What is Boot Camp? And how is it different from Hollywood Week on “American Idol”?
I guess there’s only one way to find out…
Click through for my live-blog of Wednesday (October 5) night’s “The X Factor”…
8:00 p.m. ET. News of the passing of Steve Jobs has me a little gloomy this evening. As I said on Twitter tonight, I got my first computer for my bar mitzvah. It was an Apple. Every single computer I’ve owned since, through college and grad school and in my professional life, has also been an Apple. This recap is being typed on a MacBook. That’s a man who changed the world. Not many people do that. Sigh. On to “The X Factor.”
8:02 p.m. Folks are coming to Boot Camp from all over. I vaguely recognize the various people who are packing up to go to Hollywood. There’s Rapping Kid and 42-Year-Old Housewife and Justin Bieber Fan and Former Junkie and Burrito Man. And there’s Marcus Canty and 4Shore. Did we know that the Former Junkie Chris had a sister who also made it to Boot Camp? OK.
8:04 p.m. We’re cutting down to 32 — Eight Boys, eight Girls, eight Groups and eight Over-30s. But we’re probably not doing all of that tonight.
8:06 p.m. “This is going to separate the good people from the not-so-good people,” Simon tells the 162 acts. Vocal coaches, choreographers and stylists are all on hand to help with the cutting. Everything starts with a big dance number choreographed by Brian Friedman. Simon claims that they’re trying to find an all-around winn, which has nothing to do with anything we were told previously. Poor Brian Bradley has no interest in dancing. The pint-sized rapper insists that MCs don’t dance.
8:09 p.m. Whew. OK. We’re going actually hear singing. We’re eliminating 62 people. Who’s gonna shine? Siameze Floyd remains a very strange young man, but he sounds better than when we first heard him. I don’t know what the question is, but The Anser is a so-so boy band. Caitlin Koch and Drew Rynewicz shine in brief snippets, as does 13-year-old Rachel Crow. Chris Rene’s sister seems to be OK. I don’t know what we’re supposed to be getting from this? Brennin Hunt is still pretty. J. Mark Inman was a waste of a plane ticket. Someday I’d like to hear The Brewer Boys sing a full song. Chris Rene, who did so well with his own song, isn’t nearly as interesting on a Marvin Gaye snippet. And Melanie Amaro is an utter, total star. Stacy the Housewife gets a “less is more” criticism from Simon after a 45-minute power note, which reduces her to tears.
8:13 p.m. We’re going to cut the field to 100 now. The first group, made up largely of people we’ve seen before, is entirely safe. The second group, with many fewer recognizable people, is sent home collectively. There are tears and protestations from some kid we never saw before, plus a temper tantrum from J. Mark Inman. A third group, also loaded with people we saw in auditions, advances through. Groups One and Three are reunited for hugging and jumping up and down. Chris Rene looks for his sister… He FINDS HER. Paula Abdul couldn’t be happier.
8:21 p.m. Nothing says “Hollywood Week” like oversleeping. Wait. Sorry. “Boot Camp.”
8:22 p.m. They’re all going to be put into ensembles, or “groups,” L.A. Reid explains helpfully. This doesn’t seem at all like Hollywood Week. Wait. There’s a difference. They’ll have stylists and choreographers and the judges are selecting the songs. They’ve got five hours to do their songs and a third of the acts will be sent.
8:23 p.m. OK. This is too stupid for words. They’re putting groups into the middle of groups of individuals? Our first group, featuring Rugby Caitlin and BieberFan Drew, plus 4Shore, The Answer and Slightly Crazy Dexter Haygood, is tackling “Creep.” The group also includes Audrey Turner, who was formerly married to Ike Turner. Yikes. She’s 52 and she’s ready to step into the spotlight. “This is all I am,” Dexter cries as the audition starts. Drew doesn’t cry, but she says she’s always wanted to sing, for as long as she’s had goals. Yes, Drew is 14.
8:26 p.m. “Creep” time. Drew is affected, but impressive. Her voice soars. Dexter is a little distrubing, because of his edge of desperation. The Anser is so-so. Audrey Turner definitely proves that Ike had a type, which I mean as a compliment. Elaine Gibbs, a wedding singer starts off wobbly, but she impresses in the end. And Rugby Caitlin closes strong. There were people in that group who can sing. The judges are impressed with everybody, though everybody other than Nicole Scherzinger agrees Dexter was the weakest.
8:34 p.m. Our next group includes Jazzalyn Little, Melanie Amaro, Stacy Francis and a few other people I either vaguely remember or don’t remember at all. Oh right. Jazzalyn was the girl who was nervous and then prowled the stage like a Disney-trained pro. I liked her. She still hasn’t found her confidence. Melanie Amaro refuses to go home, because she’s come too far. Stacy Francis insists she’s fighting for his life.
8:37 p.m. They’re singing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Jazzlyn’s up first and she forgets the lyrics immediately. If Stacy Francis said she was going to take an understated approach this time, she lied. Vocally, Melanie Amaro remains the class of the competition from what we’ve seen. There are several other solos, but they aren’t worth our time, apparently. After the performance, Jazzalyn is bawling, afraid that she let her teammates down, but everybody hugs her and reassures her. It’s a sweet moment.
