"The X Factor" had its finale Thursday night, and while the ratings didn't rise to "American Idol"-like records, the show ended its season on a high note for Fox. (Spoilers follow, so stop reading if you haven't watched the episode yet on your DVR.)
A total of 12.4 million viewers tuned in to see Melanie Amaro crowned the winner over runner-up Josh Krajcik. That amounted to Fox's most-watched entertainment programming since premiere week, according to Nielsen. Hitmakers such as Pitbull and Justin Bieber also performed.
The tally easily bested NBC's finale for "The Voice," which drew 11 million. "The Voice" will return to NBC's schedule early next year.
Overall, Simon Cowell's "X Factor" is the No. 1 new unscripted show on TV so far this season.
How big of an impact has the show had? It has boosted Fox's Wednesday ratings by 48% -- and on Thursdays, its numbers have zoomed by 46%. Fox was No. 1 on Thursdays in the key category of adults age 18 to 49 for the first time in its history.
And the "X Factor" winner is … Melanie Amaro! Yes, at the end of the day, the teenage diva with the gigantic, pitch-perfect, incredibly supple voice captured the Season 1 crown and the $5-million recording contract.
Her most worthy rival for that crown, bluesy rocker and former burrito slinger Josh Krajcik, came in second. And Chris Rene, who made his mark with his original song, "Young Homie," and his sweet stage presence, finished a respectable third.
Steve Jones' awkward hosting style notwithstanding (former contestant Rachel Crow joked that she was after Jones' job and then proved she would, in fact, be better at it), it was a pretty satisfying night, on the whole.
We got to see all 12 final contestants, including the three group acts that I, for one, had sort of forgotten about. LeRoy Bell didn't miss his cue. Rachel Crow showed us she'd recovered her bubbly spirit after her startling elimination earlier in the season, promising that she had big things ahead. Drew returned to perform a dream-come-true duet with her one true love, Justin Bieber, who had just sung with Stevie Wonder, who seems to make a habit of strategically showing up on these talent shows.
Astro rapped with 50 Cent and the Lakers. Leona Lewis, who won the British version of "The X Factor" in 2006 and has gone on to international stardom, reminded us what a winner of this show can accomplish. Marcus Canty upstaged (in a good way) Pitbull and Ne-Yo, giving us hope for his future. And there were lots and lots of Christmas songs and Christmas trees and good holiday cheer.
And that's not to mention the heartfelt "this is your life" tributes from the people back home that left each of the top three finishers in tears. Or the fantastic duet between Amaro and Krajcik, on David Bowie's "Heroes." Perhaps they can be heroes just for one day, but both these talented singers will be successful for much longer than that.
Reality shows like "The X Factor," "American Idol" and "The Biggest Loser" may lead the way in product placement on television in terms of dollars, but, according to a study, scripted shows generate far more memorable moments.
For instance, it doesn’t take a house to fall on Tessa Altman for her to know that her new life in the burbs is nothing like her old one in New York City. But it did take a can of sugar-free Red Bull to hit her in the head to drive the point home to viewers.
At least, that’s one scene that stuck out to the audience of “Suburgatory,” making the integration of the energy drink into the ABC sitcom one of the most memorable product placements of the year.
The finding is part of an annual study from Nielsen, a research firm that tracks brands that pop up, either paid or unpaid, in TV shows, and rates the impression of those on-air mentions and placements on the audience. Red Bull in “Suburgatory” was second in viewer recall only to Sheldon on CBS’ hit “The Big Bang Theory” using Purell after handling a live snake.
Among the other well-recalled placements: Det. Beckett (Stana Katic) tools around in a Ferrari on ABC’s cop drama “Castle,” characters play Hasbro board games Scrabble and Monopoly on “Desperate Housewives,” and Subway sandwiches make a high-profile appearance on NBC’s “Chuck.”
For this particular data grab, Nielsen considered only the brands that were both seen and mentioned on network TV shows between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30 of this year. Scores come from the percentage of viewers who could recall, within 24 hours, which products they saw while watching TV shows (excluding the ads).
