'X Factor' Top 11: Rachel Crow, Drew Ryniewicz slay it

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drew-ryniewicz-x-factor-rec.jpg "The X Factor" is here with the Top 11 and Songs of the Movies. So clearly "X Factor" is not getting too far away from the "Idol" theme-show nights. Also, the product tie-in? "Jack and Jill." Those poor Idols what do we call X Factor contestants? Xies?

1. Stacy Francis, "Queen of the Night," "The Bodyguard"

This ... sounds off to me, almost right from the get-go. Is she sharp? Maybe it's just me, but it sounds off. Plus, she's relying way too heavily on the backup singers. There are times where they are carrying the song and she's just throwing in some ohs. And then she takes to the scaffolding like she's in the "Cold Hearted Snake" video. Hmm. Wow. I really did not like that. I love Stacy Francis, I've totally come around on her and no way should she go home, but I'm not down with tonight.

L.A. Reid's back-handed, name-dropping compliment is awesome. "I co-wrote the song, I still don't like it. But you did much better than I thought you'd do." Wow. That is some skilled back-handedry right there.


2. Marcus Canty, "I'm Going Down," "Car Wash"

So, the original version of this was apparently by Rose Royce and was in the movie "Car Wash." Did not know. Anyway, from what I can make out through the yellow smoke is that this is pretty good. Of course, between the yellow fog bank and then Marcus struggling out of his jacket like he's gone all "Cuckoo's Next" on us, I am very distracted. He said no dancing, but there was too much going on anyway. That would've been better if he'd just stood there. But vocally, I liked it.

Nicole cites the smoke, saying he's a beautiful dream happening. Nicole has weird dreams.


3. Drew Ryniewicz, "Fix You," "You, Me and Dupree"


First of all, what a costume. We're kind of in love with it. And we're also in love with this performance. It's haunting, it's gorgeous, we love. I sort of agree with L.A. Reid that she has done the same thing every week, but if it ain't broke ... ? This is one of my biggest pet peeves with these shows - do something different, take risks, don't be the same, blahblah, but when they do? The judges lose their minds - that's not you, be yourself, blahblah.

Anyway, well done, Drew. Paula hates the outfit, then it turns out Drew designed it. Whoopsy daisy, Paula.

Watch her performance here.


4. LeRoy Bell, "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "Runaway Bride"

I really liked this, great song choice for LeRoy. He's got a very Bono vibe about him. I will say, though, I didn't love the arrangement. It got a little funky for awhile there in the middle and I was not a fan of that. But that's not his fault, he did well. Nicole says it was like being taken to church at a rock concert. Ooookey dokey.


5. Lakoda Rayne, "Somebody Like You," "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Guys"

Country is a great choice for them, they look like a cute little country group. The solos are all pretty solid and the harmonies are nice, especially on "I can't DOOOOO" every time. I don't have any desire to run out and buy this group's album, because I just don't see a lot of there there, but they are hardly the worst in the competition.

UPDATE: After seeing the rest, these guys do not look as good as they did at this point.


6. Astro, "Lose Yourself," "8 Mile"

So, how come Astro gets to ("has to?") write his own songs every week? First off, I say gets to because I'm sure there are other people who might want to do semi-original stuff. Secondly, if it's "has to," like in the video package, that's not fair to Astro. Maybe he doesn't want to some week?

Anyway. This is the first week I've really liked Astro. He seems much more grown-up. The stage isn't going as crazy, he's not giving ridiculous "X Factor" shout-outs. Though there is something in there about his pancreas and insulin .... huh. Like the Joe Frazier shout-out.

Thumbs up for Astro this week.


7. Melanie Amaro, "The Man in the Mirror", "This Is It"

Gosh, do we even need to critique her? That was great. It was upbeat, fun, and sounded like the original without being a complete copy, mostly because it's a woman singing. She looked fabulous, sounded fabulous. What more is there to say? We would totally download that song.

L.A. says she always sings songs that like, which I disagree with. "I Have Nothing" and "Desperado" are not anything like "Man in the Mirror." It's like he pulled a critique out of a hat and just said it without actually thinking first. He then says it may be a mentor issue. Yes, let's not lose a chance to slam Simon for no good reason. *headsmack*

Watch Melanie's performance here.


8. Stereo Hogzz, "Ain't No Other Man," "Get Smart"

Interesting choice. Taking on Aguilera is a big risk. Remarkably, they really pull it off. I'm still shocked these guys were in the Bottom 2 last week, I think they're just terrific. In this one, their suits, their hats, their choreography down those steps? Fabulous. We also love the lights on the stage. They're classy, fun and not too obtrusive. And hey, the Hogzz also happen to sound great.

Weirdly, L.A. Reid, who acts like he's the hippest guy on the planet, didn't know the song. Um, I'm a 30-year-old whose favorite band is the Eagles and I knew that song. Simon then says they're not performing the record they would make. Um, how did that song not sound current? It was released five years ago?! Plus, last week they did "Rhythm Nation," which is totally old, by comparision.

Simon and L.A. are wacked out this week.


9. Josh Kracik, "A Little Help From My Friends," "Across the Universe"

Some Joe Cocker?! Finally. This is exactly who he should be singing, with his own twist on it so it's not a sound-alike. And that's just what he does. Love it. I want to download this. This is wonderful. He has such a nice bass to her voice in the early stuff and doesn't sound all fuzzy like he has some in the past. Then he totally lets it rip later in the song. Could've done with out the wind machine, but other than that - great.

Watch his performance here.


10. Chris Rene, "Gangsta's Paradise," "Dangerous Mind"

What did he change the lyrics to? "Passtime paradise"? Hmm. I honestly couldn't tell. Anyway, not the point. This was very good, easily the best he's done since his "Young Homey" audition song. His original lyrics are good, as Nicole points out. We also like that Simon calls him a potential real star.


11. Rachel Crow, "I'd Rather Go Blind," "Cadillac Records"


This is amazing. It's the first time since her performance at Simon's house that I really liked Rachel Crow. She's too good for that teenybopper crap. This is what she should be singing. The horns, the old-timey microphone, it all works so well. This is wonderful. She also sounds so grown-up, but doesn't look too grown-up, which is nice. Gorgeous. Rachel's back in the competition. I love that she cheekily goes, "I picked my song this week" and it really explains the stupid crap she's been singing (coughSimoncough).

Watch Rachel's performance here.

What did you think, "X Factor" fans? Who's goign home? I would have to go with .... Stacy or Lakoda, honestly. The rest of the group was pretty solid, though based on them being Bottom 2 last week, I would not be shocked if the Hogzz went home.


Photo/Video credit: FOX