Get your A.D.D. medication ready folks, because we're about to embark on 150 minutes of live X Factor awesomeness. Who's excited?! There are 17 acts, and tonight: Five. Must. Go. Home. So let's get to the performances, shall we?
L.A.'s Acts (The Boys)
We begin with rapper wunderkind Brian Bradley, but we're just going to refer to him as Astro from now on. Is that OK? Great. He's a mix of Kid Cudi, with the boyish charm of Justin Bieber, and the enthusiasm of the Energizer Bunny. Paula says he'll be doing this the rest of his life. Simon said his performance "killed everybody."
Chris Rene's up next, and I hate to say it — but he was really disappointing. He was pitchy and generic and nervous. Nicole thought the song choice was all wrong, and Simon says he doesn't think Chris is one of the best singers in the competition, but he is one of the best recording artists in the competition. I'm not entirely sure I understand that. Must be a music industry thing. I think he'll be the first on L.A.'s team to go, and that's sad because the rehab-to-rock star success story is always a nice one.
Singing "I'm a Believer" is Phillip "I'm a crooner but I need to prove I'm a pop-star" Lomax. I find myself completely distracted by the horrible plaid mess that accompanied him on stage, but otherwise he was mediocre. He's adorable and talented, and I'm wishing he had opted to stay true to his jazz roots. L.A.'s attempt at pushing Lomax out of his comfort zone was a fail, in my opinion. Simon was on my page: "Tonight you were like a racing driver, and L.A. put you into a tractor."
Marcus Canty takes the stage (sporting a blue leather jacket that we won't talk about) and totally surprises me. This guy is a performer! I'll be the first to admit I completely overlooked him before, and didn't even think he deserved to make it to the final 17. But that's what is so great about this type of competition — a dark horse can surface at any given moment. Marcus owned the stage, hit his notes, and gave us a version of Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" that blew Alexis Arquette's version in The Wedding Singer out of the water. Nicole says he was born to be on that stage. Paula says he makes her nervous.
And wait OH MY GOSH, the hot British guy who hosts the show says L.A. has to make his decision now. Already?! I didn't expect it to be so soon...I'm so not ready for this! L.A. sends home Phillip Lomax, which I think is a big fat mistake, but L.A. probably doesn't want Chris Rene (who should be going home) to relapse. So I guess I can support that.
Paula's Acts (The Groups)
The tragically-named Stereo Hogzz go first, and while they are amazingly talented dancers, I don't see them as a cohesive group — but maybe that will come with time. The lead singer is fantastic, and the others are kind of just... there. Simon and I don't really jive about this. He says, "there is nothing like this in the charts right now. Paula you've done a great job, I hate to say this."
Next, the puppy-loving Brewer Boys take the stage, guitar (and mandolin) in hand, and perform a mash-up Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl" and George Michael's "Faith." I actually think it was an appropriate song choice for them, but let's be real: they're just not good enough to win. Rather than making the little boys cry, L.A. puts the criticism on Paula's shoulders, saying, "I got the sense that this was a little outside of your comfort zone. This was a little different for you. So um... I don't know if I was blown away." Sidenote: Was I tripping, or did one of them have a feather growing out of his ear?
InTENsity does "Footloose" next, which to me is a little obvious (though Simon didn't think so). The chick in the red jacket (Elona) is fine, the dude in the green varsity jacket is also fine, but I'm going to be brutally honest here...can we just get rid of them already? Even if they win $5 million, split 10 ways that's $500,000 each, before taxes. By the time these kids are 18 it won't even get them through four years of college. Nicole calls them her little pumpkin patch of yummy pumpkins, which is... Oh, Nicole, you're so pretty.
Despite their struggle during rehearsal, Lakoda Rayne's rendition of "Come on Eileen" was really impressive. They definitely have the talent, not to mention the look — kind of like a younger, prettier version of The Dixie Chicks? L.A. says if they walked into his office right now, they'd be signed to a worldwide recording contract. Simon says they've "jelled," and Paula cries.
And it's already time for another elimination. We're just breezing through this marathon aren't we? Pauls lets The Brewer Boys go. No one is really sad besides their moms.
