'X Factor' Burning Questions: Why Did Drew Shorten Her Name, Was Rock Theme Too Loosely Defined and How Upset Was Stacy Francis?
Plus, how did Josh Krajcik convince Dave Grohl to clear a Foo Fighters song? Which of the contestants weren't at all familiar with their mentors' choices? And why does Astro declare hip-hop dead? THR was on the scene after Wednesday's show for all the rock night cheers and tears.
X Factor’s rock night was the stuff of some controversy both on the show and long after Marcus Canty sang the last notes to Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” It appears that the rules were, yet again, up for debate, at least where the judges and song choice was concerned. Should a ballad by R.E.M. or U2 count? Is Bob Marley a rock star? And how were the Foo Fighters convinced to clear a song for a TV talent show?
As always, the Hollywood Reporter got the answers straight from the scene of Wednesday’s episode. Read on for this week’s hot button topics…
How did Josh Krajcik get Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl to clear use of his band’s song, “The Pretender?” It helps to have friends in high places, like Simon Cowell. “Simon really wanted me to sing this song and they cleared it for me,” said Josh. “As I understand it's not something Dave [Grohl] does very often and I'm completely Josh away that I was able to sing this song. I hope I did it justice.” Krajcik fancies himself a Foos fanatic, declaring that Grohl is “one of the last rock legends.” As for why he chose that song out of more than a dozen hits? “It's one of my favorites,” he explained. “What I like about it is it’s a departure from what he usually does, which is add a little of his humor, but ‘Pretender’ is very serious, and I relate to that. It's a hard-driving, bitchin', kick-ass rock and I couldn't think of a better song to do this week.”
Did Chris Rene and L.A. Reid anticipate controversy with their choice of a Bob Marley song? Pretty much. Chris Rene described L.A. Reid’s initial chat with him about picking a reggae artist: “L.A. was like, ‘They’re gonna talk, they’ll say something, but don’t worry, I’ve got your back.’” It didn’t take much convincing on Chris’ part, either. “Look, Bob Marley went down in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This man is a rock star, the lion, the legend, children dance to his music. Amen.” Ultimately, said Rene, “it went down great. And deep in their hearts, they loved it, too.”
Was the rock genre too loosely defined? Not according to X Factor vocal coach Savan Kotecha, who gave his take to THR: “A rock song is from a rock artist. I don't think it has to have guitars or anything like that.” But while Kotecha agreed with judge L.A. Reid choice of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” for finalist Chris Rene (“he's a rock star, he lived the life, he's played on rock radio”), the songwriter has issue with Reid’s comments on R.E.M. “I’d like LA to go to R.E.M. and say, ‘You guys aren't a rock band.’ Just because it was a rock ballad it doesn't matter. I agree with Simon.
Does Rachel Crow know her Rolling Stones? Not quite. Rachel was first to admit after the show that she was familiar with the 60s classic, “Satisfaction.” “I'm such a big fail because I didn't really know the song before,” she told THR. “I walked in the room, they played the song for me and I was, like, ‘Yes, I love it.’” That’s not to say that there was no rock in the house of Crow. To the contrary. “I grew up listening to a lot of KISS with my dad,” she revealed.
Just how upset was Stacy Francis after hearing the judges’ comments on her performance of Meatloaf’s "It's All Coming Back to Me Now?" “Devastated,” said the 42-year-old finalist. “I feel like it’s not a fair game. I wonder if Simon is really telling the truth. Does he really think I'm a cabaret singer or is it because I'm not in his category?” But minutes after the show ended, she wasn’t second-guessing her choice, either. “My judge wanted me to sing something more hardcore rock, like a more uptempo song and I felt like I had just done that last week,” she continued. “The fans asked me to come back and do something close to what it is that I do that I love, so I chose a song that I felt was rock but also allowed me to do what I do. I love this song, my favorite artist Celine Dion did it.” So what happens if she ends up in the bottom two? “I'm gonna sing the hell out of he save me song and hope that the judges save me,” Stacy promised.
Were Lakoda Rayne prepared for another stay in the bottom two? The girls won’t be all that surprised if they end up in the danger zone, but they hope to break the curse. “How it’s been the past two weeks where the Stereo Hogzz were in the bottom two on week one and then again in week two but we're hoping to break that and not be in the bottom at all,” said Cari Fletcher. “We're really confident and really that America felt our performance.” Still, there’s no denying a different mood on Thursday’s. “We joke around 24-7, but on elimination day, you feel it,” Dani Knight shared. Added Cari: “Even though the singing part is over, everyone is still secretly competing and we're looking at each other with that awkward tension.”
Why did Drew Ryniewicz shorten her name to just Drew? “A lot of stars do it,” she defended. “Like Fergie, she's Stacey Ferguson. Drew is my stage name, but obviously if I was rushed to the hospital or something, it would be Drew Ryniewicz.” Drew adds that it was Simon’s idea, but that she’s “come to love it… It's unique. It suits my personality. Ryniewicz is really hard to remember, to spell, and to say, but I am proud to be polish.” It’s not the only change she made to her stage persona – this week for U2’s “With or Without You,” Drew wore shoes.
Why did Astro declare that hip-hop is dead? “Just turn on the radio,” he blurted. “No disrespect to anybody – I love Lil Wayne, Drake, Kanye, they're awesome — but I just feel like it's too much. You turn on the TV and you're broke and you see all these dancers and these dudes are millionaires. I don’t understand it.” It’s one reason Astro paid tribute to hip-hop’s fallen, among them Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur and Heavy D, with the P. Diddy song “Missing You.” “It's a love song dedicated to hip-hop. They were all important to a lot of people in this life,” said Astro. “I had to shout them out because they died in such a short amount of time.”
Were Marcus Canty’s dance moves too racy for primetime? It’s a concern the 20-year-old mama’s boy clearly thought about. “The thing for me was to make rock ‘n’ roll tasteful and not go too raunchy,” he explained. “I never took my shirt off, which rockers do. I never started grinding on a female, which rockers do. I didn't look up at the girls as I went through their legs. Anybody who thinks that I did, I was looking at the crowd the whole time. So I'm still a gentleman.
- Did Melanie Amaro endorse the choice of R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts?” “I didn't know it,” Melanie confesses. “I’ve never heard of the band, honestly, but learning the song was good and I enjoyed it as I got to know the words.” Don’t expect her to dive deep into the Georgia band’s repertoire either. “It's not my type of music,” she says.
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