November 22, 2011 11:20pm PT by Jethro Nededog
'X Factor' Redux: Melanie Amaro Finds Her Spirit and Her Accent (Video)
Heralding the arrival of the holiday season, Fox's The X Factor contestants performed songs dedicated to someone they are thankful for. For most, the personal touch of this week’s theme really allowed the artists to take an extra step in showing us who they are.
I have to give the award for biggest breakthrough to Melanie Amaro. I’ve been harping on her lack of personality for weeks. She did several incredible things right this week. First, she dedicated her song to God. And there could have been so many cheesy ways she could have done that. Instead, she and mentor Simon Cowell landed on an outside-the-box song choice in R. Kelly’s “The World’s Greatest.” Plus, who can talk trash about a song dedicated to God? Even L.A. Reid felt he couldn’t give it a bad critique – not that she deserved one.
The best part is that Melanie really broke out of her shell. I mean, she broke out of it and then danced on it until it was in a million little pieces. When she started declaring her thanks and suddenly unleashed a thick accent on us that I have never really heard before, my jaw hit the floor. Where has this spirited version of Melanie been hiding all this time?
Other breakthrough performances included Rachel Crow’s take on Yolanda Adams’s “I Believe,” Marcus Canty on Boyz II Men’s “A Song For Mama,” and Josh Krajcik on The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.”
Astro always amazes me with his talent – the kid writes and memorizes his own lyrics every week. I know it annoys many of you that he’s not a singer, but I have no problem with it. There are so many other competition shows that feature only singers, so he still feels fresh to me.
And after last week’s tantrum, he played this week’s performance just right -- his song was dedicated to his fans, he was extremely apologetic, and he was self-deprecating in his lyrics. I’m sure you’ll let me know if he didn’t win you back over to his side. L.A. did a good job of mentoring him through what could have been an ongoing disaster for the young M.C.
But, L.A. lost some credibility points when he critiqued Drew Ryniewicz’s performance of Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper” for being too mature for her. First of all, Drew did a great rendition of it. And second (and with all due respect to his career), L.A. has shown in past episodes that his musical knowledge isn’t as far reaching as he may want us to believe. But, to call a song from a 19-year-old Disney star too mature for 14-year-old Drew was plain ridiculous.
My bottom two this week would include LeRoy Bell who made great strides in showing emotion this week, but I just thought Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” was just wrong for him. I also think Lakoda Rayne did better than I’ve seen them in, well, ever, but the beginning of their performance of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong to Me” was downright shaky. Yep, we're down to the point where nitpicking is necessary on this show.
Remember: Two acts are going home this week. Who do you think they will be?
Watch Melanie get filled with the Spirit below.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro