Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Paula Abdul Talks to Pharrell During The X Factor Judges Homes on October 13, 2011

Hey, remember how last night we were all ready to see this episode and then it rained in Detroit, so the Tigers/Rangers game got a late start, so instead of singing there was baseball on TV? Yeah, that happened. But fear not, Factor fans, tonight it’s all about Simon, Paula, L.A., Nicole, and the 32 remaining acts.

So tonight is the first night of the judges’ houses round! The Groups will be with Paula in Santa Barbara, The Boys (under 30) will be hanging in the Hamptons with L.A., the Over 30s are heading to Malibu to work with Nicole, and the Girls totally got the best end of the deal, because they’re going to meet Simon in France. Nous sommes jaloux! (We’re jealous!)

Although the judges know which groups they’ll be mentoring, the contestants haven’t been told who their mentor is yet, so while the Girls are all excited to be heading to France, they have no idea yet that it’s Simon they’ll be joining. They run around and vamp and take photos, and Simone Battle is rocking those Lady Gaga “Paparazzi” video flip-up sunglasses.

“A hundred percent this is the category I wanted,” Simon says. “They’re all winners. I’m actually more happy for them than I am for me.” The girls all flip out over the obscenely gorgeous house they’ll be staying in, and then flip out like a million times more when Simon walks out to greet them. It’s cute. We can’t imagine the Over 30s will be quite as ecstatic to see Nicole, but hey, who knows?

Meanwhile, in Santa Barbara, the groups have arrived at Paula’s place and are trying to guess who their mentor will be. Paula interviews that she’s thrilled to have the groups, because she built a career on doing choreography and staging and producing live acts. Everyone cheers when she comes down the stairs, and it’s suddenly startling how many more people she has then Simon does. Jeez, there are like a million of them!

Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Enrique Iglesias and Nicole Scherzinger Watch the Performances During The X Factor Judges Homes on October 13, 2011

In Malibu, the Over 30s are hanging out by the pool waiting to see who they’ll be working with, and when Nicole comes out she kind of gives a sweet speech about how they might’ve been hoping for someone else, but she knows what it takes to make it in the business, and she’s been through what they’re going through, and she’s a hard worker, and okay, we’re kind of charmed.

Finally, the Boys stroll on the beach in the Hamptons. Brennin’s still hot. Phillip Lomax is still wearing his fedora. Brian still has unnecessary headphones around his neck. Their mentor is, of course, L.A. Reid, and the guys are all pretty psyched, although Phillip is nervous that his style might not mesh with what L.A. is looking for.

“Pound for pound, we have the most talent in this category,” L.A. says.

After a commercial break, we learn that the judges have also brought along a celebrity each to help them make a decision. (This kind of reminds us of The Voice!) Nicole has brought Enrique Iglesias. Paula’s got Pharrell. Simon has... nobody. It was supposed to be Mariah Carey, but she couldn’t make it on account of Hurricane Irene. And L.A. has Rihanna. Yay! (Have you ever seen the photos she takes with fans at Meet and Greets, by the way? Adorbz!)

Okay, so the judges have chosen songs for everyone to sing, and the contestants can either use a backing track or live instruments. Here’s the rundown on the performances.

Credit: Fox via PacificCoastNews Photo: Simone Battle, Drew Ryniewicz, Rachel Crow and Tora Woloshin Go Sightseeing in Paris, France, During The X Factor Week 4 on October 13, 2011

Brian Bradley: “When you know your talent, nobody can bring you down.”
Song: Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message”
Brian has decided he’d like to be known as “Astro” which is short for “The Astronomical Boy” or something silly like that. Okay, Astro! Anyway, the performance is pretty decent; there’s a little beat-boxing and he’s got good flow. Rihanna thinks he’s adorable, but L.A. is concerned that a rapper won’t be able to do well when it comes to the audience voting.

Simone Battle: “This time, Simone’s gonna be on point.”
Song: The Beatles’ “Help!”
Simone is wearing, basically, a leotard and a giant belt and a see-through skirt. She’s gorgeous enough that it works even though it shouldn’t. The version of “Help!” she’s singing is really slowed-down, accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar. Her vocals are kind of hit-or-miss, but she definitely has star quality. Also, Simon’s barefoot so that’s weird. The vocal coaches that Simon brought in to help him think Simon just likes Simone because she’s hot.

The Anser: “This competition literally has made us brothers.”
Song: P!nk’s “F---ing Perfect”
Aw, the guy with the red hipster glasses is no longer wearing them! Pharrell liked them, but not wearing them improves the dude’s face by like 300 percent. The performance is really good. Way better than we remember their audition being, actually. Nice harmonies, great chemistry between the three of them. Pharrell has a man-crush on NoGlassesGuy. (It’s odd not knowing the names of the individual singers.)

Dexter Haygood: “My music was always the thing that kept me alive.”
Song: Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”
Dexter cries in his pre-performance package about how everyone thought he was washed up, and how it’s such a blessing to have made it this far. His performance is typical Dexter, which means it’s entertaining and spazzy and has a lot of yelling. Nicole wishes he’d done more actual singing. Dexter cries on Steve’s shoulder and it’s super sad, so let’s move on, yeah?

Speaking of Steve, he’s really good-looking and we like his accent, but it must be said: he’s no Ryan Seacrest. Sad but true.

