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It’s boot camp, bitch.
The tears began flowing early on Wednesday with a series of staged-looking goodbyes as the lucky X Factor contestants boarded various planes, trains and automobiles en route to Miami. Once there, producers put the 120 hopefuls up in the swanky Mondrian Hotel South Beach in order to get a taste of the “lifestyle,” said Demi Lovato. (Insert Good Charlotte’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” here.)
But it’s not all fun and games for the contenders. For their first task, each singer was told to prepare a new song to perform not only in front of the judges, but in front of their competition. By the end of the weekend, Simon Cowell promises that half of the singers on stage will be sent packing: “You either stand out or you go home.”
“We’re gonna push them to their limits,” said Britney Spears.
So let’s get to the standouts, shall we?
Jennel Garcia wowed with a sexy rendition of Gavin DeGraw’s “Sweeter.” “Crazy sex appeal,” declared Lovato. Ironic, considering the 18-year-old was incredibly disheartened to be competing as an adult without her parents joining her on the trip.
Emblem3 impressed with their performance of The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris,” but it wasn’t nearly as good as their original audition song, “Sunset Blvd.”
It was a diva sing-off between Paige Thomas and CeCe Frey, who both opted for Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” (why anyone chooses to try that song is beyond us). After singing back to back (Paige first, CeCe second) Cowell said with a smirk on his face, “One of you actually nailed it.” So which one was it? They both sounded good to us, and they both made it through to the next round. Worth noting: L.A. Reid’s criticism of Paige was that she will be “compared to another performer who looks similar.”
Jason Brock, the unlikely superstar from San Francisco, received unanimous approval from the judges and easily breezed through to the next round.
And for the disappointments…
Jessica Espinoza was cut from the competition after a less than stellar cover of “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston. “Not as good as I remember,” said Lovato, who earlier gushed that Espinoza was one of the only contestants whose first and last names she remembered. “I’m pretty disappointed.”
It was only her second time on screen, and frankly that was two times too many, for 12-year-old Jordyn Folley. After singing “Tomorrow” for her audition, Folley upgraded to Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” for her boot camp song. Basically, she butchered it. “Maybe it’s just not my time,” she said after the axe came down.
Poor Jake Garza, also 12, bombed his performance when he forgot the words, lyrics and melody. Even with sympathetic judges, the tearful tween was sent home. “I want my mom,” he sobbed to producers after the debacle. Also forgetting the lyrics? 16-year-old Johnny Maxwell, who totally lost it on “I’ll Be Missing You.”
Clearly it was not a good night for the teens, with 13-year-old Trevor Moran leaving the judges unimpressed with his version of Nicki Minaj’s “Starships.” 16-year-old Nick Perelli’s “Feelin’ Good” left a sour taste in the judges’ mouths.
The jury’s still out on a few performers including Willie Jones, whose version of “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” wowed Cowell, though Spears was not a fan. Tara Simon’s cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” came and went with relatively little commentary. As for Sophie Tweed Simmons, daughter of Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed, bullied teen Jillian Jensen and Justin Bieber lookalike Reed Deming, they all made the cut, though none were featured prominently in the episode.
In the end, producers separated the contestants into three groups and brought them back to the stage where they learned their fate. For two groups, they lived to see another day of competition. For one, their stay in sunny Miami was over.
Boot Camp continues Thursday, Oct. 4, at 8 p.m. on Fox.
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@thr.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci
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