‘X Factor’ Movie Night Fallout: Groups Grope for Survival

by | November 10, 2011 at 10:08 PM | TV News

The Stereo Hoggz

The Stereo Hoggz

It’s only a matter of time before the cuts will start to go into the bone as “The X Factor” inevitably heads towards crowing a $5 million winner and star of their own Pepsi spot..

Tonight was devoted to getting down to 10 finalists, and so far, there are no surprises, except perhaps for a humbled L.A. Reid offering a public apology for his dis of Melanie Amaro last night. “I was too harsh on her,” he admitted. “I was jealous of how good she was.”

L.A. could afford to be magnanimous because all three of his “Boys”—upstart kid rapper Astro, multi-talented Marcus Canty and blue-eyed hip-hopper Chris Rene—made the final cut.

As did nemesis Simon’s three gals—big-voiced Amaro, cutie pie Rachel Crow and girl-next-door Drew—along with Nicole S’ “Over 30s”—single mom/diva Stacy Francis, burrito baritone Josh Krajcik and smooth 60-year-old crooner Leroy Bell.

That left poor Paula once again forced to make a Solomon-like decision between her two remaining groups, which seems unfair given the amount of work she’s already put into mentoring and choreographing their performances after seeing InTENsity fall by the wayside last week, with the Stereo Hoggz and Lakoda Rayne drawing the two lowest vote totals.

“It is a nightmare situation,” she confessed to sympathetic Irish-talking host Steve Jones. “But I wouldn’t have wanted any other category.”

The show began with performances by Willow Smith, who sang a new song, “Fireball,” surrounded by ubiquitous flames, begging the question of where she might place in this competition, while U.K. pop diva Jessie J offered her own fiery version of her latest single, “Domino,” to show what this edition of ‘X Factor’ is missing—an honest-to-goodness dance-floor charmer with sex appeal.

When Jones asked what advice she’d give to the contestants, Jessie recited “the motto I live by… Never expect, never presume, work hard and always be true to who you are.”

Jones then counted down the nine survivors, leaving the The Stereo Hoggz and Lakoda Rayne for the “Final Showdown,” singing songs to impress the judges in an attempt to hang on another week. Rayne, who were formed out of the remnants of several contestants, were up against the Houston-based Hoggz, a veritable family who had grown up singing together.

Lakoda Rayne was first with “No Air,” a song originally sung by American Idol winner Jordin Sparks with Chris Brown, and they turned in a typically crisp, harmony-laden version that was impressive. The Hoggz followed with Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone,” tempering their usual choreography for a solid version of the more obscure song from the King of Pop’s ‘HIStory’ album.

Spoiler Alert!

When both L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger picked the Hoggz to send packing, it was up to Paula to cast the deciding vote, culminating in a tearful abstention. “I’m not going to do this,” she sobbed, “I’m too close to both acts.” until realizing, by not voting, she would be handing the contest over to Lakoda Rayne. Seeking to give the Hoggz a final shot, she voted off the fabricated girl group, leaving it up to Simon to finally send the Houston group—which he had praised only weeks before, insisting, “I don’t think there’s a band in the world as good as you”—on their way.

So, now we’re down to 10, with some pretty strong candidates. Next week, even if Lakoda Rayne is in the bottom two, she’ll have company, and then the fun begins. Who do you think is in the lead as we head to the finals? Do you think Stereo Hogzz were treated fairly? Aside from the remaining group, which of the finalists is most vulnerable? Weigh in as I set up the Power Rankings.

POWER RANKINGS: TOP TEN

1. RACHEL CROW: Riding the momentum of her week in the tabloid spotlight and making like Etta James by way of Beyonce and Billie Holiday. America loves her… Do you?

2. MELANIE AMARO: Her stock rises with L.A.’s apology. She has the pipes, but does she have the personality?

3. JOSH KRAJCIK: He’s already getting known. But is he Taylor Hicks or the new Josh Groban?

4. ASTRO: L.A. is like the cat with the cream as he envisions this kid entering the hip-hop hierarchy under the auspices of Jay Z and Kanye West.

5. MARCUS CANTY: He’s good, but again, is he a dancer, a singer or both? And is he too old-school to attract his age-appropriate following?

6. DREW: The girl next door shows her Lady Gaga flair with homemade dress, but does it overshadow her world class voice?

7. CHRIS RENE: His “Pastime Paradise” take on the Coolio song put him back in the conversation. Dude’s a role model, but can he continue to grow?

8.  LEROY BELL: The boomers’ candidate, this sexagenarian is more than holding his own. Can you say dark horse in the race?

9. STACY FRANCIS: Lost some momentum with her opening performance this week, but those pipes always offer the threat of a knockout punch. Impossible to count out just yet.

10. LAKODA RAYNE: They just keep hanging on, with a vocal blend that truly is magical, considering the pedigree. Is it possible Paula loses all three of her groups in the first three weeks of elimination?