The industry numbers cruncher also rates the “top 10 prime-time programs with product placement.” Most of those shows — “American Idol,” “The Biggest Loser,” “The X Factor” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” — have multi-year, multimillion-dollar deals in place that include star treatment for sponsor brands.
No matter who wins "The X Factor" Thursday night, the final performance show Wednesday made one thing perfectly clear: All three of the top three finalists – Josh Krajcik, Chris Rene and Melanie Amaro – are supertalented and will almost certainly go on to have successful music careers.
Any of the three could walk away with the crown. It just depends on whether voters have connected more strongly with the bluesy rocker who's been slinging burritos and singing in small clubs, waiting for his big break (Krajcik), or the sweet-voiced, back-from-the-brink former addict with the winning swagger and the tender heart (Rene), or the church-going, formerly bullied young woman with the gigantic, supple voice and diva stage presence (Amaro). Really, it's anybody's call.
On Wednesday night, viewers got to hear from each singer twice, unless you count the contestants' group number, on which they were joined by metallic dancers from Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson, the Immortal World Tour." (Fox and the Jackson estate clearly can't get enough of each other. Not sure what's going on there.)
First, each contestant did a "surprise" duet with a major star. Krajcik was joined on Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited" by Morissette herself, turning in what Simon Cowell rightly summed up as an "8 out of 10" performance. (L.A. Reid, who revealed that Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" is his favorite album, called the Krajcik-Morissette duet "surreal," and it appeared he meant it as a compliment.)
Then Rene -– eight months sober as of Tuesday -- bounced around onstage with Avril Lavigne on Lavigne's "Complicated," after which Paula Abdul complimented him on his "energy" and Cowell declared the duet record-worthy. (Reid added that such a record would be "a No. 1 hit.")
Amaro, for her part, sang in a lower-than-usual register with R. Kelly, their two voices comfortably mingling on Kelly's mega-hit "I Believe I Can Fly." Reid thought Amaro was overpowered, but Cowell thought she looked like "a star."
In between all that, there was a lot of yelling from people in the contestants' home towns.
Then the contestants came back with the solo performances with which they hoped to win viewers' votes for one last all-important time. Those performances turned out to be reprises of their original auditions. Rather than showing us how far they'd come, they reminded us of what we loved about each of them in the first place. Krajcik showed his grit, earnestness and passion on Etta James' "At Last," on which he accompanied himself on guitar, perched (a bit worryingly) on a high platform fronted by a lighted set of stairs. "You're such a rock star," Reid told him.
Rene showed his sweetness and conviction on his own song "Young Homie," this time all polished up with musical accompaniment, backup dancers and a full-on light-show. "You are magic," Abdul declared. Cowell called Rene a "man of your word … a brilliant performer, a true gentlemen and a really nice guy," and said he hoped America would support him.
And Amaro? She sang Beyonce's "Listen" so powerfully she nearly blew the rest of the night away. "That wasn't a $5-million performance," Reid said. "That was a $50-million performance." Cowell, Amaro's mentor, put it even more bluntly. "To me, you should be the winner of 'The X Factor,'" he said.
Personally, I've really grown to adore each of these three contestants over the weeks, and I'd be pleased to see any of them win. But the one I'd most hate to see lose? That would have to be Amaro. She's come back from so much – not least of which was the disappointment of being prematurely sent home by Cowell earlier this season, before he thought better of it and brought her back. We've watched Amaro's dream slip away before. I'd really rather not see it happen again.
Who would you like to see win "The X Factor" Thursday night?
Is Steve Jones the new Brian Dunkleman? Rumors have been circulating that Jones — the tall, dark and British host of Fox's "The X Factor" — won't be returning for the show's second season.
A report in England's Daily Mirror cites unnamed sources claiming "terrible reviews" and failure to connect with the show's U.S. audience are behind the decision not to bring him back. The paper also hints that Nicole Scherzinger, who had originally been tapped to cohost with Jones before being upgraded to the judges table, would take over his duties. That would put Jones in the club of short-lived hosts, along with Dunkleman, "American Idol's" first-season cohost.
