The X-Factor Review: Auditions at Judges' Homes Decide Final Top 16
This week, Simon Cowell’s new hit The X Factor got serious. Well, when it finally aired, after numerous delays and switching around of days and times due to massive amounts of rain and Major League Baseball Playoff games being played on FOX, it got serious. The bottom line? All 32 contestants were broken up into their four categories (Boys, Girls, Groups, and Over 30′s), and then flew to the Judge’s separate homes to have one final audition there, that would decide whether or not they would be part of the Top 16 or go home. This week during “Judges’ Homes” auditions, three things immediately became apparent:
1. Now that host Steve Jones has much more to do and say during the episodes, I can officially announce that he is WAY LESS ANNOYING than Ryan Seacrest over on that. . .ahem. . .other show. Jones is actually quite pleasant, has a fantastic accent, and hey, he isn’t bothering anyone. I like the guy.
2. There are a LOT of bugs and insects and things flying around outdoors at ALL four locations where each judge lives. This makes no sense to me. How can there possibly be that many mosquitoes or fruit flies or whatever the heck people are batting around with their hands while singing at every single location? Since all the auditions took place outdoors on various, ridiculously large patios and yards, the bug issue became quite obvious and humorous. Every single contestant was fighting away swarms of insects from beating up their faces as they walked up to the staged area to sing. Weird.
3. The four judges ARE UNBELIEVABLY FILTHY FREAKIN RICH!!!! Holy Crap!!!! The mansions these people live in are something out of a fairytale, complete with sculptures, mini-bars, giant pools, waterfalls, and other things I can only dream about inside my head as I type this from my tiny one-bedroom, old as hell apartment in New Jersey.
The week was broken up into three episodes with the first two showing each audition of the 32 contestants. Each judge had a superstar there as a guest to help them make their final decisions. Each judge started with eight contestants in their category coming to their home and had to cut them in half, ending up with a Top 16 for the upcoming live shows after the World Series ends and the show returns.
To go over each and every audition would take decades. Here are some of the standouts, and then the Judges’ final decisions for the Top 16:
The Girls – mentored by Simon Cowell
The stand-out performances in this category, in my opinion, were Caitlin Koch, who performed a pure and lovely vocal to “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”; Drew Ryniewitz, whose voice is just so different and unique and beautiful that it stands out to me each and every time she sings; Rachel Crow, the youngest girl in the competition at age 13, and who possesses and incredibly mature vocal and phrasing ability for someone of her age; and my absolute favorite to date, Melanie Amaro; who kicked ass on a Michael Jackson ballad. I absolutely love her.
The Boys – mentored by L.A. Reid:
Although there is a lot of talent and standouts in this category, there were some boys who just simply looked like stars up there performing for Reid and his guest judge, Rihanna. First up was one of my absolute favorites Marcus Canty, who sang a slow song with such emotion and charm that it was almost inspirational. Next standout for me was Chris Rene, whose version of “Everyday People” left me rooting for him on every level. I love that guy. I also think that Tim Cifers and Phillip Lomax stood out as the other two that I would most likely vote for, although, again, its a tough category that includes a lot of varied styles and talent, so it will be hard for them to choose only 4.
The Groups – mentored by Paula Abdul:
Another tough category, especially since two of the eight groups were just recently formed and put together by the four judges themselves, so they haven’t had much of a chance to fully figure out who they are as artists yet. That being said, there were definite standouts in this category. For me, the groups that showed talent and professionalism above and beyond the rest were The Anser, The Brewer Boys, 4Shore, and The Stereo Hogzz. A number of the groups choreography and singing came across as cheesy and/or a bit generic. I think this is the toughest category to find a true STAR in because it’s so tough for a group to really stand out as complete originals.
The Over 30′s – mentored by Nicole Schwarzinger:
This was another rough category, but probably my favorite. I love the idea of someone older winning the 5 million dollar contract and finally having their dreams realized at that part of their life. Singer Enrique Iglesias helped Nicole to make her final decisions. The first standout was Stacey Francis, who delivered a heart-wrenching, gorgeous performance of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Also standing out were Leroy Bell, Josh Krajcik, Christa Collins, and Elaine Gibbs. This will be a hard one, because a lot of them have similar type/style voices, and I don’t think they will choose two people with a similar style in the same category.
After what seemed like hours and days of deliberating and deciding and delaying, each judge had to decide which four to choose to go ahead into the Final 15 live shows, which begin next Tuesday. Although there were a few decisions I completely disagreed with, overall, the level of talent in the top 16 is beyond exceptional. Well, it’s actually a Top 17, because Simon was an IDIOT beyond belief and rejected THE BEST PERSON IN THE ENTIRE COMPETITION, Melanie Amaro, in a move that can only be described as MORONIC! After he chose his final four, however, he realized that he had made a HUGE error, and flew to Melanie’s house unannounced, to apologize to her and her family for saying no to her. He then asked her to be in the competition, and of course, she said YES! HELLOOOO??? This girl could win the whole damn show! How could you even CONSIDER not putting her through? Ugh. When he said no to her, I wanted to reach through my TV and punch him in the face. Anyway, he wised up and finally came around. So, with that being said, here they are …
Nicole and the Over 30′s:
Josh Krajcik, Leroy Bell, Stacey Francis, Dexter Haygood.
Paula and The Groups:
The Brewer Boys, Intensity, Lakoda Rayne, The Stereo Hogzz.
L.A. Reid and The Boys:
Bryan Bradley (ASTRO), Phillip Lomax, Chris Rene, Marcus Canty.
Simon Cowell and The Girls:
Simone Battle (lame), Drew Rynewitcz, Tiah Tolliver, Rachel Crow, and Melanie Amaro. (DUH!)
The show comes back next Tuesday after The World Series to begin their live performance shows and America can vote, and the judges will start competing against one another to get THEIR acts to the top prize.
Who is your favorite? Did they make it through?
Season 1, Episodes 7-9 (originally aired October 13, 16, and 18, 2011)
X Factor airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on FOX.
Photos courtesy of xfactorusa.com