It’s been hard to find this episode of the X-Factor. It aired on Sunday night after the episodes were juggled last week due to baseball playoffs on rain delay. I knew it would be on Sunday night, and just assumed my DVR would catch it. It didn’t, and that’s because either UVerse or Fox didn’t change the programming lineup to reflect the change. The DVR listings still said Simpsons, Family Guy, et al., would be aired. I realized that eighteen minutes into it, and hurriedly recorded the four animated sitcoms, but missed those first eighteen minutes. Fox doesn’t make this show easy to find via streaming video. My persistence paid off, though, and I found it, so here we go.
First up tonight at Simon Cowell’s home is Jazzlyn Little, 16, of Cape Coral, Florida. She struggled with nerves and confidence at her audition and in Boot Camp. On top of that, it’s hard for her to be in Paris to be away from her family. The vocal coach, Savan Kotecha, counsels her. She sings an unrecognizable version of I Will Survive. It’s updated and really interesting, really jazzy. I would have liked to see her on those power vocals, but I think this shows more of who she would be as a recording artist. Simon seems like he’s enjoying it.
Jazzlyn shows host Steve Jones her shaky hands, as Simon discusses her performance with Savan and two producers. Simon thinks she just put herself back in the frame, but Savan finds it too much like a high school talent show. Simon seems a bit incredulous at that statement.
Up first tonight for L.A. Reid and Rihanna is Brennin Hunt, 26, a graphic designer from Nashville. He did not have a hard time with confidence, feeling he was “the total package.” He knows he’s getting somewhat old for the music business, but if he looks around, he’ll notice he’s in the under 30 group. He feels his time is now, and he wants to be even bigger than Lady Gaga. He sings Like a Star, and sings it quite well. He always surprises me how good he really is. His looks make you think he’s just about being a pretty face, but his voice shows so much more depth.
Rihanna thinks Brennin is beautiful and thinks his tone is correct at times, especially when he gets raspy, but he’s a little it corny for her and reminds her of a 90s boys band. She’s not convinced he’s a star and knows this will be a tough decision. Brennin thinks it went well, but says he’s hard on himself and is a perfectionist. He thought he had pitch issues, but that seems to be the least of their concerns.
The Stereo Hoggz, ages 24-25, from Houston, are up first tonight for Paula Abdul and Pharrell. The group have been friends more than half their lives. This is so close to what they’ve been trying to do for so long. One of them just became a dad, and really wants to win this competition for his daughter, not wanting her to have to go through some of the same things he has. They sing Heard It Through the Grapevine, complete with choreography. It sounds great, but it’s more a lead vocal than a group. If Rihanna wants to see corny, she needs to see some of their choreography.
Pharrell tells Paula the lead singer is like an old Motown guy mixed with Genuine. Paula gives him a high five and tells him “That’s who they are.” She appreciates his critique so much, she wants to borrow him for a couple of shows to sit next to her. He wants them to be a constellation, though, and not just one star. The group decides if they weren’t performing, but were judging, they’d put themselves through.
The first over 30 to perform tonight for Nicole Scherzinger and Enrique Iglesias is Josh Krajcik, 30, a burrito maker from Columbus, Ohio. He explains music was always the most important thing to him until his 13-year-old daughter was born. He wants to show her that dreams can come true with talent and a little luck. When he wins here, it will allow that to happen. Tonight, he sings First Time Ever I saw Your Face, and has so much emotion in it, it brings me to near tears, and seems to do the same for Nicole as well. This burrito maker is the real deal. He’s like the second coming of Joe Cocker. I would pay top dollar for an iTunes download of this.
Josh tells them after he’s always loved performing and had the confidence he could be something really big, and he’s so excited to have the opportunity to show them what he is capable of. Nicole tells Enrique Josh is relatable and personable, but asks if he’s a star. Enrique admits he’s not the typical star, with all the glitz and glamour. Steve asks if this is the performance that will stop him from making burritos for a living. Josh hopes so.
It’s back to Paula’s house to hear the next group 2Squar’d. They mention that the moment they got four yeses at their audition meant so much to them, as it was the moment they could start living out their dreams. Paula has chosen Bohemian Rhapsody, surprising them, because they’re basically a pop/R&B band. What they do really well is spread the vocal around so that they take advantage of all their different capabilities in the song, although I’m not sure if it’s enough.
