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The X Factor: 2.09 – “Top 24 Revealed and Judges’ Houses, Part 1”

We’re back to two hour episodes this week. Last week, the 60 or so contestants went through an “intense” series of challenges that were the basis of the judges picking the Top 24. The judges deliberate over which ones will go through to the next round while contestants are shown waiting and talking to the camera. “I’m not going home now” was a sentiment shared by many. Simon finally clarified the categories for this season, which greatly differ from the ones last season. The contestants will be divided into Teens (12-17), Young Adults (18-24), Over 25s, and Groups.

The first group to hear their fate was the Young Adults. All of the contestants line-up to hear if they are one of the 6 people to move on to the Judges’ House round. The 6 people moving on are: CeCe Frey, Willie Jones, Jillian Jensen, Jennel Garcia, Paige Thomas and Nick Youngerman. Jennel and Jillian have really impressed me and I was glad to see them make it further. Nick Youngerman also impressed me during his audition (the brief bit they showed of it) and he’s an interesting choice. Willie Jones is overrated and I’m sick of seeing CeCe & Paige already. They’ve gotten the most screentime out of any of the contestants. Some memorable people on the stage that didn’t make it through: Julia Bullock, Lyric Da Queen, Sophie Tweed-Simmons and Ally Brooke.

The Over 25s were next. To be honest, this looks like the worst group so far. The ones that made it through were: Tara Simon, Tate Stevens, Vino Alan, David Correy, Jason Brock & Daryl Black. Vino & David are the only ones that I really care about actually. I was very disappointed that Jeffrey Gutt didn’t make it through. He had one of the best auditions of the season and his voice blew me away. He’s got so much more talent and charisma that most of these people combined. I don’t know what the judges didn’t see in him. Freddie Combs, the wheelchair guy, was also seen getting eliminated.

The Groups were next on the stage. It looked like there were only about 6 or 7 groups all together. Only 3 made it through to the next part: Sister C, Dope Crisis and Emblem3. What about the rest? We shall find out…

Finally, the Teens were finding out their fate. Making through to the next round were: Carly Rose Sonenclar, Beatrice Miller, Arin Ray, Diamond White, James Tanner and Reed Deming. I was really surprised by the people who made it through here. Carly Rose, Beatrice, Arin & Diamond were no-brainers. But I don’t remember James or Reed at all. I don’t know what was special or unique about them compared to the others. Arin Ray is my favorite going into this though. He seems to be miles ahead of the others. His maturity level and skills as a performer outweigh any of the others. Johnny Maxwell, Dinah Jane Hansen and Austin Corini were some of the favorites that didn’t go forward.

But there are still three open spots in the Groups category. What’s going to happen? The judges decide to make some hybrid teams out of the people who didn’t make it through in their original categories. They made it seem like it was a brilliant epiphany that the judges had, but the show did the same thing last year and Simon has done it numerous times on the UK edition (I believe One Direction was a hybrid team). Filling out the last three Groups slots were the hybrids. Playback: Brandon Hasson, Johnny Maxwell, Owen Stuart, Josh Metzler & Austin Corini. Lylas: Camilla Caballo, Ally Brooke, Dinah Jane Hansen, Normani Hamilon and Lauren Jauregui. Lyric One4Five: Lyric Da Queen & One4Five.

Next up: the judges find out what category they will be mentoring. They each receive calls from a mysterious “producer”. Britney gets the Teens, Demi gets the Young Adults, L.A. gets the Over 25s and Simon gets the Groups. Everyone is happy except L.A. Reid. He storms out of his office and stomps down the hall. It seemed more manufactured and forced that anything genuine. Each contestant and group arrive at the Judges’ Houses and find out the mentors.

First up for the performances at the Judges’ Houses: the Young Adults will be performing at Demi’s L.A. loft. I have to add, I don’t think these Houses are actually owned by the judges. There’s just something really off about the way it’s presented as if the judges actually live in these places. I think the producers just rent these places and try to pass them off as actual living quarters for the judges. Demi will have to eliminate two of the contestants based on these performances. Demi’s adviser to help pick the best 4 out of the 6 is Nick Jonas. While the contestants are rehearsing their numbers around the loft, Demi and Nick will talk to them and offer advice.

The first performance comes from Jennel Garcia. Demi and Nick give her some advice about her mannerisms during her performances. Demi thinks she flips her hair too much and she doesn’t need to do that. Jennel gets more nervous after her talk with them and it shows a little during her performance of “I Kissed a Girl”. Jennel has been one of my favorites throughout this entire thing. Her voice is extremely unique and she has a genuinely nice spirit about her. I don’t know if she impressed Demi & Nick enough to make it further.

Willie Jones was up next. I’ve never been a fan of his and this performance didn’t help. He sang “Nobody Knows”, which is the song he fucked up during Task Two of the Boot Camp round. This is set-up as his chance at redemption. He doesn’t forget the lyrics this time but his performance is flat. Nick Jonas actually had a perfect critique. Sometimes Willie sings R&B and sometimes in Country. He goes between both of them in the same song and it doesn’t work.

