'X Factor' Top 12: Astro And Amaro Shine, Rene Falters Slightly On Night Of Strong Performances

The voting has begun... how will they decide who gets voted off? Who do you want to see go?
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The X Factor - Top 12 Perform

The X Factor’s final 12 contestants are singing for our votes and most importantly to see who gets the $5 million recording contract with Sony and an “Iconic Pepsi Commercial.” Things must be going well for Fox and the show because we found out today that The X Factor has been picked up for a second season…good job, Simon!

Thursday we get the results and one act will be going home. I’m wondering how they’re going to do it. Do we end up with one from each group at the end? Does the lowest vote-getter go home no matter what their category is, so maybe The Groups will go home one after the other and in three weeks Paula will be out of a gig?

The Stereo Hogzz are up first and they seem to be at a disadvantage vocally but have the best moves of their category. They’re performing Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation,” which thrills me, and Paula choreographed the hell out of it. Moves were fabulous of course, a little predictable but, they know how to move as a group. Vocals were sketchy. Paula’s thrilled with what they’ve done. LA Reid says they have what it takes to be a star but, it’s not up to him. Simon thoroughly enjoyed it and hates that Paula did well. And calls it a “master class of choreography, vocals” and they “were so slick.” Once again Worthless Host Steve Jones awkwardly interrupts Paula and cuts off the group; how nice of him.

Chris Rene - X Factor

Chris Rene says he has a hard time with other people’s songs because he’s a songwriter, he can’t always connect to words from someone else. Vocally he comes out much stronger than he has the past two times with a rappy, singy version of “Superstar” and he’s one of my faves, but he’s one note as far as his swagger and dance moves. I’ll be sick of the hand wave in a week or two. Nicole thought he was beautiful and amazing, and for some weird reason says “Congratulations.” Paula says he’s transparent and always wants to work harder, and she loved it, Simon says he’s much improved over last week.

LeRoy “Yes I’m really 60” Bell is still struggling with his confidence in rehearsals and he seems to bring that with him into his performance of “Already There” which is an amazing, life-changing song and while he did it justice, he was closed in. LA likes it…ish. Paula said he’s a strong worker, Simon says “you’re a great singer, but you have confidence issues” and attacks Nicole for not connecting with LeRoy for the second week in a row. Worthless Host Steve Jones asks LeRoy if he has confidence issues and he says no, which means LeRoy has a lack of personality issue but can sing his face off.

Rachel Crow sings “Walking On Sunshine” but changes the chorus to “You’re My Sunshine” but it’s to the music of the Katrina and the Waves hit of the ‘80s. Once again they have Rachel literally on a pedestal, which is awkward. LA Reid says Rachel is one of the most charismatic people he’s ever met and she can do anything she wants. Nicole calls her America’s sunshine and calls Simon out on the lyric change. Simon tells Nicole “regarding the lyric change, it’s called being inventive, darling” or something equally wonderfully snarky.

Lakonda Raye - The X Factor

Paula’s all girl group manufactured by Simon and company, Lakoda Rayne sing “Landslide” and it’s rocky and pitchy; they’re singing at slightly different speeds and the wind machine is in full effect. It’s a minor traffic accident, a fender bender of a performance. LA Reid and Nicole are smoking something because they think the girls finally clicked and sounded like one voice. Simon said it’s an improvement but hates their outfits.

{Disclaimer: Worthless Host Steve Jones is directing you to Twitter.com not “Twitta.com.” I just wanted to minimize any possible confusion. You're welcome.}

Josh Krajcik - X FactorSleeper hit Josh Krajcik sings Christina Perri’s “Jar Of Hearts” which is a little odd for his voice but since I’m a major fan of him and his voice, I loved it. I just wanted a big, show stopping note or moment and I never got it. Simon said “that was incredible” and that his risk paid off.

Melanie Amaro - X Factor

Simon’s infamous fifth girl, Melanie Amaro goes out of her comfort zone this week as Simon has given her “Depserado” and it was brilliant. I do not like her, nor do I want her to win but she has been the best, most flawless, compelling performance of the night to now. Simon couldn’t stop gushing all over himself and patting himself on the back and even went as far as to tell Melanie, “You are the one to beat… trust me.”

Astro - X Factor

LA Reid says Astro will only do his own lyrics, so I didn’t know what to expect when Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray” starts…but then he freaking killed it. This kid is amazing and quickly climbing to the top of my favorite’s list and suddenly it changes to Missy Elliot’s “Get Ur Freak On” and I bet LA Reid is peeing himself right now, because Astro is so super talented with so many years ahead of him. Simon says “you’re a real little star, your ego is getting bigger and that’s great.”

InTENsity is Paula’s other manufactured group and now that they’ve had a taste of the live show last week, they’re getting picky and vocal about their song choice, calling it “cheesy” and “childish.”  Did I mention they’re a group of teenagers? Their song is “Kids Of America” kind of mashed up with “Party Rock” and it’s actually good. I don’t know what they were whining about. Simon says he shouldn’t like them but does, in spite of himself.

Drew Ryniewicz - The X Factor

Drew No Last Name starts off on flower petals in a rumpled, floofy, homecoming dress and I’m not into this at all, until she stands up. She still looks like an overgrown four year old in her ballerina outfit but I love her voice; I just hated it on this Nelly song. LA Reid tells her he loves her spirit and he’s sorry she has the wrong mentor.

LA Reid throws originality out the window and gives Marcus Canty, the boy that sounds like Bobby Brown, not only a Bobby Brown song, but one that he wrote for Bobby which seems weird. My fears were unfounded as Marcus sings the opening strains of “Every Little Step” because he’s a much better vocalist than Bobby. He’s doing a lot of dancing and seems like he’s using the backing track quite a bit as a crutch. He has a stage full of dancers with him and honestly he was more captivating at his first audition, dancing solo. Paula calls him the total package.

After Simon called Stacy Francis a “church singer” last week, Nicole has decided to give her my beloved Patty Griffin’s gospely “Up To The Mountain.” Stacy has a magnificent voice but, she sang at me, not to me and didn’t move me one bit. I prefer Patty’s version but Kelly Clarkson did it as well and she gave me goose bumps. This version was generic, predictable and left me cold. I love it as a quieter, more understated song so the lyrics shine. Stacy, however, wouldn’t know understated if it bit her on the big toe. The judges saw it the exact opposite and feel she was connected, poised and that she had a moment. I will say she’s styled much better than last week but that’s all the praise she gets from me.

The surprises tonight were not my favorites stepping up or surprising me but that I liked some acts I previously dismissed like InTENsity and Melanie Amaro. If I had to pick, Astro was the best of the night overall and I can’t imagine who’s going home, or how America is leaning. If you twist my arm and make me choose I’d say the bottom three (do they do a bottom three?) should be LeRoy Bell, Stacy Francis and Lakoda Rayne.

What did you think, who do you like, who has what it takes to win it all? Need help voting? Here are the details. Check back tomorrow as I reveal who’s been eliminated after the results show.