Last week on The X Factor: I was in Alaska and when I got home, my parents (our dogsitters) had erased the episode from my DVR to make room for Dancing with the Stars. After berating them, I consulted the Internet, which informed me that Houston's Stereo Hogzz were ousted from the competition after going head-to-head with Lakota Rayne. Looks like America isn't crazy about Paula Abdul, and/or her groups category.
This left us with ten acts to compete on last night's "Rock Night" episode. There was a lot less rocking out than one might expect from a rock-themed episode.
Team Paula: Lakota Rayne • Lakota Rayne revisits Fleetwood Mac again, singing "Go Your Own Way." They always sound great but the production -- dancers, flashing lights, big boxes for the girls to stand on -- is dumb. L.A. says, "This is the first time I've seen you have fun." Nicole: "I think you found your lane--country rock. I want to see you let go even more." Simon: "I thought tonight overall was a complete mess. I hope America sticks with you because I think there is a good performance waiting to happen. It was gimmicky." Paula: "These girls have earned their place right here on this stage."
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Team Nicole: Over 30s • Leroy Bell performs Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight." He looks great and sounds good, but L.A. and Simon both continue to criticize his laid-back stage presence. L.A. says, "You're still not working it like a rock star -- you're good, man, but I need more," while Simon digs Nicole, saying, "Right now you're being mentored like a session singer. Right now you can't win this competition." Paula asks Leroy to connect more, while Nicole encourages Leroy to soldier on, saying this was his best performance to date. My husband and I discuss the judges' reactions, and his verdict is that Leroy is too popular with the ladies to go home: "Yeah, but the ladies love him! Listen to them scream! They're all like, 'I want that 60 year old up between my legs.'" Maybe he should be recapping this show. • Stacy Francis butchers the "It's All Coming Back to Me," sung by both Meat Loaf and Celine Dion. Stacy still loves to cry a lot, and still refuses to use waterproof mascara. Surprisingly L.A. gives her a compliment, but he keeps it brief: "You sang that song really well." Paula feels otherwise, stating: "I'm going to be really honest. This was my least favorite song you've ever performed. I just didn't feel it." Simon rips the song choice, and quips, "I wanted rock, that was a pebble." Nicole defends herself and Stacy, saying: "There is a genre of rock music called glam rock and honey, you are glam-rock diva tonight." • Josh Krajcik gives one of the only "true" rock performances of the night, with his version of Foo Fighters' "The Pretenders." After the song is over my husband yells, "Now this is what I'm fucking talking about! This is rock and roll! Not no gospel song!" Not surprisingly, the judges love it. L.A. compliments Josh's authenticity and stage presence, and says, "You are the only person who has rocked this stage tonight." Paula calls it the best performance of the night, while Simon exclaims, "That was BLOODY FANTASTIC." Nicole calls Josh "the ultimate rock star."
Team L.A. Reid: The Boys • Chris Rene sounds amazing on Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry," but it seems like an unusual choice. There is some debate about whether Marley's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame makes this particular performance a "rock" performance. Nicole says she is confused, and admits it's not her favorite of Rene's performances. When Simon says it would be great if it was reggae week, L.A. counters with a challenge for Simon's contestant Drew to perform hip-hop during a hip-hop-themed week. • Astro, who gets stronger and stronger every week, does "I'll Be Missing You" by P. Diddy/Puff Daddy/Sean "Puffy" Combs/Nickname TBA. The judges gush. Paula says he is "phenomenal" and "ready right now" and Nicole thinks he is ready for a $5 million record deal. Simon tells Astro he has a shot at winning it, and mentor L.A. tells Astro he "knocked it out of the park." • Marcus Canty tackles Janis Joplin's "Little Piece of My Heart," running the risk of sounding very karaoke. He avoids it, and the performance is one of his strongest yet. Nicole tells him he "lit that stage on fire!" and Paula calls him "the entertainer of this competition." Simon disagrees, saying, "I don't think the song suited you. This was like you pretending to be someone else."
Team Simon: The Girls • Rachel Crow takes on the Rolling Stones, performing "Satisfaction." The arrangement, stage production and costuming make the song cute and fun enough to not seem too old for 13-year-old Rachel. The judges and the audience love her. L.A. Reid says he's proud, and she can definitely sell concert tickets. Nicole compliments Simon: "That was the absolute perfect song choice. For me, this is my favorite performance of yours. Rock and roll is supposed to be effortless and fun, and you made it look easy." Paula compliments her ability to connect to the camera. Simon compliments Rachel -- and himself -- stating: "I can see you winning the show. People already like you -- now they're going to start to respect you." • Melanie Amaro sings "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. My husband and I argue about how "rock" this performance is, echoing the arguments of the judges who feel the simple piano accompaniment makes this more gospel than rock. Whether or not this is rock, it's uninspiring even with powerful vocals like Melanie's. • Drew performs the angst-y U2 classic, "With or Without You," and sparks yet another debate about whether she has depth as an artist. She sings beautifully and has a beautiful tone, but every song is starting to sound the same. Nicole wishes Drew had picked up the tempo, while Paula advises her that "diversity leads to long success."
Tune in for tonight's X Factor results show at 7 p.m. CT. View clips and performances from last night's episode online.