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X-Factor, Oct. 5 – Looking for an All-Arounder

One of the best things about watching the X-Factor is that it’s all new. That’s the problem with watching American Idol, Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, etc. We’ve seen it all before and know exactly what’s going to happen, save for a twist here and there. However, X-Factor is all new. We’re done with the auditions, Tonight is Boot Camp, and we have no idea what that entails. That’s exciting.

The contestants are split into four categories – the Boys, the Girls, the Over 30s, and the Groups. The judges then will be told which category they will be mentoring. All we see in the previews out of Los Angeles is everyone being choreographed, Simon Cowell getting pissed off, and Paula Abdul breaking down in tears. That looks interesting! Simon and Paula are joined on the judging panel by L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger. 

Marcus Canty, 20, a high school graduate from Bowie, Missouri, is getting jittery. 4Shore, ages 20-23, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, admit to being nervous, excited, and scared. Chris Rene, 28, a trash collector from Santa Cruz, California, calls it critical that he do better than anyone else there. Something that we didn’t know about him, is that his sister Gina Rene, 36, a stay-at-home mom, and also from Santa Cruz, auditioned and made it as well. She doesn’t know what’s coming, and that puts her on the edge. 

The judges face contestants with an appropriate pep talk, with Simon telling them it’s called Boot Camp for a reason. There are more professionals here to help the contestants – vocal coaches Claude Kelly and Savan Kotecha, stylist June Ambrose, and choreographer Brian Friedman, who many of us remember from the early years of So You Think You Can Dance

Brian leads everyone through a choreography session. Simon believes this could be everything, as the biggest star in the world was Michael Jackson. It wasn’t just about being a singer. If Beyonce was there, she’d be pushing her way to the front, trying to prove that she’s an “all-arounder.” Chris calls it frustrating, and it’s making him scared. Brian Bradley, 14, a student from Brooklyn, refuses to even participate. It’s not what he’s here for. 

Before the Boot Camp, each act was asked to prepare a song that showed they were worthy of this $5 million contract. They will be called to the front in groups of ten, and asked to perform individually. Only 162 will make it through. 

Up first is Siameze Floyd, 30, a hotel performer from Las Vegas. He sings More than a Feeling,. Also up is The Answer, ages 20-27, from Salt Lake City. They have great harmony, but Simon calls them very forgettable. Tiger Budbill, 42, a wedding DJ from Buthell, Washington, proves to Nicole he has some lungs. Caitlin Koch, 21, a rugby coach from Buffalo, takes it down a notch, Paula remarks that she has chills and loves her voice. Drew Ryniewicz, 14, a student from Chino Valley, Arizona, wows the judges like she did in her audition. 

Gina draws a smile from Paula, and Simon says without Rachel Crow, 13, a student from Boulder, Colorado, it would have been very boring, and asks Tora Woloshin, 22, a college student from Tucson, if she knows how frustrating it is that she chose to sing Soulmate when she could have chosen any song she wanted for $5 million. Marcus brings a smile from Paula as he dances, as does Brennin Hunt, 26, a graphic designer from Nashville, J Mark Inman, 31, a graduate student from Westboro, Massachusetts, sings Bennie and the Jets … badly. 

The Brewer Boys, 13 and 17 year old students from Temecula, California, have great harmony, and Brendan O’Hara, 30, a music instructor from Hollywood, Florida, seems to forget his lyrics. Chris gets Nicole rocking singing Sexual Healing, as she says the girls are going to love him. Melanie Amaro, 19, a college student from Sunrise, Florida, is just as impressive as her original audition. Stacy Francis, 42, a stay-at-home mom from L.A., has perhaps he longest note in the world, as Simon tells her less is more, and it was way over the top. 

It’s judgement time. They’re split into three groups like they do on American Idol, yet onstage, and not in separate rooms. Group one is told they should be proud of themselves. They make it through. It’s good news for Stacy. Group two are sent home, with one contestant begging for another shot. He’s rebuffed by Simon, only to have him track down the young guy afterwards to tell him to come back and try again. J Mark proves to be very unhinged as he jumps up and down screaming “I don’t have a life,” then falls to his knees in apparent sobs.  Group three is through. This includes Chris, Caitlin, and Tora. Groups one and three celebrate together. Simon and Paula watch as Gina and Chris search for each other, then hug, realizing they both made it. 

They all have a wild party, with some going to bed early, and others partying all night. It feels like a full show, but we’re only eighteen minutes into this 90-minute show. The next morning of Boot Camp, many of the partiers have overslept. They’re woken up and told they only have five minutes to get moving. 


Freelance entertainment and tech writer, editor