Marcus Canty made his mark on the first season of “The X Factor” U.S. by being an all-around nice guy who made it to fourth place in the competition in 2011. But that high ranking came with a certain amount of controversy, since he was at the center of two very emotional “sing-off” eliminations that the show had this year. On December 1, 20-year-old Canty and 14-year-old pop songstress Drew ended up in the bottom two of getting votes from the public, so they had to do a sing-off for the show’s judges (Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger), who had to decide which contestant would be eliminated. And the majority of judges voted to eliminate a distraught Drew, who burst into tears and sobbed loudly when she got the bad news.
Exactly one week later, Canty found himself in almost the same scenario. This time, his sing-off was against precocious 13-year-old singer Rachel Crow. When the four-judge panel deadlocked on the votes, the contestant that was eliminated was the one who got the lowest number of votes from the public. And that contestant was Crow, who had an even worse meltdown than Drew did. Crow dropped to her knees on stage as she broke down in tears and wailed. Being in the bottom two for two weeks in row was an ominous sign that Canty wasn’t going to make it to the Top 3, and that turned out to be the case, as he was eliminated on December 15 because he received the lowest number of votes from the public. The day after the elimination, Canty did an interview with reporters in a telephone conference call to talk about his “X Factor” experience.
Can you talk about what you went through this week after such a strong reaction to Rachel Crow being eliminated? How did you prepare?
Obviously, seeing Rachel in the bottom with me, it frightened me because I treated Rachel with such love as a brother would a little sister. That’s how I treated Rachel, so I definitely didn’t want to be there with her. But going forward into the next week, I had to erase that because obviously it’s still a competition. The unfortunate part is there’s only going to be one winner. If everyone was going to win, I guess that takes away from the competition part it, but I prepared it.
What prepped me was I took myself out of the mindset of feeling down about myself and I had to keep fighting. I’ve been fighting each week. I had to keep continually fighting. I had people supporting out there. I didn’t have the lowest votes, so that meant I had someone out there supporting me. That’s what it was about.
You said several times that your mom had given you a two-year window after you graduated from high school to make it as a professional singer or else you would have to find another way to make a living. Has she given you an extension now that you’ve been so successful on “The X Factor”?
Yes, my mom definitely gave me that extension that I needed. I think “The X Factor” was the platform that maybe she was looking for. She gave me the two years because before the competition, I may have gotten a little lazy about my career. Everything that happened for me, my mom did for me, so I never had to work for much, but this competition matured me and turned me into the working man that I needed to be.
Especially fighting each week, being in the bottom so many times, I had to keep fighting. Doing that and seeing how many people love me and support me, it made me more motivated. It makes you want to work even harder each and every week, even after the competition. I won’t give up on my dream.
You had a rough couple weeks. You made it to the final four, but your elimination meant you’r not going to compete in the season finale. Did that affected your confidence?
No. When I came into this competition, obviously I grew. I needed to each and every week. Even looking back on my whole experience, I felt the growth. I saw the growth.
As far as not making it to the finale, obviously the grand prize was a $5 million contract, and that’s where my eye was. I was dedicated to getting there. Not making it definitely didn’t touch my confidence at all.
I’m going to go on stage. I’m going to continue to perform. I’m going to continue to inspire people. And I’m going to continue to just be myself. I think that’s what people like about me is that I can be myself. I don’t have to pretend and act like something that I’m not. It definitely didn’t touch my confidence.
In your discussions with “The X Factor” judge L.A. Reid, who was your mentor on the show, could you pinpoint some of the things that may have led to your being in the bottom three for three consecutive weeks?
No. I walked into this competition and I wasn’t going to feel any regrets. Anything me and L.A. did … for each live show worked to show versatility. It goes to show that I can be versatile.
I can sing R&B music, but at the same time, I can turn around and sing a Janis Joplin song. I can take a Boy George song and make it my own. It’s about being versatile and being different. Anything that me and L.A. did, it had nothing to do with that.
America’s out there voting. The fortunate part is that I feel like America chose who they wanted to be in, and I’m definitely happy for any decision that was made, but me and L.A. are cool.
It seemed like really from the beginning of the competition, you had the support of most of the judges pretty consistently. So even though maybe you didn’t have the viewer votes week in and week out, what does it mean to have such industry heavy-hitters really support you the way they did throughout the series?
It felt good that a lot of the people in the industry — especially Paula [Abdul]. She was so, so nice to me each and every week. Even behind the scenes she was so nice to me. Nicole [Scherzinger] as well.
Funny enough, Simon [Cowell] is actually a puppy dog. He’s pretty nice himself. I have nothing but great things to say about the judges. They’re amazing, and I hope to work with them in the future.
Do you have any idea why maybe you didn’t connect with the public as much as maybe you should have?
Honestly, in my opinion, this is a TV show and this is a contestant TV show competition. I think honestly, people have their favorites in the competition. It’s like from your first audition, they have their favorites and they know exactly who they want to choose. I think their favorites will never change, but they may have a certain opinion about someone else.
I think that people picked who they wanted to be in the final and who they wanted to see, who they want to see more. Not necessarily saying they didn’t want to see me more, but it’s all about who their favorite was. I think everybody that’s left in this competition is extremely, extremely talented. Everyone deserves to be there. Out of everyone’s that’s left, they deserve it.
L.A. Reid has had plenty of experience in the business and knows how to work with artists. But do you think, had you worked with any of the other judges, that maybe your fate on the show would have been different? Or do you think that didn’t really have anything to do with it at all?
No, no, no, no. L.A.’s a great guy. We came together and got great songs I had great fun with L.A. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Honestly, I think L.A. was the perfect mentor, the perfect mentor for me. He shaped so many of the careers — Pink, Justin Bieber, Ushers, all of those artists. It was just fate. It felt like fate to me.