Stacy Francis: Without Simon Cowell on 'X Factor' I crashed, burned
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/18/2011
Stacy Francis was eliminated from The X Factor, determining the new Fox reality competition's Top 9 acts, during the show's third live results show Thursday night.
Francis was ousted from the competition after The X Factor host Steve Jones revealed she was one of the bottom two acts based on home viewer votes cast immediately following Wednesday night's Top 10 performance show and judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, and L.A. Reid then decided to eliminate the singer -- who was being mentored by Scherzinger -- via a 3-1 vote instead of fellow act "Astro" Brian Bradley -- who had been mentored by Reid.
During a Friday conference call with reporters, the 42-year-old from Brooklyn, NY who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, talked to Reality TV World about her The X Factor experience -- including whether Astro's poor attitude after his bottom-two finish was revealed worsened the blow of her elimination and how much of a role Scherzinger played in her song choices that she ultimately wasn't happy with.
Reality TV World: Did it worsen the blow of your elimination knowing that the judges felt Astro had a poor attitude towards the competition and didn't even want to sing his "song for survival?" He basically looked like he was giving up because he felt that America didn't want him on the show.
Stacy Francis: You know, I think when you're standing in that moment, you feel very invalidated as an artist. You feel like people gave up on you. You don't really know why you're standing there in that moment. You feel like maybe people don't like you anymore and you know, we have to look at who he is. He's a hip-hop artist first.
He has a little Kanye West in him. Hip-hop artists are very -- They have their integrity about who they are, they stand by what they do, they don't get caught up too much in what other people think. They're going to do what they want to do, and I think that when he's standing there, he's like, "Wow, you know what? What's going on?"
He kind of felt like rejected and so he reacted in that way. So we gotta look at it like it is. He's young. I'm old enough to be his mom and I gotta tell you something. On the other side of that, at 14-years-old, for him to have the confidence that he has -- He's standing on the same stage as a 42-year-old woman who didn't have that confidence at 14-years-old.
So, in that way, I respect him and I admire him for taking a stand for himself at such a young age. He has that New Yorker in him that's fighting for it and hey, I can't blame him for it. I'm really very proud of Astro. I think he's really talented.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Astro is actually 15 years-old, not 14 years-old]
Reality TV World: You said during Thursday night's show that you weren't always happy with your song choices. Did you always decide what to sing or how much of a role did Nicole play in the selection process? Looking back, what changes would you have made? Would you have sang different songs or leaned more towards different artists or genres?
Stacy Francis: Well, you know, the thing that I regret is that Simon Cowell, he picked "Up the Mountain" for me that week and that was a really good song choice.
I really respect Simon as a recording executive and I think that unfortunately, had his ego not come into play and had he not beat up Nicole so much about the fact that he picked my song, I would have loved for us to continue to work in a team sort of effort with Simon because I think he did have the right direction for me.
And up until that point -- up until he stopped helping us -- is when everything went crazy and you know, I think we sort of needed his viewpoint. I respect him for what he does for people over 40. Look at what he did for Susan Boyle.
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I respect Nicole and I love her, but I think that as a creative executive, Simon -- that's the lane that he's in, you know? So, that's when I think I crashed and burned -- those last two weeks when I didn't have his help. And unfortunately, I wasn't in his category. So, unfortunately, I had to bite the bullet.
Also during the call, Francis told reporters whether she thought she had a real shot at winning the competition, whether she would have preferred another mentor over Scherzinger and what was going through her mind at the time of her elimination -- especially since Astro had just been called out for being disrespectful to the judges and the audience.
Did you really think you could win The X Factor or were you just looking more to gain national exposure?
Stacy Francis: At the end of the day, of course I would have loved to have won and I don't know. I'm not maybe as confident in myself to say that I think I should have won. I think that everybody in the competition -- at the point when you get to Top 12 or Top 10 -- I think we all definitely have a shot at it. So, I was definitely going for the five million dollars for sure. I had my eye on the prize for sure, yes.
What did you think of Nicole as a mentor and do you wish you could've had Simon, Paula or L.A. instead?
Stacy Francis: Well, you know, I love Nicole very much, but the game was going really, really hardcore. I feel like Simon Cowell definitely threw me under the bus as a judge.
I definitely have admiration for him as the creator of the show and the executive of the show that doesn't go into the game (laughs) -- as far as being in the game or the competition, he always stood up and gave standing ovations for his contestants and made it very clear that he wants to take the crown for one of his girls.
He was not supporting any of the contestants that were not his contestants, and for that reason, I would have loved to have been in his category because he has a very strong voice and America listens to him and they appreciate what he has to say and he's very influential.
Now, as the creator of the show, that was the moment that I had to take last night to thank him, as I did, because he gave me the opportunity to be there. And for that, I have so much admiration and respect for him.
Do you think that your successful professional career before going on the show affected your outcome? Do you think that played a role in fans voting for you?
Stacy Francis: I would hope not because I think that -- like Simon did come to my defense by making it clear that some people did have a professional career. Obviously, my career wasn't as "successful" as people were saying, because no one knew who I was until I came on The X Factor stage.
