“The X Factor” U.S. may have four official categories, but with the Top 12 acts of 2011 now chosen by the show’s judges, there are several “unofficial” categories in which two acts each category will have to battle it out, and only one act will go further in the competition. These “unofficial” categories are important to point out because viewers will decide which type of similar acts they prefer over the other. The show’s four official categories are Boys (male solo singers under age 30); Girls (female solo singers under age 30); Over 30s (solo singers ages 30 and older); and Groups.
Voting from the public for “The X Factor” U.S. contestants begins on November 2, 2011.
As previously reported, people can vote by calling a toll-free phone number; by texting; by going online at the official “X Factor” U.S. website; by going online at the official “X Factor” U.S. Facebook page; by going online at the official “X Factor” Twitter page; and by Verizon Touch Voting on The Xtra Factor App on the Verizon Android.
It’s important to note in these types of TV competitions, that some contestants who are declared early frontrunners by the judges and by the media may not necessarily end up in the final four of the competition. We saw this in 2011 with so-called “frontrunners” Pia Toscano and Casey Abrams on “American Idol” — both singers didn’t even end up in the final four. Abrams was even voted off twice by the public before it finally sunk in with some people that he wasn’t as popular as the media made him out to be.
So it really is too early declare one frontrunner for “The X Factor” U.S. A lot can happen in the live shows (and off-stage, if any scandal emerges that could threaten a contestant’s popularity), but these “unofficial” categories definitely will have some serious rivalry among similar “types” of contestants who have to compete for votes.
Here’s a list of the “unofficial” categories that will be competing for votes, as well as an analysis of how popular the contestants in these categories are at this time of writing, based on viewer comments made on the Internet.
The Big-Voiced R&B Divas
Melanie Amaro vs. Stacy Francis
Unless something drastic happens (such as an unforgivably horrible performance or unforeseen scandal), 19-year-old Amaro is the clear victor here. She’s already been described by many people as the best singer in the competition. She has kept her professional cool, even while going through the humiliation of being rejected by judge/mentor Simon Cowell in favor of less talented singers. But Amaro got a second chance when Cowell admitted he made a mistake in getting rid of Amaro, and he asked her to return to the competition. Viewers love a comeback story from someone who was treated unfairly, so Amaro will be hard to beat in this category.
Francis, 42, is undoubtedly a talented singer, but she has gotten criticism from some viewers for being too much of a crybaby and acting too desperate to win. Viewers have already heard Francis’ sob story about being a single mother who escaped an abusive relationship and how she is struggling financially. We also saw how Francis revealed that her father had died on the first day that she arrived at “X Factor” boot camp, and she made the guilt-ridden decision to stay at boot camp instead of going to his funeral. Unlike Amaro, Francis has gotten criticized by Cowell for the way she sings. (He has called her “over-the-top” and too much like a gospel singer.) The best way for Francis to become more popular with viewers is to stop whining about her problems on camera, have better composure on stage, and let her singing be what people judge her for instead of trying to get people’s sympathy for what happened in her personal life — because there’s such a thing as being too tragic.
The Mature-Voiced Teenage Girls
Rachel Crow vs. Drew
Drew (the stage name for 14-year-old Drew Ryniewicz) and 13-year-old Crow are more talented than many singers who are twice their age and older. However, Drew is more popular with viewers at the moment, because people seem to like that she puts a unique spin on hit songs. Many viewers have noted that Drew has an “old soul” quality to her that does not make her another “annoying kid” trying to break into the entertainment business. She does not have that “desperate to be famous” vibe that many aspiring young performers have. And Drew’s supporters just seem to love her voice more than Crow’s voice.
Crow’s spunky personality and perky performances have also won over many fans. The main criticism people have about Crow is that she seems to be one of those precocious kids who is too aware of how cute she can be, and that smugness can irritate some people. Crow is widely praised for having immense talent (and probably more versatility than Drew, who seems to be strictly a pop artist), but some people have noted that Crow’s tendency to “growl” a little when she sings is a bit of a turn-off. On a more positive note, many people (including “X Factor’ U.S. judge L.A. Reid) have observed that Crow could just as easily be a successful actress as she is a talented singer.