A spokesperson for "The X Factor" didn't exactly confirm or deny the rumors, giving Show Tracker the following statement: "Absolutely no discussions have been had and no decisions will be made about any contracts until the New Year."
Should Jones really be leaving the show, it might not be that surprising. When The Times spoke with the British import before the launch of the singing competition series, he was cautious about assuming he'd have any long-term future on the show.
"I definitely want to do more stuff over here," he said. "But a little bit at a time. My main concern at the moment is "X Factor." If I do come back next year, then I’ll think about other projects .... But I do want to keep my fingers and knees deep in British pies."
As the show has unfolded since its September debut, Jones hasn't exactly ingratiated himself in the eyes of viewers with his hosting style. Earlier in the season, he used the poor choice of words, "The dream is over," when girl group Ladoka Rayne was eliminated; the incident prompted a group member to grab the microphone and proclaim otherwise.
According to Jones' publicist, rumblings of an exit are all speculation: "The Mirror story is a fabrication that we would have corrected had we been called for comment. There have been absolutely no conversations about Steve Jones Leaving "The X Factor." Steve is very happy with the outcome of this season and he looks forward to being back and discovering more talent in the new year."
In a remarkably unsuspenseful results show, Marcus Canty was sent home on "The X Factor." That means the three contestants who made it to the finals were, as expected, Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro and Josh Krajcik.
Because there was no final showdown, no judge decision, nothing but voter results to determine the final outcome, the producers had a lot of time to fill, but they didn't really pack the night with much razz or matazz. There were three performances to burn time. The final four turned in a pretty good mash-up of "No Diggity" and "Shout." Florence + the Machine performed the song "Spectrum" from the album "Ceremonials" in a deco-inflected stage production complete with Erte poses, stained glass and classic ballet dancers.
"X Factor" judge Nicole Scherzinger premiered her new song "Pretty," which Simon Cowell, who was sitting in Scherzinger's chair at the judging table, critiqued thusly (channeling Scherzinger, he said): "I believe in you. You believe in me. You transcend the universe. God is smiling on you. Life is a waterfall, and you are the ultimate rainbow."
Cowell was clearly feeling pretty pleased with himself after learning that Amaro had made it through. Rene and Amaro were the first to hear they'd cleared the hurdle for the finals, though of course the results, as host Steve Jones never hesitates to remind us, are given "in no particular order." That left Canty and Krajcik to sweat it out. In fact, Krajcik, awaiting his fate backstage, didn't appear too concerned. He was anxious to begin preparing for the finals, he said. Canty, meanwhile, looked like he knew it was all over, but since he'd successfully (miraculously) cheated fate before, you couldn't fault him for holding out some hope that America would, as he put it, "just give me a chance."
Alas, America opted not to give Canty any more chances. Eventually, after a pause that Jones didn't stretch long enough to build tension -- perhaps rightly fearing that the audience would simply fall asleep -- it was revealed that Krajcik and not Canty had earned that final spot in the finale. No one seemed terribly surprised.
"Why you looking sad, Steve?" Canty asked Jones, who said he didn't want to see Canty go home.
"Trust me, this is not the last time you will see Marcus Canty," Canty vowed.
Jones tried to get Canty to admit to at least some disappointment, reminding him he had come "so, so close" to the finals. But Canty wanted only to reassure his fans and send a message to family at home: "Stop crying. It's ai-ight. Relax," he said.
Mentor L.A. Reid said he'd "be lying" if he said he "wasn't a little sad," admitting he'd felt a particular connection to Canty. But, he said, Canty is a "major star, a great singer" and had his support, which is not nothing coming from an industry mover and shaker like him.
"It ain't over yet, y'all. It's not over yet," Canty said.
I, for one, believe him.
Are you pleased with the results -- or outraged by them? And who do you think will win the whole thing next week?
Do we all agree that the three (out of the four) remaining acts who should make it to the finals on "The X Factor" next week are Melanie Amaro, Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene? Are there any die-hard Marcus Canty fans out there clamoring for him to pull off yet another miraculous squeaker to survive? Actually, I'm sure there are many of them — Canty's a talented singer and clearly a sweetheart of a guy. But judging from the performances on Wednesday night's "X Factor" semifinals, in which the contestants performed one song selected for them in a Pepsi-sponsored vote and another of their choosing, it seemed that Canty's time may soon be up.
