"The X Factor": Astro pouts, Stacy Francis out

THE X FACTOR: L-R: Astro, Steve Jones and Stacy Francis on THE X FACTOR Thursday, Nov. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Ray Mickshaw / FOX.
From left, Astro, Steve Jones and Stacy Francis on "The X Factor," Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011.

(CBS) Should you have become strangely mesmerized by "The X Factor," you'll know that last week the band dubbed by Simon Cowell as the best in the world - Houston's less-than-finest Stereo Hogzz - was tossed off.

What were the odds that, last night, the performer who had delivered one of the best auditions that Cowell had ever seen in his whole long life - Stacy Francis - would also grace the exit?

Rather high, one might have imagined. At times, Cowell is to objectivity what Julian Assange is to secrecy.

Pictures: "The X Factor"

But in order to reach some sense of climax, we had to endure a sense of being sold fizzy drinks and other fine products.

Given that this is Cowell's own show, one had to speculate as to how deep his manipulative tendencies might run. He declared, right at the beginning, that Josh Krajcik and Astro had - aside from his own girls - been his favorites from the night before. Would it have taken only a soap opera scriptwriter to work out that one of these two fine young men would be in the bottom two? You know, for a touch of cliff-hanging.

In a change of scenery, the mentors didn't appear with their acts, as they were told whether they were in or out. The performers were on stage, all alone.

First to be put through - and therefore out of vast misery - was Leroy Bell. Next was Lakoda Rayne, the group of post-pubescent lovelies who surely didn't sing all alone on stage the night before.

When they heard the good news, their mentor, Paula Abdul, leaped on stage as if she was a first-time Oscar winner. Or Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards. Or a teenager who leaps up on stage when she just can't get enough of Justin Bieber.

Talking of extreme stars, Rihanna turned up. Yes, the same Rihanna who had spent a little time at L.A. Reid's house and subtly emitted her lack of enthusiasm for the acts he was forced to audition. While the music played, she danced around a lot.

Ri-Ri was wearing stockings and suspenders beneath her inordinately ripped jeans. Which is an interesting look. Was she actually singing? Oh, I don't know about that.

Afterward, Rihanna explained to the robotically-controlled mannequin that presents the show that you have to love your work or there really is no point in doing it. No, not even money compensates for the pain, apparently.

Suddenly, the mentors did come out with the remainder of their wunderkind. Abdul had, of course, been excused this joy as her lone performers were already through.

As the mannequin waffled the results, facial tension increased. As it became clear that the last three were Stacy Francis, Astro and Rachel Crow, it all became too much. For Crow, at least. The tears poured down her face like raindrops down a statue in a town square. Would she ever get her longed-for bathroom?

Astro stood as if wanting to punch someone very, very badly with a large spiked knuckleduster. Francis stood as if waiting for an appendectomy. So the mannequin asked her, with perfect aplomb: "Stacy, how are you feeling?"

One presumes he gets paid for this. One can only hope he gets paid in second-hand clothing. Francis was too upset to answer.

Astro, on the other hand, declared that no one should be sad, that it was astonishing that hip-hop had made it this far on "a show like this."

Crow had just been told that she still had a chance for private designer ablutions. It would be down to Astro and Francis to sing for their future.

Francis' mentor, Nicole Scherzinger, was barely able to introduce her. This had more emotion that the average Lithuanian bar at 2 a.m. Francis offered "Amazing Grace", which again seemed to be adorned with a peculiarly uncertain tone.

"I don't really want to perform. I don't feel it's necessary," began Astro. No, this wasn't a rap. This was a political speech. He asked his mentor, Reid, what he thought he should perform. He asked the audience whether they thought he should perform at all.

Who does this child think he is? Mariah Carey? Whitney Houston.

He began to grunt to "Never Can Say Goodbye." Then he rapped all about- shock, horror, cardiac arrest - himself. One question might have pulsated through some hearts: how was it that Astro had these bitter, arrogant lyrics ready to rap for just this occasion?

Stunningly, Reid said to Astro: "You acted a little bit like a quitter and it upset me." Even more stunningly, Reid voted to remove Francis.

Scherzinger stood by her woman. Which left the decision to Abdul and Cowell. Abdul went against Francis.

Cowell tried to milk it. "I don't like your attitude right now," he said to Astro.

"If you're going to put me in the bottom two, I don't want to perform for people who don't want me here," scowled the little lad from Brooklyn, with impeccable Brooklyn logic. Then he started crying. Hip-hop, drip-drop.

The crowd was baying for Francis. Cowell chose to dismiss her.

So the mannequin, rising to new exalted heights, turned to Francis and asked: "Stacy, how are you feeling?"

In contrast to Astro, Francis was gracious. She took responsibility for her poor song choices. She admitted she hadn't performed well the night before.

If only she'd finished her speech and then cuffed Astro about the ears. She wouldn't have even hurt herself. For once, the little brat had taken off his headphones.

  • Chris Matyszczyk

    Chris has been a multi award-winning executive creative director with some of the most celebrated advertising agencies in the world. His creative work has been recognized at the Cannes Advertising Festival, the New York Festivals, Clio, the One Show, as well as many other festivals around the world. His writing has appeared in such publications as the Financial Times, the European, the Sacramento Bee and The Singapore Press Holdings Group.

    He currently advises major global companies about content creation and marketing, through his company Howard Raucous LLC.

    He brings an irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes ironic voice to the tech world.