Credit: Splash News Photo: Chris Rene of The X Factor Shirtless on the Beach in Santa Cruz on October 10, 2011

So this is it, kids! After one zillion hours of auditions, boot camp, and judges’ houses performances, it’s time to find out who’s actually making it to the Top 16. The episode starts off with a long “Previously on” segment reminding us of everything that’s already happened, but whatever, we all know what went down, so let’s get to the good stuff, right?!

We start off with Simon, who says he genuinely likes all the girls, so it’s hard to cut any of them. The first two girls he’s talking to are Tora Woloshin and Simone Battle. Assuming only one’s getting through, it has to be Tora, right? Right?!?! Simon does seem to have a little, ahem, thing for Simone, but Tora is one of our TV girlfriends so she’d better be getting through. Also, she’s wearing an AMAZING hat when she sits down with Simon. Simone is also wearing a hat, although it’s less epic than Tora’s. Apparently it was a Say-Something-Hat Day.

The editing is weird, because you can’t really tell who Simon’s talking to at any given time, and he says a lot of unspecific things about whoever he’s talking to being talented, and it being a tough category, and blah blah blah, and then... Tora is cut! SHENANIGANS, SIMON!!!! Boo. Simone, on the other hand, is in. Okayyyyy.

Next to hear the news is uber-Belieber Drew Ryniewicz. We figure she’s a shoo-in, but then again, we didn’t expect Simone over Tora, so we’re oh-for-two so far. Simon tells her she wasn’t the best teenager -- that she was the best contestant of the whole day, and she’s in his final four. “Are you legit?” she asks, adorably. Yes, Simon is legit. Drew spazzes out and cries and it’s crazy cute. Our warm fuzzies make our Tora rage slightly -- slightly! -- better.

Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Dexter Haygood During The X Factor Week 1 on September 22, 2011

After the break, we’re in Malibu with Nicole and she’s sitting down with burrito-maker Josh Krajcik. She talks about how she likes that he’s a guy next door type with a big voice. She has a reservation, though. “I don’t know if the guy next door is a superstar,” she says. But it’s a fakeout! He’s going through. He cries and hugs her, and if it’s not quite as cute as Drew’s reaction, it’s still a nice moment.

Next up are former child star Christa Collins, waiter James Kenney, and James Brown enthusiast Dexter Haygood. Since we’re not getting Tora, can we have Christa? Quirky tattooed girls are always welcome! Nicole is clearly miserable about having to give anyone bad news. Christa is out (boo). James is out. Nicole tells Dexter that her head says one thing but her heart says another, and she’s following her heart, so Dexter is in. Eh.

Next we’re off to Santa Barbara, to see what Paula’s doing with the groups. Does anyone care about the groups? Other than, like, their parents? Just wondering. Up first are 2 Squar’d, the Brewer Boys, and Illusion Confusion. The only ones who seem likely are the Brewer Boys. Illusion Confusion is cut. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m mad as hell,” says one of them. 2 Squar’d as also cut and they cry. The Brewer Boys are through to the live shows. We just noticed that the older one has a feather hair extension, how cute is that?

Time for 4Shore to see if they’re getting through. We figure they totally are. They come out all wearing 4Shore t-shirts in different colors, aw. Paula tells them that they’re technically awesome, vocals-wise, but they lack a clear leader. And then...they’re cut! Wow. They all get hugs and kisses from Paula, though, so that’s better than nothing.

Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Jazzlyn Little Auditions During The X Factor Week 2 on September 29, 2011

After a commercial break, we’re in the Hamptons with L.A. and the boys. Brian Bradley, the teenage rapper, is up first. He’s hoping to make it through so he can get fame and fortune and girls. Reasonable. L.A. tells Brian he’s not sure that he can maintain the right kind of attitude to go forward. “You’re a champion,” he tells him. Brian’s through to the live shows.

Next up are country singer Skeylor Anderson, elaborately-coiffed Nick Voss, violently hot Brennin Hunt, and crooner Phillip Lomax. Of these guys probably Brennin is the most likely to get through. L.A. says non-committal things to everyone. Nick is out. Skyelor is out. Damn, Brennin is out too! And is still hot with tears in his eyes. Phillip, on the other hand, is through, and is charmingly gobsmacked. “WHAT?!?!” he yells.

Back to France! Perpetually nervous Jazzlyn Little is waiting for Simon to tell her his decision. Simon tells her he thinks people will like her, and that he likes her, and he smiles at her and it’s pretty sweet. Except -- he doesn’t like her enough, and Jazzlyn is cut. Ooh, that was kind of a fake-out and in the wrong direction. Usually they only fake people out when they are getting through.

