November 23, 2011 5:00am PT by Shirley Halperin
'X Factor' Burning Questions: Is L.A. Reid Out of the Demi Lovato Loop? Will Chris Rene's 'Young Homie' Be Released?
In the sprit of Thanksgiving, X Factor’s Top 9 looked to loved ones -- family members and friends -- choosing songs as dedications to those who inspired them. It brought out plenty of tears, cheers and, somewhat unexpectedly, an accent the TV audience didn’t know was there. What’s the story? Read on for the latest round of burning questions.
Did Melanie Amaro suppress her Virgin Islands accent? It was the cause of some debate, both in the X Factor green room, on Twitter, in the audience and beyond: where did Melanie Amaro’s island accent come from? “I was holding it back for way too long,” she says. “The tears, the accent, just being able to speak up felt good. The emotions came over me, the spirit of humbleness and being thankful. I just had to break out.” And did she ever. The once reserved contestant says she plans to “keep America guessing" as to what she'll "sing and do.”
Will Chris Rene’s “Young Homie” see a proper release as a single? “The feedback I’ve gotten is that people are waiting for it to come out on iTunes but I have to re-record it no matter happens in this competition,” Chris tells the Hollywood Reporter. But if he had it his way, don’t expect to see a high-profile name attached to the song he co-wrote with his sister Gina. “I would like to produce it,” he says. “Because if they wanted to get some big producer on it, I'd have to pay for it so I could just do it myself and make it exactly how I want it to sound.” Chris brings up his first audition with the song. “I produced that and it touched millions of people, so I see no reason to not produce it myself.” Can’t argue with that.
Is Demi Lovato missing from L.A. Reid’s musical lexicon? “I don't think L.A. knew the song,” says Drew, who chose “Skyscraper” and dedicated it to her best friend Shelby. “Demi Lovato is a teenager, she's not 40. I don't know where he was going with that.” Certainly she couldn’t have expected where the conversation would go next -- insults slung Reid’s way from Simon Cowell, using words like “pointless, stupid, inaccurate, rubbish.” Says Drew: “If I wasn't on Simon's team, I'd be afraid. He's a fighter and to have him on my side really is comforting. I think Simon maybe won that fight but the fight wasn't what it was about; it was about my best friend and how that song meant so much to us. I felt very single word of that performance -- even the thes and the ands… that song is like the story of my life.”
Why did LeRoy Bell’s song hold extra-special significance? The Over 30s finalist, who’s never been in the bottom two, says choosing Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” was a matter of destiny. “I've always loved that song, Nicole [Scherzinger] loved it and everybody was in full agreement. Then my brother was talking to my sister who asked what song I was doing and she got quiet on the phone. She said that was mom's favorite song, and I didn't know that. So it hit me -- like it was like some kind of destiny, where I was supposed to do this song. But I didn't wanna to think about it too much because I knew I was just going to be a blubbering mess.
What triggered Marcus Canty’s emotional breakdown? “I didn't know my mom would be sitting in the front row,” says L.A. Reid’s R&B candidate. “And she was, like, bawling before I even started singing.” The 20-year-old says he tried his best to hold back tears. But ultimately, says Marcus, “I was overwhelmed. It was just an emotional moment and in the end, I had to let go.” Did his voice let out too? “I almost lost a little breath up there,” he acknowledges. Not that Marcus was stressing it. “This week was for my mom, that’s special for me.”
Which girl group were the members of Lakoda Rayne all obsessed with? Cowell’s frenemy Simon Fuller would be proud to know the impact the Spice Girls had on Dani Knight, Paige Elizabeth, Hayley Orrantia and Cari Fletcher. “It's what we grew up with, everybody wanted to be a Spice Girl,” says Hayley. Adds Dani: "I had tons of posters on my wall, the Barbie dolls, the movie…” As for the girls’ Spice designations, Dani says she was always Baby Spice, Paige got Posh while Cari and Hayley shared Sporty.
Was there some behind-the-scenes drama involving Rachel Crow’s stage outfit?“Let’s just say there was something lost in translation,” says show stylist June Ambrose, who found herself butting heads with Rachel Crow’s mentor Cowell about a casual vs. glam look. The solution? A compromise that was part upscale, part comfy cool. Added Rachel: “Simon came up to me after the performance and said the dress looked beautiful on stage.”
Did Josh Krajcik have to lobby producers so he could play piano for his performance of “Wild Horses?” Sort of. “I told them, ‘I want to do this song and I want to play the piano and I don't want any frills, no band, no nothing -- just me playing it live or I'm not doing it.’” Now, before you think he’s pulling an Astro, the Ohio native explains, he wants the show to go on – and for him to run it. Says Josh: “it was important to me that it was me playing, and not another player. [The producers] said, ‘Well, play it for us,’ and I did and they said fine/”
How many hours a day does Astro spend on Twitter? On average, 15-year-old rapper Astro says he spends around 9 hours every day on the social media site.“I believe that it’s a great way for you to connect with your supporters and people that actually wanna talk to you,” he says, which made him all the more relieved when after last week’s drama-filled save performance, he looked at Twitter and found reassurance not hate. “That’s why that song is me thanking my fans,” he explains. “It says it in the lyrics -- they're the reason I'm still here so I just felt the need to shout out.” As for immediate criticism that “Show Me What You Got” wasn’t a particularly appreciative song, Astro responded: “The other [contestants'] songs aren't called 'Thank You,' either.”