FLASH FRIDAY: Nicole Scherzinger Sings & Zings
Controversy is never too far offstage in any Simon Cowell production - manufactured, actual or otherwise - and the debut season of the US edition of his international smash reality singing competition THE X FACTOR on Fox has been overloaded with drama, meltdowns, breakdowns and buckets of tears. Stars have been made and dreams have been broken - par for the course, as always, on a singing show like this. Yet, no one on the show, whether judge or participant - no, not even Paula Abdul, Rachel Crow or the flasher himself - has been met with the irate hate and all-around ire of fans and critics alike quite like new judge Nicole Scherzinger. Sure, Simon cajoles her and criticizes her too much - to much winning effect - amping up the competition amongst the four judges, as is his wont - and, really, that's the whole hook of the show, anyway. The ex-Pussycat Dolls front-woman (remember "Don't Cha"?), Scherzinger has had middling success in her solo career post-Pussycats in the US, yet she has racked up #1 hits overseas, and, had her last album not been plagued with stateside release issues, perhaps there would be a larger audience more aware of her repertoire and irreproachable talent here on these shores. Alas, many are meeting her for the first time in her new role as an X FACTOR judge - responsible for the most difficult category, no less; the Over 30s - and perhaps that is not the best light to make first impressions under. No matter what her judging abilities are, the girl can clearly sing - and sing well - which is more than can be said of many in similar roles on other singing-centered shows (or even this one). In addition to that, she has shown a remarkable stage presence - particularly in her essaying of the role of Maureen (made famous in the original Broadway cast by WICKED Tony Award winner Idina Menzel) in RENT at the Hollywood Bowl, directed by Neil Patrick Harris - and, even more recently, has displayed her legit side with her stunning performance of the title song from Andrew Lloyd Webber's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - alongside four famous Phantoms - at the Royal Variety Performance last week for the queen. Just last night, Scherzinger took center stage on the X FACTOR's results show to sing her surprisingly strong new single, "Pretty" - an episode which also saw the final remaining contestant under her tutelage remaining in the competition, Josh Krajcik, survive another week and make it into the Top 4 - and proceeded to positively set the night alight. Haters can hate, but Scherzinger undoubtedly proved any naysayers wrong insofar as her fierce talent and reason for appearing on the show as a judge is concerned - no question. Post-Pussycat Dolls, Scherzinger seems to be flying high - lest we forget: she also won DANCING WITH THE STARS early last year - and the stages of New York and London seem a perfect place for her to show off her considerable triple-threat abilities in the future, whether near or far. Plus, if she can make it in show business with that last name, you have to at the very least appreciate her striving for authenticity at all times - like it or not. Scherzinger not only sings like an angel, she looks like one, too. She is the whole package and definitely possesses the X factor - and maybe a Y and Z, too.
Angel Of Music
Kicking off our Scherzinger solo spotlight countdown, check out her thrilling aforementioned high Es and all-around excellent performance pedigree in this quintet version of the eponymous "The Phantom Of The Opera", alongside four Phantoms more than merely well-known to phans around the world - simon bowman, Earl Carpenter, John Owen-Jones and the titular star of the simply spectacular PHANTOM 25, Ramin Karimloo. Wow - times five!
Next, watch Nicole Scherzinger milk "Over The Moon" for all of its bizarre, riff-tastic worth in this clip from the opening night of last Summer's RENT at the Hollywood Bowl. While no one will ever be able to top Idina Menzel, but Scherzinger sure gives it her own fun, funny and all-around fantastic spin, as you'll be forced to agree.
Now, take a look and listen to Scherzinger and feature film Joanne, Tracie Thoms, take on the titanic diva duet "Take Me Or Leave Me" and reap the uproarious results of the Jonathan Larson show-stopping standout.
With her most recent live performance to date - singing her first single from her forthcoming US album - here is Nicole Scherzinger singing "Pretty" on last night's X FACTOR. In addition to the theatrical styling of the rock-heavy pop/dance anthem, Scherzinger commands the eye and ear with her on-point vocalisme and studied, controlled melisma. What a production, to boot! The total package deal.
Also, be sure to see Nicole's solo spot at last week's 2011 Royal Variety Performance, singing her new UK single, the emotional pop ballad "Try With Me".
Opera to theatre to rock to dance to pop and beyond - and an X FACTOR judge and DANCING WITH THE STARS winner, as well - Nicole Scherzinger is a phenomenally talented performer whose place on the entertainment landscape seems destined to burn bright like a light in the night long after her association with THE X FACTOR, DANCING WITH THE STARS and reality TV has been extinguished. As always, Simon made the right decision - making her a judge and not a host. She's a winner in whatever she does - all the way from her singing onstage to her zinging of Simon on the judge's panel. Let's hope we see much more of her on our shores in the future - and, hopefully, someday, on Broadway and West End stages.