I suppose it was only a matter of time before Astro, aka the Astronomical Kid, got axed from "The X Factor," since he'd become the show's resident villain ever since his onstage tantrum on that notorious night when he was in the bottom two. Arrogance and swaggadocio may play well in the hip-hop game (see: West, Kanye), but not in a game like "The X Factor," in which America consistently roots for contestants who are sweet, humble, and eternally grateful (see: Not Astro). But I really didn't think Astro would go this week.
Drew goes home
And the other contestant who went with him? That news was even more astronomically awful. It was Drew Ryniewicz, and her elimination totally broke my heart. She couldn't stop crying--her reaction made that night when the "inconsolable" InTENsity went home look like a happy day at Disneyland--and I wanted to weep along right with her. She didn't deserve to go. Chris Rene, who delivered the weakest performance of the week but apparently continued to ride the momentum set in place by his first "Young Homie" audition and recovering-drug-addict backstory, should have gone instead. (Yes, America, it's great that Chris got his life together. And yes, "Young Homie" was awesome...when Chris first sang it TWO MONTHS ago. Let it go, already.)
More on Drew later. Back to Astro. Despite his polarizing effect on America, Astro's exit was still a surprise. He wasn't even in the bottom three last week, after rapping a feisty Jay-Z song on a night when other contestants dedicated sweet "songs of thanks" to their loved ones, so I figured he'd be safe this week, after performing a remake of Michael Jackson's "Black Or White" that preached love and unity and tolerance. But I guess that was not enough to help Astro totally get back in America's good graces. Apparently many viewers still held a grudge, and they saw things in black or white when it came to the love/hate debate surrounding this controversial kid. Astro actually received the fewest votes this week--and that meant that on a double-elimination night, he automatically went home. He didn't even get a chance to perform for the judges and kill it, like he should have done on the fateful night that made him a villain in the first place.
Astro says goodbye
And that was a shame. Astro may not have been the most likable "X Factor" contestant, but he certainly was one of the most interesting and exciting, and also one of the best performers. As his mentor L.A. Reid put it when bidding him farewell: "Astro was good for the show." I would have at least liked to see him rap one last time. But at least Astro signed off in the most Astronomical way possible, giving a shoutout to his "Cali girl" and claiming she was the only real reason he was sad to be leaving L.A. (both L.A. the mentor and L.A. the city). And of course, he thanked his Astronauts, like a total pro. I have little doubt that Astro will--and should--get signed, and I think he could be a huge player in hip-hop if that happens. But still...I have a sneaking suspicion that Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid are relieved that they're not the label execs who have to sign Astro for $5 million and then deal with this brat's bad attitude on a daily basis.
Simon loses his first girl
The other two contestants up for elimination, who sang for survival, were Marcus Canty and, as obvious by now, Drew. Marcus had been in this position before, just last week, but seeing Drew in the bottom three was a bit of a shock. She'd been one of my favorites (and one of Simon's, clearly), and even though she never got out of her chair this week when warbling "Billie Jean" (a song associated in most viewers' minds with awesome MJ dancin' and/or awesome David Cook rockin'), she still sounded great, and I still thought her ardent fanbase of Shelbys would vote her through. I started to wonder if L.A.'s constant and completely unwarranted Drew-bashing had something to do with her downfall, even if he was surprisingly easy on her this week...but then Simon, Drew's mentor, took the blame for making Drew sing such a sluggish, slowed-to-a-crawl version of the Michael Jackson hit. "I take total, full responsibility," he said. "I shouldn't have done what I did last night. I'm the reason you're there [in the bottom three], Drew, not you. I've done it wrong."
Drew learns her fate
That was nice and noble of Simon to admit. But then the OTHER judges got it wrong--very, very wrong--when it came time to decide who to send home. Once again, for like the fifth week in a row, the results-nights sing-off meant NOTHING. Drew's "Listen To Your Heart" was infinitely better than Marcus's ouchy, screechy Gladys Knight cover, "Neither One Of Us" (just like LeRoy Bell was better than Marcus last week, and Stacy Francis was better than Astro before that, and Stereo Hogzz were better than Lakoda Rayne before that), so I totally assumed that the judges would cut Marcus. But instead, apparently deaf (or least dumb) Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger sent home Drew. And the tears flowed. Seeing the poor 14-year-old girl's crestfallen reaction was almost enough for me to rally to raise the age limit on shows like these...but really, any contestant, of any age, would be emotional after being wronged like this.
Saying her goodbyes, Drew gave a shoutout as memorable as Astro's. "Jesus loves all of you guys! I didn't get to say that before, and now I'm saying it!" she shouted. Well, maybe she should have said it before. Declarations of faith always play well on shows like these (it certainly didn't hurt Melanie Amaro last week, when she dedicated her performance to God, or "American Idol's" Scotty McCreery, who once kissed his cross pendant on TV), and words like those might have earned Drew some extra votes. But clearly Drew said her words from the heart, with no agenda in mind, and that only made me love her even more.
Astro and Drew could not have been more unalike. One was America's most hated, and one was America's sweetheart. But they'll both be missed, for different reasons. "The X Factor" just lost some of its heart AND some of its swag, and the show won't be the same without them.