The Young Hip-Hop Guys
Astro vs. Chris Rene
Rene’s “X Factor” audition video has become a YouTube sensation: It is the most-watched video on “The X Factor” U.S.’s official YouTube channel, and no other video on the channel comes close. So it’s fairly easy to see that Rene’s popularity eclipses Astro’s. Rene, 28, mentioned in his audition that he is a recovering drug addict, but his humble demeanor and seeming eagerness to lead a better life and stay sober have endeared him to many fans. Rene, who sings and raps in his performances, can also perform original songs that he wrote, which is a big asset. But even though Cowell declared Rene to be “the most important contestant” on “The X Factor” in 2011, it’s too early to say that Rene will be the winner, especially if he relapses or has multiple performances that are mediocre or bad.
Astro (the stage name of 15-year-old rapper Brian Bradley) is probably the most polarizing contestant in The Top 12. He has won over many fans for his electrifying performances that show he can easily command the stage at large venues. However, the biggest drawbacks to Astro getting votes are that people don’t like his arrogance (Astro said that he’ll be “bigger than Jay-Z” in five years), and there’s a large segment of the population that thinks rappers who don’t sing should not be in this competition. So no matter how much praise “The X Factor” judges heap on Astro, he will have to overcome these obstacles if he has any chance of surpassing the popularity of Rene.
The Young R&B Guys
Marcus Canty vs. The Stereo Hogzz
Canty, 20, has no doubt gotten a lot of support from people who love his vocal talent and on-stage charisma. The Stereo Hogzz (a male quintet show members’ ages are 24 and 25 years old) have gotten mixed reviews for their vocal talent, but they put on a flashier stage show than Canty does. For now, Canty seems to be more popular with viewers because people just like his singing voice better than the Stereo Hogzz’s collective singing voice. People are also saying that Canty has the potential to be a heartthrob with the ladies if he becomes a star. In Canty’s audition, “The X Factor” judge L.A. Reid (who is mentoring Canty) compared Canty to a young Bobby Brown, but many people believe that Canty is more talented than Brown. (And hopefully, Canty won’t have the same problems Brown has that derailed Brown’s career.)
The Groups Formed by “The X Factor”
InTENsity vs. Lakoda Rayne
InTENsity (a group of 10 underage kids — nine teens and one 12-year-old) and Lakoda Rayne (a female quartet whose members ages range from 17 to 22) were formed by “The X Factor” U.S. at the end of “boot camp” stage of the competition. The members of InTENsity and Lakoda Rayne originally auditioned individually, but were rejected as solo singers and allowed to continue in the competition on the condition that they join these “X Factor”–created groups. As such, these two groups had the disadvantage of people not being able to seem them perform as groups until the “judges’ homes” phase of the competition.
Lakoda Rayne clearly has more fans than InTENsity. Overall, people seem to think that Lakoda Rayne (a country-pop group) harmonizes better than InTENsity does. (And it doesn’t hurt that the members of Lakoda Rayne are very good-looking.) Although the judges seem to like both groups, the judges have given higher praise to Lakoda Rayne so far. Cowell said that InTENsity was like a new, young “Glee” cast, but with “Glee” experiencing a big decline in its Season 3 ratings, that comparison may not be the best thing for the group, as the public seems to be tiring of the “Glee” phenomenon. Several people on the Internet have noted that InTENsity is more “Kidz Bop” than “Glee.” The biggest criticism people have about Lakoda Rayne is the group’s persona may be too generic and will likely be overshadowed by more unique personalities in the competition.
The Soulful Older Male Singers
LeRoy Bell vs. Josh Krajcik
There’s no contest in this category. Krajcik, 30, has been a fan favorite since his “X Factor” audition. Despite his scruffy appearance and average-Joe looks, people have been falling in love with his unique singing voice. At 60 years old, Bell is the oldest contestant in the Top 12. And although Bell has his share of fans, his singing voice is not as distinctive as Krajcik’s, and Bell does not seem to be “arena-ready,” since his on-stage performances are not as confident as Krajcik’s. Bell does get a lot of positive comments from viewers who say that he looks great for his age, but that won’t be enough for Bell to surpass Krajcik in getting votes from the public. It would be shocking if Bell outlasts Krajcik in the competition.