X Factor USA 1.07 – Judges’ Homes Part 1

The remaining 32 contestants who made it through boot camp last week have had their five minutes to gloat over their victory. Now it’s time for them to face the music (get it?) at the judges’ homes, where their numbers will be brutally sliced in half. That’s right, tonight it’s X Factor: Saw Edition. Forget the singers, though. I want to see if Simon decorated his home in red leather and fun fur. This is only a guess on my part, but I’m crossing my fingers! 

The Girls group flies 14 grueling hours to Paris, Frace, where Simon resides when he’s not residing in one of his numerous other homes. Of course, piffle on the houses — he has to take his sports car from his yacht to meet the girls, who are suitably impressed by the palatial digs they’ll enjoy until Simon rips their hearts out and eats them with a lime sorbet chaser. I mean…sends them packing.  They don’t actually know it’s Simon who is going to be their mentor, and when they see him, they mob him like a pack of shrieking groupies. I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same, and there’s no shame in that, dammit.

The Groups group (I have to think of a better name for them) wind up in Santa Barbara, where they excitedly tromp all over the manicured grounds of Paula’s place. Paula has recovered from the initial shock of getting Groups, and assures us that having made a career in choreographing dancers, this should be right in her groove. Some of the Groups may be, shall we say, weak as a herd of fainting goats, but there are still some very strong contenders, so let’s not count them out yet. Go Groups! You’re great! Stop looking at me that way. I’m trying to be encouraging.

On to Malibu, where the Over 30 group fully expects to see Simon or LA Reid come out to greet them. But no, it’s Nicole, who at 33 is younger than most of them. She’s also come to terms with mentoring this group, and I don’t think she needs to worry; some of my favourite acts are in this group. They might be a little unsure about her, but she actually tries to sell herself, telling them that she knows what it takes to make it in the music biz, and she’s a very hard worker. No diva talk here. It makes an impression on me — I totally want to be in her group!

The Boys group gets to go to The Hamptons (my fantasy life, yo) in New York. LA has an ocean-front property, natch. LA says that pound for pound his group has the most talent. Wait, what? You’d think pound for pound that distinction would go to Groups, since there’s, like, 87 of them. Heh. You keep telling yourself that LA, because I think you have the weakest group. Having said that, the good singers are VERY good, so again, at this point it’s anybody’s game.

Now it’s time for the mentors to introduce the guest judge they’ve asked to lend a hand. Nicole brings out Enrique Iglesias and my isn’t he pretty! I’m sure he’ll have lots of good advice, and I’m not looking at his ass whatsoever. Paula brings out Pharrell, who…I’ve never heard of.  ::ducks::  Her group screams bloody murder, so they’ve definitely heard of him. Simon’s guest judge was supposed to be Mariah Carey, but a hurricane put the kibosh on that. I feel bad for them, but Simon tells them he’ll be the special guest judge instead, and that’s even better than Mariah. Simon, you wanker. LA brings out Rihanna, and all the boys are about as stoked about that as you might imagine. She’s very tall, and her forehead is HUGE. That’s neither here nor there, but I thought I’d mention it.

Now it’s time for the contestants to earn their place in the top 16. Let’s see how they do performing in their mentors’ back yards with spectacular views.

Over 30:
Elaine Gibbs: She blows me away. I can’t believe she’s actually singing live — it sounded like a professional studio track. I’m sorry when she finishes, and instantly wonder if they’re selling this song on iTunes.

James Kenney: James is quite the rocker! Although he needs to stop talking about how much he loves his wife and kids, because that blows his rock n roll street cred. I personally enjoy his voice and style, but he’s up against some tough competition.

Dexter Haygood: Or, as the mean kids in school call him, Dexter Nogood. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Dexter would have been right in his element in the sixties and seventies and would definitely be invited to parties at Mick’s house. As it is, when he sobs his disappointment into Steve Jones’ shirt after he performs, he’s probably right to do so.

Stacy Francis: I can’t say enough about how amazingly talented Stacy is. She made Purple Rain sound like gospel, honey. I worry about how current she could be and how the public would react to her, but Susan Boyle somehow muddled through, so there.

4Shore: I’m not as shore. They sound great together, and they have some tight dance moves, but the guy with the dreads sounds painfully off-key to me. I could be wrong, because Pharrell gives them a big thumbs up.

The Brewer Boys: Aw, their bangs are flipping left and right tonight. They get screwed a bit having to sing Only Girl (In the World) when they’re strongest (I think) harmonizing slower tunes. I’m sad! They still might squeak by the groups with numbers in their names. We’ll see.

Lakoda Rayne: These are the solo acts who were grouped together by the judges instead of being sent home. They sing Born This Way, and I know it’s unthinkable, but I liked it more than Paula! They aren’t as polished as they might have been, but they’ve only been a group for the life expectancy of a fruit fly. Still, the other groups will have to fumble hard for these young ladies to make it through.

The Anser: Hmm, I think this was their best performance by a country mile. They put a nice spin on Pink’s Perfect, and it was a good idea to slow down their usually frantic pace. I was pleasantly surprised, and Mr. Scarf Guy was sexier than I remember. Note: I’ll figure out their actual names if they get through.

Brian Bradley: He says he practiced rapping every waking minute of every day, and it shows. He flows right through all the complicated lyrics, and Rihanna thinks he’s so adorable it makes her arms go numb. LA is rightly worried that he may not be mainstream enough to win the whole shebang.

Skyelor Anderson: The judges like him, but it’s his weakest performance IMO.  I like him better when he’s full-on country. I think his fate depends on how the other guys do in comparison.

Nick Voss: When he’s done his performance and gone back into the house, LA Reid asks Rihanna if Nick is high-calibre enough to win the five million. NOW he’s asking that? I think Nick is a cool rockin’ dude with a terrific stage presence. But he’s not a very good singer. Rihanna was all, ummmm, maybe?

Phillip Lomax: He croons Only Gir; (In the World) by Rihanna, for Rihanna. But no pressure! If he’s nervous, it sure doesn’t show. I really like him, although is the audience for crooners too limited for him to win? I wonder if he wears that fedora in the shower.

Caitlin Koch: She plays rugby. Did you know she plays rugby? Don’t worry, because they’ll tell you how she plays rugby again in five minutes. She does a fine job on the song, although she keeps almost belting out a note, then pulling back. Lack of skill, or lack of confidence? Doesn’t matter, because Simon lurved it. In closing: rugby.

Tora Woloshin: She sings Satisfaction by the Stones, synthed up. She works it as best she can, but damn, could Simon not have chosen a fresher song for her? I love her, but as Simon says after she’s gone, it just felt like something was missing.

Simone Battle: Well, I can see why the judges put her through even though she forgot ALL the words in her last performance. She’s beautiful, confident, and has a voice that would sound great on a radio near you. Her see-through skirt deserves its own mention as well.

Drew Ryniewicz: I can’t believe this girl is 14. She’s the one to think of when you hear the phrase “voice of an angel”. She sings Must Have Been Love, and she’s just. So. Good. She might be hiding it well, but she doesn’t even have any stage fright, even though Simon has two, maybe three button of his shirt undone, and that unnerves most grown men! If she doesn’t get through, I’ll be shocked. And sad. And mad. A veritable cornucopia of X Factor emotions!

COMING NEXT TIME: The last 16 acts perform — then let the waterworks begin as half of the contestants are cut. Bring your Kleenex.