AttenTION! (Military joke!) We’re back at boot camp tonight on The X Factor, which picks up pretty much back where we left off yesterday, which means more group performances.
Group 1: Brennin Hunt, Equality, Marcus Canty, Matthew Johnson, Ma’at Bingham Shango, Chris Rene and Gina Rene have been given Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and they’re super psyched about it. Chris and Gina are adorable together, by the way, and Chris is currently at 94 days sober, which gives an idea of the time frame we’re working in. Did anyone else “aww” at 12-year-old Ma’at? Everyone’s pretty good in this group. Brennin is still violently hot. Marcus is kind of cheesy but you gotta love his enthusiasm. There’s a nice, soulful groove to the whole performance, and it ends acapella. Very nice.
Group 2: Matthew Slovacek, Tim Cifers, Hannah Bethel, Thomas Wells, Jeremy Easley, and a pair of very cute blonde dudes (are they twins?) called Kingston. The song: Rascal Flatt’s “I Won’t Let You Go.” Unlike the other groups, they’ll be coming out one by one as it’s their turn to sing, which kind of defeats the purpose of a group performance, don’t ya think? It’s fine, if you like country music. We don’t recognize any of these people, but Mr. Cowell likes Tim Cifers an awful lot, and, you know what, we are starting to, too.
Group 3: The Brewer Boys, Henri Bredouw, James Douglas, Emma Henry, Hannah Jackson, Ryan Sims, Kyle Corr, Christa Collins. The Brewer Boys are wicked adorable, bee tee dubz. Hannah and Emma both want to sing the same part and have to fight it out. And by “fight it out” we mean...“coin toss,” which Emma wins. Worst fight-out ever! They’re singing “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. Henri is just okay. Hannah is better. Emma is kind of interesting in a way that Simon would probably call indulgent. The Brewer Boys remain awesome. The music kicks up a million percent when Ryan starts singing, and he’s pretty great. Christa’s good, too, but is it enough to move her on to the next round before the final 32 are chosen? (Yes, another, final boot camp battle remains.)
So that’s it for group performances! Hate to say it but it made us kinda miss the group rounds on American Idol? Any self-respecting Idol fan knows that Hollywood week in general, and the group round specifically, normally brings lots of drama, some spectacular crash-and-burns and at least a couple of truly stunning performances. This just felt like an assembly line of mostly-okay performances with a few standout singers and no obvious trainwrecks. Boo! Guess it is about finding *gasp* talent!
Time to see who gets cut! The contestants are divided into three groups to get their results. The first group includes Emma from the performance we just saw, Reina the cool rapper chick with the dreads from last night, platinum-blond Austin Simmons from last night, and a slew of other people we don’t recognize – so this can’t be good for them. Paula delivers the news, and although they’ve all done an amazing job and are super-talented, they’re going home. Tears! Outrage! From the contestants, we mean, not from us. We’re okay with it.
The second group has Siameze, so for a second we’re like oh, more bad news, but then we see Tiah and the Rene siblings and Brennin and Tora and basically everyone important and amazing, so obviously they’re getting through. Nicole tries to fake them out, and maybe they bought it, but we didn’t! Also spotted celebrating: 59-year-old Leroy “Still Got It” Bell, Nick Voss, and Phillip Lomax.
The third group has Tiger “Just Wanna Hug Him” Budbill, Rachel Crow, Stacy Francis, The Brewer Boys, Josh Krajcik, and a whole bunch of other lucky ducks who will also be getting through to the next round. Simon pulls a Ryan Seacrest and tells them “It’s not good news... It’s great news” (ha!) and everyone goes nuts. Lots of happy tears, a really cute blue-eyed guy crying, the Rene siblings on the phone, Tiger on the phone, everyone’s super excited, of course.
So, at this point we’ve got 60-something contestants/groups left, all of whom will be given a list of about 35 songs. The following day they must perform whichever song they think suits them best. “This is a five million dollar moment,” Simon says, so: no pressure! Oh, and they’ll be performing in front of a 3,000 member live audience. Seriously, no pressure! Except for ALL THE PRESSURE EVER.
Final Boot Camp Performances
The next day, everyone’s up early to prepare, and people are singing all over the place. They get time with the vocal coaches and musicians and Brian Friedman the choreographer, and they all peek out windows and panic as the audience arrives.
First up is little Rachel Crow. “I know that I’m meant to be here,” she says. Simon asks her what song she’s picked and she says it’s a surprise and giggles. Ooh, it’s Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy” and she’s rocking it. It’s sort of weird hearing such an adult song coming out of such an adorable young girl, but she sounds fantastic. The crowd goes absolutely nuts, and Nicole is openly crying. Rachel’s definitely getting through.
