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TV Column
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 10/11/2012

‘The X Factor’: Final cuts at boot camp


”X Factor” contestants face the final cuts at Boot Camp. (Ray Mickshaw - Fox)

As a public service to those of you who had other obligations during the “X Factor” hours last week (we’re talking to you, Mitt and Barack), the show opens with a recap: final auditions in Miami, 60 competitors to start, 24 to finish, a lot of people crying, first commercial break.

We’re back for the Reading of the Rules. The 24 “acts” as they’re known on “X” will compete in four brackets: Teens, Young Adults (17-24), Over 25, and Groups, with six acts to a bracket.

One group counts as one “act” and, as we learned last season, may be consist of as many people as can be squeezed into one of those small-sized schools buses.

The winners will go through to “the judges homes” as “X Factor” refers to the rented locations where the contestants will be coached as teams, by Head Judge Simon Cowell, Judge LA “Did I Mention I Discovered Rihanna” Reid, Judge Demi “We Hope She Brings The Youth Demographic” Lovato, and Judge Britney “We Hired Her to Have a Breakdown and She’s Not Cooperating” Spears.

First bracket to be called to the stage for winnowing is the Young Adults. Going through will be:

--CeCe Frey, the killer competitor who paints leopard spots on her face and actually sings quite well.

--Paige Thomas, who had the Whitney Houston sing-off with CeCe.

--Jennel Garcia, who had the smoking first audition and the weak second outing.

--Nick Youngerman, the rapping janitor

--Willie Jones, the talented old-school country singer who surprised the judges because, the judges noted, is black, and 19.

--Jillian Jensen, the prolific weeper who touched Judge Demi “She Brings The Youth Demographic” Lovato with her history of being bullied.

“For all the years when people told me I wasn’t good enough, this is the best feeling in the world,” sobs Jillian backstage. She’s a weeper, that one.

Next, the Over 25’s or as they’re referred to, “The Overs”:

--Jason Brock, the affable tech support phone guy with the big voice.

--Daryl Black, who so impressed us in his audition, doing, um, okay, we don’t remember.

--David Correy, the tatted out rocker.

--Vino Alan, the older tatted out rocker.

--Tate Stevens, the only big hat in the whole cast, a road repair worker

--Tara Simon, the vocal coach and high pressure seller of self.

That eliminates the 500-plus pound Freddie Combs, who Simon challenged to get out of his wheelchair to sing by the end of the competition. Freddie gave a weak second audition.

“I’ll be singing till I draw my last breath and hopefully be an inspiration for everybody,” Freddie promises.

Next, the Groups:

--Emblem3, the cute brother trio from California who got a lot of screen time previously

--SisterC, the cute sister trio from Texas who got a little screen time.

--Dope Crisis, the rapping duo from Philadelphia who must have had even less screen time because we don’t have a clear memory of them.

We’re short three groups.

So few Groups, so many Teens. A whole chorus of them come out on stage for judgment. The winners are

--Beatrice Miller, a pretty girl with a pleasant voice who we don’t remember as being particularly distinct.

--James Tanner, a Bieber look-alike

--Carly Rose Sonnenclar, with a voice going on 30.

--Diamond White, another self-possessed kid who sings much older.

--Reed Deming, the other, smaller Bieber look-alike

--Arin Ray, an Usher-in-training

Much convulsive weeping on stage from the crowd of mostly chick no-go’s.

But wait! “We felt there was too much talent to lose so we came up with a plan,” says Britney in a staged clip apparently taken from the bonus features on the “X Factor, The Director’s Cut” DVD -- get one for a stocking stuffer.

So back come about a dozen teenaged chicks and guys, who get told they are indeed going through to the judge homes, as insta-groups. More convulsive weeping. An insta-group of guys will be called Playback and an insta-group of chicks is to be called Lylas.

Now it’s the judges’ turn for some suspense. Show producers will decide which team will be assigned to which judge to mentor. According to the rules, they much each be in a different location, sitting near a phone (and camera crew) to receive the news.

LA Reid says he’ll be happy with anybody but the Groups or The Overs.

Britney Spears wants to work with the teens and Demi Lovato wants the young adults. Both get their wish.

“Are you serious?” Britbrit gushes, while Demi goes with “No way! Are you serious?” She adds, “I definitely got the best group…I’m …right in the middle of that age group!”

Simon gets the groups. “It’s not the easiest category,” he says. Indeed, it was wipeout for groups last season. “I’ll make the most of it,” Simon says, philosophically, adding, “I’m happy -- for them.”

That leaves LA with The Overs. He slams down the phone when he gets the news, telling his entourage, “I don’t want to talk now,” and stalking off, muttering, “Not The Overs! Anything else I would be happy with.”

