmas after watching his dad play while growing up. Nicole knows he doesn’t feel prepared, and Simon figures he’ll be nervous for the first week. He takes on Dirty Diana and definitely does Michael proud. He had no reason for his nerves, unless it was because of the women gyrating on either side of him. His guitar playing is good too.

L.A. tells Josh it was cool and believes it was the first time he saw him jump out of his comfort zone. He’s really proud to see it and thinks he landed on his feet. Paula knows some of the best performances come out of the discomfort. He learned how to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. It was a show-stopping performance and he continues to raise the bar.

Taking everything into account, as a spectacle, Simon calls it great. However, Josh was overproduced and got lost in the choreography. It wasn’t him onstage, but who Nicole wants to be. He felt it was his weakest performance so far. Nicole tells Simon that unlike the way he mentors some of his contestants, she and her contestants actually like to take risks on the show. She knows they can feel Michael in their veins. He’s inspiring, powerful, dangerous, and bold, and that’s exactly what Josh was this week.

L.A. introduces his first act, Astro, who will pay tribute to “the greatest entertainer that ever lived.” Last week he was expecting to go home or be in the bottom two, so was relieved to be safe and felt the love that America kept him there. His mom and stepdad taught him to perform when he was a little kid. He loves MIchael Jackson and found him inspirational. This will also have him stepping out of his comfort zone, and Nicole thinks L.A. needs to find a way to push the envelope with him. Astro raps to Black and White, and while it sounds hokey, I really do sense MJ’s spirit coming out of Astro. Paris is tapping her hand to the song in the audience.

Nicole calls it BAAD, and by that she means good. She doesn’t know if it’s her favorite performance, but will say she loves the lyrics he wrote. It’s the first time she felt he really enjoyed himself and had fun. Paula thinks Astro is extraordinary. She thinks his words are important and that he’s influential and inspirational. They say he’s the future, but she also thinks he’s their past and present.

Simon starts off completely disagreeing with Nicole, leaving her unsurprised. This is what someone Astro’s age should be doing. It’s one of the best pop songs of all time, and he made it younger and fit for a new generation. He loved the new hook at the end. He’s so happy the public kept him here as he deserves it. L.A. is proud and hopes the Jackson family is as well. Astro took it and made it his own, yet also paid tribute to a great. Steve tells him it was “dope.”

From the audience, Katharine says she’s very happy and doesn’t miss an episode of the show. She’s so happy to be here to see it in person. Prince explains he and his brother and sister are excited about the Cirque du Soleil Jackson show starting in Las Vegas this week. Paris also loves X-Factor very much.

Simon introduces Drew, with no gimmicks. She explains she’s grown a lot in the competition. When she was little, she was super, super shy. Her parents are surprised she has been able to stand up for herself on stage the way she has. She’s a big MJ fan and finds him super-inspiriational. She’s doing a twist on one of his songs, and is singing from a chair at Simon’s request, while Drew notes MJ would never do that. Simon wants to strip away the craziness and just leave her. Paula, though, would rather see her uptempo and fun. From the chair, Drew sings Billie Jean. It’s slowed down to match Drew’s style. It sounds great, but like L.A. keeps saying, just like every other song she does. And she’s not the first to slow this one down, as I think of David Cook doing it a few years ago on American Idol.

Simon, embarrassingly, is the only one with a standing ovation. L.A. admits to being in a really naughty mood, but does say Drew took the song and made it her own, and while it pains him to say it, he liked it. Nicole acts bored, then says she likes Drew, but the whole chair thing, she doesn’t understand. Drew sounded beautiful, and it’s exactly what she expected, but she thinks Simon is playing it safe with Drew. But she showed range and passion. Nicole just wanted her to “get up from the dang chair.”

Paula feels this was Drew’s best vocal performance, but she takes on Simon for choosing to do nothing visual to pay homage to Michael who was all about the visual. She asks Drew if she ever wants to do uptempo. The teenager nods her head, and Paula asks her for April Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, something. Simon reminds Paula that her acts are out of the competition because of too much dancing. He thinks she’s being disrespectful and that Nicole is talking nonsense. He feels Drew paid homage by sitting and singing more simply.

X-Factor, Nov. 23 – Don’t Let Me Down

It just seems so weird and random to suddenly be cutting the finalists down by two tonight. If there were twelve, and they were making it an even ten, that would be one thing, but from nine to seven? It just seems odd. There must be something happening on Fox in a couple weeks that they need to get this thing finished up quickly. And no matter how you look at it, it’s going to be a tough night. It was a night for being inspirational and giving thanks. How do you cut not one, but two people who were pouring their hearts out in their performances?

