Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 18, 2011 7:33AM

A Human Moment on The X-Factor

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 astro

A remarkable event occurred last night on the carefully controlled, eye-popping pop culture marketing machine called The X Factor. In a bizarrely unscripted moment, a human being acted like an actual human being. More than that, more shocking but also more touching, more honestly moving, a little boy acted like a little boy. And he expressed feelings that all of us have felt at some time or another, at every age, however well we’ve managed to conceal those feelings beneath the mask of hard-won,  somehow tentative maturity.

            Here’s what happened:

            Ten acts performed on Wednesday night, the sincere but uninspired eye-candy

girl group, Lakoda Rayne, 60-year older soul crooner Leroy Bell , forty-two year old single mom Stacey Francis, bearded Joe Cocker wannabe Josh Krajcik, weedy but strangely compelling fifteen year old  Drew, big voiced belter Melanie Amaro, twelve year old Aretha Franklin clone Rachel Crow, drug ravaged Chris Rene and  choirboy boy aspiring R&B smoothie Marcus Canty.

            Oh yeah – and Astro.

            Fifteen year Brooklyn native Brian Bradley wowed everyone early on in the competition with a self-composed rap song  aimed at the suitors circling his attractive single mother, “Don’t look at my Mom!.” It was raw and funny and touching and the kid owned the audience by the end of the number. He’s the only contestant on any of these shows who insists on writing his own material and he has the work ethic of a retail skmall business owner or an Alaskan sled dog. “He could write a whole album in two days,” someone said about him, and I believe it. He’s also endearingly cocky, rewriting P-Diddy and (more audaciously)  Eminem in the last several weeks, to fit his own style and circumstances.

            He’s had an easy ride so far, but this week he was voted one the bottom two by the audience, and forced into a death-match  ‘sing-off’ against the other lowest rated performer, Stacey Francis. I’ve never like her much and it was a foregone conclusion that her impacted self-pitying drama queen act was going to say bye-bye. A shrews adult rapper, which Astro is not, would have sensed the dynamic in the room and ridden out the little glitch in his progress toward the big prize with self-effacing humor. Maybe he wasn’t quite as good as he should have been on Wednesday, it was a bad night for him, but so what – onward. Thank the judges, promise to do better and slide on through.

            But Astro is fifteen years old. His feelings were hurt. He didn’t want to perform in the crass career deathmatch with a woman old enough to be his mother. If the fans he thought supported him were willing to throw him away on the basis of one bad performance, he’d rather just go. Who knows, with a kid this smart and appealing, it may have been the first rejection he’s ever gotten – and it was a big one, on National television. Still, he manned up and did his song, but it was another low-water mark. He didn’t want to be there and it showed. He was miserable, and when the judges started berating him for his unprofessional behavior, they brought him to tears.

            They had a point, but Astro isn’t a professional performer, he’s a fifteen year old kid way out of his depth and it was sad and troubling but somehow uplifting to see him stumble and take his medicine. I suppose this is the way fifteen year old whiz-kids actually become professionals, but most of them don’t have to do it in front of ten million people.

            As far as I’m concerned, I like him more than ever now. He did what he had to do and took what was coming and I have a feeling he’ll be back much stronger next week.

                 I also want to buy him an ice cream cone and give him a hug.

 I’ve never felt that way about a rapper before.

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True true..the kid got talent ..big talent I do not disagree with that...but this is what it is all about..who is the best over all. Who grows the most. We already have enough self centered, arrogant, big feeling, ignorant and conceited pogs under the tittle of "hero", "idol" and "star". I think we should hold the stick even higher. Besides, the "x" in x factor is what Simon has consistently said is that one thing that makes you special...the fact that you do not know how good you are..."humility"...frankly I am surprised he didn't boot the kids ass off the stage right then and there. Imagine...not going to perform on a performance base show....you got one thing right..grow up.
Haha, great last-two-lines.

I (grumpy old person) hate rap and hate cocky kids (get offa my airwaves!), but I think X-Factor is a repellant show, even more so than Idol, and, while I'd thot Simon was an island of semi-sanity in Idol, on his own show he's revealed as...well, words fail me. The show is an exercise in X-cess. And even more cruel to the contestants...

Last night when Simon was berating the poor kid, I really wanted to slap him silly.

