November 18, 2011 2:04am PT by Jethro Nededog
'X Factor's' Stacy Francis on Elimination: 'Obnoxious' Astro's Save 'Is a Hard Pill to Swallow'
From Day 1, Stacy Francis was a frontrunner for the inaugural X Factor title. When the single mother of two children appeared on the series premiere, she was filled with insecurity. But, she won the audience over with her story of self-doubt, telling executive producer and judge Simon Cowell, “I don’t want to die with this music in me,” and then releasing a rendition of “Natural Woman” that brought the audience to its feet.
Over the course of the competition, she never really took her eye off the prize. She did, however, seem to have a conflict of identity. It didn’t help that she found herself in a storm of criticism that tried to make her out to be a fraud.
“It comes with it,” Francis says of the controversy after Thursday’s show. “You know, you have to build a thick skin. And this show has taught me how to be more of a fighter. You got to fight back. You can’t be a punk. You have to get yourself through it and you have to fight back. I didn’t always do that before.”
On Thursday night, Francis found herself fighting one more time to stay in the competition with fellow contestant, Astro. And despite the M.C.’s lack of sportsmanship, the judges voted 3-1 in favor of eliminating her.
Francis spoke to a small group of reporters after the show and weighed in on Astro’s behavior, revealed her regrets, and discussed her plans for the future.
Did you understand what Astro was doing when he said he didn’t want to perform?
Stacy Francis: When he did it, I thought he was using it as a tool to amp up the audience. And I was standing there like, ‘Damn, he’s about to kill it.’ I thought it was like him pulling the ‘I’m just going to trick you all. We’re going to turn this around.’ But when he didn’t, I was like, ‘What! What just happened?’ So, I don’t know. He’s a true artist and some people get away with that. You know, America sometimes likes that cockiness, too. So, it’s kind of hard to tell. It’ll be interesting to see.
What are your thoughts on Astro’s behavior?
Francis: I’m very confused by Astro’s behavior, because I think in that moment you should be pleading for your life and not throwing it away. I think Simon likes a little rebellion and he might respect Astro a little bit for being so rebellious.
I don’t understand his behavior. I mean, he’s 14, and you can call him a teenager and give him an excuse. But, bad behavior is bad behavior. I think that he wasn’t gracious in that moment. And I think in the whole scheme of things, no matter what you have to be grateful.
What advice would you give him?
Francis: I would tell him to be a little more humble. I’ve lived 40 years to get here. And he’s 14 and he’s blessed to be so young. I don’t know if he’s as gracious as he should be or honored. He’s not honoring God for the blessing right now.
Did his attitude make your elimination harder?
Francis: No, I think elimination is elimination. It would’ve been hard either way. The thing you get disappointed about when you see someone like Astro have such an obnoxious attitude is that he gets to stay. That’s kind of a hard pill to swallow, because he doesn’t seem grateful to be here.
How do you think Astro will do in the competition after that behavior?
Francis: I don’t know. I think America is really down on people who take on arrogance that way. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in the bottom two again next week. If he got the least amount of votes this week, I can’t imagine him having that many next week with that attitude. It was pretty off-putting. It didn’t seem right to me.
What’s next for you?
Francis: I’m very honored to get this far. I was hoping to go all the way, I didn’t. So, now it’s time to reevaluate myself, my life and see what happens from here. And I think it will be OK.
What are your regrets?
Francis: I regret my song choice last night and I regret my song choice last week, as well. It’s all about song choice in this whole thing and I didn’t think I was myself in it and trying to be something else, because I was persuaded. It’s a very difficult thing.
Did you watch this week’s performance later? If so, what were your thoughts?
Francis: Yes, I did. I was off-key, because I couldn’t hear the music. What happens is when you’re in there, the audience is going really crazy. And if you don’t have an in-ear monitor, which is something you put in your ear to hear the music, you can’t hear the music. And I couldn’t hear it. The audience is going crazy, screaming, and I couldn’t hear the music at all. And I didn’t have an in-ear monitor either. So, the song was off-key in the beginning. And I don’t think I found my grounding until about the middle of it and it was too late at that point.
Why did you choose “Amazing Grace” as your survival song?
Francis: You ask for amazing grace, you ask for grace, you ask for mercy. That song is called the save me song for a reason. It’s a song where you’re pleading with the judges and you’re asking to have grace. You know, I was blind last night. Now, I see in the bottom two. And I was hoping they’d see me for who I am from the first audition and keep me in.
I chose “Amazing Grace,” because I have been called a church singer. I sing from an emotional place. And I felt that that song on this situation was apropos. I was praying in the moment and I was hoping that I could stay.
What’s next for your career?
Francis: Frontline Management will probably manage me, Irving Azoff. He said that he’s a fan. So, I hope that that relationship will blossom. I do have to feed my children. So, that’s the goal.
What kind of music will you make?
Francis: I think my music will be R&B, it will be soul, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. You know, old school Whitney. It will be big ballads, also heartfelt inspirational stuff.
What have you learned from Nicole Scherzinger as your mentor?
Francis: To be gracious, to be respectful and to be honest. I had to be very careful, because sometimes I sing too theatrical, so she’s teached [sic] me how to round out my notes and sing a little more poppy.
Your career before The X Factor had a lot of ups and downs. How will you approach your career now after being on the show?
Francis: I think humility is really important. I think last night when I was standing in front of the judges and it wasn’t. I was basically in shock and I was disappointed in myself and I think it showed up too much and the fans thought I was being arrogant. But, I wasn’t. I think I just need to learn how to manage my emotions and just be more humble.
What are the misconceptions people have of you?
Francis: I’m pretty open. I’ve been an open book. I think people get me. I’m very vulnerable. I’m very sensitive. I wear my feelings on my sleeve. I cry. I’m a crybaby. I have nothing to hide. I’ve been very open. I’ve been accused of being a liar, that sort of thing. I didn’t lie about anything. I put it all on the table.
With you out of the competition, who do you think will win?
Francis: I think Josh [Krajcik] has a really good chance at winning it. I love Josh. I think he did amazing last night. You know when Josh would sing, I would hear his tone and I would be moved myself. I think he’s amazing. I hope he goes all the way. I’m supporting him. I will be voting for Josh.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro