Tonight, the X Factor USA Live shows begin! The Top 17 will perform in a 2 1/2 hour PLUS extravaganza. At the end of the night, the judges will send FIVE contestants home, leaving a Top 12 to compete in the audience voting rounds, beginning next week.
Philip Lomax is Eliminated
The Brewer Boys Are Eliminated
Dexter Heygood is eliminated
Simone Battle is eliminated
Tiah Toliver is Eliminated
A couple of thoughts. Steve Jones does a reasonably decent job of keeping the show moving, but he’s got all the personality of a lamp post. Maybe he just needs some getting used to. Also, tonight seemed incredibly scripted, especially in light of the fact that the judges chose who to send home on the spot without time to think about it. L.A., Nicole and Paula all had obvious cannon fodder to ditch. Indeed, their eliminated contestants were like sacrificial lambs, sent out to slaughter, complete with horrible song choices that were badly arranged–the easier to make the outcome seem inevitable.
The only “surprise” were Simon Cowell’s picks. I figured he would keep at least one of either Simone or Tiah. He was obviously smitten with both of them. But then, once I thought about it a minute, I realized that he knew they’d both get picked off quick once the voting rounds began. The last thing Simon would want would be to have his team decimated early in the competition. So he hung on to the contestants he figured would last the longest. Still–a setup. No one is going to make me believe that decisions to keep or ditch a contestant were made on the fly.
Thank God we move on to the voting rounds, and only 3 hours of X Factor a week. This whole deal was beginning to wear me out. Seriously.
So hang on to your hats, and don’t fall asleep! We’ll get through this together!
Here’s where the rubber meets the road people. We’ll see how this cast is without the aid of editing. Steven Jones takes the stage to explain the rules before he introduces the X Factor judges, L.A. Reid, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell.
Steve Jones is no Ryan Seacrest. JUST SAYIN’. Simon says he’s got to get rid of TWO people. He doesn’t want to especially, but it’s got to be done. Each group will perform. After which the mentor in charge will eliminate a contestant or contestants. The boys are up first.
Boys – L.A. Reid
Astro – “Jump” – 14 year old kid whose real name is Brian Bradley. He’s got dancers. He’s rapping up a storm. I guess this is good? Pretty good for a little kid. I don’t know, besides the impressive fast talk, I’m finding this a little boring. He comes off like a novelty act. Nicole: That was crazy. You shut it down. Paula: This is what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life. Simon: You just come out on this stage….and you just killed everybody. LA: You just made it tough on these guys. That was amazing. Major smoke blown up young Astro’s ass. He’s going to get a big(ger) head. – VIDEO
Chris Rene – “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore – He’s six months clean and sober. Says music fills the void in his life. I hope so. He’s lit up with soft lighting, like an angel. He’s got some raps in the bridge, nothing special, though. Nice singing voice, but he seems really nervous. Nicole: That was a really good performance. I wouldn’t have picked that song for you. Paula: There’s a genuine truthfulness that’s authentic. (Paula still not making sense). Simon: Not the best singer, but one of the best recording artists. Liked what he did with the song. Calls him authentic. LA: You like the unpredictable, like I do. You did a great job. – VIDEO
Not yet blown away by the talent here, people. Zzzzz.
Philip Lomax – “I’m A Believer” – He’s worried because he’s the only jazz singer in his category. Wow. Could this song choice be any stupider? Isn’t this dude a jazz singer? Why the hell isn’t he singing jazz? He’s got dancers behind him dressed in ridiculous outfits. He looks silly. The song isn’t even in his range. He’s screeching the top notes. Cheesy, cheap and awful. LA picked a horrible song. I’m calling sabotage. Nicole: I just wished you had some personality and charm. That was amazing. Paula: You did it might fine. You know how to connect with the audience. Simon: Tonight you were like a racing driver and LA put you in a tractor. LA you 100 percent failed. LA: You were no longer imitating Frank Sinatra. You owned it. You were just fine. – VIDEO
Marcus Canty – “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” – Easily the best singer of the boys. Hands down. Love his smooth soulful voice. A great song choice, but not loving the backing track on this classic Culture Club song, but Marcus rises above it. He just sang the hell out of that song. Nicole: You just make it look too easy. You were born to be on that stage. Paula: I feel like I’ve been watching a veteran on that stage. You own that stage. Simon: For me, out of the 4 boys, you’re the one who thought this through…you gave it everything. LA a brilliant choice of song. LA: Tonight you stepped up and you made me really proud. – VIDEO
LA will probably send home Philip. And he made it really easy for himself by giving him a sh*tty song choice. The boys take the stage. LA will make the decision on the spot. First boy through is Astro. The second boy through is Marcus. And the third is…Chris is through. Gah. So f*cking predictable. I hate the freaking machinations of this show.
GROUPS – Paula
Stereo Hogzz – “Try a Little Tenderness” – The group act is dated, but these guys are good. Powerful lead singing, tight choreography, lots of style and charisma. Despite the hip-hop touches, I just don’t see them fitting into the current US music landscape. LA: You guys have come a long way. It was really good. Nicole: That was fool proof, that was solid. Current and classic at the same time. Simon: Paula you did a really good job (Simon didn’t want to say it). I love this band. There should be a band like you in charts right now. Paula: I’m so proud. Thank you so much for working so hard. – VIDEO
The Brewer Boys – “Rich Girl/Faith” by Hall and Oats – Well, this is a surprising song choice. Oh it’s mashed up with “Faith”. The harmonies could be tighter, which is a little surprising for boys who have been singing together forever. OK, the song just turned into a hoe down with dancers. Not really liking this arrangement. Very cheesy. The kids needed to be more modern and pop to appeal to the teen girls. Think Bieber! They are cute, though. LA: I got a sense this was a little outside your comfort zone. I wasn’t blown away, but it was good. Nicole: If I was a teenager, I’d have you all over my walls. Simon: My issue is to remind everyone it’s a 5 million dollar category. Didn’t shine. They’re kids! What do you expect. Paula: I think you’ve come a long way. I think you nailed it. I’m very proud of you. – VIDEO
InTENsity – “The Clapping Song/Footloose” This is the 10 member teen group created as a Glee/Disney knockoff. The lead singing is terrible. This is a hot mess. But I’m sure the kids tried as hard as they could in the short window they had to rehearse. LA: For a group that’s been put together…that was thoroughly entertaining. I hope you’re all enjoying this. Nicole: All of you are little stars. Simon: That was the equivalent of a musical miracle. I’d look at you and say “I’ve got the new Glee in front of me”. (Simon has no clue why those Glee songs work. People buy them because they love the show. Glee isn’t as hot as it used to be, subsequently sales of downloads are down) Paula: I’m so proud of you. – VIDEO
Lakoda Rayne – “C’mon Irene” – These 4 girls were put together in a group, sort of against their will. Well, this is a strange song choice. This slightly countrified version of this song is pretty weak. Really, these girls aren’t good enough for Country radio. Pretty boring stuff. LA: You’d be signed to a world wide recording contract you did a great job. Nicole: You make girl groups look good. You look like a family. Simon: This is better than I thought. There is a gap in the market for a group like you. I can see that you’ve gelled. Paula: Oh. Paula is crying. You had a lot to prove tonight. (It’s obvious the judges know sh*t about country music.) – VIDEO
Elimination: The groups all take the stage. The Stereo Hogzz are through first. Next it’s Lakoda Rayne. inTENsity. The Brewer Boys are eliminated. Another set up.
Over 30s – Nicole
Dexter Heygood – “I Kissed a Girl” – Oh lookie. Dexter is doing his Jagger/Brown impersonation. This is TERRIBLE. Dexter bellows into the microphone while he moves spastically around the stage. I can’t even understand what he’s saying. It’s so redic when a straight guy sings this song. It makes no sense. LA I think you found Dexter. I’m really proud of you. I don’t know what she was thinking about giving you that song. Paula: I know you like to kiss girls. Paula thinks he should have song “She kissed a girl and I liked it”. Simon: It’s like the weirdest milkshake in the world. I kind of liked the taste of it. You’re interesting and unpredictable. Nicole: You remembered the lyrics. I’m so proud of you. (Poor Dexter has no idea he’s being pimped through as a joke. Ugh). – VIDEO
LeRoy Bell – “Nobody Knows” – LeRoy can sang, people. I would say he’s the best vocalist in the competition right now. I would have dialed back the backing track and vocals, thought. LeRoy doesn’t need a lot of production. He’s awesome. LA: I would have given you a better song. There’s nothing missing. I don’t understand why you haven’t made it yet. Paula: You know how much I love you darling. Your voice is velvet. Simon: I think you have one of the best voices in this competition. I don’t believe you have the connection with Nicole yet. I wish I was mentoring you. Simon thought he looked uncomfortable. Nicole: He had so much confidence tonight (She did not take kindly to Simon’s criticism.) – VIDEO
Stacey Francis – “One More Try” by George Michael – QUIT CRYING FOR CRIPES SAKE. Whoa PITCHY. Whoa MUPPET VOICES. This is really really weird. Odd phrasing, she’s out of tune. Her worst effort so far. LA: This time you got it right. Really proud of you. You’re not crying. Don’t start. Paula: Tonight you came out looking like a star. Brilliant delivery. Simon: I didn’t like what you were wearing, I didn’t like the song. You are a church singer. This needs a massive shift in the right direction. Nicole: The wardrobe, the song…it all gave you wings. She soared tonight! Stacey, Simon and Nicole begin arguing, until Steve interrupts them to go to break. Geez. – VIDEO
Josh Krajcik – “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan – Josh doesn’t have the best voice in the competition, but what he does with it? Is absolutely amazing. So soulful, incredible phrasing and he pours so much emotion and feeling into his performances. Really awesome. He’s killing this Dylan song. Glad Nicole allowed him to keep it simple. No dancers. No overwhelming backing track. LA: You have one of my favorite voices. It measures up for me. Paula: Your voice is my fav I’ve heard in the past decade. Simon: You’re the artist I fear. Brilliant choice of song. You’re the real deal. Best perforance so far. Nicole: That was a soul stirring performance. So beautiful. You voice just ripped out into the air. – VIDEO
Elimination: The Over 30s take the stage again. Stacey Francis is through first. Josh Krajcik is next. A hard decision? What? I think it’s obvious Nicole. LeRoy Bell goes through. AND SANITY FINALLY REIGNS. Dexter is confused. Yes you are. Go home and get some help.
