The X Factor Recap: Blue Man's Groups

Wild-Thingz-X-FactorThe X Factor‘s great Season 3 experiment — the “Four-Chair Challenge” — is over, Simon Cowell’s category being the last to complete the Thunderdome-esque “Ten acts enter! Four acts leave!” shenanigans. Was this new round — which replaced “Bootcamp” and “Judges’ Houses” a success?

From a pure drama standpoint, absolutely. Because, at its heart, the Four-Chair Challenge acknowledges the brutal truth that for the every winner of every round of a reality singing competition, there is, alas, a loser. So shouldn’t we, as a viewing public, be forced to look into the faces of the twentysomething girl group (one of whom actually applied her jeans via aerosol can!) as they watch their teenage dopplegangers slide up to the banquet table and devour the feast they’ve been dreaming about for a decade?

From a talent-discovery standpoint, however, I wonder if maybe a little bootcamp action might’ve shaken out some more chaff from the wheat basket. I mean, of the 16 acts headed into the post-baseball season live shows, I can only think of four or five that would’ve gotten Xtina, Blake & Co. to hit their buttons over on their NBC competitor.

Anyway, I’ve got a Glee episode to recap, so let me cut to the recap of the Groups (four carried over from last night, and six from tonight):

Groups: Simon Cowell
Restless Road, “Somebody Like You” | Grade: C- Demi was spot-on that there’s a huge market gap for a country-flavored One Direction, and the crowd’s thisclose-to-undergarment-throwing response backed her up. But the vocals? Come ON — the guys’ harmonies collided like ladybugs and minivan windshields. And that Andrew dude’s stage presence is so stiff, I kept expecting to see a toe tag popping out of his boots!

Sweet Suspense, “Wishing on a Star” | Grade: B- The vocals started out a little wobbly, but once that Millie girl took over the lead, I could hear some potential. I’m not as excited about these teenagers as I was about Lyric 145 at this point last year, but I probably felt the exact same way about Fifth Harmony, too.

Alex & Sierra, “You’re the One That I Want” | Grade: B+ Yeah, they’re too cutesy by half — you know that peck on Sierra’s cheek was rehearsed at least 20 times before they took the stage — but the vocals were spot on, and I appreciated the creativity of turning a Grease soundtrack cut into a smoldering acoustic jam. In other words, I won’t mind listening to them once a week between now and late December.

Roxxy Montana, “Man in the Mirror” | Grade B Yeah, their performance was a triumph of willpower over vocal spotlessness, but let’s keep it real: Hard work takes a seat! Desire takes a seat! Putting a fresh twist on Michael Jackson takes a seat! And with Forever in Your Mind still in the mix, SOMEONE had to take that seat.

Girls United, “Yeah (3x)” | Grade: B- I didn’t hate them, but then again, I bought a Wild Orchid CD off eBay last year.

Wild Thingz, “Party Rock Anthem” | Grade: N/A They were vocally about as pleasing as onion-flavored mouthwash, but their insane commitment to being ridiculous was highly entertaining. I think Season 3 woulda been more fun if they’d replaced Sweet Suspense, don’t you?

Glamour, “Cups (When I’m Gone)” | Grade: B- (possible Stockholm Syndrome happening, admittedly)

Yellow House Canyon, “Hell on Heels” | Grade: C+ I won’t remember this by Friday. (I still remember Sister C, though! #NeverForget)

Forever in Your Mind, “Lovebug” | Grade: F Those harmonies wee like mixing peanut butter and battery acid.

Good News, “Landslide” | Grade: D Stevie Nicks is a national treasure. And these girls defiled a national treasure.

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of tonight’s X Factor? Who were your favorites? Did you disagree with any of the judges’ decisions? Sound off below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Kristi says:

    I was just thinking how few of these acts would have gotten even a single chair to turn around on the voice. The talent this year is severely lacking.

    • Gart says:

      Yes i agree completely. For all the ringers and semi-pro singers it seems like the most ho-hum group I’ve seen in a long while. I don’t know how you maintain momentum for this group during a two week hiatus. I wouldnt be surprised if XF never came back on, and just evaporated when Simon’s next affair scandal break.

