Farewell, “X Factor” auditions. We had some fun with you, but it’s finally time to move on to something else. Anything else.
It’s time for Boot Camp, which would be a lot like Hollywood Week on “American Idol,” except that it’s in Miami and, therefore, is completely different.
Wednesday’s (October 3) episode is only an hour because of the debate, so let’s get down to the business of singing!
8:01 p.m. ET. So much drama!
8:02 p.m. We start in Shreveport, naturally. This is the home of Willie Jones, the 17-year-old who astounded the judges by being African-American and singing country. On to Rochester, MA home of Jennel Garcia, who actually was pretty talented when we met her. In Manhattan, Vino Alan and Nick Perrelli are ready. In Huntington Beach, Emblem3 is amazed that they’re going to a totally different beach. Jennel’s mother is proud of her and crying. Jason Brock, Tara Simon and Diamond White are all preparing. Jillian Jersen, who brought Demi Lovato to tears, says this is scary and before she leaves, she bawls with her mother. So many emotions everywhere.
8:04 p.m. Welcome to Miami, where Simon tells us they brought 120 artists including Arin Ray. By the end of the week, there will only be 24 singers. They’re staying at one of Miami’s nicest hotel, sunning by the pool. “Are they giving us the good stuff before they slaughter us says a member of Citizen. “This is not going to be a holiday,” Simon warns us. Uh-oh. “We’re going to push them to their limits with a series of challenges,” Britney Spears says.
8:06 p.m. Their first task is to sing one song. “I think it’s going to be very intimidating,” Simon suggests. “You’re looking for killers,” Simon teases.
8:06 p.m. Diamond White, she of the over-crowed house, is the first sing. “There’s nothing big enough to explain how much this means,” Diamond says. One of the clear standouts from the auditions, Diamond’s cover of “I Have Nothing” impresses L.A. Reid and Britney Spears and gets a growing smile from Demi and impressed eye-roll from Simon. Several of Diamond’s competitors are made to look psyched out by the editing. “Our styles are very similar,” worries Paige Thomas.
8:12 p.m. Back to auditions. Sister C finishes singing. Britney twitches her nose. Teen dreamboat Austin Corini has been waiting for this since he was young. I kinda hate Austin. It’s not because he’s untalented. I just don’t like to hear people who haven’t graduated high school talking about the adversity they’ve gone through. Heavily tattooed David Correy has got soul and he oversings like a madman. Dinah Jane Hansen looks and sounds way older than 13. Lyric Da Queen has an eye-patch and she’s fun, a lively rapper who we haven’t seen previously. Jason Brock is much better when he doesn’t over-rely on kitsch and he can just sign. Carly Rae Sonenclair shines again, but Simon worries that she’s too old for her age. Uh-oh. The contestants are impressive. Jessica Espinoza is intimidated and nervous and it gets worse when Demi tells her that she remembers both her first AND last name. Jessica sounds nervous and out of breath initially and Britney starts squinting. Is that a happy squint or an “I liked you better in auditions” squint? When will I learn to read Britney’s squints? “I’m pretty disappointed,” Demi whispers, though Jessica thinks she did well. But what did Britney’s squint think?
8:18 p.m. “I’m an adult now,” says Jennel Garcia, who’s never been away from her parents. Jillian Jensen joins her and they share their nerves. I’m happy when people are nice to Jillian. Jennel sings first and she’s terrific. She’s a tiny little sex bomb and she can also sing. The guys’ jaws are dropping all around and the gals are becoming visibly green with envy. Tara Simon may kill Jennel in her sleep. “Very spicy,” L.A. Reid says.
8:25 p.m. Britney respects that this is hard for the contestants. I just don’t believe Vino Alan this competition is room for both Vino Alan and David Correy. I prefer Vino Alan, who seems like he’s ready to go on the road with a ’70s tribute band. He’s also old enough to be Diamond White’s grandfather. He’s only a maybe for Britney, though.
8:26 p.m. Johnny Maxwell… Was he the guy who sang “Ice Ice Baby” who Britney loved? Today, though, he forgets his lyrics. “He lost it,” Simon says. Uh-oh. This is an omen.
