If you thought the public was pissed off about young Drew getting the boot, imagine the outrage when “The X Factor” managed to eliminate one of its most popular contestants on tonight’s results show.
It came in a dynamic, gut-wrenching, soul-tearing sing-off between the two lowest vote getters as the field narrowed from five to four.
It all came down to 20-year-old soul singer Marcus Canty and the dimpled Shirley Temple-by way of-Michael Jackson cherub Rachel Crow.
Already one of the lowest vote-getters twice before, Canty pulled out all the stops with a full-on Al Green-meets-Teddy Pendergrass rendition of Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Goin’ Down,” a savvy choice considering the soul diva had just performed “Need Someone,” a track from her current album My Life II, earlier on the show.
Like a great heavyweight fight, the indomitable Crow reprised her tearful version of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” in a final “Save Me” scenario.
It wasn’t tough to tell what would happen when the vote went to the judges.
Once again, Simon Cowell was hoisted on his own petard of arrogance (and I admit it made for great sangfroid theater), just as he was last week when Nicole and Paula both turned against Drew, sending the youngster home.
With both L.A. and Cowell supporting their own candidates and sending the other’s home, the outcome once more was down to the two gals, or as Simon dubbed them, “Squiddly and Diddly.”
Paula admitted without much hesitating that Rachel blew her away, so it was then down to Nicole, and watching her sob like a baby, it wasn’t hard to see how she was going to screw her nemesis Cowell this time. With the tally 2-1 in favor of Crow, she deliberately sent Rachel home, which meant the burden of having to pick between the two went to the popular vote.
Mouthing, “It’s OK,” Rachel consoled the ex-Pussycat Doll, “Please don’t cry. I’m good with anything.”
SPOILER ALERT 2!
So the elimination round between Marcus and Rachel went to a vote, and it was time for the Crow to fly home, the previously implacable youngster dropping to the floor in a tearful heap of her own that prompted thoughts of child exploitation.
“Mom, you promised me,” she bawled, as Simon tried to console her.
“Without you, I am nothing,” she said to her fans as a farewell. “This is not the ending.”
A dazed Cowell could only utter, “We’re going to be hearing a lot more from Rachel Crow.”
SPOILER ALERT 3
The evening started with a Lenny Kravitz performance of “Rock Star City Life,” a song from his just-released Black and White America album, right into, “Are You Gonna Go My Way?,” prompting Steve Jones to make the cringe-worthy observation, “No man should look that good in that much leather,” and us to have a whole new appreciation for Ryan Seacrest.
The dude did manage to wrangle all the different personalities and that stentorian English accent did help make for drama, as Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene were the first two to receive a pass into next week’s semifinals, which will determine the $5 million prize winner.
When Melanie Amaro became the third contestant to move on, it left Canty and Crow to go head to head for, as Jones intoned, “The single most important performance of their lives.”
So, we’re down to four: Josh Krajcik, a rocker insisting he’s a soul singer; Chris Rene, who boasts a great human interest story and a very commercial facility with blue-eyed folk, hip-hop and R&B; Melanie Amaro, whose revelation of her newly found island patois was the single biggest game-changer so far; and Marcus Canty, who just won’t go away, and has the makings of a young Sam Cooke.
It’s a nice multi-ethnic mix of performers, certainly more indicative on what’s going on in the current music scene than the lily-white ‘American Idol,’ which hasn’t had a person of color win since Jordin Sparks in Season Six. As my viewing partner and ace rapper himself, J-Best put it, “This is ‘Urban American Idol’.” And indeed it is, with three of the final four of various racial backgrounds and one white-trash American for good measure.
POWER RANKINGS: THE FINAL FOUR
1. MELANIE AMARO: She’s the clear-cut favorite now, but then again, don’t young girls do all the voting on this show? That could hurt her.
2. CHRIS RENE: He was one of the first to make an impression, and he has kept up a consistent flow. Talented, affable, with a great story to boot. Is he worth $5 million?
3. MARCUS CANTY: This aw-shucks boy next door is genuinely likable nnd you believe everything he sings. That’s no small talent. And he’s shown an ability to bounce back from adversity. Not such a dark horse anymore.
4. JOSH KRAJCIK: Does Krajcik Magic=Soul Patrol? Will his oversized persona translate to disc? Or will his shtick wilt like Taylor Hicks’ did away from the spotlight?