Live from Hollywood, it's The X Factor!
To roars, cheers, thumping music and flashing lights, judges Demi Lovato, L.A. Reid, Britney Spears and Simon Cowell (sporting fangs and giving fans the peace sign) opened the first live X Factor show Wednesday night.
Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian Odom made their debut appearance as the new hosts, touting the Top 16 acts that would be performing. They were totally at ease all night (except when one contestant wanted to "pinch" Mario's backside).
"The pressure is massive," said Mario. He was referring to the 16 performers. There is no public vote this week, explained Khloe, whose plunging deep-V top threatened to reveal her breasts at any moment. Her silky blouse showed off her nipples when her long hair didn't cover them (more on that later). She went on to say that on Thursday night, the judges will pick which acts are safe and which eight acts will have to sing for survival.
Then she cautioned the judges: "No punching, no fighting, no screaming. OK, do, like, a little bit of screaming. I love screaming," she said.
It was a good thing she did because the screaming kept up as the judges did a little trash talking.
How did Britney feel about her singers? "I feel I have it in the bag," she said, yelling above the constant noise from the audience. "My acts are going to demolish the others," boasted Simon. L.A. and Demi both assured they'd have the best acts. The only time the room quieted a little was when Simon said he wanted to give a "shout-out to the East Coast. Our sympathies are with you. Our hearts are with you. We hope it gets sorted out quickly."
Here's how the acts fared:
Paige Thomas (from the young adults 17-24 group). Demi Lovato insisted on shaving Paige's head! But the coach worried about Paige's vocals not being up to snuff. On the stage, Paige pretty much stunned with her professional performance as she belted out What is Love. L.A. Reid said she "looked like a star." But, he wasn't "sure" about that song choice. Britney said, "I just felt you're outrageous. ... I think you're a true star." Simon said, "The whole point of the show is to find an artist who can work in the real world." He, too, called her "outrageous." And he pointed to Demi's "smug little face." Demi said she was "unbelievably proud ... What an amazing way to open up the show."
Arin Ray (from the teen group). Britney Spears told him he's going to "make the girls swoon!" Singing a sexy R&B version of You Keep Me Hangin' On, he did prompt squeals from the audience. Unfortunately for him, we could hear the big blasts of steam on the stage almost more than we could hear him. L.A. Reid said he "nailed it," although his vocal "was slightly not on par." Demi thought it was "a little stiff." Simon said, "Maybe, Britney, you put too much around him." But he liked Ray's "self-confidence" and was "overall impressed." Britney said, "I'm so proud of you. You were a little genius up there."
David Correy (from the Over 25s). L.A. Reid told him he felt his voice "needed the most attention" when he was coaching him. But Correy got the crowd clapping and swaying as he sang a soulful, if hurried, version of My Love is Your Life. "You are amazing. ... I felt you. A lot," said Britney. Demi praised him for getting the "crowd going." Simon though it was "a bit manic, verging at times on desperate." The crowd booed. L.A. said he "sounded really good. You look really well. I'm really proud of you. It felt right."
Sister C (from the groups group). The three siblings from Austin were told by Simon to "open" themselves up a little bit, so they vowed to show their "true colors." Sporting stilettos, the three sang Hell on Heels. They didn't have a lot of bells and whistles backing them up. "That was good," said L.A. with a lackluster attitude. "I thought it was very interesting," said Britney, who called them "stunning." Demi said they were "beautiful" but she expected a "better performance" and she felt they were stiff. Simon said, "They are singers, not dancers. This isn't Dancing With the Stars." Simon defended them, saying it was "a fantastic performance."
Jennel Garcia (young adults group). Simon goofed around, holding Demi's nose as she introduced Jennel. While coaching her, Demi told Jennel she "really" needed to step it up in the confidence department. They decided to change up her look to make her "look more like a rock star." That seemed to mean giving her choppy bangs, which she shook around, along with her long fringe vest, as she sang Motley Crue's Home Sweet Home. She blew away the judges and won over the crowd. "I did not expect that," said L.A. "You just convinced me that you could win," he raved. Britney said, "You completely rocked it out," and cited her hair. Simon said, "With that song you just defined the theme Made in America." His slight criticism is that "I think Demi has tried to make you a clone of her. That's complete narcissism." Demi was a proud mentor. "I just saw you on stage in an arena. I had a vision."
Backstage break: Khloe grabbed a couple of contestants, asked how they were doing and wished them "good luck."
Diamond White (teen group). Britney praised Diamond while coaching her, advising her only to stay "true to the song." On stage, Diamond sang a slightly slowed-down but hip version of Hey Soul Sister, surrounded by dancers. "It felt a little bit mechanical to me" at the start, said L.A. Reid. Demi said she was "adorable," but would like to have seen her "having a little bit more fun." She seemed reserved, said Demi. Simon said the talent tonight was blowing him away and that Britney had done a really good job with Diamond. "You came over as a relevant pop star," he told her. He said there were a few "issues" with the song, but saw "massive improvement." Said Britney, (who needs to come up with a few more praise phrases), "I'm so incredibly proud of you. You are amazing."
Vino Alan (Over 25s group). L.A. says Vino is talented but has some "insecurities." He coached him by telling him he's a "champion." On stage, Vino rocked Nickelback's Gotta Be Somebody, a band playing behind him. He was pouring his heart into it so much he ripped his cap off at one point, showing us all his inked head and wiping that head when he finished. Britney said she "felt" his effort, but was "a little bored," which made Vino smile. Demi said she could see the "passion behind" his eyes, but has a hard time seeing him as a pop star. Simon said, "Vino, I really, really like you," but he felt the song and its arrangement didn't work for him. "It made you into some horrible cover singer." He thought he should have done soul, not rocked.Simon said, "L.A., You (expletive)'d it up." His words were blanked out. But L.A. was proud of Vino and said, "You know you've had criticism most of your life and it hasn't stopped you."
