Please note that Astro was NOT in the bottom two, as widely predicted after he alienated much of America with his onstage tantrum last week. (Astro may rap that "15 is the new 25," but last week, he acted like a 5-year-old.) I had assumed that Astro had not been sufficiently contrite this week to get back in voters' good graces, since he delivered a half-hearted "apology" that he probably only gave because his mentor L.A. Reid forced him to (I do not recall the actual words "I am sorry" ever leaving his pouting lips), and he rapped a feisty Jay-Z song, "Show Me What You Got," on a night when kinder, gentler contestants dedicated sweet "songs of thanks" ballads to their loved ones. But apparently, I was wrong. Astro was indeed safe.
Lakoda Rayne & Paula Abdul
As for Lakoda Rayne--who received the fewest votes of the week, and therefore went home automatically without even a chance to sing for the judges--it's understandable why they were eliminated. Groups have never fared well in the international "X Factor" franchise in general (only one group, on "The X Factor Spain," has ever won), and groups mentor Paula Abdul, despite all her enthusiasm and effort, wasn't able to break that curse. The first two cast-offs of the season were Paula's InTENsity and Stereo Hogzz, and it was really only a matter of time before poor Lakoda Rayne followed suit. And this week, performing a karaoke cover of Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" that really brought nothing new to the already overexposed song, the manufactured country-pop girl group ultimately sealed their, and Paula's, fate. Now, barring any record-deal offers for the foursome, the Lakodas can go back to being the solo singers they wanted to be when they individually auditioned in the first place. And Paula can go back to doting on her lapdogs and crafting QVC jewelry, because she's going to have a lot more time on her acrylic-manicured hands now that she has no contestants left to mentor. (Side note: Jeers to unfeeling host Steve Jones for telling Lakoda Rayne "the dream is over," and cheers to the group for putting him in his place and shutting him up, for a change. Either someone give Steve some sensitivity training, stat, or just ship him on the Mayflower back to England.)
Marcus was clearly relieved, but it must've been tough for this mama's boy to almost go home during the week that he dedicated a song to his own beloved mother, in an emotional performance that likely meant more to him than any other this season. Marcus's mother was the one who inspired him to audition for "The X Factor" in the first place, when she gave him a post-high-school, two-year deadline to pursue his showbiz dreams before getting a "real job." But I think, ironically, it was Mama Canty's very presence in the audience this week that was Marcus's undoing. Crooning Boyz II Men's "Mama" to his mother got him all verklempt, and he let his emotions get the better of him, resulting in his first and only terrible performance of the season. Marcus just seems to have more confidence when he's "looking up 12 girls' skirts" (Simon's words) in a sexy uptempo number than when he's serenading his mommy, so hopefully he'll do better next week.
And finally, back to the subject of Astro...I'd like to think he is thankful, and that he learned his lesson. But come on, we all know he didn't. Astro's bad behavior was rewarded last week when Simon saved him over Stacy Francis, and he wasn't even up for elimination this week. So this Astronomical Kid with the astronomical ego is, like it or not, well on his way to becoming the next Kanye.