Being that I never watched the UK version of the X Factor, sans for a few YouTube highlights here and there, I really didn’t know what to expect when it came to where we are today, which are the live shows. Reading through Wikipedia, I found out that this week, the judges will vote one act out of their respective groups. Simon, because he has five girls, has to vote off two.

Here’s what Wikipedia says: There will be no public vote in the first week and therefore no final showdown. Each judge will be required to eliminate one of their own acts instead (except Cowell who will eliminate two of his acts).

So, even if all five girls sing well tonight, two of them are going home. By next week, we’ll be down to the normal twelve.

Here are your top 17:

The Brewer Boys
Brian “Astro” Bradley
Chris Rene
Dexter Haygood
Drew Ryniewicz
InTENsity
Josh Krajcik
Lakoda Rayne
Leroy Bell
Marcus Canty
Melanie Amaro
Philip Lomax
Rachel Crow
Simone Battle
Stacy Francis
The Stereo Hogzz
Tiah Tolliver

Can we all just agree that Steve Jones has anti-charisma? He makes you miss the greatness that is Ryan Seacrest doesn’t he?

Boys

The boys are singing first and then LA Reid has to eliminate one. Up first is the kid sensation, Astro. He’s rapping a version of Kris Kross’ Jump with his own lyrics. The kid is slick. Instead of the wiggity, wiggity, wiggity wack line, he said he was takin’ it, takin’ it, takin’ it back. What a great idea to get him to go first. Nicole says it was a great way to kick off the line performances and he shut it down. Paula says “Welcome to the business”. Simon says he killed it. LA says it was amazing. I sure as hope I can download this off iTunes, because my kid just said it was the best and he was jump, jumpin’ out of his seat.

Chris Rene is up next. I hope we get some sort of sequel to Young Homie. Rene just started out in falsetto and it wasn’t good. He’s singing Love Don’t Live Here Anymore. It was a pretty generic performance. The falsetto wasn’t good and the backwards cap and t-shirt didn’t work for him tonight. Nicole says it was a strong performance, but she didn’t like the song choice. Paula says there’s a truthfulness about him. Simon says he’s one of the best recording artists and he did something with a song that didn’t really work with him. He also thinks he’s authentic. LA says he was impressed and did a great job.

Philip Lomax is up next with I’m A Believer. It was a bit unexpected to me. Lots of pomp and circumstance. The vocal was totally fine, but it was a bit on the corny side. Nicole says he was radiating and was having fun. Paula says he knows how to connect with his smile. Simon says he failed because of the song. LA Reid says he did just fine.

The last of the boys is Marcus Canty. He’s singing Do You Really Want To Hurt Me. Hmmmm. I think this is a bad song choice. Why he didn’t do something by Usher where he could dance and really put on a show, I’m not sure. Nicole says he makes it look too easy. Paula says he owned the stage. Simon says he gave it his all and loved the song choice. LA says he stepped up and made him really proud.

I think the boys choice is easy and I’d get rid of Chris Rene, but his story is too strong, so I think LA will get rid of Lomax. Astro is in. Marcus Canty is in. Chris Rene is in and Phillip Lomax is eliminated.

The Groups

The group who I think has the best chance to go far, The Stereo Hogzz are up first. They started off with some Otis Redding and Try A Little Tenderness, but it was definitely hip hop heavy, with it sounding more like Jay’Z and Kanye West’s Otis. I thought it was a super strong performance. LA says as much as he wants to add some criticism, it was really good. Nicole says it was current and classic at the same time. Simon says Paula did a really good job with them and he says there’s nothing in the charts like these guys. Paula was glowing.

The Brewer Boys started off with Rich Girl and then went with a very fun version of Faith. So far, other than Lomax, it’s been a heavy urban sound, so this was like a breath of fresh air. Talent-wise, they don’t really touch everyone else, but their sound and their look works very well. LA says it was good, but it wasn’t Paula’s style and he wasn’t blown away. Nicole says she’s have them on her walls if she was a teenager. Simon says they’ve progressed, but it didn’t shine. Paula says they’ve come a long way, they nailed it, and young girls think they’re adorable.

InTENsity sings third tonight. They start with The Clapping Song and then segued into Footloose. The singing was shaky in the beginning. I think it was nerves. But it picked up with Footloose. And it was the perfect song choice because it made it really fun and you know people were singing at home. LA says it was thoroughly entertaining. Nicole says they’re all little stars. Simon says it was a music miracle. Paula says they rose to the occasion.

Last are Lakoda Rayne. They started out a bit slow, which I think took the energy way down. They segued into Come On Eileen and it was good, though I think from a performance standpoint, was probably the worst of the four. All the groups were decently strong tonight though. LA says that he would sign them to a worldwide recording contract. Nicole says they make girl groups look good. Simon says it was better than he thought. Paula was so happy.

