The X-Factor: Changing Words Not Okay, Slicing and Dicing Verses Fine

The X-Factor Live show tonight: Judge Nicole Sherzinger criticized singer Rachel Stow for changing, at Simon's request, the line in the song she sang, Katrina and the Waves' "Walkin' on Sunshine," to "You're My Sunshine." Nicole ssid she preferred the original version.

But the judges didn't say a word when Malanie Amparo not only changed a few words of the Eagles' Desperado, but sang verses out of order, combined lines from different verses and left lines out of a verse. She sounded great, but she butchered the lyrics and no one said a word. [More...]

The Word Change: She sang: "Ain't it funny how the story goes away?" The line is ""Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away?" Not a big deal, but here's what else she did.

She began by singing the first two lines of the first verse:

Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
You been out ridin' fences for so long now

She then drops the rest of the verse and picks up in the middle of the fourth verse, singing:

And freedom, oh freedom well, that's just some people talkin'
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

So her verse was:

Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
You been out ridin' fences for so long now
And freedom, oh freedom well, that's just some people talkin'
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

Then she goes back up to the second verse, the queen of hearts verse:

Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She'll beat you if she's able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet

She skips the rest of the verse and goes back down to the middle of the 5th verse with:

You're losin' all your highs and lows
Ain't it funny how the story goes away?

So her verse was:

Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She'll beat you if she's able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet
You're losin' all your highs and lows
Ain't it funny how the story goes away?

Then she goes to the last verse, and sings the first two lines and the last line, leaving out the two lines in the middle. She sang:

Desperado why don't you come to your senses
you better somebody love you
you better let somebody love you
before its too late

The lyrics to the last verse are:

Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you,
before it's too late

I realize they have to shorten songs for time, but switching the order of verses and combining lines from one verse with lines from a different verse? Why not just sing two complete verses? It robbed the song of meaning and was totally distracting. It lost not just the story but the feeling (pun intended.)

As a big fan of Desperado, I don't care how well she belted out the word "Desperado" -- she butchered it and the judges didn't say a word even though they blast other singers for forgetting or changing lyrics.

When Melanie was done, Simon even thanked the writers saying "they've never cleared that song before, they were touch and go, so thank you." While I'm not sure what he meant, I take it as the butcher job was the writer's idea not Melanie's, and they had doubts about it. In my view, for good reason. Simon of course wants his team-member to win, so he praised it to the high heavens. [Added: Thanks to a commenter below for pointing out the royalty issues. Simon may have been congratulating the writers for getting approval from the Eagles or their reps who were being resistant, making it "touch and go" for a while.]

Melanie Amparo has a great voice and I think either she or Stacy Francis should win X-Factor (sorry, Tween Drew doesn't impress me any more than Taylor Swift did when she started. A feather would blow them away.) From here on out, it's only the viewers votes that count.

And that's the problem with the new live format of the X-Factor in which the judges critique but don't vote: Unlike American Idol, they have a vested interest in the contestants and will say anything to have their team member win, so you can't trust anything they say. For all we know, the judges are making side deals with each other (You praise my singer, I'll praise yours.) That would explain why all four judges praised all 12 singers tonight. There's no impartiality.

Another skewer in the format: Voters can vote 50 times, including by Twitter which takes less than 2 seconds. The pre-teen set will use every one of their votes. Adults will probably vote once. So Josh Krajcik and Stacy Francis' chances are diminished (and Leroy Bell's is non-existent.)

Who will go home tomorrow? My prediction: Leroy Bell or Lakoda Rayne.

It's a shame the show feels so rigged because the singers are so talented, way more so than the American Idol contestants. And the format during the auditions, when they played up the contestants' emotional stories, got us closer to them than we get to AI contenders. In other words, the show has a lot of potential, and while I'll keep watching, I don't trust it.

Update: The judges aren't done voting. The top 10 will be safe Thursday night, the bottom two will sing again, and then the judges will decide who's going home. What judge is going to send his own team member home?

