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X-Factor, Oct. 6 – From Skid Row to Here

Brennin Hunt, 26, a graphic designer from Nashville, sings If I Ain’t Got You, and guarantees we haven’t heard it like this. Simon tells L.A. he wants to hear someone sing this song with just a piano, not this jazzed up version. Simon stops and asks him, as he says he wanted to give his own twist and own style, and think outside the box. Simon calls over the producers and and says he’s hating this. He wants to know why they’re singing these “weirdo versions.” Because it’s a talent show, and everyone tries so hard they mess up trying. It happens here, it happens in Idol, it happens on America’s Got Talent, The Voice, etc.

The Stereo Hoggz, ages 23-25, from Houston, find it an odd coincident that they have five members, and the prize is $5 million. One of the singers dedicates the performance to his one-month-old baby. They sing Cry Me a River, and here’s a different version of a song that absolutely kills it! They get it, about making it different, and they have the X-Factor. Nicole says they stepped it up, and Simon notes how consistent they are.

Brian Bradley, 14, a student from Brooklyn, says he’s been practicing every single minute. The crowd and L.A. love him. Phillip Lomax, 21, a part-time waiter from Seattle, sings Summertime, and the version works well with the hat. Chris Rene, 28, a trash collector from Santa Cruz, sings Every Breath You Take,  and calls it his second chance. It’s good, but we’ve seen him better. 

Nick Dean, 15, a student from Rochester, NY, sings Something Only We Know, and has something that makes him more than just your average Bieber type. Nicole feels like this was his strongest performance, but Simon thinks he was cocky and not well-rehearsed. 

Stacy Francis, 42, a stay-at-home mom from L.A., was told in her original audition that it was one of the best Simon ever heard, but then he told her the first day in Boot Camp that it was way over the top. In her heart, she’s holding on for dear life. For the first time, she tells the judges and audience that her dad died the day she arrived in Boot Camp, and she’s feeling guilt for not being with her mom, and will deal with missing his funeral the rest of her life. Her mom told her her dad would have wanted her to be there. She knows her dad is with her tonight. 

Stacy sings Summertime, and I’m feeling like this could be a performance to finally challenge Fantasia’s version. Yeah, she gives me chills. She gets a standing O from the judges, minus Simon. L.A. says afterward it was deep, deep pain. Stacy feels like she has a new angel tonight. I have chills all over again.

Tiah Tolliver, 20, a deli clerk, from Bremerton, Washington, is asked by L.A. what she wants them to know in case it’s her last performance. She replies simply, “It won’t be my last performance.” This is the best I’ve heard her. Cari Fletcher, 17, a student from Wall Township, New Jersey, sings I’m Already There, eliciting a smile from  Paula. Drew Ryniewicz, 14, a student from Chino Valley, Arizona, sings Like a Star, and seems so much more mature than 14. Caitlin Koch, 21, a rugby coach from Buffalo, sings Cry Me a River, beautifully.

Leroy Bell, 59, a songwriter from Seattle, knows this is what he loves to do, but did lose interest for awhile in it. He doesn’t want to be old and bitter, not following the passion. L.A. tells him he looks amazing for his age. He sings Make You Feel My Love, and it looks like Paula is ready to feel his love. It’ a simple performance, but less is more. Simon is trying to figure out what it would be like to have that talent and be so frustrated. Yet, he’s competing with 12-year-olds. Simon notes it’s not an audition, and Paula adds, “It’s his life.”

It’s now up to the judges to decide which thirty-two will move on to the judges’ homes next week. The contestants deal with various emotions, from wanting to hide under a rock, to hoping and praying they get through. Simon has been dreading this, as he’s gotten attached to some of the contestants that he doesn’t think the other judges are attached to. He has to go in and fight for them. He does, and by the end, Nicole remarks they all had to let go of a some that were important to them.

The contestants get split into their categories to start the day, Boys, Girls, Over 30s, and Groups. The first to find out their fate is the Girls. Those making it through are Caitlin Koch, Tora Woloshin, Simone Battle, Drew Ryniewicz, Rachel Crowe, Jazzlyn Little, Melanie Amoro, and Tiah Tolliver. Simon won that one apparently. The others leave heartbroken.


Freelance entertainment and tech writer, editor