Audrey Turner (Ike’s widow) sings a soulful version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Paige Ogle sings an understated version of “Somewhere Only We Know,” and we kind of wish she was Darren Criss. Tiger Budbill sings “Billie Jean” and we kind of wish he was David Cook, but his house is going to be auctioned off in five weeks so let’s hope the judges don’t mind that he’s not.
Soon-to-be ex burrito slanger Josh Krajcik is up next and getting a little emotional before his performance. “The only way to win is to not lose today,” he says. He wants the audience to remember his performance forever. He’s singing “Up to the Mountain,” and while he could tone down the whole Joe Cocker thing like maybe 20 percent, he’s still very, very good.
After Josh is the sassy Simone Battle who, at auditions, described her sound as a cross between a cheerleader and a drag queen, or something fantastic like that. Her shorts are still very short and her shoes are still very tall. She’s doing Elton John’s “Your Song.” The melody is way, way different, and she forgets the lyrics almost immediately, and it’s embarrassing for everyone, so she keeps singing about how she forgot the lyrics. Awkward. She cries backstage – though we can never tell if they’re real or fake tears. Just sayin...
4Shore does something terrible. A group called Little Ladiez does something terrible. Makenna & Brock attempt a countrified “Billie Jean” and it’s kind of a mess, but you can tell Nicole loves it anyway. Siameze is wearing jeans with cutouts on the hips and singing “Creep” while being creepy. Sigh.
Brennin remains hot as hell (we like to bring it up often, just to make sure we’re all on the same page, okay) and will be singing his own version of “If I Ain’t Got You.” It’s sort of like if John Mayer was going to do the song, maybe? (That’s not an insult, at least right now it’s not.) Simon hates it and wishes Brennin would’ve just sung it normally, with the piano, but Paula was into it. Or else just into Brennin. We don’t blame her, he’s hoooo....
Next up: Stereo Hogzz! One of the Hoggz dedicates the performance to his one-month-old daughter, which is cute. They’re singing “Cry Me a River” (the Julie London one, not the Timberlake song) and it’s extremely cool; they sound fantastic and the choreography is tight.
Brian Bradley aka The Astronomical Kid aka Watch Out Jay-Z I’m Coming For Your Thrown has big headphones around his neck. Phillip Lomax has a fedora. They both perform exactly how you’d think. Chris Rene sings “Every Breath You Take” and it’s not amazing but whatever, he’s our
Young Homie so we’re stickin by him. Nick Dean sings “Somewhere Only We Know” in the style of Kidz Bop, but he’s cute. This episode is still going and, somehow, Simon’s only had one tantrum.
Stacy Francis is next, and there’s a weird, obvious-seeming setup where L.A. asks if she has anything to tell the audience so they can “get to know her,” and she shares that her father died on the first day of boot camp. Her performance of “Summertime” is very good, and very emotional, and then way over-the-top, but it’s still better than her lackluster showing in boot camp days of yore (read: yesterday). All of the judges except Simon give her standing ovations.
Tiah Tolliver is still pretty darn fierce, while Cari Fletcher is still pretty but bland. Drew Ryniewicz is still really terrific and age-appropriate. Caitlin Koch seems like a star already.
Leroy Bell is still allegedly 59 but nobody believes it. “You look amazing for 59,” L.A. gushes. Amazing doesn’t even cover it. All the years that don’t show up on his face are incredibly evident in his voice, and it’s gorgeous. He’d better make it through!
The Final/Top 32
After lots of meaningless shots of the judges moving pictures around and making vague comments, it’s time to let us know who actually makes it through to the “final 32” which isn’t really final because 16 more will get cut next week...but let’s just enjoy today, shall we?
The Girls: Caitlin Koch. Tora Woloshin. Simone Battle. Drew Ryniewicz. Rachel Crow. Jazzlyn Little. Melanie Amaro. Tiah Tolliver.
The Guys: Brennin Hunt. Brian Bradley. Skyelor Anderson. Nick Voss. Tim Cifers. Phillip Lomax. Marcus Canty. Chris Rene.
The Groups: The Stereo Hogzz. 2Squared. 4Shore. The Brewer Boys. Illusion Confusion. The Anser. (No MaKenna & Brock, booooo.)
The Over-30s: Elaine Gibbs. Tiger Budbill. Leroy Bell. James Kenney. Josh Krajcik. Christa Collins. Dexter Haygood.Stacy Francis.
But wait! 14 more people get called back to be made into groups. That seems... odd. How will brand-new thrown together groups compete with real, established groups? Twist!
Finally, it’s time to find out which judge will be in charge of each group. Nicole (who is 33, by the way) gets the Over-30s and is clearly not enthused, although she tries to fake it. L.A. gets the guys and declares himself the winner. Paula gets the groups, which leaves Simon in charge of the girls. “You just made eight girls very, very happy,” he tells the producer who calls.
Next week: the judges’ houses!
Did tonight’s episode make you very, very happy? Or even a little bit happy? Did your favorites make it through?
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