The X Factor Recap: Deadlock Graphic

THE X FACTOR: Top 9 Perform: LeRoy Bell performs in front of the judges on THE X FACTOR airing on Tuesday, Nov. 22 (8:00-10:00pm PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Ray Mickshaw / FOX.
Photo: Ray Mickshaw / FOX

Did you see the flyers around town that said: Create the most on-the-nose animation to accompany Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger! Win $250! I didn’t either, but that’s the only way to explain what happens here. A cartoon woman from an antidepressant commercial cries a tear that waters a tree, and then a fist comes out that says stronger. You know what, sometimes a Jumbotron is just not necessary. (Speaking of antidepressant commercials, has that lady from the Pristiq commercial tried throwing away that bummer wind-up doll of herself? It might help!)

ANYWAY. Steve Jones is getting less sincere as this show goes on. Kelly Clarkson: “Extraordinary!” Bruno Mars: “No, Bruno: thank YOU.” Howie Mandel: “Top man!”

But tonight we get to see the results of the Pepsi Choice Performance contest or whatever it was. Did anyone enter this thing? I have watched every second of this show, I consider myself fairly well-invested in its outcome, and I dick around on the internet all day long, yet I did not even consider investigating this thing. “You wanted a rotating turntable as a set, circus for the wardrobe, hip-hop for the style of dance, and a laser light show!” Sure. That sounds like me. Lay it on us.

Oh boy. I confess I’ve never been a circus guy, but are they full of old-timey prostitutes now? Josh and Leroy get top hats, Marcus, Chris and Astro wear brightly colored jackets, but all the girls look like that Moulin Rouge “Lady Marmalade” video. They sit at a rotating table and perform a medley of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” and “So What,” which is notable mostly for Marcus changing the words “panty-snatcher” to “lady-snatcher.” Okay, we know he’s a church guy, and Melanie’s bro God doesn’t approve of underwear theft, but…colloquial definitions of “snatch” aside, this sounds like an endorsement of kidnapping. I do appreciate that Marcus will only abduct a lady, though. His mama raised him right. Anyway, this was weird. Let’s never do it again.

So the way it works is that the act with the lowest number of votes will automatically go home, and the next two will have to SING FOR SURVIVAL. It seems as though nothing was rehearsed here; Steve Jones calls out for Lakoda Rayne, and one of the Lakodas shrieks with joy before she knows what’s even happening, which is that they’re going straight home. And they’re all still in their ho costumes. Has awkwardness ever caused you physical pain?

It’s a shame to see them go, but it’s important to remember: every American Idol contestant that so much as glanced at a pair of cowboy boots has gotten swept into a Nashville recording contract. They’ll be fine. Best of luck, blonde one and blonde one and other one and blonde one!

Bruno Mars performs next. Here’s the thing about Bruno Mars: he’s got a nice voice and a good ear for melody, and every time he performs at something like this, I start thinking of other things I should be doing. I got my Thanksgiving grocery list done here.

Now it’s time to find out who made it through! Chris Rene is safe! Rachel Crow is safe! Josh Krajcik is safe! That leaves us with Melanie, Astro, Leroy and Marcus. I think Astro will be safe, but I know they’ll torture the kid as long as they possibly can. Wouldn’t you?

On the torture tip, Mobbed premieres after tonight’s show. People harness the power of flash mobs to propose to their girlfriends, or- I swear I saw this- say “I am your father.” Can you imagine sitting through a flash mob musical number and then finding out the guy who put it together is your dad? That would have me winding up my Pristiq doll, I tell you what.

Back to the results: Melanie is safe! Nice work, God! And the last act going straight through is…indeed Astro. So our bottom two is Marcus Canty and Leroy Bell!

Marcus shleps out a microphone stand, and America counts down to the moment when he kicks it to the floor. His performance is no fun at all- are these things always supposed to be joyless, pleading ballads? If there were ever a time for fun, winking Marcus, this would be it.

Leroy sings “Don’t Let Me Down” next, and even though he’s technically a weaker singer than Marcus, it’s a much more engaging performance. I think we’re zeroing in on one of this show’s problems: a singer like Leroy can get swallowed up by the backup dancers and the laser shows and the slo-mo explosions on the Jumbotron; put him alone on a stage and let him go and he’s actually pretty great.

And now the judges must vote, and Steve Jones must immediately hurry them along. LA votes to send Leroy home, and Nicole votes against Marcus, which you knew they would, but they each take their sweet time with it. Steve then takes it to Paula: “Who do you send home?” “Well, it’s not that quick, Steve.” Do they rehearse this show at all, ever? Paula votes to send Marcus home. Simon votes against Leroy, which puts us in DEADLOCK. Were you worried that there might not be a Jumbotron DEADLOCK graphic? Relax; there totally is.

So now we go to the audience vote, which is delivered to Steve in a card. He opens it and stares at the results for literally 10 seconds. And the singer with the lowest number of audience votes is…LeRoy Bell. “I feel like I’ve been on a journey, and I’ve learned so much, and…” and then Nicole grabs the microphone from his 60-year-old hands and says “AND HE’S AMAZING!” Way to grab the spotlight from an old man. Sit down, Nicole.

And that’s that. Lakoda Rayne and LeRoy Bell are free to spend Thanksgiving with their families, and I wish them and you a happy, healthy one. Carb it up with some loved ones, America. You’ve earned it.

The X Factor Recap: Deadlock Graphic