X Factor
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Rock Off

You know the beginning where there's a recap of the previous week, and sometimes the whole season? This time it's just a recap of the last five minutes of the previous episode, with Paula's meltdown over being forced to choose between what were then her two remaining groups, ending in the elimination of the Stereo Hogzz, Simon's favorite band in the world. Well, at least she won't have that problem this week. As the rundown of the ten remaining acts reminds us, it's three judges with three singers, and "Paula Abdul and the last of the Groups, Lakoda Rayne!" Woo hoo! Paula claims to be confident they're here to stay; Nicole says her category is the best one for "Rock Week" (because let's face it, you kind of have to be over 30 to even remember rock any more), L.A. says he's ready for it, even with his R&B-slash-hip-hop stable, and Simon says, "It'll either be fantastic or a train wreck. I'm going with train wreck." I hate it when I agree with Simon.

For once. Steve doesn't have to come out onto an empty stage. While Joan Jett's "I Love Rock & Roll" plays, he emerges into a throng of chick dancers whose presence somehow just makes him look incredibly dorky. He explains that for Rock Week, "All the acts are performing rock songs or songs in a rock style." They sure are imposing limiting categories on everyone, aren't they? Last week it was songs that were in movies at some point, and now this. He brings out the judges and claims all of their reputations are on the line -- especially Paula's, such as it is. Steve has to vamp a bit while waiting for Nicole to take her seat at the judges table so she can introduce the first act of the night, LeRoy Bell. The new interesting fact about LeRoy is that got a full tattoo sleeve on his left arm a few years ago, just to keep himself from getting a respectable job. I don't think that's still the barrier it was when LeRoy was joining the workforce in the late 1960s. Nicole talks about how happy she was with LeRoy's performance last week, but L.A. flatly tells us, "LeRoy is boring." So this could get ugly.

And LeRoy kicks off Rock Week with "We've Got Tonight," Bob Seeger's least rocking hit ever. And watching the performance, it's hard not to see L.A.'s point, even with the power-ballad drumming and gospel backup singers that kick in with a gratuitously thrown-in key change. The crowd loves it, though. L.A. cuts right to the chase: they're looking for a star, and LeRoy's just not working it. Paula also compliments his voice and talks to him about making a connection with the audience. Which she generously says he did more of this time, even though he pretty much just wandered a few steps from where he started. Other sixty-year-olds just do that naturally. As for Simon, he insists on calling LeRoy "Lori," compliments the song and the voice, and gives him a zero on originality. He repeats L.A.'s point about the five-million-dollar contract and says he's being mentored like a session singer. Simon's bottom line: LeRoy can't win right now. "Agreed," L.A. chimes in. Nicole steps in with some encouragement, and pretty much has to shout down Simon.

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