Paula tells Pharrell that she knows it’s a difficult song. He admits that, but says if they would have put a little more soul into it, it would have come off differently. They have shown that they can sing, but Paula and Pharrell seem to want more. The group, meanwhile, thinks Paula has seen growth from them.
L.A. and Rihanna will listen to Tim Cifers, 30, a sales manager from Willow Springs, North Carolina, next. He admits one of his dreams is getting back to his roots. He grew up on his grandparents’ farm, and wants his kids to experience that same “countryism” while living in a nice house. He’s never been away from his kids as much as this, and when he left for this trip, his son asked God to “please keep Daddy safe on the plane,” and handed his dad his stuffed monkey. He sings Dance with My Father, and packs all the emotion from missing his family into the performance.
Rihanna really likes his voice, and thinks he’s a “real” country singer. Tim feels if the song touched them during his performance, it would show enough. Steve recognizes that same emotion in him even now. L.A. tells Rihanna he wanted even more.
Up next is Rachel Crow, 13, of Boulder, Colorado, to sing for Simon. She feels confident and ready, being one of eight in her category. She wants the chance to blow America away. She wants to put all that money into her bedroom, and we know from her audition, she wants her own bathroom as well. She knows this is going to be epic. She sings I Want It That Way, and has a slow beginning to it, but the motion this girl packs into the lyrics is … eery. I don’t know if I’d say epic, but definitely enough to stir something inside of me.
Rachel walks away, and Simon says, “That was unbelievable.” He likes that she takes risks, and her deep tone. Rachel feels it went well and that she put her heart into it. He feels it’s just her bad luck that she’s in this category with people who could probably handle the pressure better.
Rihanna and Enrique are going to hear the oldest person left in the competition, Leroy Bell, 60, a songwriter from Seattle. It’s still hard to believe he’s that old. He looks a good twenty years younger, if not more. Leroy knows most people at his age are thinking bout retiring, but he feels he still has that fever, and wants to show his kids and grandkids how to strive for something you want. He sings Make You Feel My Love, another song that’s going to bring me to tears with his emotion. The only other version I like as much as this one is Kelly Clarkson’s. His voice isn’t 100% on, but the performance is top-notch and is giving me chills.
Nicole tells Enrique that although Leroy is the most experienced, and the oldest, she feels he’s also the most nervous. She thinks it’s keeping him from giving her everything. He tells Steve he thinks he can get there still, but doesn’t want to jinx it. Nicole also sees him as super-cool.
The next group to perform for Paula and Pharrell is Illusion Confusion, all aged 26 and from Miami. They’ve been friends since high school, after meeting in chorus. They want Super Bowl halftime performances and number one albums. They sing Let’s Dance, and really don’t show anything near Super Bowl worthy. There is no great harmony like there should be with a group. Paula admits to Pharrell she’s on the fence, and he thinks they have more drive than anything else. Paula mentions if they have more drive than talent, that’s where the problem lies.
Tiger Budbill, 42, of Bothell, Washington, is going to perform next for Nicole and Enrique. He is a professional DJ, but in the last few years, the work has become more slim. His house was supposed to be auctioned off, but they’ve managed to put it off for a few months. He goes from that to Nicole’s house, and pictures his wife and daughter, and maybe a newborn baby, as well as his 83-year-old mom, in a house like this. This has meant everything to him, and he just wants to support his family while doing what he loves. He sings Don’t Give Up On Me, and he’s yet another older guy who knows how to pack the emotion into a performance. He also hits a high note that is pretty amazing.
Nicole says that his voice is effortless, but she wants to now if there is a market for his type of music. Enrique doesn’t feel like there should be rules when it comes down to your music. Anybody should be able to get in with the right song. Tiger feels he connected with both of them and is left happy with his performance.
The next person to perform for L.A. and Rihanna is Marcus Canty, 20, of Bowie, Maryland. His mom gave him a few years to make it in this business, and he’s near the end of those years, so needs to get this done. He likes it here in the Hamptons, and wants to live here. His mom is supportive of him, despite the time limit. He tells Rihanna it’s nice to meet her, and she warns, “Likewise … don’t be flirting with me.” He sings All My Life, and gets some great runs in. Sometimes it’s a little hard to understand him.
Rihanna is freaking out, saying she got chills and couldn’t contain herself. I could make some remarks and compare to Chris Brown, but I’ll refrain. Marcus feels happy in his heart about this performance. She’s not convinced, though, that he seems like a star. Yet, he has confidence, and looked dead in her eyes, to where she couldn’t even look at him anymore.
