It may have been the week's rock theme or maybe the news that Simon Cowell had finally joined Twitter, but something got into the judges during last night's episode of "X Factor." They were extra feisty and did more arguing than they did judging during the two-hour performance show.
Things got off to a rough start with LeRoy Bell's performance of "We've Got Tonight" by Kenny Rogers, which L.A. Reid said (like always) was "boring, boring, boring." The judges had a lot of criticisms, but the audience did not agree. Nicole's comments were drowned out by shouts of "We love you LeRoy," while Simon had to nearly shout to be heard over the boos from the audience. He told Bell, "Right now, you can't win this competition."
Video: LeRoy Bell, "We've Got Tonight"
The next performer, Rachel Crow, had Paula and Nicole dancing out of their seats as she sang the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" in a very rock'n'roll red fringe denim jacket. Simon told the 13-year-old, "I actually can see you winning the show," and Paula said that Rachel, "When I see you up there, it doesn't matter if you have 100 dancers. I only see you." Looks like Crow won't face the same fate as Tora Woloshin, who was sent home after singing the same Stones track.
Video: Rachel Crow, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
Chris Rene took the stage in an "Occupy All Streets" T-shirt to sing Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry," a song that kicked off the night's drama, with Simon complaining that the song choice "would have been great if the theme this week had been reggae music." He continued, directing his irritation at Rene's mentor, L.A. Reid: "What's the point of having a theme if you're just going to completely disregard it?" L.A. responded, "OK, let's do a hip-hop week and see what Drew does." Yes please. Simon accepted the challenge, so hopefully they follow through.
Video: Chris Rene, "No Woman No Cry"
Before it was Stacy Francis' turn to perform, L.A. said backstage, "I hope she doesn't pander and try to do a song I wrote again." Yikes. Unfortunately she may have been better off with one of L.A.'s songs, because the judges were not pleased with her performance of "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" (as sung by Meat Loaf). Simon was harsh, telling a stunned Francis, "You are going backwards right now. This is not a cabaret contest, this is to find a recording artist." Francis stood stoic before the judges, looking completely crushed.
Video: Stacy Francis, "It's All Coming Back To Me Now"
Melanie Amaro's song choice, R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts," triggered even more bickering between Simon and L.A., to the point where both judges spent their time discussing the track, rather than the performance. Because after all, "X Factor" is about Simon and L.A., not the singers, right? Simon started, "That reminded me of Adele, Alicia Keys…" before being interrupted with L.A.'s complaints that those are not rock artists, and the song was not rock. "Call up R.E.M. and tell them they're not a rock band," Simon challenged.
Video: Melanie Amaro, "Everybody Hurts"
Expectations were high this week for raspy rocker Josh Krajcik, who was completely in his element with Foo Fighters' "The Pretender." It was Paula's favorite performance of the evening, and it was, to steal Simon's words, "bloody fantastic." He even went so far as to call Krajcik "the ultimate rockstar." It's clear the judges think Josh will be one of the final few performers -- and that's not too much of a stretch.
Video: Josh Krajcik, "The Pretender"
L.A. Reid announced the next performer, Astro, as "the most popular contestant on 'X Factor.'" He didn't mention where he got that stat, but it might be true tonight, after Diddy tweeted, "Astro just killed Missing You on X Factor! Go Boy!!!" Chances are, Diddy's 4-plus million Twitter followers will keep Astro from going home this week. Although he's a rapper, Astro rocked the theme this week with Diddy/Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You." Paula told Astro, "You are phenomenal, you are amazing, you are ready to be in the studio right now selling millions of records."
Video: Astro, "I'll Be Missing You"
The last of Paula's groups remaining in the competition, Lakoda Rayne, survived elimination after being voted into the bottom two last week. They had a lot to prove this week, with their mash-up of the Outfield's "Your Love" and Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way." Nicole said they had finally found their sound -- country rock. Simon wasn't as impressed, and L.A. scolded him, "Simon, you're being mean. It wasn't that bad." Simon's response was intense: he shot back at L.A., "Watch your back." Play nice, boys. "X Factor" doesn't need to turn violent.
Video: Lakoda Rayne, "Your Love" and "Go Your Own Way"
Drew followed that pleasant exchange, singing U2's "With or Without You." L.A. (of course) commented on how she always sings the same kinds of songs, but made sure to point out that he still loves her voice regardless. Nicole and Paula both had minor criticisms, and Simon told Drew to "take no notice of the three witches" on his right side. He continued the insults on Twitter, where he posted, "Drew was amazing. The girls @PaulaAbdul and @NicoleScherzy are threatened by her." Simon joining Twitter may be the best thing to ever happen to "X Factor."
Video: Drew, "With or Without You"
The final performance of the night was Marcus Canty, singing Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart." From a studded leather jacket to fake flames and backup dancers in pleather and knee-high boots, the show was as much of a rock'n'roll cliché as they could make it. "Your mentor, the devil, just put you in hell," joked Simon at L.A.'s expense. And the episode ended just as it began, with the two male judges arguing.
Video: Marcus Canty, "Piece of My Heart"
Tonight, two of the remaining 10 performers will land in the bottom and the judges will decide who goes home, after both contestants perform their survival songs. Rihanna will perform on the episode, airing at 8 p.m. on Fox.
Who do you think had the best performance last night? Who will be in the bottom tonight? Let us know in the comments below.