Of course, you never know which way the audience vote will go, as booted "X Factor" contenders Rachel Crow and Drew Ryniewicz would surely attest. But Amaro, Krajcik and Rene all kicked it up at least a few notches during the semifinals, and Canty, well, in his best moments he got lost, and in his worst, he made us squirm.
I blame L.A. Reid. He's repeatedly made cheesy production choices — cheap-looking, lingerie-clad dancers who paw at Canty, for example — on Canty's behalf, which keeps landing the singer in the bottom two. (Three times!) Once there, Canty saves himself by shining on songs in which he is allowed to connect directly with the audience, sans flashing lights and flashing mud-flap ladies. If none of that stuff were there in the first place, Canty might have had a smoother ride in this competition.
But this week there is no save-me song. These two performances count for everything. And while Canty's vocals managed to rise above the stage shtick — a single white rose handed to some random "special lady" in the audience, a scantily clad hair-flinging dancer, billowing stage smoke — on his first song, Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You," he was completely overpowered by the ridiculously gyrating "Chorus Line" rejects and confetti on his rendition of Wham!'s "Careless Whisper." Simon Cowell called Canty's second song "horrific," "grotesque" and "an absolute joke." Cowell put it a little strongly, but he was pretty much right.
Meanwhile, the other three contestants fared much better. Despite not having the best voice in the competition (as the judges repeatedly reminded him last night), Chris Rene put his seductive sweetness — or, as Reid termed it, "lovability" — on display in both his songs last night, not to mention in a pre-performance video package in which he wept because he so deeply wanted to make his late dad proud. He might not be the best singer, but in a between-lyric "uh … uh" competition, Rene would win hands down. He also moves well onstage. And he's cute. I thought his first song, Sugar Ray's upbeat "Fly," worked pretty well. (Cowell rated it a seven out of 10.) His second song, Alicia Keys' "No One," worked even better. It showed not only that Rene can play piano, but that he looks just as adorable in a grandpa cardigan and tie, with hair slicked back, as he does in his backward-hat street-tough look. Smart move, that outfit — it will net him both the grandma vote and the young-girls-who-dream-of-bad-boys-with-golden-hearts vote. Even Cowell was affected, telling Rene he could be "the dark horse in this competition."
Melanie Amaro sang a solemn version of "Hero," with the writer of the song somewhere in the house and a stamp of approval from the singer who made the song mega-famous, Mariah Carey. Amaro killed it, as usual, though the judges' response was mixed. (Reid didn't feel Amaro's "usual passion.") Then she sang a rousing, inspiring, just freaking amazing version of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" and brought the house down and the judges to their feet. Reid, who mentors the boys, called her "the greatest female that's ever graced this stage," which would seem like higher praise if she weren't the only woman left in the competition. Amaro has incredible range, beautiful tone, tremendous vocal control, an impassioned delivery, a hard-core work ethic, a heartwarming smile and a moving backstory. Who knows how the vote will go? But I'd like to see her win.
Which is not to say that Josh Krajcik doesn't also have much to recommend him. He did a bang-up job on his Pepsi Challenge song, the Beatles "Come Together," and then tackled a long-time favorite song of mine that has, alas, lost much of its power to move me now that it's a singing-talent-show chestnut, Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Song staleness aside, Krajcik's gritty, tender voice caressed all the right notes and admirably attacked the others, but I felt he got a bit lost behind the piano. Still, Krajcik is soulful, unslick, kind-eyed and has someone out there he communicates with in sign language: He'd be a worthy winner too.
What do you think? Who should advance to the finals, and who do you want to see win the whole thing?
A disgusted Simon Cowell believes his fellow judges on "The X Factor" may have a problem following directions.
