Last week was Halloween week, so fittingly, and sometimes horrifyingly, the TV singing-show scene was a virtual bloodbath. Several promising contestants got the Voorhees-esque axe on both "The Voice" and "The X Factor," in a series of brutal cuts, and it was no thriller.
Over on Fox, "The X Factor" finally went live, although the top 16 semifinalists were still competing for their respective coaches, not for the public's votes. One contestant per team was cut on Thursday, and while a couple of the judges made smart decisions--or at least the best decisions they could make under such difficult circumstances--two other judges (L.A. Reid, Britney Spears, I'm looking at you) foolishly eliminated strong contenders who really should have made the top 12. Britney sent home the young girl with an old soul, Diamond White, despite the fact that Diamond had clearly won in a sing-off against Season 1 InTENsity reject/heartthrob Arin Ray. And L.A., who just might be an even worse judge than Britney, dumped David Correy, a guy many thought actually had a chance to win the entire competition.
On the brighter and bolder side, two of the show's most dazzling performers did make "The X Factor's" top 12. Jason "Mr. Entertainment" Brock, a 35-year-old former IT tech who comes across like the big glittery lovechild of Rip Taylor and Liza-with-a-Z, somehow made it through, despite Simon Cowell declaring him "utterly horrendous" and his own mentor, L.A., forgetting his name on the air. (Rude!) I really have no idea how L.A. failed to recall the name of a Vegas-y showman who performed a J.Lo club banger in a zebra-patterned lounge-lizard jacket while flanked by feather-headdressed showgirls and Sprockets dancers in midriff tops, then dared to fondle the rear end of hunky new host Mario Lopez. I dunno, that all seemed pretty memorable to me. But maybe Jason will make a bigger, better, and more lasting impression on his pathetically apathetic coach when he performs this week, hopefully with even more showgirls, even more himbo dancers, and even more exploding glitter. And Mario Lopez better watch his back, literally.
The other "X Factor" standout was hip-pop trio Lyric 145, whose awesomely eyepatched frontwoman, Lyric Da Queen, is clearly the "Mrs. Entertainment" of this show. Lyric 145's performance of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's "Boom Shake The Room," mashed up with a bit of PSY's "Gangnam Style," made me feel like "The X Factor" had just gotten preempted for a 1989 rerun of "Yo! MTV Raps," and--to quote an oft-used Britney catchphrase--I was thoroughly entertained.
Some other important takeaways from "The X Factor's" first live week:
-- L.A. Reid really isn't good with names. Along with his aforementioned brain fart when he genuinely forgot who Jason Brock was, he also called one of the girls in country trio Sister C "Middle C." Britney apparently also has her own name-retention issues: She referred to Ke$ha as "Keesha." And perhaps the most name-challenged judge of all is Simon, since, after his girl group LYLAS was forced to change its name for legal reasons, he actually rechristened them "1432." Come on. These talented girls deserved a better moniker than something that sounds like an ATM PIN code. Thankfully, Simon later admitted that 1432 was the most "rubbish" band name ever, and he announced that it would be changed again. The girls formerly known as LYLAS actually seemed more excited about this news than they were by the fact that they'd made the top 12. And who could blame them?
-- New co-host Khloe Kardashian is, so far, doing much better than expected. She's definitely an improvement over last year's fired emcee Steve Jones (not that that's saying much), and she continues to prove that she is The Least Annoying Kardashian (though that's really not saying much). But she shouts everything, with about as much voice-modulation control as Will Ferrell's "SNL" character Jacob Silj, seemingly totally unaware that a hot microphone is only about half an inch from her lips. And when someone else is using that mic--like, say, the poor girls from eliminated group Sister C, giving their goodbye speech--she tends to whisk it away from them while they're still in mid-sentence. Apparently spending the past few years of her life with a mic-pack strapped to her back, on her various E! reality shows, prepared her in no way for a job that involves operating an actual microphone.
-- There really needs to be an X Factor Drinking Game. Take a gulp every time Britney says "amazing," "I was thoroughly entertained," or "I was not expecting that"; every time Demi Lovato uses the word "eyes," flirts with a male contestant, or complains that she is bored and that a singer is "stiff"; or every time L.A. just acts like a jerk. Then get yourself to the nearest emergency room, because you'll probably have acute alcohol poisoning. Play this game responsibly, people.
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