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October 9, 2015

'The X Factor' Recap: Top 4 Performances From the Judges' Houses (Part 1)

by Laura Prudom, posted Oct 14th 2011 5:15AM
X Factor Judges['The X Factor - Season 1, Episode 7]

An audition round is an audition round, and Hollywood Week by any other name ("Boot Camp") would smell as sweet, but now we've reached the "Judges' House" portion of 'The X Factor,' and this is where the show should really start to differentiate itself from its rivals.

Did it succeed? Partially. Whether any of the judges actually occupy these lavish abodes is questionable (I'm especially suspicious of Cowell), but it was a refreshing change to actually see the entirety of the contestants' performances (aside from Over 30 waiter James Kenney, who, I guess, the producers deemed too boring). Seeing only two artists between every ad break got more than a little tedious, though, as did the constant recapping of last week's events. But aren't we all jealous of Steve Jones and his jetsetting job?

Hit the jump for our four favorite performances of the night -- we picked one from each category, just to be fair, though right now I think that L.A. Reid's boys should eliminate almost everyone else.

Boys (L.A. Reid)
I was inclined to agree with L.A. when he insisted that pound for pound, his group had the most talent -- it actually feels like an injustice that he will have to eliminate four of his artists while Paula's groups are generally mediocre at best. Therein lies the weakness of the format: One judge, four slots each, which means a lot of talented singers are going to fall by the wayside without ever making it to the live finals.

While sweet country boy Skyelor Anderson was easy to listen to, and crooner Phillip Lomax gave Rihanna's 'Please Don't Stop the Music' an interesting Rat Pack twist, I was most impressed by 14 year-old Brian "Astro" Bradley, whose fluid rap runs would have been astonishing even in a performer twice his age. Will America be able to fairly judge him when he's competing against traditional singers? I'm dubious, but I feel like the kid is talented enough to warrant a pass to the voting rounds to find out for sure.

Girls (Simon Cowell)
Since Simon's the big kahuna, does anyone else think he rigged the "random" selection of categories to end up with the girls? I certainly can't imagine anything he'd rather be doing than getting group-hugged by a bevy of hot young females, especially when they have a penchant for dressing in one-piece swimsuits and transparent skirts (major fashion faux pas, Simone -- you're just lucky you're not in Nicole's group!). Still, there's a lot of talent in this category (even without Mariah helping Simon judge -- thanks, Irene!), and it was nearly impossible for me to choose which performance was my favorite, so I'm cheating and including my top two.

Fourteen appears to be the magic 'X Factor' number, since Bieber fan Drew Ryniewicz was every bit as accomplished as Brian Bradley, with an aching clarity in her voice that gave me instant chills. Her rendition of Roxette's 'It Must Have Been Love' was sung with such maturity and control that I can imagine her winning the whole shebang. (Did anyone else notice that her singing was out of sync with her lips? It was like watching 'Glee' up in here -- 'X Factor' needs to tone down the production value and autotuning, stat.)

Equally impressive was Caitlin Koch, a petite 21 year-old with the incongruous profession of rugby coach. Her tender, heartfelt version of 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' was utterly riveting, and she's got the kind of star quality that could take her all the way to the finale.

Groups (Paula Abdul)
I was pretty ambivalent about all of Paula's contestants, none of whom seemed to harmonize as well as she and Pharrell thought they did -- at least from where I was sitting. The Anser had an innocuously pleasing sound and the disconnected soloists masquerading as a band (Lakoda Rayne, apparently) had an interesting country twist on 'Born This Way,' but Paula and Pharrell seemed most enamored of the strategically polished '4 Shore,' so we'll highlight them.

Over 30s (Nicole Scherzinger)
She's barely over 30 herself, but easy, breezy Nicole was saddled with the "oldies" nonetheless. I really wish that Dexter Haygood could've pulled out a great performance (though in his defense, the song choice kind of sucked) since I love an underdog, but this category is undoubtedly Stacy Francis' to lose. I wasn't quite as moved by her first audition as others were, but her fantastic performance of 'Purple Rain' had Nicole, Enrique and yours truly fighting back the tears, and she's certainly the frontrunner in her category at this point. Watch and weep:

(When it isn't subject to sporting preemptions) 'The X Factor' airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8PM ET on Fox. The second judges' house episode will air Sunday, Oct. 16 at 8PM ET on Fox.

Which performance was your favorite? Out of those we've seen, who do you think is heading home? Share your thoughts below!

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Stacey Francis - WOW girl, god bless that sound that comes out of your mouth. You are beautifull and talented! If you dont make it here, you'll make it somewhere else. You were born to be a star!

October 14 2011 at 8:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
I'm Ghost

If Elaine Gibbs don't win. Then somebody just don't know music. Take into consideration the phasing, tone quality, pure vocal gymnastics and confidence. She's a singer. No doubt about it. She can sing...from the shower...to the stage...and back. She can sing in a phone booth and come out super.

October 14 2011 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Pathetic overlly produced garbage. They don't trust the final 32 to sing live? .

October 14 2011 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that they were not singing live but even so the groups all sounded bad even recorded. It really is a shame that they are trying to con the audience that these houses are really their own houses or that any of these judges except for probably Simon are actually going to make the decision on who stays. Lets hope all of the groups get sent home and Paula goes with them!

October 14 2011 at 11:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gibson Family

Did anyone else get the sense that the voices sounded recorded. There is no way that they sounded like that singing outside. They all sounded like they taped there songs in a studio and then lipsinced the songs. I don't know why, but just didn't buy how they sounded. Oh well, I did enjoy a lot of the acts but my favorites are in Sunday nights group so I can't wait to hear them. I feel the groups are the weakest ones and am sad that some of them will make it through and take the place of some of the better single acts. Have to wait and see how this new format works in the end.

October 14 2011 at 8:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gibson Family's comment

They were heavily mixed, tweaked and produced before we got to hear the final product broadcast. There's no way what we in the audience heard was what the judges heard. Take a listen to ANY of the auditions in Idol vs. what we heard last night and Idol sounds both live and raw and last night's performances didn't. Even the live performances on Idol have that raw edge to them (and sometimes the mix really sucks too) and we got none of that with X-Factor. I agree that every performance looked and sounded more like canned performances that each performer was lip-syncing but it was just the over post production that we were listening to. Personally, it ruined it for me and they should leave it alone.

October 14 2011 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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