Tiah Tolliver, 20, a deli clerk from Bremerton, Washington, is up, and she’s a bit lucky that she’s performing for Simon, because he was her number one fan at her audition. Tiah admits it hurt her what they were saying about her, but she appreciates Simon not giving up on her. She would love to just wake up and sing instead of wake up and make sandwiches. She sits and complains because the wind is in her eyes and ruining her makeup. Caitlyn says at the end of the day, you have to perform, whether or not you have mascara on. She sings No Diggity, and I’m left not convinced about her again. Her pitch falters yet again, and it’s just not as special as the other girls that performed.
Caitlyn tells Steve she can’t even express how much she wants to be put through. Simon says there’s something about her where he always thought she fit in the show. Savan agrees there’s something about her when she’s performing, that makes it hard to take your eyes off her. They all agree they’d need to work with her, though.
Christa Collins, 32, a hairdresser from L.A., made an impression on Simon at Boot Camp, but she’s here to perform for Nicole and Enrique. She was the first child star artist to be signed to Disney Records, and claims she was the prototype for what eventually became Britney and Christina. It could be glamorous, but it was just a short bit, while the rest was grueling labor, which was hard for her, as she retired at 16, and now regrets it. She sings No Surprises, and this is the defintion of the X-Factor. You truly can’t take your eyes off her, unlike TIah. She’s captivating, clearly retaining some of what she learned through Disney. She ciries after, saying on the stage performing is the only place she feels whole.
Enrique likes Christa, and says it just hit him. She cries tears of joy and relief afterward. Nicole notes there is a lot of pain in the song, so she would have liked to have seen more of that pain and emotion in the performance.
Next up is a group put together of solo artists and smaller groups that were cut in the last round. They are Intensity, ages 12-17. When they got called back, it was an amazing feeling. They are in different places around the country so didn’t even sing together until a few days ago. However, they’ve been skyping ideas for the group. Getting to the live shows is their goal now as a group. They sing a music montage where they shout out their names and also mix in some old Hall & Oates and the song That’s Not My Name.
Paula thinks this group ended up gelling really well. After asking Paula and Pharrell for hugs, they tell Steve they think their performance is enough to get them into the live shows. Pharrell compares them to a cookie, with a lot of real star morsels in there. Paula finds them talented, but thinks the biggest challenge is they’ll need more time to gel.
Chris Rene, 28, a trash collector from Santa Cruz, California, is up to sing for L.A. and Rihanna. He finds this lifestyle of the rich and famous out there to be insane. It’s sure a far cry from his time in rehab. He promised the judges if they put him through, he’d stay straight. He was rocking out in a band at the age of 12, but is now collecting trash. There’s a voice telling him still that he’s not good enough, yet, he wants to do this for his son. He sings Everyday People and puts it into a rap. I don’t know where he got the idea to rap this out, but it really works. L.A. knew what he was doing picking this song for him.
Rihanna tells L.A. Chris has something special, and she wants to know more about him. L.A. admits Chris is one of the special ones. Whether he wins $5 million or not isn’t important. What is, is that he stays true to who he is. However, L.A. has never seen him that uncomfortable before, so he thinks maybe Rihanna was intimidating him.
The last contestant to sing tonight, and the last for Simon Cowell, is Melanie Amaro, 19, from Sunrise, Florida. She was impressive from the first note she sang in her audition. Simon had told her that his hope in bringing this show to America was to find someone like her. She’s nervous, anxious, and excited right now, as she doubted herself enough to think she wouldn’t get this far, but she’s never wanted anything more. She sings Will You Be There, and is nothing short of great. Something we see on Idol as well, she was so great in her original audition, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for her to top it.
Simon just lays down afterwards and pantomimes ripping something up. I imagine it’s his notes on all the other people he saw that day. She tells Steve she is really happy and put her heart into it. He talks after about the look of confidence he got from her. One of the producers wonders what she’d do with a more contemporary song.
Tuesday’s episode is yet another at the judges’ homes, but everyone has already performed, so assumably, it will be similar to American Idol’s “Green Mile” episodes. They will probably meet with each of the thirty-two contestants and tell them if they are making it or not. I seriously have no idea how they will get down to just sixteen. There are going to be some tough choices!
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