I think I finally figured out what the X Factor theme song sounds like: the music from a 1980s arcade game. Tell me I’m wrong. After the title sequence, Steve kicks off the show from the balcony, and throws it right to Kelly Clarkson on the main stage. Or at least a tiny little Kelly Clarkson-shaped figure on the stage singing “Stronger” while being dwarfed by the busy graphics on the projection screen. Okay, my little-documented adoration for Kelly Clarkson is unreserved and unironic, but the tight metallic dress she’s wearing? Honey, no. Her voice holds up almost all the way to the end, at least. Oh, look, Howie Mandel is in the audience. Steve plugs Kelly’s new album, promises a performance from Bruno Mars coming up later, all but tugs his forelock to the four judges while they’re sitting down from the standing ovation they gave Kelly, and launches the totally unnecessary clip package recapping last night’s show, which I already covered once and don’t intend to do again. I will say that the camera captured a bit of Simon and L.A.’s argument about Drew’s song spilling over backstage last night, until they ordered it shut off because something interesting might have been filmed. Coming back to the live stage, Steve dorks out over what’s coming up next. I manage not to.
Oh God, here it is, the “Pepsi Choice Performance,” which people who care more than I do have been voting about online. Steve tells us that those people picked the song, chose a turntable set, a circus-themed wardrobe, a hip-hop dancing style, and a laser show. And as if just running all that down wasn’t embarrassing enough, the actual performance begins. The final nine come out and sings a Pink medley in a migraine-inducing production that looks like Sergeant Pepper leading a military coup against Moulin Rouge, but with clowns. Well you can just rock me to sleep tonight, X Factor.. “Nicely done, America,” Steve lies. Yeah, I think that horrorshow just demonstrated everything that’s wrong about democracy.
Steve reminds us of the rules for the week: the act who got the fewest votes last night automatically goes home first, and then the second- and third-lowest vote-getters sing for the judges, who will then send one of them home. Steve invites the following acts to join him. After a long pause, he names Lakoda Rayne and Drew, all five of whom looked shocked even though they don’t know what it means. That is, until they join Steve on the podium at center stage and he says that one of them is free and clear to next week — and the other is leaving “right now.” “Right now” is a relative term on this show, of course. Steve calls Paula and Simon up to stand next to their respective acts. While they’re making their way up, Steve reminds us of what the judges said about each of them. Then there’s a dramatic lighting cue, a long pause, and Steve finally says Lakoda Rayne is done. Steve gets a reaction from Drew, who says she’s happy and she loves the girls in Lakoda Rayne. Steve then turns to them and asks how they feel now that the dream is over. Paige vows that it isn’t, and she and Hayley threaten that we’ll be seeing them everywhere. There’s a Lakoda Rayne montage, and the last time we see them on network TV, they’re still wearing their ricockulous circus-slut outfits. I think that just demonstrated everything that’s right about democracy.