It was good news for Wooster's Josh Krajcik, who made it to the Top 12 and who is already being talked about as a favorite to win. (He has also been dubbed Burrito Josh, apparently by my friend Dan Fienberg at Hitfix, and there was a #teamburritojosh at work on Twitter last night.)
We'll get to the boilerplate about the list in a moment. But first let me say that -- after seeing "The Voice," "American Idol," "The Sing-Off," "Nashville Star" and other vocal competitions -- "The X Factor" may be the worst of the lot.
The arena-scale production, including backup singers and dancers, often obscures the vocalists. The lighting, staging and even the editing of the introductory segments all over-dramatizes the context of the performances. If the show is this excessive with 17 contestants, what will it do when there are only two?
And who would have thought we would reach a day where "American Idol" seemed sweetly understated?
Beyond that, the show has stacked the judging in such a way that no contestant will go unpraised -- and you will often wonder how soft in the head the judges are. By tying each judge to a group of contestants, that judge has to defend his/her decisions, even if everyone else thinks a performance was awful. Beyond that, though, there is little likelihood that everyone else will say that. L.A. seems very, very invested in some acts. (It is also possible that, as has often been the case with "Idol," that he and the other judges simply do not hear the performances as well as we do at home.) Paula is, well, Paula. Nicole is Paula II -- or, if you watch "The Sing-Off," Sara II, which is kind of like being Paula III. Nicole is determined not to discourage anyone with criticism. Or coherence.
And even Simon, with his reputation and the chance at a bigger fortune riding on the show, has lost most of his acerbity. I am especially tired of his repeatedly arguing that he "has" to do something -- such as eliminate two contestants. It's his show. He can do whatever he pleases. When he wanted to have 17 finalists instead of 16, he did it. Spare me the professions of pain.
The closest we get to pointed argument is not in judge-to-contestant confrontations but in judge-vs-judge. Since Simon has decided to try to get along with Paula, the new Bickersons are played by Simon and L.A., trading shots across Paula and Nicole. It has felt artificial from the beginning and is now merely tiresome.
All this might matter less if the actual performances were better. But it often appears that a good story will outpoint a good singer. We are now rid of Dexter Haygood, for example, but he should have taken his one vocal trick home long ago. There are some singers I like, such as Melanie Amaro, but others who are painful. Rachel Crow, for one, was way out of her league this week but is being kept around because, I guess, kids like her even though her vocal limitations become ever more evident. And even Amaro has been wrapped in artifice; if she was good enough to close the show this week -- and she was that good -- then why would Simon have gone through the elimination/salvation dance with her except to add some drama to the show?
Anyway.The official word: Tonight, after the remaining 17 acts performed, the judges eliminated five acts, revealing THE X FACTOR Top 12 Finalists: Girls – Melanie Amaro, Rachel Crow and Drew; Boys – Astro, Marcus Canty and Chris Rene; Over 30s – LeRoy Bell, Stacy Francis and Josh Krajcik; Groups – InTENsity, Lakoda Rayne and The Stereo Hogzz.
Continues after the jump.
During the extended two-and-a-half-hour episode, Simon Cowell eliminated both Simone Battle and Tiah Tolliver from the Girls; Paula Abdul eliminated The Brewer Boys from the Groups; Nicole Scherzinger eliminated Dexter Haygood from the Over 30s; and L.A. Reid eliminated Phillip Lomax from the Boys.
Next week, the Top 12 Finalists, with the help of their mentors, Simon, Paula, Nicole and L.A., will battle it out for America’s votes, THE X FACTOR title and a $5 million recording contract with Syco/Sony Music. The finalists will work with industry experts including vocal coaches, choreographers and style teams to take their LIVE performances to the next level. Don’t miss the Top 12 Finalists LIVE performance show Wednesday, Nov. 2 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed).
Immediately after the performance show, fans will be able to vote via 1) Twitter at twitter.thexfactorusa.com; 2) Verizon Touch Voting on The Xtra Factor App on Verizon Android devices; 3) toll-free calling; 4) text messaging for Verizon Wireless customers; and 5) online at TheXFactorUSA.com. Fans with valid Facebook accounts can also vote at Facebook.com/TheXFactorUSA.
Then, on Thursday, Nov. 3 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) tune in to the first LIVE results show of the season as Steve Jones reveals the results of America’s votes and one finalist is eliminated from the competition.
The Top 12 Finalists Are:
The Girls whom Simon Cowell is mentoring:
Melanie Amaro Age: 19
Hometown: Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Currently Resides: Coral Springs, FL/Sunrise, FL
Rachel Crow Age: 13
Hometown: Longmont, CO/Mead, CO
Currently Resides: Burbank, CA
Drew Age: 14
Hometown: Chino Valley, AZ
Currently Resides: Chino Valley, AZ
The Boys whom L.A. Reid is mentoring:
Astro Age: 15
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Currently Resides: Brooklyn, NY
Marcus Canty Age: 20
Hometown: Bowie, MD
Currently Resides: Bowie, MD
Chris Rene Age: 28
Hometown: Santa Cruz, CA
Currently Resides: Santa Cruz, CA
The Over 30s whom Nicole Scherzinger is mentoring:
LeRoy Bell Age: 60
Hometown: Tacoma, WA
Currently Resides: Edmonds, WA/Seattle, WA
Stacy Francis Age: 42
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, CA
Josh Krajcik Age: 30
Hometown: Wooster, OH
Currently Resides: Columbus, OH
The Groups that Paula Abdul is mentoring:
Nick Dean Age: 15 Hometown: Rochester, NY
Francesca Duncan Age: 17 Hometown: Orange Co., NY
Resides: Brockport, NY
John Lindahl Age: 15 Hometown: Travuco Canyon, CA
Emily Michalak Age: 13 Hometown: Pine Brook, NJ
Austin Percario Age: 15 Hometown: Warren, NJ
Arin Ray Age: 16 Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Lauren Ashley Redmond Age: 17 Hometown: Houston, TX
Resides: DeSoto, TX
Ellona Santiago Age: 15 Hometown: San Lorenzo, CA
Ma’at Bingham Shango Age: 12 Hometown: Houston, TX
Emily Wilson Age: 15 Hometown: Warren, NJ
Cari Fletcher Age: 17 Hometown: Wall Township, NJ
Dani Knights Age: 22 Hometown: Santa Clarita, CA
Paige Ogle Age: 18 Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Hayley Orrantia Age: 17 Hometown: Highland Village, TX
The Stereo Hogzz
Kregg Gibson (aka KG) Age: 25 Hometown: Houston, TX
Jonathan Glenn (aka Jon Glenn) Age: 25 Hometown: Houston, TX
George Jenkins III (aka Trae Badd) Age: 25 Hometown: Houston, TX
Leeland Stephenson Age: 24 Hometown: Houston, TX
(aka Trace Kennedy)
Justin Williams (aka Just’n) Age: 25 Hometown: Houston, TX
Visit www.TheXFactorusa.com for up-to-the-minute news, videos and information. Become a fan of THE X FACTOR on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheXFactorUSA and follow the series on Twitter @TheXFactorUSA and join the discussion at #XFactor.