In Malibu, Tiger Budbill and LeRoy Bell are ready to hear from Nicole. LEROY OR BUST! Ahem. Nicole’s almost ready to cry when Tiger sits down which doesn’t bode well. She tells Tiger he’s very talented and he’s got a wonderful spirit. She tells LeRoy she’s not sure if he wants it enough and he gives her a really obvious WTF look, haha! Tiger is cut and he and Nicole both cry. Aw. “LeRoy, you are so going through.” YAY! He tears up and she pounces on him. It’s pretty sweet.

East Coast again! In the Hamptons, L.A.’s got Chris Rene, and he’s very obviously getting through, right? His kid is so cute! (Not that that’s a reason for him to get through. We just needed to say it.) L.A. tells him he’d done a really good job the day before, but he’s seen him better. “Fix You” starts playing in the background, so we’re prepared to cry no matter what happens. “I’ve made my decision,” L.A. says, and we sit through the longest pause ever, and then -- you’re on my team.” Duh!

Now we’re back with Paula and the groups. She’s meeting with LaKoda Rayne and InTENsity, the two groups that the judges put together in boot camp. “I think you can make history,” she tells the girls of LaKoda Rayne. Really? Huh. And then -- whoa, InTENsity is through, too? Okay then.

Simon’s got Tiah Tolliver and Caitlin Koch next. He’s seemed to always like Tiah, but... Caitlin! Please pick Caitlin. Oh... wait. Rachel Crow and Melanie Amaro are both pretty much guaranteed, right? So probably both of these girls are toast. “I’ve made a decision, babe,” he says to Caitlin. And the decision is a “no.” Ugh! Tiah’s through. Really? Blah. Also that means one of either Rachel or Melanie is going to be cut. Whoa.

Credit: Twitter Photo: Melanie Amaro with a Great Bag

Commercial! When we get back, we’re reminded that there’s one spot left in each group.

First it’s the boys. The remaining contestants are Tim Cifers and Marcus Canty. Marcus is probably the better singer, but country musicians have historically done pretty well on TV talent competition shows. Tim is up first which means he’s probably getting cut. Yup! Looks like it’ll be Marcus. His reaction is cute -- L.A. tries to give him a handshake and instead Marcus gives him a hug.

Groups! Stereo Hoggz versus The Anser. It’s weird because they’re both better than LaKoda Rayne or InTENsity, probably? I guess the theory is we don’t need two groups of cute twenty-something guys? Which is a terrible theory, but whatever. The Anser is crying before getting an ans(w)er. And they’re right to cry, because they’re cut. Hogzz it is! “I believe you guys are potential superstars,” Paula tells them, and they all run and jump into the pool/fountain thing in the yard. Cute!

Time for the Over 30s. Elaine Gibbs versus Stacy Francis. We’d pick Elaine, but Stacey’s been set up as a star of the show since the beginning, so this particular match-up isn’t remotely suspenseful. Nicole hems and haws, and Elaine and Stacey are both crying. Elaine is cut and it’s sad, and Nicole is really upset afterwards. Will someone please get Stacey some waterproof mascara for the live shows? She’s through, as we figured.

Finally, it’s time for Simon to make a choice between Rachel Crow and Melanie Amaro. Which shouldn’t be happening, because they’re both pretty much outstanding. Melanie has the better voice, but Rachel is better TV. This could really go either way. Simon talks for freakin’ ever and finally -- Melanie is cut. Noooooo. She calls her mom and cries and it’s kind of awful. Rachel getting through is adorable, of course, but man, Melanie got robbed. Either Tiah or Simone could easily have gone home in her place.

So that’s it. Except... Simon thinks he made a mistake. A BIG mistake. Commercial!

After the break, Simon heads to Sunrise, Florida, which means his mistake was cutting Melanie. Does this mean one of the other girls is going to be cut? Ouch. When Simon shows up at the house, everyone freaks out, and Simon asks Melanie to come back. After a stunned moment, she says yes. “She won’t let you down,” Melanie’s family promises. “More importantly, I won’t let her down,” Simon replies. Sweet. But... is someone else getting cut? Nope, we have a Final 17. Jeez. 

Here they are!

Boys: Astro (Brian Bradley’s stage name), Phillip Lomax, Chris Rene, Marcus Canty
Girls: Simone Battle, Drew Ryniewicz, Tiah Tolliver, Rachel Crow, Melanie Amaro
Groups: Brewer Boys, LaKoda Rayne, InTENsity, Stereo Hogzz
Over 30s: Josh Krajcik, Dexter Haygood, LeRoy Bell, Stacey Francis

Next Tuesday is the first live show, which means we finally get to vote! Do you know who you’ll be dialing in for yet? Did your favorites make it through? And do you think it’s fair that Simon gets a fifth team member?

 

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