'X Factor' Recap: Now With 100 Percent Less Intensity - Rolling Stone
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‘X Factor’ Recap: Now With 100 Percent Less Intensity

Paula’s group acts don’t fare so well in the latest results show

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Host, Steve Jones announces that inTENsity has been eliminated on 'The X Factor.'

Ray Mickshaw / FOX

The thing about making predictions is that none of us knows what the future holds. The one true crystal ball is that which comprises the borders of each day, its truths made evident only in passing. Man plans, God laughs, et cetera and so forth. All this is to say that, holy crow, were my results-show guesses ever off!

On the previous X-Factor, all 12 finalists performed, the judges fought over clothing, and host Steve Jones taught the world how to Twitter. But the question remains: who will continue on to next week, and who instead will find their publicist spinning a daytime talk show appearance out of being booted. At the top of the results episode, Jones explains how we’re going to answer that one dangling question over the course of an entire hour. Turns out he’ll first reveal the 10 most voted-on acts from the performance show before the bottom two contestants song-battle each other for a chance to remain in the game. “They must now sing for survival,” Steve announces gravely. Here’s hoping we avoid any kills on this program.

Piggybacking off the mortality talk, the judges are again introduced with the opening strains of “Live and Let Die.” Are they going to come out to this song every show now? Why not try a more fitting number like, I don’t know, the Atlas Sound’s “Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel”? The contestants fare much better, sprouting up one by one to take part in a group sing-along of “Without You.” (The “you” here is you, X-Factor fan, so enjoy your song and think about what life will be like without LeRoy Bell or Astro to get you through the day.) 

It’s been amusing over the course of the series to see the hosts hype up the “iconic” nature of appearing in a Pepsi commercial – which is part of the prize of winning this series. Paula and Co. talk as though this is a widely agreed-upon aspirational goal for young performers. On this episode, though, the young performers themselves are made to gush in reverent tones about the rich history of these commercials. Lakoda Rayne even speculates that their commercial will feature actual Pepsi phosphate raining down upon them like so much manna from heaven. 

True, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and Kanye West all appeared in these commercials, but a Pepsi ad is iconic only insofar as the performer in the ad is an icon already – it’s a reflection, not a self-fulfilling prophecy. Here’s a test: Ask the next person you see to name any performer who’s ever been in a Pepsi commercial, and watch what happens. If anything, the person might name MJ, but only because MJ set himself ON FIRE while filming his commercial.

As if to prove the point, current Pepsi ad star, Outasight, drops by to sing his song and it’s remarkable only for how closely the dude resembles Steve Jones. Speaking of Steve, after the playful Pepsi interlude he announces that it’s time to get down to business . . . after these messages (naturally.) When we return, he reads off the names of the acts who got the most votes “in no particular order.” This way, Stacy Francis can sweat it out in the bottom three, even though we all know there’s no way in hell she’s going home tonight. After her name is called, it’s down to just Intensity and the Stereo Hogzz – both acts from Paula’s category!

“It’s difficult for America to relate to groups,” she says, flailing to find an explanation. You have to feel a little sorry for Paula here, though, having two of her groups forced to face off against each other. Especially considering that both groups’ choreography – a Paula specialty – were highlights of the previous evening’s show. 

When the two groups perform, each judge votes for which one they wish to keep around. If the four are deadlocked, Steve informs us, the act that got the least votes the previous night will be dismissed. With scantly any prep time at all, the Hogzz are rushed onstage to perform Samantha Sang’s “Emotion.” It’s a strong showing, but it lacks the confidence and swagger we’ve come to expect from these bros. Intensity is up next, performing “My Life Would Suck Without You,” the catchy Kelly Clarkson jam. Despite solid solos on the verses, the chorus here sounds way too much like Kidz Bop – their fate is sealed. As surprising as it is that Simon’s the lone holdout, everyone else predictably votes against Intensity and we see, like, seven or eight children burst into devastation-tears onstage.

Farewell, Intensity! Sorry I predicted you’d be gone by now, Josh Krajcik, sweet prince of burritos. Let’s see whether Paula’s remaining groups can clean up their acts and kick it into high gear for next week.

LAST EPISODE: Kids in America


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