'The X Factor' recap: Who will survive boot camp?
"The auditions are over," Steve Jones, host of "The X Factor," reminded us Wednesday night at the top of the show. "Tonight, it's boot camp as 162 acts face the toughest week of their life."
Over the course of two shows, the second of which airs Thursday night, the 162 acts –- some we remember vividly from their auditions, some we feel as if we've never seen before –- will be reduced to 32 contenders, eight in each of four categories: boys, girls, over-30s and groups. (They'll be judged not only on their voices, but also on factors such as style and attitude.) Each of those groups will be mentored by one of the four judges, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and L.A. Reid, whom they will meet in their homes.
"So," Jones intoned, "the battle is on for a place at the judges' homes."
While we were digesting the vastness and majesty of the judges' houses (paraded before our eyes in brief exterior shots) and the somewhat-mystifying willingness of the judges to let the show invade them, the action got underway.
Then, after some of the survivors snoozed, others boozed and a few celebrated by soaking in a hot tub, those remaining 100 were divided into five groups, each of which was given a song to sing and something like five hours in which to pull together a performance that gave each group member a chance to impress the judges. The groups would be assisted by vocal coaches, a stylist and a choreographer. And unlike "American Idol" group nights, inter- and intra-ensemble scuffling was kept to a minimum, with the emphasis on performance rather than frustrations over the process.
It was all very professional and chummy, not terribly dramatic. The groups tackled songs ranging from Radiohead's "Creep" to the rap song "Wishing on a Star" by Jay-Z to Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing," with some Nina Simone, U2, Eagles, Five for Fighting and Snow Patrol thrown in for good measure.
It's hard to say which singers stood out, though the judges clearly had strong opinions.
I can say that I'll be disappointed if Drew Ryniewicz and Caitin Koch, Stacy Francis and Melanie Amaro, Leroy Bell, Josh Krajcik, Tiah Tolliver, Rachel Crow, and Jazzlyn Little don't make it through. Plus, I wouldn't mind if the judges let Audrey Turner, who was once married to Ike Turner, stick around, if only because she's clearly paid her difficult-life dues. Oh, and I liked Tatiana "Reina" Williams, whom I don't remember seeing before.
Also, did either Chris Rene, a favorite, and his sister, Gina, perform in one of the group numbers? (I know they both made it into the top 100 -- sweetly sharing a hug after getting the good news in separate groups.) Did I miss them? Are there more group performances to come?
I'll predict that Dexter Haygood (the homeless James Brown-alike) will probably not make it through to the next round, which will be sad if not unexpected. And I'll further predict that Makenna & Brock will finally forge the offstage relationship Brock has been waiting for -- again, not unexpected.
Anyway, we'll see what the judges have to say about it all Thursday night.
Who are your favorite acts going into the second night of boot camp? Who are you hoping to see make it through?
Photo: Contestants wait to perform for the judges at boot camp on "The X Factor" on Wednesday. Credit: Ray Mickshaw / Fox