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X-Factor, Oct. 18 – Simon and His Plus One

Determining the top 24 or the top 20 is always a tough decision for the judges, and there always seems to be some audience favorites left out of the mix. But to take the final 32 and pare it down to the final 16 like this just seems like an impossible feat. I cannot think of 16 singers I want to get rid of tonight. Regardless, it’s going to happen. The judges will be paring down their groups, eliminating half of them. There’s going to be some hard knocks doled out, particularly to the Girls Under 30 and Over 30 categories.

Simon Cowell gets up the morning after listening to his eight Girls Under 30, having slept on his decision. His problem is he genuinely likes all of them. The first two up to hear the decision are college students Tora Woloshin, 22, of Tucson, and Simone Battle, 22, of L.A. There’s nothing else Simone would rather do than be a pop star, and she knows she’ll never have a chance like this one again. Tora hopes she did enough to get through; it’s her life. 

Simone has tears before even hearing a judgement. Simon then makes it worse, by telling her he’s loved her since the beginning, but forgetting the lyrics is a problem. Tora is told she’s current and different, but the not-great news is that she’s in what Simon considers the strongest category. Tora did not make it through, surprisingly. Simone did, surprisingly. Why it’s surprising is because Tora seemed to have the “X-Factor.” She had something special. 

Drew Ryniewicz, 14, of Chino Valley, Arizona, is the next to hear her judgement. I like this kid a lot, but I wouldn’t be crushed to not have to spell her name anymore. Her expectation is to be normal, not to do anything big. She wants to show teenage girls they can become something and don’t have to follow what others tell them to be. Simon tells her he saw an improvement in her, and she could not have done more, but he can only take four people, and she wasn’t the best teenager, but was the best of the entire day. She’s through. I’ll have to commit that spelling to memory somehow.

It’s Nicole Scherzinger’s turn to make some decisions in the Over 30 category. She feels these people’s lives and families on her shoulders. The first to hear the news from her will be Josh Krajcik, 30, a burrito maker from Columbus, Ohio. Each day has had a moment that was the biggest of his life. He knows at this point he just has to believe. All last year he only made $13,000 to $14,000. He wants to pay for his daughter’s college. Nicole tells him what is so great about him is he is so unassuming, but has such a big voice and so much soul, yet she isn’t sure if the “guy next door” is a superstar. All that considered, she has decided to keep him. 

 Three more are up to hear Nicole’s decisions. Christa Collins, 32, a hairdresser from L.A., is amazed to still be there, even though she was the first Disney recording star. She knows it’s her second chance at the life she was supposed to have. James Kenny, 34, of West Hollywood, was a pure ball of raging emotion during his performance, but he says this is why he works five jobs, to take care of his family. He’d rather live the dream and have his kids see that. Dexter Haygood, 49, a bar singer from Memphis, admits this competition has lit a spark in him. He knows he fumbled a little in his performance this time, and currently, he’s homeless. 

They all face Nicole separately. Christa is told as an artist she’s unique, but there’s still room for growth. James is told the way he is able to be vulnerable onstage isn’t something everyone can do, yet she’s not sure he’s the solo artist she’s looking for. Dexter hears he has an energy and a light about him, and he has a good voice, yet with him it’s like hit or miss. With Dexter, her head says one thing, and her heart another. But she has a big heart, and decided to go with it. Dexter is in; Nicole is not taking Christa or James. She wants Dexter to make her proud. He has somewhere to live. I hope Nicole doesn’t mind, but he jumps in her pool. Maybe he’s living there.

We go now to Paula Abdul’s house. The first three groups to hear her decision are 2 Squar’d, The Brewer Boys, and Illusion Confusion. The latter knows it will be a nightmare if it ends here. The gals in 2 Squar’d have quit their jobs and have bank accounts hovering around zero. For them there is no turning back. The Brewer Boys are closer than they were beforehand, and want the whole world to hear their music.

Paula tells Illusion Confusion that honestly they lacked in showmanship. 2 Squar’d are told their tender vocals and harmonies were spot on, but sometimes they will be asked as performers to sing songs that don’t seem right to them, She knows there are people who connect with The Brewer Boys’ sound, and people who don’t. She made her decision. Paula will not be taking Illusion Confusion or 2 Squar’d. One of the guys in Illusion Confusion is “mad as hell.” Of course, the Brewer Boys make it through. They can’t believe they are one of the sixteen acts making it out of 100,000.

Next up of the groups is 4Shore. Their friendship is built up out of the love they all have for music. It’s hard for them to practice, as they all go to different schools. They heard about the auditions, and decided to try it, and if it didn’t work out, to disband the group, and here they are. Paula tells them they are technically the most beuatiful sounding. Yet, there are times she questioned who was the lead, as a group needs that. She’s not able to take them to the live show, and she is so sorry. The group doesn’t feel this chance was in vain, though, feeling something will come of this.

We travel to L.A. Reid’s house in the Hamptons, where Brian Bradley, 14, of Brooklyn, will be the first to hear L.A.’s decision. If he gets chosen to go to the live shows, he knows his life will change. He won’t be able to walk into the corner store anymore, but will be able to buy his mom a great gift for Mother’s Day. Be proud, Mom! He’s a good kid. L.A. tells him he ws impressed with him the first time he saw him, yet he is struggling with if he will be able to maintain the right kind of attitude. He’ll get the chance, though, as he’s moving on.


Freelance entertainment and tech writer, editor