The X Factor Episodes

2011, TV Show

The X Factor Episode: "Top 9 Perform"

Season 1, Episode 17
Episode Synopsis: The remaining nine finalists from the four categories perform.
Original Air Date: Nov 22, 2011

The X Factor: Simon and LA Throw Down; Paula and Nicole Cry for Two Hours Season 1, Episode 17

Can you believe we're down to the final nine? Tonight, all the acts are giving thanks to people who are important or inspirational in their lives. And in staying true to the spirit of holiday giving and niceties, they've decided to kick two people off tomorrow. So sweet!

Tonight, Rachel is giving thanks to her parents -- she was born to a drug-addicted mother and was adopted shortly after. Hearing her story really reminds the audience what a dream come true this experience must be for everyone, but especially for Rachel, having faced such adversity. She sings "I Believe" by Yolanda Adams and I think it's her most mature, comprehensive performance yet. Not only does she look stunning, but she seems genuinely confident and happy. The church-choir-esque background singers actually add to the performance rather than detract from it. "You've made a believer out of me, and I'm sure you've made a believer out of everyone in America. You're such an inspiration for so many people who maybe have a similar story to you," says Nicole.

Marcus is thankful for a special lady in his life — his mother. "She always acted like super woman to me," he says. Are we sensing a pattern this evening? If a performer is not thankful for their parents — say, thankful for the internet or beer — is that a death sentence? Only time will tell. Marcus sings "A Song for Mama," by Boyz II Men. He couldn't have been more literal if he tried, but I'll take it. The song is strong and emotional, and photo montages of Marcus' mama fade in and out of background screens. We even get several mama-crying shots and end with a heartfelt embrace. Are the judges really going to rip him after this, regardless of how they think he performed? The answer is no. "Tonight, for the first time I actually felt a connection with you and the song... I think you put yourself back in the competition tonight," says Simon.

Oh, God — that's who Melanie is dedicating her song to this week! A little preachy, sure, but at least it's something different. "I think everyone once in my life has let me down, and he's the only one who hasn't let me down," she says. Here's my bet: she's singing "Shots" by LMFAO. WRONG! She chooses "I'm The World's Greatest," by R. Kelly — not exactly the face of purity and Godliness, but who am I to judge? The performance is classic Melanie — moving the entire way through. No bells and whistles here; just her amazing voice. "What am I supposed to say? I can't criticize it," says LA — before being interrupted by Melanie who spontaneously bursts into a moment of tears and gratefulness. She talks about how appreciative she is to have been brought back, and how she's dreamed of this all of her life, in spite of the struggles she's been through. Next thing you know, her mom is bawling, her grandma is bawling...Nicole is bawling and begging her for a hug! Oh, the beauty of live TV. It seems like all the contestants have one thing in common: they're survivors.

Chris Rene, as we know, is seven months sober. Tonight, he's giving thanks to a cowboy hat-wearing man named Tim, who was the rehab counselor that Chris credits with saving his life. He does a unique rendition of The Beatles' "Let It Be" mixed with an original rap. It wasn't the most impressive performance vocally, but points for individuality and getting the crowd riled up. More points to anyone who can correctly explain why he was wearing massive DJ headphones during the performance. "I'm gonna be honest, I didn't think the first song worked," says Simon. "And then you reminded everyone why we liked you so much in the first place. Not many people would have the guts to just admit what happened to you... I hope America supports you tonight and keeps you in this competition."

The girl-group Lakoda Rayne thanks their respective influential people (two dads, a boyfriend, and a grandma among them). Sidenote: has anyone noticed how gorgeous these girls all are up close? They sing Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me," which, upon listening to the lyrics, seems totally inappropriate for this evening. It's obviously about some teenage chick with raging hormones who has a crush on a pimply-faced high school guy. Come on — they couldn't have picked something more theme-appropriate? They're not totally in sync either, and I think tomorrow will probably be their last day. "I was prepared to not like it, but again you disarmed me. Congratulations," says LA. I guess I'm alone on this one? Or are the judges refusing to be critical because of all the sappiness?

Leroy Bell has jumped on the thankful-for-my-mama train. As a child, Leroy's mother bought him a guitar amp which set the tone for his future love of music. He sings "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan — I think it's good, but I think I'm just being sympathetic because of the spirit of the show tonight. Paula says, "I finally feel that there was so much passion and connection. It's the most beautiful performance you have ever given." Simon agreed with Paula, dishing out the compliments like nobody's business. Someone took his happy pills tonight!

Astro starts out by addressing what many are calling last week's Astrogate. "I was just kind of disappointed. I could have handled it better. I didn't know how to control my emotions," he says. And to show his appreciation, tonight, he's thanking the fans...the ASTRONAUTS! Astro does an original rap to the beat of Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got," referencing the astronauts several times throughout. I'll stick with my feeling about him that I've had from the beginning — he's unbelievably talented beyond his years, and I think he's going to be incredibly successful...I'm just not sure America would choose him to win the show. Paula asks if she can be an astronaut (there are so many space-cadet references I want to make here, but I haven't the time). Simon says, "I admire you. I think you find it hard to express yourself. You knew you did wrong but the music business needs unpredictability. I like people who are passionate." 

Tonight, Drew is thanking her bestie Shelby, who tells her she's beautiful just the way she is. They've gone through "loser status" together! I hate to say it, but it seems like Drew is kind of the privileged one in the group. I mean...her parents described her struggles as "dance" and "athleticism." She sings Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper" which is she and Shelby's BFF song. The tune of the song is appropriate for her, and she sings it beautifully, but I'd really like to see Drew do something more unexpected and out of her comfort zone. "My comments this week, I'm going to have to direct them to your mentor. I take issue with the fact that you're doing songs for people that are 40," says LA. (Editor's note: the song is by a person born in 1992). "Why are you doing songs that are so old? You're so young. You don't do age-appropriate music and I don't understand it." Simon fires back and the gloves are off! This is the real X Factor s--- we've been waiting for! Unfortunately, Steve Jones breaks it up before things get violent. Who would you put money on in a fight?

This week, Josh is dedicating his song to burritos, without which, he wouldn't have had the motivation to quit his job and audition for this show. Kidding! He's thanking his 13-year-old daughter. WHAT? Since when is he old enough to have a 13-year-old? Oh...he was 17 when he had her. That explains it. But seriously, they look like they could be dating. He sings The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" and it's haunting and inspiring at the same time. The depth of his voice really amazes me week after week. Paula says, "All I ever ask and want is for contestants to be bigger than the songs that you sing and you are larger than life. You were brilliant." Well said, girlfriend!

So tomorrow night we'll usher in Thanksgiving by sending two people home. It's going to be tough. Besides Lakoda Rayne, I don't really see a sure-fire elimination. What do you guys think? Who cried the most tonight? Did you cry? Who will leave tomorrow? Let us know in the comments. Ready...go!

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Can you believe we're down to the final nine? Tonight, all the acts are giving thanks to people who are important or inspirational in their lives. And in staying true to the spirit of holiday giving and niceties, they've decided to kick two people off tomorrow. So sweet!
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Premiered: September 21, 2011, on FOX
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Premise: Solo artists and music groups compete for a $5 million recording contract. Based on the hit British competition series.

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