In this post, I shared the videos of “The X Factor” group auditions from boot camp. After the group performances, the judges whittled the contenders down even farther to 64, which by the end of tonight’s show was cut even further to 32. The contestants were given a list of 35 songs and told to choose the song that best represented them as an artist.

Rachel Crow went first; she’s so darned cute, and so talented. Tiger Budbill, Audrey Turner (who was married to Ike Turner, we learned) and Josh Krajcik all were great; the judges like Paige Ogle, although I thought she sounded off key to me.

Then things got weird as the contestants started doing complicated and strange versions of the songs they chose. 4Shore, Little Ladiez (who I’d never heard of before), Siameze (who I’ve thought was weird from day one) all were … blech. I like Nick Dean (go Rochester, NY!) and he did much better this time around.

Simone  Battle’s audition deserves a mention, if for no other reason than her arrogant attitude. She went on and on in her interview before about how she was confident and prepared and fierce. Then she went on stage to perform, as Simon called it, a “weirdo version” of Elton John’s “Your Song.” She remembered none of the words. It was embarrassing.

Makenna and Brock performed”Billie Jean”, although I think Brock forgot the words. Nicole said she loved their version, LA said he liked the idea of their version, and Simon said he never wanted to hear it again.

Then Brennin Hunt came out to sing his version of “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys, warning, “I guarantee yo’ve never heard it like this.” It sent Simon over the deep end; he cut Brennin short, and made the producers take a break as he complained about all of the “weirdo versions”.

My thought is that they were supposed to pick a song that represented themselves, not pick a song and mangle it to fit their egos. One thing I love so far about this show is the lack of ego. The contestants are generally super sincere, genuinely surprised that someone recognizes their talent, and really people you want to root for. But I guess there’s always an ego or two in the crowd.

When the show resumed, the contestants seemed a bit more on the ball. I thought The Stereo Hogzz were a bit “Broadway” and I only heard the lead guy sing. But the judges love them.

Standouts included Phillip Lomax (he sings so well; we’ll see how far he can take this Frank Sinatra act), Chris Rene, Tiah Tolliver, Drew Rynewicz, Caitlyn Koch, Stacy Francis and Leroy Bell.

And now we come to the big reveal: which of the 64 made it through to the next round? Only 32 contestants go through; they’ll be broken down into four groups: girls, boys, over 30, and groups. Each group will be mentored by one judge. And here they are:

GUYS – mentored by L.A. Reid

  1. Brennin Hunt
  2. Brian Bradley
  3. Skyelor Anderson
  4. Nick Voss
  5. Tim Cifers
  6. Phillip Lomax
  7. Marcus Canty
  8. Chris Rene

GIRLS – mentored by Simon Cowell

  1. Caitlyn Koch
  2. Tora Woloshin
  3. Simone Battle
  4. Drew Rynewiecz
  5. Rachel Crow
  6. Jazzlyn Little
  7. Melanie Amaro
  8. Tiah Tolliver

GROUPS – mentored by Paula Abdul

  1. The Stereo Hogzz
  2. 2Squared
  3. 4Shore
  4. The Brewer Boys
  5. Illusion Confusion
  6. The Anser
  7. ? (read through to the end to see who goes in the 7 and 8 places)

OVER 30 – mentored by Nicole Scherzinger

  1. Elaine Gibbs
  2. Tiger Budbill
  3. Leroy Bell
  4. James Kenney
  5. Josh Krajcik
  6. Crista Collins
  7. Dexter Haywood
  8. Stacy Francis

So the judges make their decisions and there are tears of joy and sorrow, and as those who aren’t chosen are leaving the producers call 14 of them back to the stage. They split them into two groups, and as they stand there Simon says that had they come into the competition in groups rather than soloists, they would probably have made it through to the next round. So as of that moment … they’re in groups. One included Nick Dean (go Rochester, NY!), and I think the kids in Ausem.

That was a great move – some of the most popular groups have been “manufactured”. And under the tutlege of Paula Abdul, they’ll learn a lot and have some fun. (Simon said that Paula is the best judge for the groups, since a group has multiple personalities and so does she. So glad Simon and Paula are back together.)

Anyway, next week we see the contestants as they visit the judge’s homes for some intense mentoring, and the judges each whittle their groups down to four contestants each. That’s going to be a very, very difficult task.

But it’s going to be fun! There really isn’t anyone who made it through that I don’t like, although I do have some favorites. And I like the format of the show – having the judges take responsibility for mentoring their groups. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out as the show progresses.

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