8:43 p.m. A couple people in this next group are familiar, but only tangentially familiar. Like I remember Cari Fletcher, but not for any meaningful achievement. Ditto with implausibly old Leroy Bell, who’s happy to be singing “Desperado,” even if his younger teammates are confused. Oh right. Skyelor Anderson was the country-singing Mississippi teen. Cari Fletcher, Dani Knights and Paige Ogle might as well be the same cute, blonde, barely legal (or not) semi-talented country singers. Leroy, who still isn’t any sort of 59 that I understand, has years of nuance that the others in his group lack. I think Dani is the best of the interchangeable blondes, though it may be because I’m convinced she’s Lurleen Lumpkin from “The Simpsons.” Simon Cowell, however, is a Paige fan, repeating her name over and over.
8:49 p.m. Also RIP to veteran hard-ass character actor Charles Napier. You know him from dozens of movies and TV shows, even if you don’t know his name.
8:53 p.m. Our next group is Jay-Z’s “Wishing on a Star,” which is good for Brian Bradley, who is excited that he’ll get to rap. But other members of the group are going to have to rap for absolutely no good reason. This is depressing. Reina Williams says she was born to do this and other than Brian, she’s the only one who seems capable of pulling off the hip-hop edge. We’ve barely seen any of these people in this group. Brian is OK on his own, but he pretty much gets taken out by Reina who doesn’t have the flow, but has far more soul. Oh right. I remember Lauren Ashley. She should be on “Glee.” Some girl named Jennifay? She can’t rap, but she’s trying really hard. I give her credit for that. “That was interesting,” Simon says in an understatement. L.A. Reid has harsh words for Brian, who he calls “just too young.”
8:57 p.m. There are familiar people in the next group, singing “Superman.” This group includes Burrito Josh Krajcik and That Bellowing Guy named Tiger [Budbill] (who I previously described as being a Louis C.K. character). Nick Dean is up first and disastrously loses the tone and the lyrics, requiring rescuing from James Kenney, who looks ready for a touring production of “Rent.” Tiger starts off soft (in a good way) and leads into Burrito Josh, who is definitely this group’s stand-out. Suddenly, Simon likes Tiger, because he’s a fighter.
9:05 p.m. This next group has a few people I remember include really cute Kelly Warner and ludicrously coifed Nick Voss. We’ve also got Phillip Lomax, whose hipster crooning annoyed the heck out of me. And we’ve got Tiah Tolliver, who was given a full 15 minutes to convince Nicole Scherzinger that she was more than just a key-changing shouter. Nicole and Paula still remember not liking Tiah. Way to be open-minded. [Hey, look! It’s Tiny FOX Reality Guru Mike Darnell!] Sigh. They gave this group a song that’s aimed entirely at Mr. Lomax and he still seemed to blow the end of his verse. Chesi Spriggs has a funny porn star name. Tiah struts the stage with something to prove and even Nicole is nodding her head by the end of her verse, leaving Simon feeling validated. Nick Voss is scary, especially since he’s being played by Crispin Glover, circa 1985. Simon walks around going “TOLDJA” like a less annoying Nikki Finke, forcing Nicole and Paula to admit he was right about Tiah.
9:15 p.m. Time for Rachel Crow’s group. Nobody else is really relevant, unless you really enjoyed 4Shore. They’re performing “I Have Nothing.” But uh-oh. Is Rachel struggling with Whitney Houston? “I hit a wall,” Rachel admits. The entire group is feeling put-upon because they have the hardest song. Will this be a freakshow? De’Quan Allen starts off mumbly. Joshua Maddox joins the lyrical cluelessness. Even though she’s so obviously not clear on the key, Rachel saves the group with her spirit, before ceding to a girl named Hayley, who sings like a goat. Ellona Santiago has more confidence than she has a clue what she’s singing. Wedging 4Shore into the end is awkward. “I wasn’t expecting that,” Simon says.
9:23 p.m. Our next group includes Siameze Floyd, Mackenna & Brock and a couple people I either don’t remember or have never seen before. We all remember Makenna & Brock: He’s in love with her and she’s teasing him and leading him on. Brock is insisting that Boot Camp has brought them closer together. But wait! Makenna now says that there’s definitely the possibility of a relationship! And she’s hoping! AWWWWW. Can we catch their first kiss on camera? Please? Ack. Emily Michalak is 12. That’s young. She’s practically an embryo. Siameze is weirdly understated. Brock & Makenna are good. Emily has a big voice, but she has the scared stage presence of… well… a 12-year-old girl. Jeremiah Pagan appears to be making Paula and Nicole excited, perhaps because they like guys who sing in falsetto from the side of their mouthes while twittering their fingers.
9:29 p.m. And that’s it for tonight. We’ve got MORE groups tomorrow. And then there’s “one final challenge.” And then maybe the Final 32 will be revealed. This will all be tomorrow? So much excitement! But now…
9:31 p.m. “Raising Hope.”
Who stood out for you tonight? What did you think of the Boot Camp format?