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'The X Factor' Recap: The Judges Choose The Top 12 (VIDEO)

by Laura Prudom, posted Oct 26th 2011 3:00AM
X FactorThere were some controversial choices made during the judges' houses round of 'The X Factor,' but our mentors had the chance to right many wrongs with this week's live elimination show, as each category had to narrow their finalists down to three in order to proceed to America's vote next week.

Up until tonight, the groups seemed like the weakest category by a mile, but smart song choices and confident choreography helped Paula up the ante and raise her category to the standard of the soloists -- though I doubt even the smooth moves of the Stereo Hogzz can compete with the likes of Drew, Josh or Stacy.

Join us after the jump to find out who made it into the top 12 to compete for your votes next week.

Simon Cowell's Girls
Last week, Simon's questionable judging choices became a worldwide Twitter trending topic after he put through attractive duds like Simone Battle and Tiah Tolliver over Caitlyn Koch and Melanie Amaro. He rectified one of those mistakes by giving Melanie a second chance in an unsurprising "surprise" twist, and Simon had a lot to prove going into tonight's elimination.

After slamming Nicole's (admittedly fairly dubious) song choices all night, the grumpy Brit made a few missteps of his own, choosing a noisy, overproduced version of "Just Be Good To Me" for Simone -- though at least he'd progressed to pronouncing her name the way a normal person would -- and giving Tiah a creepy, Halloween-flavored rendition of 'Sweet Dreams' that chilled me to my very core. Despite his vehement protestations that Nicole and Paula were just biased against their innate natural "talent" (for wearing skimpy clothes and wailing, I guess), those song choices made me believe he'd written the two off before they even opened their mouths, and sure enough, they were the two that were kicked to the curb, only a week too late.

Rachel Crow still can't compete against the vocal abilities of singers like Drew or Josh, but apparently Simon pays attention to what the audience wants, and allegedly, we're rooting for Rachel, so she was saved. The two no-brainers: Melanie Amaro (the contestant that Simon is cunningly trying to pass off as an underdog in winner's clothing) who gave a beautiful -- if slightly wobbly -- version of Whitney Houston's 'I Have Nothing' that had the judges gushing:

And Drew -- whom, Simon has decreed, apparently no longer needs a last name -- who performed a hauntingly beautiful rendition of 'What a Feeling.' My favorite thing about Drew is that she can bring tears of empathy to your eyes without the need for any overblown sob-story background; she's just an exceptionally talented kid, and in the end, that should be enough in a contest like this, though seldom ever is.

L.A. Reid's Boys
Similar to Simon's calculated song choices with Tiah and Simone, I think L.A. had already figured out who the weak link in his chain was; he saddled the already-cheesy Phillip Lomax with the outdated 'I'm a Believer' and a strange assortment of equally campy dancers, and the result was a ticket back home. We won't miss him.

The overexposed (but undeniably talented) Chris Rene floundered tonight, with a weak and nervous attempt at 'Love Don't Live Here Anymore.' Still, doubtless because of audience goodwill and perhaps a little residual pity, the judges all wore kid-gloves with him, and even Simon praised his authenticity for lack of anything to really say about his performance. I hope he comes into his own next week, because I do love an underdog.

Brian "Astro" Bradley was as obnoxious and arrogant as ever, but it seemed like everything except the Kriss Kross chorus of 'Jump' was his own concoction, and the performance was energetic and somewhat dazzling. I'll be interested to see whether America can embrace him alongside his singing contemporaries. Marcus Canty will probably be the next to go from L.A.'s category, and the bizarre arrangement of his 'Do You Really Want to Hurt Me' did kind of hurt me. Still, the audience seemed to like him.

Paula Abdul's Groups
It was clear that Paula put in a lot of hours with her groups, who had all improved immeasurably since the previous rounds. I didn't even completely hate Lakoda Rayne this time! The girl group sang a somewhat underwhelming version of 'Come on Eileen,' which seemed far too dated when all the judges were banging on about the need to be current and sell records in today's market. They still made it through to next week.

The Brewer Boys weren't so lucky, which is good, because I can't stand them, and have never understood what people find so impressive about their harmonies. Kudos to them for actually knowing how to play instruments and utilizing them live, though. They harmonized their way through a serviceable mash-up of 'Rich Girl' and 'Faith' with a pleasant country lilt, but Simon reminded everyone that there was a $5 million contract on the line (has he heard Simone and Tiah?) and since they certainly weren't worthy of that, Paula reluctantly eliminated them.

The Stereo Hogzz are still the strongest act Paula has, and they worked the stage like they were already well-versed in putting on a concert for thousands. Their updated 'Try a Little Tenderness' had a lot of interesting flavors, from hip-hop to soul, and I found it thoroughly engaging throughout.

