How quickly time flies. Just last week, we were still entrenched in the [cue stern Steve Jones accent] nation-wide search for those lucky enough to be born with the "X" factor. This week, we've moved on to the brutal process Simon Cowell and company call boot camp: cutting down the hopeful belters to a savagely slim 32. Because yesterday's "X Factor" episode was all about filtering out the good from the bad, the focus wasn't on individual performances, but rather batches -- eight, in total -- to demonstrate the contestants' ability to learn, sing and perform on the spot.
Do we think the judges are guilty of stereotyping at all? Group one was awkward "College A Capella" group, which included Bieber-wannabe Drew Ryniewicz and boy band The Anser doing earnest interpretations of Radiohead's "Creep." It sounded... creepy. Then we had "Gospel Blues" group from Melanie Amaro and 16-year-old Jazzlyn Little, who botched the lyrics but still earned the respect from her older peers. And it went on and on. There was the "Country Blondes" group. The "Rap" group, which included feisty 14-year-old Brian Bradley, who I've basically deduced is Tracy Morgan trapped in a little boy's body. There was a group that just kind of sucked. I think that was the "Middle-Aged Dudes" group, even though it had Josh Krajcik, who I loved last week. Group six was all about soul. They sang Nina Simone's "Feeling Good," strutted, crawled, and allowed 19-year-old Tiah Tolliver to finally redeem herself in front of the girl judges by actually killing it on stage, steel eyes and all.
"You know that girl that caused the huge fight, I've actually never felt so much anxiety about someone," Simon said triumphantly after her performance. Then someone asked Paula whether she was glad she saved Tiah, and Paula reluctantly said yes, and then we were treated to teasers from today's elimination episode, which will divide the final 32 into four groups: Girls, Boys, Groups and Over 30.
The drama! The crying! The hugging on stage! Why is Simon answering his phone from a boat?
Until then, I present to you a video interview I did with judges Simon and LA Reid at Fox Studios on Monday night. In the clip, LA Reid explains his adorable head dance, Simon explains why his ideal contestant is Chris Rene, and they both explain why Nicole and Paula are jealous of the younger female contestants -- and why the boys need to be around to "protect" them. "We were protecting an endangered species," Simon says in the video. "We couldn't let them hear the girls. As LA said, it would have literally been an all-male competition."