Nicole's Acts (The Over 30s)
First up we have Dexter Haygood, singing a Britney Spears "Womanizer"/Katy Perry "I Kissed a Girl" mash-up of horrendousness. I'm sorry, but I was under the impression this was a singing competition? He doesn't even sing! He just screams, and everyone knows only Steven Tyler can get away with that. Simon says, "The combination of you, Katy Perry, and Britney Spears — it's like the weirdest milkshake in the world. And I like the taste of it." Gross.
LeRoy Bell, the 60-year-old who looks like he's 30, performs "Your Secret's Safe With Me," and Nicole is in tears before he even hits his first high note. I think he could have handled a more powerful song, but this guy is so cool, you can't help but love him. L.A. says he doesn't even understand why LeRoy hasn't become a big star already (but didn't agree with the song choice). Paula calls him "velvet."
Next, it's Stacy Francis, who is arguably the most talked about performer in the competition. For starters, she looks fabulous tonight — save for the poor glitter leggings choice. She sings the second George Michael song of the evening, and I don't think it's her strongest performance to date. Simon says she's a church singer and this wasn't the best song and look for her. Nicole snaps back at him, and at this point we're sensing Simon/Nicole beef, which is always fun.
Finally we have burrito-maker Josh Krajcik (for the record, I was totally thinking Chipotle, but as of tonight it's confirmed: Cinco.) Are you guys familiar with burritos of the Cinco variety? Ohio thing? Anyway, looks like they didn't really bother with his makeover for some reason. He sings a crazy unique version of "Forever Young" — and he does it a capella. Guy's got some cojones! Paula says his voice is her favorite of the decade. Which is the perfect example of a little literary device we like to call hyperbole.
Nicole makes the right decision and sends Dexter home. But not really home, because he lives in his car. Too soon? Anyway, he's a memorable guy and I'm sure he'll find some pseudo-fame after this is all said and done.
Simon's Acts (The Girls)
Simone Battle starts us off, and she stormed out onto the stage so confidently, I had seriously high expectations. But wow was I disappointed. Was there a sound issue going on? We could barely hear her, and what we did hear pretty much sucked. At least her face is pleasant to look at. L.A. gave Simon the harshest criticism to date: "You really have to explain this. Everything was right except your choice of contestant. I never did understand why you put her through, and now this? You must be really rich, because clearly $5 million doesn't mean much to you." BURN!
Little Rachel Crowe does a compilation of songs, and while it was fun and appropriate, she could have used a bit more energy. Rachel seemed nervous, but then again, most 13-year-olds aren't prepared to perform live in front of thousands. Paula and Nicole criticized the song choice.
Drew, the artist formerly known as Drew Ryniewicz, is up next. The tone of her voice is so unique, there really isn't a way to describe it. She did a rendition of "What a Feeling" from Flashdance that was definitely unlike anything I've ever heard. It was a soft, understated performance, and a fantastic one at that. L.A. says she's the whole package and compliments Simon. Nicole calls it ethereal. (And she used the word correctly!)
Singing "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" is Tiah Tolliver. The performance as a whole was very dramatic and Lady Gaga-esque, but Tiah herself wasn't as stunning as I would have hoped. The judges are clearly not her biggest fans. Nicole says, "If that was a sweet dream, I'd hate to see what one of the scary ones are like." Nicole with the one-liners — who knew? Zing!
Finally, we take it home with the eliminated then un-eliminated Melanie Amaro. She sings Whitney Houston. And chills ensue throughout the entire performance. It was heartfelt and emotional and the audience gives her a standing O. Which gets me thinking that this entire thing is a conspiracy, because she's obviously going to win and it will be the whole "Fauxliminated Girl Wins The X Factor" story.
And the final two eliminations of the night are here! Simon gets rid of Simone and Tiah. It's not that shocking, though we know Simon would have loved to keep them just as another "screw you" to Nicole and Paula.
Next week — more live performances! And America gets to vote! Things are heating up, and we're down to the final 12.
So, let's chat, commenters! Who's going to take this thing? Who didn't deserve to make the final 12? And most importantly, where can I find a Cinco burrito? GO!
Get your A.D.D. medication ready folks, because we're about to embark on 150 minutes of live X Factor awesomeness. Who's excited?! There are 17 acts, and tonight: Five. Must. Go. Home. So let's get to the performances, shall we?...