X-Factor Chooses Story Over Substance

Music is a subjective art form. I acknowledge this. I know it to be true. And yet, I can’t help but walk away from this evening’s X-Factor with a bitter taste in my mouth and a great amount of disdain for the producers (Simon included). Find out why after the jump.

Last Thursday, X-Factor began a new round of competition, one that took contestants to the house of their judge/mentor. Once there, contestants were required to sing a song of their respective judge/mentor’s choosing and hope that it kept them in the competition. Immediately, this raised red flags in my mind. Were they really trusting Paula to select music for the groups? On the surface, the answer seems to have been yes, although I’d reason that the producers rather than the judges chose the contestants’ songs and they did so to benefit their favorites.

Conspiracy theories aside, it was clear that all of Thursday and Sunday’s performances had been sweetened in post production. In some cases, the adjustments were subtle. But, more often than not, the editing made it seem as if the contestants were lip-synching. This alone irked me, as X-Factor is ostensibly a singing competition, but the way eliminations shook out tonight proved to be bitter icing on a salty cake.

Certain contestants were shoe-ins going into tonight’s elimination. I mean, how could you have a Top 16 without Drew Ryniewicz or Josh Krajcik? Still, each category had at least 5 singers/groups worthy of a spot on the live shows, which meant that deserving people would have to pack their bags. This is where subjectivity should have come into play. Except that it didn’t. What happened tonight had very little to do with subjectivity and much more to do with sob stories and producer influence.

The Girls

With one spot belonging to Drew Ryniewicz, who Simon thankfully agreed was the best of the 8 girls he saw perform, there were 3 spots up for grabs. Had it been up to me, those spots would have gone to Caitlin Koch, Melanie Amaro, and Tiah Tolliver. Amaro proved she had the most impressive range of the group, Koch had a unique tone and a quirky personality, and Tolliver was the diamond in the rough. Simon, however, gave away prized spots to the incredibly pretty but sadly lacking Simone Battle and the affable yet underwhelming Rachel Crow, eliminating Amaro and Koch.

The Boys

Part of me was hoping that L.A. Reid would wield his power as Epic Records president and offer Brian “Astro” Bradley a record deal on the spot. There’s no denying Astro’s talent, but he’s a rapper in a singing competition. Alas, Reid chose instead to send Astro to the live shows, leaving 3 spots open. One of those spots belonged to Marcus Canty, who is ready to make a contemporary R&B record tomorrow. The other two went to recovering addict Chris Rene and crooner Phillip Lomax. I could make a case for Lomax’s inclusion, even though I think he brings nothing new to the table. Rene, on the other hand, irritates me. Handing a recovering addict, who is less then 5 months out of rehab, 5 million dollars is among the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. Moreover, Rene’s audition paled in comparison to country singer Tim Cifers and the uber marketable Brennin Hunt. So, why is Rene in the Top 16? Part of it is that L.A. Reid doesn’t know how to break a country artist like Cifers but, mostly it’s the producers’ affinity for Rene’s story. They think his story is uplifting and poignant. You may have noticed this when they decided to show us staged shots of him hauling trash set to Coldplay’s “Fix You.”

The Groups

When the judges created two new groups to compete in this round of the competition, it became abundantly clear how weak this category really was. That being said, there were four (maybe five) talented groups worthy of continuing on to the live shows. Paula’s first pick was The Brewer Boys, who were dominate in earlier rounds but faltered in this round due to poor song selection. The Stereo Hogzz deservedly took another of the four spots. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the only group with a shot at the prize. Assuming Paula wanted to take one of her franken-groups through, that should have left the final spot for early favorites The Anser. Instead, The Anser were sent packing, with Paula choosing to bring both of the manufactured groups to the live shows. I can see why she’d want Lakoda Rayne in the finals. All four members are attractive and their audition showed promise. Her decision to take inTENsity boggles the mind. Their performance wasn’t just bad; it gave me flashbacks of the horrid S Club 7. Making a ten person group was a bad idea to begin with, but taking that group through in place of The Anser is a colossal failure on the part of the producers and Paula.

The Over 30s

Josh Krajcik had one of the slots sewn up before tonight’s show even started. The same could probably be said of LeRoy Bell. Both went through. What of the other two spots? Nicole wasted them on Dexter Haygood and Stacy Francis. Francis’ inclusion was somewhat unsurprising, given the way she’s been edited thus far, but that doesn’t mean she was deserving. Nicole admitted on the show last night that Elaine Gibbs outsang Francis, yet she chose to advance Francis. Haygood wasn’t even deserving of a spot in the Top 32. That Nicole sees him as a legitimate competitor is somewhat disheartening. His voice is shot. He can’t remember lyrics. But, he’s homeless. And, homeless trumps almost homeless (sorry Tiger Budbill) in the world of X-Factor.

The Twist

With ten minutes left in the episode, Simon came to realization that he’d made a mistake. How could he have passed over Melaine Amaro? That’s a great question Simon. Here are a few others. How could Paula pass on The Anser? Why is Dexter Haygood in the finals? Should rappers really be allowed to compete in a singing competition? Sadly, Simon sought only to right his wrong, not those of his fellow judges. He allowed Amaro to rejoin the competition, giving him 5 finalists and a competitive advantage on his fellow judges.

Bottom Line

This Top 17 is about 50% incorrect. There doesn’t appear to be a Wild Card round on the horizon. Live shows start next Tuesday. America is now tasked with discarding of Dexter Hayes as quickly as possible.

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6 Responses to X-Factor Chooses Story Over Substance

  1. Chris Roof says:

    Pretty accurate on your views. The biggest miscues to me are Brennin and Jazzlyn Little’s exclusion. I am hoping either or both do Idol or The Voice next and make it huge. Both are ready to dominate the charts.

    I think that Melanie is a shoe-in to win this thing and Simon didnt even pick her!? Last night was all kids of crazy!

    • Jazzlyn’s elimination I saw coming. She was a victim of a tough category. Brennin’s attitude may have done him in, but he’s clearly talented. As for Melanie, I don’t think she’s the frontrunner. I’m not sure I’d even have her in my Top 5.

      • Chris Roof says:

        I wasn’t so much surprised by either of their eliminations, but I was upset. They are both very talented people that should have major record contracts.

        As far as talent goes, I see no one close to Melanie. But on the whole package, she might not be tops.

      • Agree that they were both talented, but I too would have eliminated Jazzlyn so I couldn’t criticize Simon for doing so. If I were to put money down on someone right now, it’d be Drew Ryniewicz.

  2. n hill says:

    I disagree with Simone. She’s uber talented. Dances, sings, writes, and plays an instrument. She already been on a the world stage as a back up sing for BEPs and can handle the pressure. She’s HUNGRY for this.

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