Can you believe it's already time to narrow the X Factor field to just 32? Ready or not, here it comes... but not before we see the rest of the "ensemble" performances and one last round of (sometimes embarrassingly bad) solo performances. So, who made it to the semifinals? And which category will each judge be mentoring? Let's find out!
Hey guys! Guess what? Tonight is the night the acts get split into four categories! You know how I know...because Steve Jones tells me after Every. Single. Commercial. Break. Oof. In any case, before we can get to that, we have to finish what was started on Wednesday night.
An ensemble including Brennin Hunt, Chris "Little Homey" Rene, his sister Gina, Marcus "One to Watch" Canty sing Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?" I won't say it was perfect, but there were no huge disasters. And I will agree with Simon: Marcus was pretty amazing.
Next are some quick shots of groups performing "Kids in America" and "I'm Every Woman." Since none of the singers were mentioned individually, I think we can assume they aren't important and won't be making it to the judges' houses. They're followed by a group containing Matthew Slovacek, the duo Kingston, Tim Cifers, and Hannah Bethel. Although their performance of "Love Song" was far from my favorite, it may have been the best top-to-bottom group song we've seen. Each person got a chance to shine, particularly Tim Cifers, who I, like Simon, gained a new respect for after this number.
Next up a group containing The Brewer Boys, Hannah Jackson, Emma Henry, Henry Bredouw, and Christa Collins absolutely murders Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars." And then they stomped on its corpse. Seriously, the first half of the song was an awkward mess of people trying too hard to make the song "their own." The Brewer Boys finally got it back on track, and it ended well, but ...that version would have never made it on Grey's Anatomy. (Or as L.A. Reid said of one of the contestants: She's got energy, but, boy, she cant sing!")
After the ensemble rounds, the judges cut the 100 or so acts down by a third. There are lots of tears, and even a few American Idol-inspired yell-at-the-camera moments. "I'm just too talented" argues one eliminee. Sure, sweetheart, sure.
The remaining contestants choose from a list of 35 songs. The task is to pick a tune that best represents you as an artist. Also, after spending the night rehearsing, the acts will not only perform for the judges, but also 3,000 fans in the theater. What follows is a five-words-or-less review of most of the solos that were featured.
Rachel Crow, "If I Were a Boy": Adorable, surprisingly mature and passionate.
Audrey Turner, "Aint No Mountain": Meh
Paige Ogle, "Somewhere Only We Know": Boring. Wrong song
Tiger Budbill, "Billie Jean": Solid. Chris Cornell's cover's better.
Josh Crajcik, "Up to the Mountain": Soulful, strong, but shouty. (Aside: Anyone else thinks he looks a little like the Cheshire Cat?)
Simone Battle, "Your Song": Forgetful. (No really, she forgot, like, all the words and just made up stuff about how bad she wanted in.)
What followed was a montage of just awful arrangements that eventually led to Simon shutting down the show. He chided the producers to tell the kids to get their act together. Back to short, sweet reviews of the solos.
Stereo Hogzz, "Cry Me A River": More dancing than singing.
Stacey Francis, "Summertime": Overrated. (I know I will get grief for this since she told a sad story about her father dying on the first day of boot camp. And while I probably would have gone to the funeral, I get why she stayed to follow her dream. But singing big notes and holding them for a long time is only impressive when they are in tune. And she's sharp a whole, whole lot.)
Tiah Tolliver, "It's a Man's World": Don't know. Distracted by bangs.
Cari Fletcher, "I'm Already There": Snoozefest
Leroy Bell, "Feel My Love": Quiet, but honest and powerful.
And so, the judges deliberate one final time. Nicole argues. Simon scolds. Paula looks confused. L.A. speaks very calmly and slowly and precisely and...we have our finalists! My overall take: This is a predictable bunch. Why do I say that? Because nearly every semifinalist has been heavily featured while many of the ones left crying on stage I've never seen before that moment. In any case, here's how it breaks down:
The Brewer Boys
The only real surprise to me is that Chris Rene's sister Gina, who was featured alongside him through much of boot camp didn't make it. Again, I am hard-pressed to think of a contestant I really got to know who didn't move on.
But wait! That's only 30 acts. That's because instead of sending through some groups they didn't like, the judges grabbed a whole crop of solo singers and formed two new groups. One is a four-member all-girl group while the other is a massive 10-singer collective from the boys and girls groups. Some were familiar, some weren't, but all their names weren't given. I am sure we will meet them all in the judges' homes.
Speaking of the judges, here's how the mentoring will break down.
Nicole: Over 30s
Since Nicole was in a group, I would have probably swapped her and Paula. Or maybe given the groups to L.A. But, as the producers sort of showed, I think this will be a battle between L.A. and Simon's teams, though the judges all agreed that the Over 30s might be the most talented group. In any case, Simon notes that the judges aren't a team anymore. "Nobody wants to lose," he says.
Are you happy with the finalists? And the mentor assignments? Do you already see a winner in this bunch? Sound off in the comments!
Can you believe it's already time to narrow the X Factor field to just 32? Ready or not, here it comes... but not before we see the rest of the "ensemble" performances and one last round of (sometimes embarrassingly bad) solo performances. So, who made it to the semifinals? And which category will each judge be mentoring? Let's find out...