8:27 p.m. Time for a string of things going poorly. Little Jordyn Foley is horrid. Manny Acosta is worse. Trevor Morgan never should have been brought back. He’s not good. Nick Perrelli croaks his way through a weak Michael Buble performance. Jake Garza has funny purple glasses and bad nerves. Jake causes Britney to make pout-y face. He stops singing and just apologizes as his mother stands in the wings. Ugh. Poor Jake. He’s very stylish and very miserable. “I want my mom,” Jake cries. Fortunately, mom shows up with hugs. Cue the Coldplay. It’s true. Nobody said this was easy.
8:33 p.m. Let’s see how the groups do. Emblem3 thinks they don’t have any competition. L3vel and Citizen are mighty cookie-cutter and Jetset isn’t much more exciting. Will Emblem3 represent? Demi and Britney certainly think so. To my ear, their harmonies are rough and they didn’t have the same energy they brought to auditions.
8:36 p.m. Tara Simon says it’s “originality” that brought her here. No. It was one random upper-register run in your audition. I dislike Tara Simon a lot. She’s all affectation and no core voice. She isn’t nearly talented enough to sing Queen, but she’s plenty cocky enough to butcher queen. “It was so fun. I want to do it again,” Tara says. Simon warns her that she flashed everybody.
8:37 p.m. Will Willie Jones step out of the Scotty McCreery shadow? No. But he does make surprised, vaguely racist contestants laugh when he doesn’t sound like they expected. The judges look a little cold. Or at least Britney is cold on him. L.A. Reid and Simon are happy. Britney very correctly notes that outside of his lower register, Willie isn’t slightly notable.
8:43 p.m. Paige Thomas is prepared to sing “I Will Always Love You.” Uh-oh. Cece Frey has prepared the same song. Paige is up first in the Whitney showdown. She’s very solid as she builds to the chorus and she hits the chorus fairly well. Leopard-faced Cece’s face falls. “The only thing that can potentially get in the way is a comparison to another competitor who looks similar,” Reid just happens to say. Bring on Cece Frey, who auditioned in front of Not-Simon in Kansas. Cece isn’t backing down on her song choice. Cece begins her own cover. She does much more gesticulating than Paige did. On the verse leading up, I give the advantage to Paige, but on the chorus, Cece’s surprisingly strong. Will the judges take a side? “One of you actually nailed it,” Simon says cryptically.
8:48 p.m. That’s it for the first round. People go around telling Paige and Cece that they were great. Paige is sure she gave a better performance, but she doesn’t know what the judges are going to have thought. Cece vows to bring the Cece Thunder.
8:53 p.m. Vague judge babble. “I love this guy,” Simon says. “She did better than the first time,” Demi says. “I think a one-trick pony,” Lovato says. “Big yes!” Britney says. “I found him a bit awkward,” L.A. Reid says. “Love this girl,” Simon says. “These are right choices,” Simon finally says.
8:55 p.m. Ack. So much Simon Chest-Hair.
8:55 p.m. The contestants are split into three groups. The first group has people like Paige, Jennel, Jason Brock, Diamond White and a couple other people. They’re clearly advancing. “It’s bad news… You’re going to have to work hard tomorrow,” Simon says. Much hugging. “I am shaking still,” Paige. “I’m so happy,” Jennel cries.
8:56 p.m. The next group includes a bunch of awful people, plus poor Jessica Espinoza. Not surprisingly, they’re done. Farewell to Trevor Morgan, Jake Garza and a couple other moderately familiar people. “I’m heartbroken,” Trevor says.
8:58 p.m. The last group includes Cece, Jillian, lyric-forgetting Johnny Maxwell, Willie Jones and lots of other familiar people, including the weight-losing minister from last week. They’re all through.
8:59 p.m. Hugging ensues.
8:59 p.m. We’ll be back tomorrow…
Any thoughts on the start of Boot Camp? Other than Jessica Espinoza, did the judges cut anybody you like?