I was certainly dubious about the capabilities of InTENsity, the judges' monstrous ten-strong attempt to capitalize on the 'Glee' craze (which already seems to be over), but I didn't hate their mash-up, even if it's all a little too Disney Channel for my tastes. I'm just not sure if audiences will actually be able to connect with them enough to want to vote for them, since even Simon hasn't bothered to learn their names -- he liked the one in the red jacket.

Nicole Scherzinger's Over 30s
I feel like Nicole's acts will succeed in spite of her, not because of her, since her song choices are bizarre and her staging leaves a lot to be desired. It was fairly obvious that formerly homeless Dexter Haygood was going home tonight, because charity only extends so far, and Nicole chose a terrifying mash-up of Britney's 'Womanizer' and Katy Perry's 'I Kissed a Girl' for him, apparently forgetting his gender on both counts. It was just ... awful, but it's sad that he probably would've lasted another eight weeks on the UK version of 'X Factor' (YouTube 'X Factor Wagner' sometime, I dare you). He declared that he was confused after he was eliminated, but Steve Jones was so eager to move things along that he cut Nicole off before she could explain anything to him.

Nicole certainly lucked into the phenomenal Josh Krajcik, whose burrito selling days are long behind him after tonight's performance. His understated take on 'Forever Young' was flawless (except for the screaming audience, but that's not his fault), and there isn't a negative word anyone can say about it. I'm fairly sure that his success was more his doing than Nicole's, though, and if she has any sense, she'll just move out of his way and let him do his thing.

LeRoy Bell, still the hottest 60-year-old in the history of the world, sounded like "velvet" according to Paula, but the song was bland enough that I don't even remember what it was. He's got enough innate talent that, as L.A. observed, it's impossible to figure out why he isn't already a huge star. He's the whole package, I just don't know if Nicole is smart enough to know what to do with him.

Stacy Francis is, like Chris Rene, a singer who can do no wrong in the eyes of America at this point. Unlike Chris, her performance was solid tonight, if lacking the wow-factor of her first audition and last week's song. Paula praised her for telling a story with the song ('One More Try'), and starting with tenderness, although Simon wholly disapproved of the song choice and what she was wearing. Again, has he met Tiah or Simone? Still, she was a no-brainer to progress to next week's shows.

Overall, the judges all made the right choices in narrowing down their acts -- I think all of America breathed a sigh of relief when Tiah, Simone, Phillip and Dexter were eliminated, and I'm not losing sleep over The Brewer Boys, though I think InTENsity were equally disposable. Steve Jones is still a poor man's Ryan Seacrest, and his attempts to move the show along seemed awkward and forced. He needs to loosen up and have more fun with the gig, because right now, he's no fun to watch and had a serious case of the crazy eyes all night. But how will America vote once they have the power next week?

Starting next week, 'The X Factor' airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8PM ET on Fox.

Who was your favorite performance of the night? Were you wowed by Stacy or Chris Rene, or has a new favorite emerged? What do you think of Steve Jones as host so far? Share your thoughts below!

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA

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Groups: Lakoda Rain! Girls: Drew or Melanie! Boys: ? not gonna win! Over 30's: Josh!
Most likely to win: Drew or Melanie!

October 27 2011 at 8:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chellisa's Den

Josh, Melanie and Drew are my top three picks with the Stereo Hogz completing the list. Lakoda Rayne and Astro will hang in there until the top four reign. All in all, at least six of the top 12 will become a national hit (some longer than others). That's my take on it.

October 27 2011 at 5:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

well, first of all, i believe that song choices from this point on , are going to be of massive importance as to the eventual winner of x factor.as far as pure raw God given talent, josh krajcik is blessed with a phoenomenal voice and has developed into a vocalist i believe is going to become even more diverse and extraordinary. melanie amaro and her choice of song were absolutely exquisitely perfectly delivered. she actually sent some "chills" through my body. drew is the third vocalist of the group that has her pleasant distinctive forms of delivering a song of any genre. ala alana morisette. i think x factor judges need to learn to refrain from too many ... "youre amazing" or "im so proud of you" in their critiquing of the contestants. please keep the evaluations precise, honest, without any sugar coated baloney. in summary, to me josh krajcik is bar far the most gifted singer with unlimited potential. record companies are going to suck him up , hes a money maker . melanie amaro and drew with bring up the next two slots in my TOP THREE. i wish them the best during this competition. all three has long musical careers to look forward to. and you cant get any better exposure than in front of a national audience.good luck to everyone of the 12 left , but remember, nobody is going to come out of this a "loser".

