9:15pm PT by Aaron Couch
'X Factor' Recap: Live Shows Get Off to a Spooky Start
X Factor made a big splash Wednesday with its first live show of the season, as well as the debut of new co-hosts Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez.
Judge Simon Cowell embraced the Halloween spirit, making his stage entrance sporting vampire fangs, and later dishing out criticism harsh enough to scare former tech support man Jason Brock silly (more on that to come).
The first of this week’s episodes saw the 16 finalists battling for immunity. Tomorrow, judges will name the 12 safe from elimination -- one from each judge's team, and there’s no public vote on this one -- while the rest will have to compete to stay on the show.
Both Kardashian and Lopez seemed at ease in their new roles, a glitch or two notwithstanding. Kardashian even pushed the judges to elaborate on some of their criticism, but she sometimes had trouble keeping her face in full view of the camera. When Cowell slammed judge and young adults mentor Demi Lovato’s song choice for Willie Jones’ (Gretchen Wilson’s “Here for the Party”), Kardashian stumped Cowell by challenging him to name which song he would have chosen for Wilson. Later, she nudged Lovato into revealing which member of 1432 was her favorite. Well done, 'Dash!
And perhaps to the chagrin of Lopez, Kardashian wore heels, despite his joking request last week that she not, out of consideration for his height. But in a buzzworthy wardrobe slip-up, Kardashian's sheer blouse left little to the imagination -- prompting Cowell to make a crack about the air conditioning and an explosion of discussion on Twitter. "I think I had a little nip action earlier LOL," the hostess tweeted.
Of course, the curiosity factor extended to another first-timer: Britney Spears. Sitting to L.A. Reid's left, she held her own with critiques that were short on words or strong opinions and heavy on befuddled, you could even say spacey, facial expressions, especially when it came to other teams' performers (we're looking at you again, Jason Brock). As for her own contestants, the teens? Naturally, Spears played the role of supportive big sister and did so convincingly.
But now, to other important stuff. Below are how the final 16 faired with the judges.
Paige Thomas (Young Adults)
“What is Love” by Hadaway
LA Reid: “Very dramatic. I thought you handled yourself f with poise … You look like a star. It feels like stardom. But I’m not so sure about that song choice. Didn’t love it.”
Britney Spears: “You’re outrageous. I love everything about it … I think you’re a true star.”
Simon Cowell: “The whole point of this show is to find an artist who can work in the real world ... You’ve just come out here tonight and nailed it.”
Arin Ray (Teens)
“You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by the Supremes
Reid: “That was a really creative an inventive song choice,” but the judge wasn’t sure about the vocals.
Demi Lovato: “I couldn’t’ really hear your vocals because the girls were screaming so loud….I felt like it was as little stiff. I want to see you dance better.”
Cowell: “You have that kind of swag. That self confidence. And that’s what you need in a pop star.”
David Correy (Over 25s)
“My Love is Your Love” by Whitney Houston
Spears: “You were amazing.”
Lovato: “You really got the crowd going and it was actually pretty good.”
Cowell: “An interesting song choice. I thought your performance was a bit manic.”
Sister C (Groups)
“Hell on Heels” by Pistol Annies
Reid: “It was good.”
Spears: “You really delivered. You had a great performance. I think you were stunning.”
Lovato: “It kind of let me down after you walked out on stage, because I was expecting a better performance and you felt really stiff.”
Jennel Garcia (Young Adults)
"Home Sweet Home" by Motley Crue
Reid: “I was completely surpassed. I did not expect that…. You just convinced me that you could win.”
Spears: “I loved everything about it. It was really amazing.”
Cowell: “With that song you just defined the theme ‘made in America’…. My slight criticism is I think Demi has tried to make you a clone of her….That is complete narcissism.”
Diamond White (Teens)
“Hey, Soul Sister” by Train
Reid: “By the time it got to the end, it felt like it was really your song.”
Lovato: “You’re so adorable, and you have one of the most powerful voices in this competition. I would have liked to see you have a bit more fun … I felt like it was a little reserved.”
Cowell: “You came off as a relevant pop star. There were a few tuning issues within the song … but overall a massive, massive improvement.”
