Last night’s The X Factor show concluded with all sorts of unexpected, juicy, normally seen-on-Bravo drama. It started with Astro prefacing his survival performance with these words: “I really don’t want to perform. I feel like it’s unnecessary.” And then moments later, the 15-year-old rapper told America, “I feel like if you’re going to put me in the bottom two, I don’t want to perform for people who don’t want me here.” This comment effectively turned the entire Xanadome against the kid. But I want to begin this on-the-scene recap several minutes before that and tell you how everything you didn’t see on TV went down.
Let’s back up to when there were four acts remaining onstage: Astro, Stacy Francis, Drew, and Rachel Crow. During the break, the audience started chanting Rachel’s name – it was abundantly clear who was the Xanadome’s favorite. Astro and Rachel walked toward the crowd to high-five and hug a few fans, and then my eyes drifted toward Stacy, who was standing perfectly still while holding the hand of her mentor Nicole Scherzinger. As if turned to stone by Medusa, the 42-year-old single mother didn’t budge, nor did she talk to Nicole. Stacy was clearly devastated by being in the bottom four, and as she compared herself to the other three remaining singers, she likely comprehended what the night’s outcome was going to be.
Still, Stacy, you got to try to appear, well, alive. Look at Drew over there, having a friendly conversation with Simon. Look at Rachel, smiling and running around like a kid hunting for Easter eggs. Maybe Stacy was simply depressed about the fact that she was the exact age of the three remaining contestants combined (13 + 14 + 15 = 42). Regardless, things weren’t about to get any easier for the singer.
Back from the break, Steve Jones announced that Drew was safe, which resulted in the crowd chanting Rachel’s name once again. As Drew walked off the stage, she passed by Stacy. Again, no expression or movement on Stacy’s part. That would have never happened on American Idol. On Idol, no matter what, someone was going to hug you after you got saved. But Idol seemed to foster a group “we’re in this together” mentality. The least popular singers would hang out together on those silver stools and stand together when it was time to be eliminated. The X Factor, by comparison, prefers to keep the acts separate from one another as they await their fate.
With the Rachel chanting continuing, Steve finally revealed that the 13-year-old girl was also in the top nine, meaning that we were left with Astro and Stacy. Astro shook L.A. Reid’s hand and then turned toward the audience and gave a little shrug. During the break, Simon grabbed the mic from Bill the Warmup Host and boastfully announced to the audience: “My three girls made it through!”
Then it was time for Stacy to sing her survival song, “Amazing Grace.” Nicole nodded her head as Stacy belted out some of the bigger notes, while Simon slouched back in his chair. And then Astro rapped his version of “Never Can Say Goodbye.” L.A. Reid rocked his head and pumped his arm in the air, but none of the judges stood for Astro at the conclusion of his number. During the subsequent break, Astro retreated to the staircase at the back of the stage, where he silently sat like a scolded child. Stacy remained center stage as tears started to roll down her face. A stagehand quickly arrived with some tissues for the singer, while Steve consoled Stacy by placing his arms around her arms and ultimately giving her a little kiss on the cheek. For the rest of the break, Astro and Stacy never spoke a word to one another.
Before the break ended, the crowd started shouting both Astro and Stacy’s names, but the chants for Astro definitely sounded louder. That would all change in a few minutes. Back on the air, L.A. Reid proceeded to question Astro’s attitude and yet opted to send Stacy home. The crowd booed. A little bit later, Paula also chose to pick Stacy for elimination. The boos got louder. And then during Simon’s critique, Astro delivered his now infamous line about not wanting to perform “for people who don’t want me here.” The Xanadome was furious! Now, instead of yelling both Astro and Stacy’s names, the audience was fully committed to rooting for Stacy. Persuade Simon, we could not, as he opted to send Stacy packing anyway.
During Stacy’s farewell video, Simon walked onstage and then gestured for L.A. Reid to join him. Two stagehands rushed over to Paula and Nicole and persuaded the two judges to also trek the 20 feet toward the stage. As soon as the show ended, the top nine acts emerged, with Rachel being the first to hug Stacy. Wait, did I say the top nine? I meant eight of the top nine acts appeared, as Astro was nowhere to be found. I guess he felt like it was unnecessary.
(Note: My observations of Rihanna’s performance, which was pretaped during Wednesday’s show, can be found here.)