October 27 2011 at 5:29 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Steve C. Tucker

Melanie Armaro is clearly the most talented singer/performer in this competition! You can say what you want to say about the other 11 contestants and there are some talented people in this final group of 12, but Melanie clearly stands out (period)! I am a bit taken back at how she has been treated, for it has been an emotional roller coaster for her. For her to be cut from the competition and then to come back and deliver the performance she delivered last night was impressive! I do not believe we have seen the best of Melanie Armaro. She is going to be a star no matter what happens on the X Factor. If she does not Win the X Factor, something is really wrong here!

October 27 2011 at 3:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Frankie Baby

Melanie Amaro is the best singer without question on the show. Dexter I will NEVER understand Nicole's fascination with him, particularly when she dismieed Tiger Budbill and elaine Gibbs for him. Those two should also have been in the final 12....but they didn't ask me to judge.

October 27 2011 at 3:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Love Josh Krajcik, Drew, LeRoy Bell, and Melanie. I just didn't get Dexter, Tiah and ESPECIALLY Simone-but at least Tiah left with class while Simone left a bitter after taste.. Astro's arrogance is beyond annoying! Can't wait to see him go.

October 27 2011 at 2:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't like X Factor...going to the judges homes didn't impress me...they have sent some great talent home...Good Luck and have Fun.

October 27 2011 at 12:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Melanie Amaro is by far the best in the competition and she proved that on Tuesday night. I agree with L.A., what the hell was Simon thinking putting through Tia Tolliver. Rachel Crow and Astro were also my faves of this night!!!!!

October 27 2011 at 12:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carl Tompkins

I watched the first two episdoes of Xfactor and found the show fakey, contrived, and insultingly dumb. I turned in again Tuesday and was quite surprised..yep still fakey, but now the other 3 judges cowtail to Simon Cowell and was surprised how weak the female performers were. The Disneyish Rachel Crow I find poppin' fresh doughey annoying and sings off key, is more over the top confident than her talent merits, the two who were voted off were fair at best again with attitude overruling vocal ability, and the last one Melanie is by a leap year far better than any of the girls. But since our overindulged overweight American teenagers are threatened by pretty girls and axe them immediately (Jealous little witches alert!! hit the gym and lay off the pop tarts) and the trained talented ones too (always justifying by thinking THEY have SOME advantage I dont other than they work hard and arent a whiney couch potato or twitter-brained.) so perhaps Melanie will appeal to their fragile sense of identity by being non- threatening to their sel-images by being too pretty. I like Melanie. She is a tremendous vocalist . I simply dont get Simon Cowell's ravings over Drew. I can easily find ten 14-15 year old YouTubers with better vocal range and the sob story is very transparent as well The musical productions/arrangements appear to be poorly chosen for the individual performers and so overproduced and appear to designed to kill off contestants the judges dont really like.

I did not watch the show tonight as I played tennis instead. I still find the show entertaining and everything looks staged and Simone (thanks for the laugh Xander Alexander) so Im not really interested in devoting any time to watdhing anymore The two new judges arent likeable particularly LA Reid and if his comments are to be taken seriously about him calling some of these huge stars they that does not say much of him as a talent finder. You cant ride Justin Beibers coattails all your life. He kind of reminds me of a combination of a bald Herkel and Elton John mixed in with a little of Fraziers (Kelsey Grammear) little TV brother. Nicole must have an iQ of around 93 and just seems trying too hard to show she is more than just a slighly too old now PussyCat Doll trying whenver she can to show people YAH I can still sing. and yes she can. I just find her pretentious and obviosuly wanting to be the center of attention (who doesnt want that I suppose). Paulas still an adoreable ditz but she lost all credibility with me by her staged fakey reaction to the creepy dude dropping his pants in show # 1 (Stupid Brit humor as SImon Cowells little shock appeal prank backfired as parents who actually pay attention to what their kids are doing all across America clicked off their boob tubes and said NO to XFactor. So Xfactor got tied of Dexters story after milking it for all they could... Good luck DEX.. Use that 15 minutes of fame to your advantage dude. .

October 26 2011 at 11:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Carl Tompkins's comment

Hey .... quite the oratory via the keystrokes. Can you take over for that HOKEY wannabe seacreast? You really sound familiar -- that is the cadence/style of your post ....

October 27 2011 at 1:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Susan Hakim

My favorite performers of the night were Josh, Drew and Melanie. I still like Stacy and Chris Rene and yes I think they still have the "wow" factor. Steve Jones seems to be worried about time more than anything. He wants to make sure the program stays on schedule. I don't think he is being disrespectful to the judges, but only nudging them to hurry before a commercial. What is worse the host interrupting you or being completely cut off for a commerical? This was his first live performance with the Factor so lets give him another chance and see if he doesn't loosen up by next week!

October 26 2011 at 11:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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