Vino Alan (Over 25s)
“Somebody” By Nickelback
Lovato: “I just have a hard time seeing you as a pop star.”
Cowell: “I really like you. I think you have an incredible voice. I think the song and the arrangement of the song was completely and utterly wrong for you … It made you into some horrible cover singer . I think you’re more of a soul singer than a rock singer.”
Lyric 145 (Groups)
Medley, including PSY’s “Gangnam Style” and “Shake The Room” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Reid: “Good news is I love you guys … the bad news is it sounded like somebody put you in a washr, dumped in bleach, and took all of the soul out of you.”
Lovato: “I was genuinely entertained ... I’m a little worried about this group, because they’re so good.”
CeCe Frey (Young Adults)
“Because the Night” by Patti Smith
Reid: “That was very strong … It left a little to be desired vocally but I thought overall it was very strong.”
Cowell: He didn’t mind the vocals weren’t the best, saying “You are someone we need in this competition. “
Tate Stevens (Over 25s)
“Tough” by Craig Morgan
Spears: “I know you get the girls. You get me. I think you’re amazing.”
Lovato: “You don’t need dancers and a band behind you. You stood on your own and you gave me the chills.”
Cowell: “You’re just a good honest man who needs a break. The soul, if I’m being honest with you, wasn’t one of my favorites. I think you are better when you don’t push your vocals too hard.”
Beatrice Miller (Teens)
“I Won't Give Up” by Jason Mraz
Reid: He noted key ingredients are believability and lovability. “I believe you and I love you,” he said.
Lovato: “There was so much feeling behind your eyes.”
Cowell: “I think the style of music Britney chose for you was actually right ... [but] when you were trying to push it we had some real tuning issues.”
Jason Brock (Over 25s)
“Dance Again” by Jennifer Lopez
Spears: “You could have chosen a better song.”
Lovato “I don’t think it was the right song choice … He should have gone with something that had a little more sass.”
Cowell: “I like you, but that was utterly horrendous/”
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift
Reid: “It sounds like you took the greatest song in the world and did the talent show version of it … Your mentor really failed you.”
Spears: “The energy just drew us in.”
Lovato: “You guys have potential … [but] tonight there was only one person that signed, and it didn’t’ click with me tonight. I want to see you guys click. I think you need more practice together.”
Willie Jones (Young Adults)
“Here for the Party” by Gretchen Wilson
Reid: “I can’t tell you I got goose bumps from it, but it was an adequate performance. I think there’s more there. I think you’ll be around.”
Spears: “You are a true star. You have what it takes.”
Cowell: “I thought it was silly … I don’t think you were taking yourself seriously. It didn’t really show off you’re vocal ability… I don’t like what you’re wearing. I think the dancers were inappropriate at that song. It all felt a bit cheap.”
Carly Rose (Teens)
“Something's Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James (and more recently by Christina Aguilera)
Reid: He found it “amazing,” but “didn’t buy into the fun”
Lovato: “You have one of the best voices in this competition. At your age it can be a blessing and a curse … seeing you up there with other kids, it’s not really believable. I don’t see you having a lot of fun.”
Cowell: Agrees. That didn’t actually make any sense at all … my issue was that you felt uncomfortable with the song ... but it would be criminal if you were to leave the competition tomorrow.”
“One Day” by Matisyahu
Reid: “That was unbelievable. I think we are witnessing America’s next pop sensation."
Spears: “You’re absolutely adorable.”
Lovato: “You boys make me swoon … I can’t look you in the eye when you sing to me, because I’m supposed to be a judge, and not flirting with you while you sing.”
Cowell: “The difference in you over the last three or four weeks is unbelievable … anyone watching this band for the first time, remember this night, because you are seeing a future superstar here.”
Best of the Night: Even if it is somewhat counterintuitive to choose a song about going home, we're giving it to Jennel Garcia (pictured below), who not only delivered two sides of the vocal coin -- power ballad and rock number -- but managed to give a nod to Carrie Underwood's version of the Motley Crue classic as well. Now that's talent show synergy.
X Factor returns on Thursday to send four finalists home. Who do you think deserves to stay and who should get the boot? Leave your thoughts in the comments...