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'X Factor' Recap: Simon Cowell Isn't Crazy After All & Other Highlights From Boot Camp!

Thu, October 6, 2011 1:31am EDT by Add first Comment

Nearly 200 contestants traveled to Los Angeles for a three day boot camp, where some of our old favorites fell to the bottom of the heap, while other unexpected performers rose to the challenge!

This week nearly 200 contestants came together in Los Angeles for “boot camp,” which consisted of a dance test and singing auditions. We saw all of our favorites from the first episodes and while some knocked it out the ball park (Rachel Crow and Chris Rene), others struggled. Stacy Francis, for example, totally butchered her audition by holding out her high notes wayyyyy too long. “That was absolutely over-the-top,” Simon Cowell said.

After the first cuts were made, we got a lovely montage of dozens of the contestants celebrating at the bar, in the hallways and in the pool. Not necessarily the smartest activity to do during BOOT CAMP, but hey, team building, right?

Day two, the poor (and probably hungover) contestants got a rude awakening at 6 a.m. and were told they were going to be split into groups and they’d have to perform a song picked by the judges within five hours. In this round, 14-year-old early favorite Drew Ryniewick shined, but Dexter Heygood — the James Brown impersonator — couldn’t seem to kick his old habits. Jazzlyn Little, the 16-year-old who blew the judges away last week with her incredible voice, forgot the lyrics to the song in the beginning and sobbed afterward. “I had the most amazing group and I didn’t want to let them down,” she said, tearfully. A third of the contestants were sent home.

One group, who I nicknamed the Country Singing Blondes, struck me as less impressive than the rest, but it wasn’t for lack of talent. I was shocked when Paige Ogle, 18, said she’d never left Baltimore before — it seemed like she’d been on tour, performing for her whole life. In actuality, she must have been so out of her comfort zone. Meanwhile, country singer Dani Knights looked gorgeous, but the song sounded hard for her. Then, Cari Fletcher — the teenage blond girl everyone raved about last week — failed to impress me. There’s something about her stage presence that bugs me…she always sings with her shoulders hunched.

The next group really failed to bring a flawless final product. One kid in particular, rapper Brian Bradley, 14, was so cocky it was hard to watch. “[Give me five years,] and I’ll be better than Jay-Z,” he bragged. “[I want to be on] live television and be treated like a star.” Unfortunately, the judges found him too young to really be a hardcore rapper. I bet they were happy with their decision after watching his interviews when they weren’t there. That kid seemed like a nightmare.

Up following the rap group was the Slightly Pudgy, Mostly White Dude group, which featured early favorite Josh Krajcik and the controversial Tiger Budbill, who ended up winning over Simon and L.A. Reid.

My favorite group — by far — was the Quirky & Jazzy group, which I didn’t expect to like primarily because it featured Tiah Tolliver, the chick Simon saved last week. Originally, I accused Simon of going crazy by standing up for a girl who couldn’t stay in tune to save her life. However, after watching her this week, I take everything back. Somehow Simon saw beyond the bad audition to her true talent. Tiah was INSANELY good. The entire time this group performed, I had major chills. Simon, you’re a genius.

My heart went out to the group who got stuck with Whitney Houston‘s hit song, “I Have Nothing.” That song is impossible to sing and it seemed like the vast majority of the contestants struggled with finding the right keys. During rehearsals, I thought little Rachel Crow, 13, was going to be toast when she stepped on stage, but there must have been an angel with her — she pulled through almost flawlessly.

The final group of the day featured the adorable singing duo, Brock Wade and Makenna Salinger, and even though their performance wasn’t strong, they pulled at my heartstrings. Both of the teens said they felt the competition was making them fall for each other…so precious. Meanwhile,
Emily Machalak, the 12-year-old who looks 16, almost bailed on the performance because she was scared. Thank goodness she didn’t — she was probably the best out of the bunch! I keep saying it, but man, am I stoked they lowered the competing age.

Next week, we’re going to see the rest of the group performance, as well as one final day of boot camp. Then the “deserving” contestants will progress to the next round, which totally through me for the loop, because it takes place in the judges’ HOMES. From there, the judges pick their six acts that will perform each week.

What did YOU think of boot camp? I was really impressed with how they kept the episode moving, but still managed to feature all the people we’d grown to love during auditions. I can’t wait to see which group each judge gets for the rest of the season — the competition between the four of them will be guaranteed entertainment.

Who stands out to you as an early potential winner? Sound off below!

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