Fans expressed outrage after Nicole Scherzinger could not make up her mind on last week's results show, leading to a deadlock that ended with Rachel Crow being sent home. Under "X Factor" rules, judges are supposed to rescue the contestant in the bottom two who performs the better "save-me" song. Many viewers felt Crow's performance was superior to Marcus Canty's, but Scherzinger tearfully abstained, meaning that the result was decided purely by tallies from at-home voting. TMZ excavated a sound-enhanced clip that seemed to show Paula Abdul urging Scherzinger to go for the deadlock.
The whole outcome left Cowell perturbed at his fellow judges. "It was a just a cock-up," he told Show Tracker in a phone interview. "I don't think they did what they should have done, which is exactly what they were told to do: Vote on who sang the best in the sing-off. And then we got to that ridiculous place where they went to the deadlock."
Cowell of course has good reason to support Crow -- he was mentoring her on the show. The previous week, he stood onstage glaring at Scherzinger and Abdul after they elected to send home Drew Ryniewicz, another of Cowell's charges. (Scherzinger and Abdul reportedly received death threats.)
But Cowell dismissed the notion that "X Factor's" elimination process needs tweaking. "The whole idea was to try and prevent what I call the 'Jennifer Hudson Moment' -- where a really good singer screws up on one night," he said. "On this show you're supposed to give them a reprieve if they do better the following night ... I do stand by what I think is right for the format. Maybe I just need to explain it a bit clearer to everyone."
Cowell -- who as executive producer of "X Factor" hired the other judges and oversees the show -- and Scherzinger have become foils on air, and he admitted that the pop singer has irritated him "a little bit."
But he added: "You pay people to have an opinion .... I'd probably get more irritated if they didn't have an opinion.
"She gets very defensive," Cowell said. "But I'm not gonna criticize her for that. It's all part of the game."
Oh, the outrage! Poor "X Factor" judge Nicole Scherzinger is being pilloried by the show's fans for dooming Rachel Crow by punting to the popular vote rather than sending Marcus Canty home after Thursday's save-me sing-off. One Show Tracker commenter called Scherzinger a "coward." Sniffed another, "A judge who cannot judge is not a judge." Hollywood Life editor Bonnie Fuller even wrote a furious blog post calling -– in very strong terms -- for Scherzinger's head.
Of course, people complained last week when fellow judge Paula Abdul didrender a judgment -– sending Drew home to save Canty -– rather than letting the people make the decision in "deadlock."
Abdul has thrown her support behind Scherzinger, tweeting, "All we can do is the best that we can and you did your best Nicole!" And even Crow has asked the show's fans not to blame Scherzinger for her elimination. "I don't understand why people are taking it out on her," Crow told People magazine. "It's no one's fault." But the controversy -– and the way things have played out -– raises some very real questions about "The X Factor's" elimination process.
One big one was pointed out by Show Tracker reader Audrey Wijaya after Thursday night's sad, strange elimination: "The point of having a save-me-song is to give the bottom two a chance to survive despite the lowest vote. If both did well, it is fair to go into deadlock and let the vote determines who goes home. But tonight, clearly Rachel delivered the better performance, so the judges (or, Nicole) should've done their job and sent home the one who did not do as well. Otherwise, what's the point of having a save-me-song? Just send home the lowest vote each week ..."
Good question. Why does "The X Factor" have a save-me sing-off each week at all? (Apart from the fact that the producers need some way to fill the hourlong results-show time slot and that the performances are often pretty darn dramatic.) Should the judges actually have a say in who gets eliminated? Or should the audience vote alone determine who goes home, as it does on "American Idol," where, once the competition gets rolling in earnest, the judges' only power, when it comes to who stays and who goes, is one measly judges' save per season?
Don't blame Nicole Scherzinger for the fact that Rachel Crow was sent home on "The X Factor" on Thursday night, just shy of next week's semifinals. (I know, shocker.) All Scherzinger did was say what she needed to say to send the decision to "deadlock," so the audience vote would determine whether Crow or Marcus Canty, this week's bottom two, would be eliminated. And even then, after host Steve Jones insisted, Scherzinger said it so reluctantly that she put "the act that I have to send home is Rachel" in air quotes.
