October 26th, 2011
02:00 PM ET
I love the tension of a live talent competition, and last night's "X Factor" fit the bill.
The show held its first two-and-a-half hour live show and once again we got to see all 17 acts perform, not only for the judges but in front of a packed house in Los Angeles.
This show was arguably the hardest to watch, and it wasn’t because truly good singers were let go, but the manner in which they were brushed aside.
From the harsh criticism some received to the abrupt way host Steve Jones asked them how they felt just nanoseconds after they learned they were eliminated, not to mention practically going to commercial before they could digest the news and respond! Talk about tough love. But no one ever said going on a talent show with judges was easy. In the end, the list of 17 was slashed to just 12 acts.
From L.A. Reid's group, 14-year-old Brooklyn rapper Brian Bradley, R&B singer Marcus Canty and 28-year-old heartthrob Chris Rene all made the cut. Bradley decided to take on the old Kriss Kross song “Jump."
Scherzinger told Bradley she “couldn’t think of a better way to kick off live performances," and Simon told him he was “the next generation.” As for Chris Rene, Nicole loved his performance but kept it real by telling him, “I don’t know if I would have picked that song for you. But you still did your thing on it.”
It was unfortunate Frank Sinatra-esque singer Philip Lomax didn’t make the cut. He belted out the tune “I’m A Believer” by the Monkees, but Lomax suffered harsh criticism from Simon Cowell. Poor Lomax! He'll find his following, but it won’t be on the "X Factor."
Paula’s group definitely got less criticism in the end. She decided to push through the groups InTENsity, Lakoda Rayne and Stereo Hogzz, leaving the duo The Brewer Boys by the wayside.
Simon told InTENsity that they were “the equivalent of a music miracle.” While L.A. Reid summed up Lakoda Rayne’s performance by saying, “If the four of you walked into my office right now you’d be signed to a worldwide recording contract!” And what can I say about Stereo Hogzz, except that once again they killed it with a performance of “Otis” by Kanye West and Jay-Z.
In my opinion, The Brewer Boys actually had one of the better performances of the night combining Hall & Oates' “Rich Girl” and George Michael’s “Faith.” LA. Reid told them that they were obviously good, but he still wasn't blown away. It was so hard to watch those youngsters get rejected!
The best singers of the night belonged to Nicole Scherzinger’s over 30 group. Dexter Haygood, 59-year-old LeRoy Bell (once more: show of hands from those who can't believe he's 59!), 42-year-old Stacy Francis and Josh Krajcik.
Krajcik’s rendition of “Forever Young” brought praises from ALL the judges, but don’t count Stacy Francis out. She took a chance by straying away from a more church-y ballad and opting for George Michael’s “One More Try.”
They were all so talented, but it was Haygood who was sent home. I think he was the only one whose true singing style never really shined through.
And I saved the best for last: Simon Cowell’s girls group, which includes Drew Ryniewicz, Melanie Amaro, Simone Battle, Tiah Tolliver and Rachel Crowe. Remember, this group originally consisted of four singers until Cowell had second thoughts and decided to ask Amaro to return after he kicked her off.
But after all five performed last night, the singers seemed to still be divided into “the haves” and “the have nots.” As usual, Drew was the crème de la crème. She elevated Irene Cara’s “Flashdance” from an '80s hit song into a Sarah McLachlan-ish ballad that left me with chills. This girl has THEE IT FACTOR and the vocals to seriously back it up. It might just come down to her and Josh Krajcik.
Rachel Crowe and Melanie Amaro were also great, and Simon even gave Amaro a standing ovation. But Tolliver and Battle got battered and bruised, so to speak.
Both were eliminated, but not before L.A. Reid lashed out at Cowell after Battle performed, saying he didn't understand why she'd made it that far in the first place.
The judges were just as critical with Tiah Tolliver. But Cowell, sensing they would go hard against Tolliver, said he wanted to dedicate her performance to Cruella DeVille, the villain in “The 101 Dalmatians” movie.
Reid tells Tolliver, “I guess you are one of his favorites,” while Nicole digs her claws in saying, “If that was a sweet dream I’d hate to see what one of the scarier ones are like.” Now why did they have to go there? It was enough to send Cowell over the edge.
But perhaps Cowell felt what the audience already knew: Tolliver and Battle just weren’t up to the challenge. And so they were eliminated. I personally thing Battle and Tolliver should form a Pussycat Doll-like group. They have nice vocals but simply not good enough for the “X Factor.”
So what do you think? Did the judges get it right last night?
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