Skyelor Anderson: “I would love to be the youngest black country singer.”
Song: The Tony Rich Project’s “Nobody Knows It But Me”
It’s... fine. Skeylor is definitely a 16-year-old boy. We can’t help but compare him to last season’s Idol winner Scotty McCreery, though. And when we do, Skyelor doesn’t measure up. Rihanna and L.A. like his potential, but L.A. doesn’t seem confident.

Tora Woloshin: “Singing is always gonna be at the top of the charts.”
Song: The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”
Tora freaks out ahead of her performance because she’s having a hard time remembering the lyrics. To compensate she’s wearing really tiny shorts. Will it work? The song is kind of a dance remix. It’s a little weird, but she’s pulling it off, and she seems to get more confident as she goes. This would be better if she had an audience. Simon likes her but “it just doesn’t get to me,” he tells his vocal coach buddies.

Lakoda Rayne: “This is our first performance ever as a group.”
Song: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”
So, Lakoda Rayne was formed from four girls who were cut in boot camp. Since then, they’ve had a neverending slumber party, basically, and learned how to be a group together. Their performance of a countrified “Born This Way” is sort of odd, and really cute, and fairly pointless? It’s... they actually seem like a country version of the Pussycat Dolls? We wonder what Nicole would think. The girls know they didn’t do that well.

Stacey Francis: “This one song could change everything.”
Song: Prince’s “Purple Rain”
Stacey is wearing a borrowed dress and shoes. Aw. Man, Enqrique Iglesias is really cute. But, uh, back to Stacey. She sounds incredible, as usual. It’s a little over-the-top, as usual. Nicole cries, as usual. Enrique mouths the lyrics, and seriously, why didn’t we realize he was so cute until now? There are some concerns that Stacy might not be all that marketable, which, okay, but also: Susan Boyle.

The Brewer Boys: “We wanna share our unique music with the whole world.”
Song: Rihanna’s “The Only Girl in the World”
These two are crazy adorable, first of all. Secondly, this is an incredibly odd song to have given them. Third, their dancing is sooooo dorky. But they’re young enough that it’s mostly charming. They have some lovely harmonies, but Simon and Pharrell are concerned that they’re only “good” but not necessarily good enough.

Phillip Lomax: “This is the most important performance of my life.”
Song: Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop the Music”
Phillip is dying because L.A. has given him a Rihanna song to sing in front of Rihanna, which is frankly pretty mean. Phillip’s put his own spin on the song, and it’s not bad. And he’s still awfully cute. “It was very charming,” Rihanna says, which is true. “I’m not sure if it works commercially,” L.A. says, which is also true. But then again, Michael Buble is a thing, so... maybe?

Elaine Gibbs: “Being right here, in the judges’ homes, gives you all the confidence in the world.”
Song: Oasis’s “Stop Crying Your Eyes Out”
Okay, don’t kill us, but we think she’s better than Stacey Francis. That being said, we see a much shorter clip of her performance than we saw of Stacey’s, so that might not bode well for Elaine. She sounds incredible, though.

Caitlin Koch: “I want this really bad. I have always wanted it.”
Song: The Shirelles’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”
Caitlin is so pretty, y’all, jeeeez. Her rendition of the song is really intimate and tender, and Simon loves her “tone” and “pitch” and “phrasing.” Also, Caitlin is the only one we see complimenting the accompanists, for whatever that’s worth.

Nick Voss: “I can’t do anything else right.”
Song: Tears for Fears’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
Oh, dude. At least he’s not boring, and there are a few good moments, but mostly it’s just a shame. Also, his belt buckle says “Voss.” Ugh. Rihanna asks L.A. how that compares to Nick’s usual performances, and L.A. says he’s seen Nick better.

4Shore: “We’ve shared this dream since we were kids.”
Song: Brownstone’s “If You Love Me”
They sound terrific and they look great. They’re actually maybe a little too perfect? Like, it feels like some really precocious kids in a talent show? Ha, Paula and Pharrell are with us; they both want 4Shore to “dirty it up” a little.

James Kenney: “[Music’s] like breathing. It’s just something I have to do.”
Song: Rihanna’s “Russian Roulette”
Did Rihanna only agree to be on the show if a certain number of her songs were performed? What’s with giving everyone Rihanna songs? Wow, though -- James sounds really good. We only get a short performance clip, but Enrique thinks James could be a rock star. We agree -- rock on, dude.

Drew Ryniewicz: “I’ve been praying my butt off.”
Song: Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love”
It’s wacky that a 14-year-old can sing this song so convincingly, but Drew is fantastic. Emotionally she’s perfect, and vocally she just nails it. She’s in an odd mermaid-y dress and no shoes and she’s sitting in a director’s chair, but none of that matters. “Amazing,” Simon says afterwards.

And that’s it for tonight. On Sunday at 8 p.m. (a special time, because of last night’s episode being canceled), we’ll get the second part of the judges’ houses, which includes a bunch of our faves like Chris Rene, Josh Krajcik, and Rachel Crow, along with the next round of cuts. The preview for the episode looks really intense, so don’t miss it!

 

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Credit: YouTube Photo: Stacy Francis Sings "Purple Rain" at Nicole's House on The X Factor, Oct 13th, 2011