The Girls – Simon
Simone Battle – “Just Be Good To Me” – She’s a TERRIBLE live singer. Terrible. But I’m sure Simon is looking at the potential to package her into a pop tart. Also, I think Simon wants to f*ck her. So that helps. LA: Everything was right except your choice of contestant. I still don’t get it. 5 million dollars mustn’t mean much to you. Nicole That wasn’t predictable at all! You looked like a diva star. Paula: You look the part. I wish there weren’t so many dancers. I would have liked to see you perform. Simon: I think all of this is meant to upset you. None of them have ever liked you. Simon compared her to Britney, et al. LA makes faces. “This one?” he says. Wow. Ouch. Simon spent the whole time Simone was performing leering at her. Yuck. – VIDEO
Rachel Crow – “Where Did Our Love Go/Baby” – Rachel doesn’t have the best voice in the competition, but with the right song, she can shine. She’s also adorable. With her sparkly personality, I see her more as a TV star than a singing star. This littleSupremes/Bieber mashup is cute, but it doesn’t allow her to show off her voice. LA: I love you girl! You can have a career that’s much bigger than music. Nicole: You’re my little Miss Sunshine. I would have picked a different song. You did an amazing job. You can do anything you want. You are the most likeable girl. Paula thinks she needed another song too. Simon: Of course, Simon disagrees. He thinks she’s a retro artist and a pop artist. (Retro? In what way? I’m not seeing that.) – VIDEO
Drew – “What A Feeling” – Now known by one name. Natch. Jeez people are questioning LeRoy’s age? I want to see Drew’s birth certificate. I’m just saying. Simon says if she screws up she’s out. The Flashdance song begins as a ballad…waiting for it to speed up and the dancers to appear. And it looks like Simon is wise enough to keep the arrangement focused on her voice. That was really good! Love her. LA: Wow girl. You have an amazing voice. You’re the whole package. I have to give him a compliment. It pains me. You’re a star girl. Nicole: That was really good Simon. So ethereal. My little folk princess. Paula: You connect with an audience. The sweetness in your voice tells a story. Simon: This is why I wanted to be on American TV to find someone like you. I’m going to have a horrible decision to make. – VIDEO
Tiah Tolliver – “Sweet Dreams” – Oh my. This is spooky, but not in a good way. She’s singing in a different key than the backing track, practically. There’s this goth thing going on with the staging and the arrangement. It’s not quite working. Tiah looks like she’s going to pass a stone. And her bug eyes are scaring me. LA: II guess you’re one of his favorites. Congrats. If that was a sweet dream, I’d hate to see what one of your scary ones are like. You are fierce. Tiah, I give you credit The performance was very very interesting. You’re going to have to work on you pitch. Simon calls Paula and Nicole jellus cats, accusing them of never liking Tiah. Whether they like her or not does not matter. Paula and Nicole were right. Tiah was horrible. – VIDEO
Melanie Amaro – “I Have Nothing” – A big old fashioned song for Melanie. She sings it well, but it doesn’t bode well for Melanie’s future. Of course, after causing such a fuss last week fake bringing her back from Florida after he cut her, he had to advance her. She’s a favorite now, but I’m not sure how long this churchy, old-fashioned singer is going to last. I suspect she’ll be de-pimped soon enough. Simon’s got his eye on a more contemporary singer to take it all. – VIDEO
Elimination: The girls take the stage: Simon can only send through 3 of his 5 girls. Fist girl to go through is Drew. She screams. Next, is Rachel Crow. The 3rd girl is Melanie Amaro. Again. Sanity reigns. I’m going to say it. Simon really surprised me. I thought for sure he’d put Simone through. He had his eye on her. But maybe he realized she would have been voted out fast. He wants to keep his girls in as long as possible, I would imagine.