I think the Brewer Boys have more upside, but I can’t see them making it over Lakoda Rayne, especially after the judges loved them so much. The Stereo Hogzz are in. Lakoda Rayne is in. InTENsity is in. That means the Brewer Boys are eliminated.

The Over 30s

First up is Dexter Haygood. He put a spin on Britney Spears’ Womanizer and Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl and it was all kinds of wrong. I think there’s a reason my man was a group artist when he was younger. LA Reid says he thinks he found Dexter. Paula says something that I’m not quite sure I understand. Welcome back the American Idol version of Paula! Simon says it was a weird mix but it worked. Nicole says he was a rock star and had the Dex-factor. Oh no, that’s a new saying that will stick and be annoying in two weeks.

Leroy Bell is next. I hope he goes Lionel Richie all over us. I didn’t recognize the song, but according to Pop Crush, it was Pink’s Nobody Knows. He’s a very solid performer, but it wasn’t the kind of song that melted you. I think he needs to do that every show to stick around. LA says he would’ve given him a better song. He’s wondering why he never hit as a star because he has everything. Paula says his voice is velvet and compared him to Michael Bolton. Simon says he has one of the best voices, but he has a lack of confidence. Nicole disagreed with Simon after Simon said he wished he was mentoring him.

Stacy Francis is up third. She struggled early on with the falsetto and she knew it. But she came through big time. She took George Michael’s One More Try to church. Really strong vocal performance. It was the kind of vocals that Leroy needed to bring. She connected for sure. LA says he was proud of her. Paula says she came out looking like a star and told a beautiful story. Simon says he didn’t like what she was wearing and didn’t like her song. He wanted her to sing a more soulful song. Nicole disagreed again. Looks like Simon is going to pick on Nicole a lot this year. I’m all for it.

Josh Krajcik is hitting cleanup for this group. He’s singing Forever Young. My man is letting his vocals go with mostly just echo and very little backing track. It was short and powerful. LA Reid says he’s one of the greatest singers in the competition. Paula says his voice is her favorite of the past decade. Simon says he’s the artist that he fears because he has it going on and is the real deal.

Now Nicole has to send someone home. I think my man Leroy has to go home. If it was purely on singing, Dexter goes home, but like Rene, his story is just too strong. Stacy Francis is in. Josh Krajcik is in. Leroy Bell is in. Dexter goes home. I thought his story would take him through to the final 12, but I have no problem with that call.

The Girls

Simone Battle is up first. She’s singing Just Be Good To Me. She’s the only artist pretending on this show. She should go into TV. The camera loves her, but the microphone doesn’t. LA says he’s not sure why Simone made it through and he didn’t get her at all. Nicole says she looks like a diva. Paula says she looks the part and wished she performed more. Simon says she’s a pop star and she made an effort.

Rachel Crow is up next. She’s singing a mashup of the Supremes Where Did Our Love Go and Justin Bieber’s Baby. It was rather brilliant. This was right on the money for her. The singing was strong and they’re keeping her young. LA says Rachel could make it in TV too. Nicole says she was amazing. She’s also a Simon hater tonight. Paula agreed. Simon called Nicole and Paula Squidly and Didly. Simon says it was original, and I completely agree.

Drew Ryniewicz hits third tonight. She did something very interesting. She turned What A Feeling into a ballad. It definitely worked. She might have my favorite voice of the competition (either her or Melanie). LA Reid says she’s the entire package. Nicole says it was etherial. Paula says she’s way beyond her years. Simon says he wanted to be back on American TV to find someone like her.

Tiah Tolliver is next and I think Nicole and Paula are going to give her hell. She’s doing an overly dramatic performance of Sweet Dreams. It reminds me of a Grace Jones performance as Strangé in Boomerang. I didn’t think it was impressive at all, except that she showed super confidence. LA didn’t say much. Nicole says she was fierce. Paula agreed. Simon is trying to put the heat on Nicole and Paula to get Tiah over. And I don’t think it’s working.

Melanie Amaro is going with Whitty Hutton’s I Have Nothing. Uh oh. I hope she doesn’t try too hard. Her first big note was shaky, but she calmed down. It was really good, but almost too much of a copycat performance. There wasn’t a ton of originality in there, but when you can do Whitney, you deserve major props. LA says they saved the best for last. Paula and Nicole called her special. Simon says she’s great.

Simone and Tiah need to go home. Will Simon send Tiah home? If Rachel leaves instead of Tiah, I think people will be very upset. Drew Ryniewicz is in. Rachel Crow is in. If Melanie Amaro goes home, we riot. Melanie Amaro is in. Thankfully.

Your top twelve is:

Astro
Chris Rene
Drew
InTENsity
Josh Krajcik
Lakoda Rayne
LeRoy Bell
Marcus Canty
Melanie Amaro
Rachel Crow
Stacy Francis
The Stereo Hogzz

I’ll be back next week to debut my hotlist and I’ll rank the contestants.

P.S. I think Simone Battle knew she was going home. She had this all queued up the second she was gone.

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