So it wasn't like I was Janet Jackson and I came to do The X Factor, you know? So, I think that was kind of silly that that was brought up. I think that people were looking for something sort of new to dish on me and those people got their wish. They wanted to see me off the show and that's what they got.
What was going through your mind during the time of your elimination?
Stacy Francis: I was in a pure state of shock. I didn't expect to go home. I said to Nicole that I was expecting to be in the bottom two once we got to that stage. For some reason, I just had that in my gut -- it was telling me that.
I just didn't expect to go home and when that I saw it was Astro standing next to me, I was hoping that because he's not a singer, that they would have taken the position of, "We have to let a singer go through." And then when he had sort of a little attitude about it and he was kind of throwing it away, I was hoping that they would take advantage of that, but they didn't.
I think Simon loves the little rebel (laughs) and at the end of the day, Astro is a very talented kid. So, it's hard when you're standing there and you're being judged and America's watching and the world is watching -- it's very stressful, and I think he was responding like a child would respond.
He's 14-years-old. It's very difficult -- I mean, I'm 42, and the night before, I sat there and my face wasn't exactly what it should be as far as smiling and being as light as I should have been. Sometimes, we lose it. As artists, it's very personal and it's hard.
So, I think that's what happened to him and my heart goes out to him. I think he's super talented. I watched from backstage writing lyrics and making beats and for 14-years-old, he's an extraordinary person and an extraordinary talent. I think he's going to have a bright future ahead of him.
Do you think it was unfair they saved Astro since he was acting like a child and was being disrespectful?
Stacy Francis: I know why they saved him. He's a talented kid and he does have "the x factor" and I think that I have "the x factor." I think it was a very complicated decision for them to make. Simon Cowell did say that it was very complicated and he tweeted later on that he nearly changed his mind. I think it was just difficult.
I think the two of us being in the bottom two was very unfortunate and I don't know if anybody expected it. So, I don't know. I don't look at it that way. I think that he had an initial response that was honest. He felt rejected. He felt, as an artist, that people weren't supporting him anymore and that's a really hard feeling to deal with.
I mean, even at 42-years-old it's hard, so him dealing with it at 14? I can't even imagine what that's like. As a mom, I look at him and I said, "Wow." Honestly, I was like, "I get it." If that was my son, I would just want to hug him and embrace him and let him know that we love him and we respect his craft and that's the way things go. It's a competition.
Do you think the rock and roll theme for the performance show was fair given there weren't many, if any, rockers on the show? Did you agree that the performances should have been more rock and roll sounding?
Stacy Francis: Well, this is what I have to say about that. I stand by it and I said it that night. The week before, I had done "Queen of the Night" and I got slammed really hard from that from the judges and from my supporters.
I felt like if I was going to be given a rock song, I wanted to then take that song and try to make it my own the best that I could and go back to what I did before that -- before the "Queen of the Night." So, it was just a really tough place for me to be, because I could have come back and done another "kind of 'Queen of the Night' song" and then I would have gotten in trouble again.
So I don't know. The song choices that I had were not that great. I'm not a rock singer. I was hoping that rock night meant, "Take a rock song and do what you do," not necessarily do a rock version of it, but take a rock song and do what you do.
I think that, as artists, we should stay true to ourselves and I'm a gospel, soul, church singer. I'm not a rock singer. So I was hoping I could take a rock song and make it a soul song, because I believe that rock is raw and you think from your soul anyway.
So I wasn't going to get out there and scream and do some other thing. I would have gotten slammed for that too, so it was very difficult. You find yourself between a rock and a hard place on that kind of thing.
You said you thought you got unfairly judged by Simon. Was the criticism from him the hardest to bare of all the judges? Did his feedback have more significance to you over the other judges?
Stacy Francis: Well, the thing about it is that I have a lot of love and admiration for Simon Cowell for giving me the opportunity. When I thanked him, I thanked him as a person that's not in the competition anymore that was eliminated, that is the creator of the show.
Now, when I was in the game and we were competing against each other, he definitely beat me up. I felt like he had beaten me up because I wasn't in his category and I would like to believe that I was a strong contender against his category, and he wanted to win and he plays hardball. If you think about it, I sang a song that he said was "soft rock."
But yet his contestant came right out after me and she sang a "soft rock" song and he stood up for her. So, I think he was definitely -- and I see him doing this to everybody that's not in his category -- he beats you down into the ground and he's making it known that he wants to take it all the way.
Now on the other side of that, you gotta separate it. He's the creator of the show. He's an amazing, brilliant executive and he created this outlet for me.
It would have been a miss had I not taken a moment and thanked him for it, because there's no other show, no other outlet, no other anything in this world I would give someone my age and all the things that go along with it -- the opportunity to stand in front of the world every week and sing.
And for that, I have to thank him and after the show, I got a chance to embrace him and show him my affinity for it. I really love him for that, but I took a beating from him. I think he threw me under a bus a couple times and I don't know, as an artist, if I deserved it or he was playing a game. That's not something I will ever really know.