Here's Linda Ronstadt singing it at her own concert.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Thank you, Jeralyn. (none / 0) (#1)
    by cymro on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 02:49:25 AM EST
    I don't watch these programs, but I do find it very annoying when singers alter song lyrics for no obvous reason. And "Desperado" has always been one of my favorite songs by the Eagles.

    So I applaud and second your complaint! Couldn't Don Henley and/or Glenn Frey (who actually wrote the original lyrics) object to such butchering, or do you think that the writers actually obtained appoval when they "cleared" the song?

    Once a song is published (none / 0) (#2)
    by DFLer on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 10:54:37 AM EST
    you don't need to clear any performance or recording with the writers/publishers....only pay the royalties.

    As to butchering the lyrics, well Don's getting paid no matter what.


    how did I forget about them? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 11:31:03 AM EST
    That's probably exactly what happened. Don Henley is the leading royalty crusader. Not only would they have been paid, but they probably had to clear the version. So Simon was probably ongratulating the writers on "clearing" the choppy version through them (or their reps) and the "touch and go" was probably due to the Eagles not wanting to sign off on it but finally convincing them. The Eagles have their minions combing You Tube. Most Eagles songs on You Tube have either been removed or when you click on them there is no sound. The ones that remain are mostly fan taken at concerts.

    That also would explain why the other judges didn't say anything -- they knew about the battle over getting permission to have Amparo sing the song and were just glad she got to sing it at all.


    but I don't think "permission" is (none / 0) (#7)
    by DFLer on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 02:18:29 PM EST
    necessary. Once a song is published, anybody can record perform it without specific permission. You obtain a license and just pay the royalties.

    If it's an unpublished song, the writer controls who records/performs it. Permission is needed.


    Me too. (none / 0) (#4)
    by ruffian on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 11:47:50 AM EST
    Desperado is sacrosanct in my book.

    Besides, her changes did not even keep the rhyming. Really a butchery of the song, to no improvement whatever. Just skip a verse altogether if time is the issue.


    Is it possible the singer just (none / 0) (#5)
    by ruffian on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 11:53:59 AM EST
    messed up the lyrics?

    That was my thought (none / 0) (#6)
    by sj on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 12:19:56 PM EST
    I've always been amazed at how many lyrics a singer has in his/her back pocket.  Speaking for myself, the kind of cross contamination that Jeralyn describes is exactly how lyrics are stored in my non-singer's mind.  I can sing along and know the words, but a sing-a-long has a built-in corrective.

    But what do I know?  I'm not a singer.  Maybe it was intentional.  But if it was, it makes no sense.


    "Desperado" is (none / 0) (#11)
    by Towanda on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 09:05:22 PM EST
    one of my favorites, too, in no small part its lyrics that are poetry.

    So I'm appalled to read this, although appreciative of even more reason to avoid such shows.


    On these shows (none / 0) (#8)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 06:44:48 PM EST
    On these shows the performers typically aren't given the time to sing the whole songs so they pick parts to sing that will showcase their voices. I suspect that was what happened here.  

    I don't know for sure tho without hearing.  I find the show completely unwatcheable.  I tuned in to watch Leroy Bell.  He's a local, and I just saw him at a free concert in downtown Redmond.   The rest?  I'd rather surf the net.

    you should probably watch tonight (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:04:00 PM EST
    My prediction is he's most likely to leave.

    jeralyn, what makes you think (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:51:00 PM EST
    these shows aren't just as rigged as the old tv game shows? fortunately, i don't waste valuable time, time i'll never recover, watching any of this nonsense. in fact, i watch very little tv at all, i prefer to read and, admittedly, i am a crossword puzzle addict(i'm in a 12-step program). but hey, i understand everyone has their own way of relaxing, so i certainly don't judge. just don't be too terribly disappointed, when you're terribly disappointed.