And while I love gospel singing and R&B and all that, that woman (Francis? whatever) was way over the icky top ... and, really, Amazing Grace? And sulky ... but I had to feel sorry for her too, having her anguish displayed and her requirement to Man Up...

A repellant program all around.

(Yeah, I watch....and I look while passing accidents too...so sue me.)
Should have said "Spoiler". I've got the last two episodes on DVR...but all in all I guess I'm just not that interested in the show - I was hoping for something a little more "different".
This is a kid who's going to make it, regardless. I think they should have cut him a little slack, considering his age & the mood swings that usually accompany it, the pressure of live shows and competition, the life-changing 7-digit recording contract, etc.

Some of the contestants just have that almost indescribable quality this show refers to as "the X-factor". Others appear to be there because of pity on the part of their mentor judge; while, say, Dexter was certainly interesting and entertaining, there was no way that he'd live up to the $5 million recording contract. Same goes for Stacy, who couldn't seem to decide who her star persona was going to be; same goes for Melanie, who has a great voice but sings the wrong songs, ruins the good songs she sings by changing them when they don't need to be changed, fails to "make them hers", and commits the fatal TV and celebrity sin of being boring every single performance. I cannot for the life of me figure out what Simon sees in her; he needs to bear in mind that this is not just a singing competition, and that Melanie lacks the quality the show is named for.

Josh has it, plus a fantastic voice, interesting image and just-compelling-enough personal story; his extremely enthusiastic mom is an asset, because she highlights what this type of prize means to the person of average-or-less means.

Drew has it, making each and every song her own just by singing it straight; her voice is the star, and it's appealing to a wide demographic range.

Rachel has it, all that soul, voice and talent wrapped up in a complete package, at such a young age; you know the kid will be a star, but it won't be as the winner of the X-factor unless Simon stops choosing her songs and pushing her into a genre that doesn't suit her. She did well this week, having chosen the song herself, and it served her well. She did a fantastic job throughout the auditions; Simon needs to back off, guide rather than push, and allow her to choose her own songs, her own look, and the way she chooses to make it al her own. She also appeals to a wide demographic.

The most appealing thing about Chris is his story; his original song was great, and he should be allowed to continue combining his personal story with original music, or he'll soon be gone.

Leroy has a great voice, but is getting a bit boring; he doesn't take the music far enough sometimes.

The girl group doesn't really do it for me, except for the brunette; she has a great voice, but she's not well-served by the group format. I'd love to see someone offer her a solo contract, because I seriously doubt that this group is going anywhere but home.

And I can't figure out why Marcus is even there. Sure, he can sing, but he's really not all that interesting. Insert random young black male R&B singer here.

I'm rooting for Josh, because I think Drew, Astro & Rachel will make it on their own if they don't win. Youth combined with talent = long, long shelf life, whereas Josh is over 30 and sings a less popular style of music.

Apologies for the lengthy comment, but you really got me going! =P
I do not think anyone of any age should be given a pass for ungracious behavior. What it says to me is that once he becomes a star he will be unbearable and given a pass for bad behavior on a much larger scale. And when you dissed Stacey Francis for being old enough to be his mother, you are playing into our society's disrespect for people who top 30. Talent is one thing, and he has incredible talent. But so does Stacey Francis in a different way. Competition should not mean knocking someone down just to build somebody else up. Narcissism starts early. The way Astro was talking you'd think he was the only rapper in the room. I don't see him even acknowleding Chris Rene's presence. The kid is not mature enough to win, and I hope he doesn't.
Pam ... you misunderstand me, and in a curiously telling way. I never dissed Stacey for anything but melodrama and mediocrity. All I did with her age was mention it. That's a fact, not a 'dis'; and the context was that I thought it might have been doubly weird for Astro to be competing against an almost parental figure. That never happens on American Idol. And I have to disagree with you. He seemed authentically hurt and sort of ambushed by his first reality check. but he pulled out of it and seemed appropriately contrite, on stage afterward. Those tears were real.

Prima Donna types make other people cry.
His cocky behavior was evident way before this, which is why I've never been a fan. You see bravado where I see me me me. Anyway, we're entitled to disagree, and I did enjoy reading your take. I think your point of view may be in the majority, but I'm still looking for civility in an uncivil world. Unlike on Idol, where mediocrity reigns supreme, here the judges can keep undoing the public's vote.