No ageism in the music industry – no siree.

Cut to downtown LA, where the Young Adults are arriving at Demi’s “home”, which turns out to be a loft in an old industrial building.

They’re thrilled to discover that not only is Demi their mentor but Nick Jonas is their co-mentor. “I almost passed out when Nick Jonas walked in, “ says Paige. “I had a crush on him when I was younger. “

In Malibu, the Teens meet Britney Spears and her co-mentor will.i.am, “one of the dopest people in the industry today,” says Arin, knowingly.

In Beverly Hills, The Overs are delighted to be coached by LA Reid, they say. The feeling is not mutual.

“I was a little bit disappointed,” he tells the old folks. Crestfallen looks. But he promises to make the best of it, particularly with the aid of the very talented singing star “that I discovered,” Justin Bieber.

Enter the Bieb, who picks up the theme with a little pep talk that age doesn’t matter, and just look at me, they told me I was too young. Yes, The Overs feel much better now.

Finally, we begin to see some more performance, starting with the Young Adults in the fashionable Lower Demi district of downtown Los Angeles.

Jennel Garcia performs Pink’s “I Kissed A Girl” in a restrained fashion, after Demi coaches her to stop flipping her hair around on stage so much.

“I feel like her light was dimmed after I gave her advice,” Demi says to Nick.

Willie Jones performs “Nobody Knows” the song he cratered on in the Boot Camp round. This time he aces it. But it has none of those super-low notes that so impressed the judges.

Jillian Jensen, the weeper, gets advice on controlling herself on stage, too. She advises against overly emotive facial expressions.

Jillian mostly ignores the advice while singing Sarah Bareilles’ “Gravity.” Nick thinks her performance was sexy.

Nick Youngerman, the singing janitor, performs “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha at good karaoke level. He tells the others he did a fabulous job

Demi to Nick: “Couldn’t tell if I was loving it, or super-annoyed by it.”

Super-annoyed, Demi. Go with super-annoyed.

Paige Thomas performs Chris Brown’s “Turn Up the Music” as a 50’s not-ready-for-Vegas act. It’s a real head scratcher.

Demi frowns.”As she’s gone on, we’ve seen more of her insecurities,” she says.

We don’t think Paige will be on Demi’s shortlist.

Now, doctor, the most interesting case: CeCe Frey, the killer competitor with the Leopard Spot Complex. “I keep [my emotions] to myself because it’s not always deemed normal,” she tells Paige. But painted leopard spots on her face are normal?

Demi doesn’t mince diagnoses with her. “You got the attitude thing down…some times it borders on a little bit unlikable.” She seems to get through to CeCe, who tells the camera the leopard spots are probably making their final appearance.

CeCe’s song choice is oddly a ballad version of LMFAO’s jokey “I’m Sexy And I Know It”. Her vocal chops are so good and the choice so off-character, it’s working for her.

“Your input could not have been better timed,” says Nick Jonas. “Over confidence would not have worked.”

On to “Simon’s Beach House,” where he’s joined by guest mentor Marc Anthony, looking very noncommittal behind very dark shades. They sit outside while the pickup boy group Playback does a version of “Rich Girl.” Simon likes them, but Marc Anthony says something about looking around for airplanes, and turns his head skyward.

Emblem3, the surfer/brother act performs “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and they’re engaging, though one brother misses a beat.

Marc thinks they got caught up “in the middle of their audition, just taking in the sun”.

Simon: “That’s why he got distracted and missed his cue.”

SisterC, three pretty young country singer/sisters get coached by Simon to not be so standoffish. They warm up a bit on “Leavin”, though they’re still pretty cool.

Simon and Marc like them anyway.

Next Lyric 145, which consists of a two guys in a duo plus Lyric da Queen, the rapper with the silver eyepatch who was intriguing in her first audition then apparently flamed out in Boot Camp from what we saw in a brief clip.

Anyway, even though they’re an instant group, they have a lot of chemistry as they perform a rap take on Miley Cyrus’s “Party In The USA”.

“She is a superstar,” Marc Anthony pronounces.

Dope Crisis, two guys from Philadelphia, try Super Bass by Nicki Minaj but they’re merely adequate. Surely they won’t be going on.

Last, Lylas, the female pickup group, ages 15-19. “We’re like the same person in five bodies”, says one and it’s true, it’s hard to tell them apart as they take turns soloing on Shontelle’s “Impossible Lyrics.”

Simon and Marc agree: “Unbelievable.”

Tomorrow night, LA Reid faces down The Overs, Britney coddles The Minors and “THE BATTLE FOR A PLACE IN THE LIVE FINALS IS ON,” shouts some wrestling announcer the producers have hired to make sure we’re awake for the final commercials.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 10/11/2012

 
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