A brief aside here: The fact that judges have to say that they're sending someone home, even when that's precisely what they're trying to avoid saying by sending the decision to the voters and their intention is clear, is a ridiculous rule. If no one else on the show objects to it, Jones at least should, because pressing the issue makes him look like a bully. And he has said the last thing he wants is to be seen as is rude.
Anyway, so no, at the end of the day, Scherzinger, for all her weeping when the audience vote was revealed, didn't really cast the vote that sent Crow home. Not any more than L.A. Reid did. And certainly no more than the "X Factor" viewers, who voted for all of the other top-five contestants in greater numbers than they did for Crow. (You could probably blame those of us who didn't vote at all, too, if you were really in a blaming mood.) Ultimately, Crow was sent home fair and square. Reid and Simon Cowell voted for their mentees, as is expected of a mentor/judge. Then Paula Abdul and Scherzinger split the deciding votes in two to render the judges' opinions moot, throwing the call to the crowd. No judge grudge match. No protecting a favorite. Nothing amiss.
Of course, that doesn't make the results any less sad. It's very, very sad, sadder even than when it happened to Drew last week, because there really was something very sweet and winning about Rachel Crow. It wasn't only her curlicue hair, round button of a face and bouncy energy onstage that found its way into our hearts. It wasn't even her truly moving backstory -– a neglected, abused crack baby, she was adopted by a loving, if not terribly wealthy family, which staked whatever it had on helping her pursue her dreams of a singing career. All those things played a role, of course. But what made Crow so special was the way she hit those low notes, and the look on her face as she did. Despite all the cuteness and the smiling declaration that she was just there to inspire kids (Do you think that's what did her in? Did voters think Crow was getting, as one ShowTracker commenter put it, "a big head"?), it was how dead serious Crow was about singing and music that was most captivating. I'm betting she'll get that second bathroom for the family home yet.
It was dance song night Wednesday on "The X Factor," but it was the second, non-dance half of the show, when the top five contestants performed a song they'd chosen (but had had only one day to prepare) that was more likely to bring audiences to their feet.
Let me just cut right to my main thought here: Where has Chris Rene been hiding that talent these past weeks? Under a backwards baseball cap? And why, after wowing us all with his original song "Young Homie" during his very first audition before the judges, has he been lying so low for so long? Honestly, you could be forgiven for thinking, before he launched into his original song, "Where Do We Go From Here," in the last moments of Wednesday's show, that Rene, while an appealing fellow, had overstayed his time in the competition. But as it turns out, Rene just wasn't performing the right songs. He should have been singing his own songs. And by that, I don't mean his raps layered on top of other people's songs; those just haven't been doing it for me. On songs he has written, Rene's voice, while not a powerhouse, has a sweetness, an honesty and a raspy emotionality that make you want to keep listening to it. Simon Cowell called Rene's risky decision to sing his own material a "stroke of genius." Agreed. This song could well have put him on the path to a come-from-behind victory. Who would have predicted it?
And the other contestants? Really, it's not impossible to see (almost) any of them winning either:
The single-named competitors have been sent home: Drew and Astro were voted off "The X Factor" Thursday night in a double-elimination results show that I, personally, sort of wished had been a triple elimination show – with host Steve Jones being sent home as well.
Here's hoping Jones ticked off Simon Cowell enough for that to happen. Jones certainly seemed to risk just that in the final moments of the show, after the judges had given Drew – and not Marcus Canty – the heave-ho.
After Astro had been sent home with the least amount of votes and Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro, Rachel Crow and Josh Krajcik had been ushered through to the next round, it came down to Canby and Drew in the "save-me song" round.
Drew was in and out of tears, trembling, looking very much like the 14-year-old girl she is. But she emerged for her song looking relatively composed, and sang "Listen To Your Heart" with trademark passion and artful vocal maneuvers. Miraculously, Drew not only sang well, she also pulled out her moves: a slow, deliberate walk around the bottom lip of the stage. (Hey, it was something.)
But then it was Canty's turn to sing, and he literally sang for his life. Throwing everything into "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)," including his upper notes, which cracked with raw emotion. It wasn't the most polished performance. But you knew he meant it.