October 19th, 2011
10:15 AM ET
I'm sure they get paid plenty, but I wouldn't want to trade places with an "X Factor" judge.
On Tuesday, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger slashed the list of competitors from 32 to 17, which was far from easy. All of the singers in the list of 32 were really solid...and I mean REALLY solid.
Last week, the four judges listened to their individual eight acts perform at their homes. This week, they met with all 32 contestants to tell them whether they would proceed to the live shows or if it was the end of the road for them. Let's recap!
Reid had eight guys to choose from: Skyelor Anderson, Tim Cifers, Brennin Hunt, Nick Voss, Brian Bradley, Chris Rene, Marcus Canty and Philip Lomax. Out of the eight, only four were chosen to move onto to the next phase.
It was VERY hard to watch Reid meet with each performer to tell them their fate. And in true talent competition style, they dragged it out as long as they could, with Reid looking at them and telling them what concerns he had as well as what worked for them and what didn't.
In the end, Reid ditched country crooner Skyelor Anderson, Tim Cifers, Nashville singer Brennin Hunt and Nick Voss. For Reid, Voss never seemed to find his identity. And Reid thought that Anderson's decision to stick with country limited him. As for Hunt, he simply had too much of a turbulent ride.
But, I can honestly say Brian Bradley, Philip Lomax, Chris Rene and Marcus Canty were the most unique out of Reid's group, and perhaps have the best chance to actually win.
Now on to Simon Cowell's home in France, where Caitlin Koch, Jazzlyn Little, Tora Woloshin, Simone Battle, Tiah Tolliver, Drew Ryniewicz, Rachel Crowe and Melanie Amaro had performed. It was a tough bunch to choose from since they all have such amazing voices, but Cowell did what he does best and went for who can honestly have a successful career in Hollywood.
At first, he decided to cut Tora, Jazzlyn, Caitlin and Melanie. He just felt they didn't have enough of the "It" factor to move forward. I'm betting no one was more surprised than me to see Tora cut. She seemed to be so different in her style, performance and vocal ability. In fact, I thought perhaps Simone Battle would be sent home since she forgot the words to her song last week.
But in the end, Cowell had a change of heart about ditching Melanie and decided to bring her back. He actually traveled to her Florida home to apologize and ask her to return for the live shows. Melanie was overjoyed, and so was I - this was a nice way to break up the monotony of the competition by letting Cowell have five acts.
Perhaps no one's job was harder than Paula Abdul's. She had to judge eight singing groups: 2Squar'd, 4Shore, Illusion Confusion, The Anser, The Brewer Boys, Lakoda Rayne, Intensity and Stereo Hogzz.
At her home in Santa Barbara, Abdul brought out Lakoda Rayne. She told them they needed to smile more and one of the members needed to work with her facial expressions, but that didn't stop them from going to the next round. Next up was Intensity (a group of 10, get it?), and Abdul admitted she struggled with them, saying "When you are a group, it's the sum of all parts."
Despite whatever she was trying to tell them with that, she moved Intensity forward as well. The groups 4Shore, Illusion Confusion, The Answer and 2Squar'd were all sent home, leaving the Stereo Hogzz (Abdul swears they're going to "kill it" at the finals) and the Brewer Boys as the other two groups still standing.
And finally, Nicole Scherzinger had what I call the overly emotional artists - the over-30 group. Two of her performers seem to cry on call: Stacy Francis and Dexter Haygood are arguably two of the best singers with two of the best life stories in the competition, but they always seem to bring the tears after each performance.
Scherzinger seemed to make the best decisions of the night, easily choosing the oldest and strongest singers in her category. She went with fan favorite and 42-year-old single mother Stacy Francis, Dexter Haygood, 59-year-old singer LeRoy Bell (whom I still don't believe looks a day over 35) and the burrito slinger Josh Kracjik. Those four were simply the best.
Sent home were James Kenney, Tiger Budbill, Christa Collins and 53-year-old Elaine Gibbs. Scherzinger told Gibbs that "The X Factor just isn't about the best voice. It's about having the personality and the charisma to command the stage." Harsh, but absolutely necessary. After all, $5 million is on the line, people!
Next week we'll see all 17 finalists sing LIVE for the very first time on the show! Who are you putting your money on?
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