Sunday night X Factor, whaaat? This is weird. But it’s a good kind of weird, because we have a night of (hopefully) awesome performances ahead of us, as the judges try to whittle the Top 32 down to a Top 16. In case you forgot, Simon is still in France with the Girls, L.A. is in the Hamptons with the Boys and Rihanna, Paula is in Santa Barbara with the Groups and Pharrell, and Nicole is in Malibu with the Over 30’s and Enrique Iglesias.
Jazzyln Little: “This could be the difference between incredible opportunities or to go back home and sing in my living room.”
Song: Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Surive”
Before her performance, Jazzlyn is incredibly nervous, as usual. Which is silly, because she really has a lovely voice, and she looks like a star. Her performance – which is an unexpected sort of slow-jam arrangement of the disco tune – is good, if not mind-blowing. “Maybe she’s just put herself back in the frame,” says Simon, which we think means he liked her.
Brennin Hunt: “I wanna be bigger than Lady Gaga.”
Song: Corrine Bailey Rae’s “Like a Star”
Basically: Brennin sings well, remains hot while doing so. This song is kind of blah, though, isn’t it? Brennin’s not bad at all, but the performance is a little cheesy, and overly Cute Guy Being Cute. There are lots of soulful looks, you know? It kind of feels like he’s a lost member of the Backstreet Boys or something. Ha, Rihanna is right with us. “He gives me 90’s boyband,” she says.
Stereo Hogzz: “This is not just a goal for 5 million, this is a goal for 5 million and beyond.”
Song: Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
The Hogzz are all good-looking guys, and they sound great. Some of their choreography is unintentionally hilarious – there’s some synchronized hip-swinging maneuvers that are totally giggle-inducing – but overall it’s a really solid performance. “They have to be a constellation, it can’t just be one star,” says Pharrell, which is valid, since the same dude sang lead for the whole song.
Josh Krajcik: “This is my ticket to the life that I want.”
Song: Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”
Josh just has a really good voice, doesn’t he? It’s just the right amount of raspy. Some of the low parts are a little weak, but the parts that are more squarely in his range sound fully awesome. Nicole tears up. (Remember when David Cook sang this song on American Idol? Good times.) Josh finishes strong. “He’s relatable, he’s personable... do you think he’s a star?” wonders Nicole. We vote yes!
2 Squar’d: “Anything you throw at us, we can do it.”
Song: Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”
As the girls note in their pre-performance package, this is a really odd song choice for them. They sound fine, mostly, but the overall effect is just... peculiar? Random? Their outfits are fierce as hell, at any rate. Afterwards, Paula and Pharrell wish there’d been a little more soul in the performance.
Tim Cifers: “This opportunity is my one shot to become successful... it’s now or never.”
Song: Luther Vandross’s “Dance With My Father”
Tim is very earnest, and his kids are adorable. Singing-wise, he’s... fine? We’re kind of shrugging. His performance is competent, but not really impressive. Maybe you have to be a country music fan to get into it? “I really liked his voice,” Rihanna says. “I wanted so much more from him,” says L.A.
Rachel Crow: “Whatever happens, it’s gonna be epic.”
Song: The Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way”
Rachel starts off obviously nervous, but after a few lines, she gets into her groove and sounds fantastic. She’s doing a slowed-down, soulful version of the song, and it’s emotional and just great. How is she only 13? “That was outstanding,” Simon says enthusiastically.
LeRoy Bell: “It means the world to me to make it through to the live shows.”
Song: Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”
LeRoy is so good that if he doesn’t make it to the live shows we might have to throw things. Heavy things. His performance is tender and understated and vulnerable, and he sounds wonderful. “I feel his nerves a little,” Nicole says. Oh hush, Scherzinger!
Ilusion Confusion: “We wanna move on more than anything in the world.”
Song: Craig David’s “Hot Stuff”
Okay, weird editing in this segment – instead of a pre-performance package, Illusion Confusion’s performance (which is fine, nothing special) is interrupted by footage of them talking about their dreams to be huge superstars. At the end, Pharrell pretty much says that they’re more driven than they are talented. Uh, guess they’re not getting through. There must not have been many good groups who auditioned.
Tiger Budbill: “Right now, winning this is huge in my life financially, but also emotionally.”
Song: Solomon Burke’s “Don’t Give Up on Me”
Tiger seems like such a nice guy, and his performance is good, but is he superstar material? We’re not sure. He does let loose with some damn impressive falsetto, for whatever that’s worth. “Do you feel like there’s a market for him?” asks Nicole. Enrique doesn’t feel like there should be any rules when it comes to music.
Marcus Canty: “I can be the superstar that I know I have the potential to be.”
Song: K-Ci and JoJo’s “All My Life”
Marcus is cute, and he can definitely sing. He makes eyes at Rihanna the whole time, which is a little cheesy. But then again, we’d totally make eyes at RiRi too if given the chance, so: you go boy! “I cannot contain myself,” says Rihanna. Apparently all the eye-making paid off! Ooh, or not – “I’m not convinced,” she says.
Tiah Tolliver: “[Simon’s] the one who fought for me, so today I have to prove him right.”
Song: Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”
This version of the song is kind of a bummer. It’s missing most of the swagger that makes the original awesome. Tiah sounds terrific despite her nerves, and towards the end of the song she really lights up and gets into it. Simon applauds for her when she’s done. “I’ve just always thought she fits in this show,” he says.
Christa Collins: “This is definitely a second chance for me; I’m not taking one moment of this for granted.”
Song: Radiohead’s “No Surprises”
Christa, who was apparently a former child star, is endearingly weird. She has a giant red button with feathers on her head and really amazeballs eye makeup. Her performance is vocally on-point, and her stage presence is oddly charming. She manages to seem both tough and fragile at the same time. “I like her,” Enrique gushes.
InTENsity: “We wanna show people that we’re young but we’re also ready.”
Song: The Ting Tings “That’s Not My Name”/ Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True”
HEE! This is sort of like watching The Mickey Mouse Club! Everyone is adorable! The performance has a lot of energy, and there are a few legitimately really good voices in the mix. It’s cheesy and fun and in no way deserving of a $5 million record contract. “There were some really good star morsels in there,” Pharell says.
Chris Rene: “I just wanna be a good example to my son.”
Song: Arrested Development's “People Everyday”
Chris is more charming than he has any right to be. His performance is very appealing and laid-back; Rihanna smiles through the whole thing, and so do we. The backing vocals are kind of excessive, but it doesn’t detract from Chris’s extremely good performance. “He has something very special,” Rihanna says. “He is one of the special ones,” L.A. agrees.
Melanie Amaro: “I’m just gonna sing with everything that I have.”
Song: Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There”
Melanie has maybe the most flat-out gorgeous voice in this competition. The arrangement she’s doing sticks pretty closely to the original, but Melanie still manages to make it feel like her own. Her vocals just soar, and Simon fake-swoons onto the couch afterwards. Melanie’s making it through, no question.
After a commercial – the moment of truth! Only... not really. Lots of the judges shuffling around photos and making vague comments. “This one did the best.” “Do you see a place for her?” “I want to take a risk on this one.” Blah! Come on, tell us who makes the cut!
But they won’t, because we have to watch on Tuesday! That’s right, Tuesday. Don’t forget!