'X Factor' Recap: Just Like in the Movies - Rolling Stone
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‘X Factor’ Recap: Just Like in the Movies

Contestants walk the red carpet and take on songs from ‘The Bodyguard,’ ‘8 Mile’ and more

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Josh Krajcik performs on FOX's 'The X Factor.'

Ray Mickshaw / FOX

It’s Movie Night on The X Factor. All of this week’s performances are soundtrack songs, leaving the door open for less predictable fare like Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Though of course it turns out there’s no Hedwig – duh – Simon and the judges do throw some curveballs into the mix.

“We’ve only dreamed of this,” says either Lakoda or Rayne from all-girl country-pop quartet Lakoda Rayne. The other way we know it’s Movie Night is that the contestants get to live out the very common dream of walking the red carpet at a movie premiere one has nothing to do with. It doesn’t seem to faze anyone that the movie is the “new Adam Sandler romp Jack and Jill,” which looks poised to sweep the Razzies this year.

“You guys must be tight,” the once and future Happy Gilmore asks Josh Krajcik of his and other contestants’ relationships. “It’s like we’re not even competing for $5 million!” Josh jokes. “Hahaha,” Sandler says with dead robot eyes. “That’s a lot of bread.” Oh brother.

To kick things off, Stacey Francis reaches inside a cardboard box labeled “wheelhouse” and pulls out a Bodyguard soundtrack jam that’s not “I Will Always Love You.” She strut-dances her way through “Queen of the Night,” determined to make an impression. Afterward, L.A. cryptically informs her she did better than he thought she would. His restraint is understandable, considering he co-wrote the song for Whitney. 

Former contestant Jazzlyn Little (gone and mostly forgotten) already covered Rose Royce’s “I’m Going Down” in her audition, but Marcus Canty‘s performance here simply owns. He comes out in a disco ball of a jacket, which he removes after much difficulty, whipping the crowd up to a frothy consistency. He then leaves the stage thanking “the kids at the church” on the way out. A class act, this one.

Drew (who has now ethnically cleansed her last name) tries on Coldplay’s “Fix You” for size, and it almost works. The kaleidoscopic background and her DayGlo-mosquito-of-the-future outfit are way distracting, though. There’s some argument over how much this song is known from film (it’s from abysmal garbage-movie You, Me, and Dupree) and Paula has a problem with the mosquito dress. “That outfit took all the seriousness away,” she says before Drew reveals she designed it herself. “I feel bad,” Paula says, “but I’m being honest.” Simon glares at his co-host and urges her: “Don’t be.”

Making use of background gospel singers, LeRoy Bell busts out a gloriously funky take on U2’s massive “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and lights the place up. “You finally got it right,” L.A. says, before admitting he was getting bored with LeRoy before. LA’s compliments are almost uniformly backhanded tonight – he next tells Lakoda Rayne that they’re his favorite girl group in the competition… even though they’re the only girl group in the competition.

Next up is the ever-ascendant Astro, inserting his own lyrics into Eminem’s Oscar-winning 8 Mile banger “Lose Yourself.” The 15-year old tears it up yet again, with tight lyrics and a timely in-song RIP to Joe Frazier. Paula likes that Astro sampled a “myriad of genres” even though, uh, it was clearly all a hip-hop song. “You’re like the cat that got the cream,” Simon says, acknowledging the ultra-rarity of an Eminem clearance on a TV show. Wait – did he mean cream or C.R.E.A.M?

Simon doesn’t quite break Movie Night rules, but having Melanie Amaro sing “Man in the Mirror” because it was featured in the Michael Jackson CONCERT MOVIE This Is It seems like a reach. After Melanie vocally justifies the track, L.A. points out that the cover isn’t very inventive. “You’re doing the same song every time,” he says accusingly. If golden-throated Melanie does have any flaws, that’s the one. Nicole goes a little overboard, praising Melanie’s voice as “a vessel for the love in this song” before adding that she could “sing the phone book.” People, please: let’s all stop trying to repurpose the phone book as entertainment. Is the phone book even a thing anymore?

The Stereo Hogzz take on Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man,” which was apparently featured in a motion picture at some point. “All I have to say is: bananas,” Nicole announces, like a fourth grader who has learned a new word. “That’s really digging deep,” chides Simon, adding that the Hogzz should be “less cabaret” in the future. That’s what my boss is always telling me!

Over a trailing organ, Josh Krajcik nails Joe Cocker’s version of “A Little Help From My Friends,” wrapping his estimable vocal arsenal around each yowl and really coming into his own tonight – even during a call-and-response with his backup singers. “Your voice is comforting,” says Paula. “It’s Chicken Soup for the Soul.” We would have also accepted Jewish Penicillin or Amish Magic Juice, but fine.

Chris Rene is in top form too, adding his own lyrics to “Gangsta’s Paradise,” a Coolio song more famous than the mediocre Michelle Pfeiffer movie it’s indelibly tied to. “Nobody told me it’d be eeeasy,” Chris raps, stretching the word out like Tupac. His Rick Ross grunts are less convincing, but no matter – it’s Chris’ most impressive work since week one. “You just channel,” Nicole says. “You were channeling.” Who was he meant to be channeling – Coolio? Dude was way better than Coolio.

Finally, Rachel Crow is batting clean up. The most polished thing about the 13-year old used to be the coached effect she used to butter up judges between songs. Now all that razzle dazzle seems directed at her performance on Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” which is outstanding. Nicole looks like it pains her to feel what Rachel makes her feel. Rightly so – the girl is a powerhouse, which makes it awkward when host Steve Jones spookily threatens “I want to eat you up!” out of nowhere. RUN, RACHEL, RUN!

Predictions for tonight’s results show: it will probably come down to the Stereo Hogzz and… somebody else. Not sure who. Look for guest shots from Jessie J and Astro’s spiritual sibling, Willow Smith too.

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