At the top of the second hour, Khloe flirted a little with Simon, who said with a grin, "May I say, Khloe, you're looking very sexy tonight. I think the air conditioning is on high tonight. It's very distracting."
Lyric 145 (groups). The three rappers, fronted by Lyric Da Queen, from Flint, Mich., needed to have "incredible stage presence," Simon told them as he coached them during the week. On stage, they glittered and bounced around the stage, even throwing in a sampling of Gangnam Style into their performance for a second before going back to Will Smith's Boom! "I love you guys," said L.A. but he felt the "soul" was taken out of them and there was "no way" that would be their first single. "I was genuinely entertained," said Britney. Demi said she was "a little worried" because they are "so good." Simon said, "I thought you guys were absolutely sensational."
Cece Frey (young adult). Demi coached Cece into trying to be more likable. She told her "no one wants to work with a diva." And she turned her into a platinum blonde. Cece vowed to "work harder than anybody." Wearing a bodysuit and turquoise boots, she shouted out Because the Night with male dancers frolicking around behind her wearing ... court jester caps? She wound up on the floor at the end. L.A. said it was "really strong," but said she "left a little to be desired vocally." Britney said she loved "her outfit" but her "vocals were a little weak sometimes." Simon liked the fact that she is "fearless." The not-so-great vocals didn't matter so much because he'll always look forward to seeing her. Demi felt she was "a little nervous. I know you can do so much better. But, I know you are a pop star."
Tate Stevens (over 25s). "I want you to entertain," L.A. told him while mentoring him. He said he has to do more than just kill us with a great song. Tate came out, sporting a black cowboy hat, and sang Tough. "I think you're amazing," said Britney. Demi was "a little bit bored" at the beginning. But she said he didn't need dancers or a band. "You gave me chills. ... I think you're such a star." Simon said he liked him but wasn't thrilled by the song choice. "For me, you're a keeper." L.A. called it "classic."
Khloe asked Britney what she thought of the contestants so far. "I'm stoked," replied the shy judge.
Then Brit-Brit introduced Beatrice Miller (teens). Britney advised the 13-year-old to "own the song" as she coached her. With crimped hair, plaid pants and a big smile, Beatrice turned on the charm for Jason Mraz's I Won't Give Up. L.A. Reid said, "I believe you and I love you." Demi said, "I'm really impressed. There was so much feeling behind your eyes." Simon when she "tried to push it, we had some real tuning issues." But he "really, really" likes her. Britney said, "You're a true star. You're amazing."
Jason Brock (over 25s). L.A. called him "Mr. Entertainment" while coaching him. On stage, Jason put on a Vegas-y show act singing Jennifer Lopez's Dance Again with a dozen show girls — and guys dancing behind him. "I really feel like you could have chose a better song," said Britney, "but overall it was interesting and entertaining." Demi "loved it" but didn't think it was the right song choice. Simon said, "That was utterly horrendous." He added, "Everything about it was wrong." L.A. said that everybody in the room "had fun" and said Simon is just a "hater. Don't worry about it."
As Khloe and Mario joined the singer on stage, Brock said, "Mario Lopez, can I pinch your butt?" Mario told him, "Oh, we gotta keep it PG-13 up here, buddy! Live show!"
Lylas (groups). Simon announced the five teens will now be called "1432" which means "I love you, too." For legal reasons, they had to change the name. They put their own twist on Taylor Swift's We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. L..A. slammed them, saying the new name is "wrong" and the song "was very karaoke" but added, "there's hope." Britney said their "energy just drew us in." Demi said they "have potential" but tonight "it didn't click for me." Simon said he's had a lot of success with groups over the years and they are "fantastic." He said they will "prove what great vocalists they are." He added, "The public are gonna love this group."
Willie Jones (young adults). Demi coached him to "get this right." He sang Gretchen Wilson's Here For the Party, prancing around the stage with six Daisy-Duked female dancers following him. L.A. Reid said it was "very entertaining," calling it an "adequate performance." Britney said, "I felt like you're a true star. ... It was definitely entertaining." Simon thought it was "silly, actually." He thought it "didn't really show off his vocal ability" and the "dancers were inappropriate." It all "felt a bit cheap," he said. Demi said, "This may not have worked 100 years ago when you were good at this," Simon. But told Willie, "I'm proud of you." Khloe burst in with, "I said no fighting!" And then put Simon on the spot asking what song Willie should have sung. He couldn't come up with anything.
Carly Rose (teens). "I have an idea for you," Britney coached her. And that idea was to wear a schoolgirl uniform like Britney once did. But Carly Rose, 13, didn't sing a Spears song. She sang Christina Aguilera's Something's Got A Hold On Me. She was surrounded by dancers, too. L.A. Reid said she was "amazing," but didn't feel the fun. Demi said she has "one of the best voices in this competition," but felt she wasn't having fun, either. Simon didn't agree, but said he didn't think she was comfortable with the song. He called her "brilliant" and said it would be "criminal" if she were to leave the competition. Britney thought her "vocals were amazing" and she did a "great, great job."
Emblem3 (groups). Simon said they were "like three excited dogs" and needed to rehearse. Apparently they did, because they performed last, rocking the house with One Day. Girls shrieked as they did their solos and moved into harmonies. L.A. Reid had to yell above the screaming. "You got it right this time," he said to Simon. "We have just witnessed America's next pop sensation." Britney said, "Your trio is amazing. You are absolutely adorable." Demi said, "You boys make me swoon." Simon told the crowd to "remember this night" because we are seeing superstars.