Instead of starting off with a group performance, we go to the big names right away. Kelly Clarkson takes the stage with a song, Stronger, from her new album. Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul should be proud sitting at the judges’ table, as they helped create her whole career. Will they do the same for the winner of this inaugural season of The X-Factor?

The final nine follow Kelly’s performance with one of their own. They sing a medley of songs that makes me wonder what’s going on as most of them seem to be singing offkey. It’s just odd. It wasn’t just one person, but everyone. Perhaps the sound system there is malfunctioning and no one can hear or something.

Steve Jones announces how the results will work tonight. The act with the lowest amount of votes will go home automatically. Then the next two acts that received the lowest amount of votes will sing for their survival, and the judges will decide which of those two will go home. It’s going to be a very tough decision no matter which two acts are standing there.

No one knows how the names will be announced. Steve asks for Lakoda Rayne and Drew to join him, and one of Lakoda Rayne starts screaming in excitement, then realizes she doesn’t know what’s about to happen. One is safe, and the other is the lowest number of votes. Paula and Simon come and join their acts onstage. Simon looks a little worried. The act going home immediately is Lakoda Rayne. Drew is happy, but tells the other four girls in the group she loves them. Paula is very upset, yet the group promises that this isn’t the end for them.

There are seven remaining acts waiting to find out if they are going home, but they have to wait even longer. Bruno Mars sings his new release, It Will Rain first. I’ve said this before. It doesn’t matter if it’s American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, or The X-Factor. At a certain point, we just want the results, and even though these performances are really good, no one wants to sit through them. We just want our results.

The remaining seven finalists take the stage to find out which five are safe, and which two will sing for their survival. Paula Abdul looks very lonely at the judges table on her own, with the other judges standing onstage next to their acts. The acts called safe are Chris Rene, Rachel Crow, Josh Krajcik, Melanie Amaro, and Astro. This leaves Marcus Canty and Leroy Bell as the two to sing for their survival.

Marcus sings for his survival first. He sings You Lost Me, and starts more quiet and close to the mic, so that it’s hard hard to understand him, and by the end he is absolutely pounding this song, trying to force it out, with the hopes that he’ll stay. Remember this is a guy who gave thanks to his mom last night.

Leroy is up next, singing Don’t Let Me Down. Unlike others in his position, he’s not singing with any desperation. It’s the same performance he always gives. It should be noted that this guy, too, sang for his mom last night.

It goes out to the judges to decide who will stay and who will leave. L.A. calls it a really funny thing, noting that everyone has their own particular taste. He happens to love both of the two guys. If he judges it based on consistency, it goes to Marcus, but if he goes by sizzle, it’s Leroy. He has to plead to the other judges that Marcus has delivered time and time and time again. He’s an amazing singer, and in terms of who can be an amazing star, they’re talking Marcus. It pains him, as he “digs this cat,” but he votes to send Leroy home.

Nicole has no doubt in her mind that Marcus is a star. She feels it. But, Leory has proven that it’s never too late to go after your dream, and it’s never too late to change. He has blossomed into the artist and rock star she knows him to be. She believes in him so strongly and knows he’s isnging for his life. She votes to send home Marcus.

Paula tells Marcus he knows he is one of her favorites and has the ability to be a massive star. He didn’t deliver on the safety song the way Leroy did. Leroy, on the other hand, did sing for his life. She thinks both will have major record deals and go on to sell a lot of albums. She votes to send Marcus home based on the safety song.

Simon likes them both. He thinks in the competition Marcus is nudging ahead of Leroy, but Leroy did sing better tonight. He’s going to let the public decide tonight and sends home Leroy, so that the person with the lowest amount of votes goes home. I think he made a fair choice.

The act going home is Leroy Bell. He tells Steve he’s feeling okay about it. It was a great ride, wonderful journey, and he learned a lot. Nicole steals the microphone and says that he’s amazing and wants everyone to give it up for him.

Ironically, Leroy sang Don’t Let Me Down for his survival, and the judges seemed to agree it was the better performance of the two tonight. I hope Paula is right and that he will go on to get a record deal. He was one of my favorites in the competition. I could listen to that voice all night. I will miss that voice next week.

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