Jillian Jensen takes the microphone next. Demi and Nick are shown giving Jillian advice about her stage presence. Demi thinks that Jillian needs to be more aware of her body and face instead of just her vocals. Jillian performs “Gravity” and does a really good job. But it goes back to my usual critique of her. She doesn’t need to keep doing these overdramatic and almost emo song choices. We get the bullying angle. We know Jillian has had a rough time. We don’t need to see her singing these maudlin songs ALL THE TIME. I still really like though. During some of the non-performance shots, she seemed to be really funny and have an easy-going personality. I’d like to see more of that in her performances.

Nick Youngerman performed next. He did a version of “Tik Tok” were he turned into a rap song. I’m not sure what to think of it. It was extremely goofy and light-hearted, but it was also very entertaining. He did a brilliant thing where he changed around the Mick Jagger line to make it more gender appropriate. Nick has a lot of energy and he channels it well in his performances. He can easily command the stage during the live shows and do a great job. I can see him fitting into the Pop/Hip-Hop mode in the same vein as B.o.B. and LMFAO.

Paige Thomas was up next. I’m not going to go too much into her performance of “Turn Up the Music”. I’m sick of seeing her cry every single week. Her voice is getting weaker and weaker. She turned in a weird performance in front of Demi and Nick. She was wearing a bizarre outfit that was like a one-piece bathing suit with some blue tuelle attached to the hips.

Finally, CeCe Frey got her chance to perform. The show has really jammed Paige and her down our throats. They’ve been featured a lot and I’m getting sick of them. Their talent doesn’t even equal any of their competitors. I would like CeCe if she was one another reality show that didn’t require talent. I can imagine really liking her as a contestant on Big Brother or The Real World. I don’t have any interest in her as a performer. She did a version of “Sexy and I Know It” that was awkward. She made a character choice that didn’t fit the tone of the song at all.

The portion ends with Demi and Nick going through the Polaroid pictures of the contestants. They need to eliminate two more people before they go to the live shows? Who will they be? We’re not finding out tonight. That’s for sure.

Cut to Simon in Miami getting ready for the Groups to perform. Marc Anthony is going to be assisting Simon in deciding who will continue on in the competition. The first group to take the pool-side stage is Playback. They are the hybrid team made up of Owen, Johnny, Josh, Austin and Brandon. They did a rendition of Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl” that was actually really interesting. The group is definitely unpolished and needs some finishing work, but they’ve got something there. Owen is great vocally and Johnny’s rapping skills add something different to the group. It brings it up another level. The other guys aren’t that unique, but those three really held their own in their solo moments. I’m not a fan, but I also don’t hate them.

Emblem3 was the next group to perform. The guys are huge douchebags and the blonde rapper guy always has his shirt off or completely unbuttoned. They’re constantly shown trashing the other contestants. They do a version of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”. The arrangement and the sound of the group is really interesting. The tone of the song really sounded different from any other version I’ve heard. The blonde rapper guy completely screws up though. He comes in late on his verse and he’s never able to fully recover. I would like them more if the personality weren’t so insufferable.

Sister C sang “Leavin'” (which after some Google research, seems to be a Natalie Cole song). They haven’t impressed me very much as a group, but this made me turn into a fan. Just a little bit. They harmonized really well. The last blonde who sang was stellar. Her vocals are much stronger than the other two girls. If they make it to the next stage, Simon needs to make sure she is the lead singer and all of the songs are centered around her. She’s something special. I wish I knew her name.

Lyric One4Five, the second hybrid group, were next to perform. Lyric Da Queen was a female solo rapper and One4Five was a rap duo. The judges decided to put them together and form one dynamic group. This was a great decision. Lyric really didn’t stand out until the Boot Camp week. She made a big impression here and this group could be the one to watch out for. They are doing something completely different from the others. Lyric stole the show and the other two guys provided tremendous support. They performed “Party in the U.S.A.”, which was a cheesy selection, but I feel like they could do something extraordinary when they are allowed to do their own thing.

Briefly shown was the group Dope Crisis, made up of two male rappers, doing “Super Bass”. This was so brief and cut down to about 30 seconds, there’s nothing to even talk about. Based on the length of time they were shown and how little they were talked about the rest of the season, there is absolutely no chance they will make it to the live shows.

Finally, the last hybrid group took the stage. Lylas was culled together with Dinah Jane, Camilla, Ally, Normani and Lauren. Dinah Jane & Normani were two of my favorites from the competition so far. I was excited to see how they all worked together. They did a version of Shontelle’s “Impossible” that was vocally impressive. Those five girls all have special voices that do something incredible things. I’m just not sure I bought them as a cohesive group. They were each doing their own things and not blending as one. Simon & Marc both loved it though.

The show ended with Simon & Marc discussing the groups and which ones they think should move on and which ones will be eliminated. We’ll find out their fates on a later episode.

There’s another new episode tomorrow, which will feature either the Teens or the Over 25s. Then I’m guessing Wednesday’s episode will be the other group and the reveal of the Top 16. It seems like a lot of effort to only be cutting out 8 people. I’m guessing the show has something else in store that we don’t know yet. We shall see. Here’s a better list of the Top 16 if you want to link to it.

Reed Deming
Beatrice Miller
Arin Ray
Carly Rose Sonenclar
James Tanner
Diamond White

Young Adults:
CeCe Frey
Jennel Garcia
Jillian Jensen
Willie Jones
Paige Thomas
Nick Youngerman

Over 25s:
Vino Alan
Daryl Black
Jason Brock
David Correy
Tara Simon
Tate Stevens

Dope Crisis
Lyric One4Five
Sister C