    • B. says:

      Exactly. Guess nobody good auditions for X Factor… all head over to Voice or Idol. Oh how the mighty have fallen (Simon Cowel).

      • Grumpy Ole' Lady says:

        I was there for the X Factor initial auditions (wasn’t me auditioning) this season, and last season at Greensboro. There were plenty of excellent, good looking, talented singers–one little 16 year old blonde in particular (wasn’t with me), who obviously didn’t make it through. My s/o who has sung publicly for 5,000 didn’t make it, and his voice was as good or better than any of those selected in his age group. He didn’t make it past the 1st producers rounds.
        The people they have on now isn’t in any way a reflection of the people who actually auditioned. They had an agenda, and I have no earthly idea what that could have been.

    • Timmah says:

      No kidding. Can they just kill this show already? It’s not even good enough to be made fun of at this point.

  2. McGee says:

    I actually said that exact thing re: Alex & Sierra to my wife: They are too cutesy by half, but I do like them. I just hope by, say, Week 3, everyone’s not complaining that thwy’re doing the same thing each week.

  3. Mo says:

    I’m still upset that Pow-Lina cut Timmy Thames. The song he sang wasn’t the best choice but he has one of the best voices out of the guys. He does sound a bit like Michael Jackson at certain times and he’s only 13! Paulina is a useless judge. I can only hope for a wildcard round….

  4. emma_h says:

    Lillie McCloud is obviously the winner this season. She’s the only one that could really sing!

  5. Jasmine says:

    “but once that Millie girl took over the lead, I could hear some potential.”

    I think you mean Celine. Millie is the blonde girl and, vocally, the weakest in the group.

  6. tealeaves says:

    These past few shows did make it clear they need a boot camp. If they all had to sing at least a second time before this round, some of them would have already been eliminated.

  7. Jess says:

    The difference in initial talent on the Voice vs X Factor is just staggering. More than half the time anyone sings on X Factor, I end up just skipping ahead after 10 seconds, while I listen to almost every person sing all the way through in the Voice.

    I’m basically watching X Factor for Kelly and Demi sassing Simon at this point.

    • MC says:

      It seems that the vast majority of “talent” on the X Factor goes through the cattle call process, while many of the singers on The Voice are contacted and recruited by their talent scouts. Can you guess which group of singers will always be better than the other group?

      • Lumplestilskin says:

        The Voice also holds lots of open call auditions, too. Danielle Bradbery, for example, had never sung for an audience before trying out for The Voice.

        • scooby says:

          Not true. There’s footage of her at age 12 singing a few songs for an audience. The announcer says her name and she’s all shy but performs well for that age. Nobody, I repeat nobody, wins these competitions without some prior performance experience even if it’s singing the National Anthem a bunch. If you really want to be a singer, you need to get in front of people to make sure that’s not going to throw you and to know if you’re good enough for something small. On a stage like The Voice, Idol, or X Factor, the nerves will get to you if you’ve been too shy to perform prior to that. Danielle didn’t come out of nowhere at 16, she just hadn’t had a big stage venue.

    • The Beach says:

      Yep, at The Voice it seems to be a requirement that everyone has to at least be able to carry a tune…not so at X Factor.

  8. Hamish says:

    Well, at least some of the groups actually sang in harmony as opposed to last year’s ironically named Fifth Harmony.

  9. Tim says:

    I think the problem with the “4 chair challenge” is that I wasn’t invested in any of them. Last season, after the initial auditions, the elimination rounds, and the judges houses, I felt like I knew several of the contestants, so the cuts had impact. I would have been interesting to see a 4 chair challenge when I knew the people involved. Like that girl with the animal print painted on her face. We had seen her several times, for good or ill, before she made the show.

    This year, when someone goes home, I don’t care.

  10. Alan Dvorkis says:

    Apparently they flew 215 acts for boot camp. After 9 hours, they told all that boot camp had been cancelled. Based on auditions only, the chose 40. For their troubles, they were fed a turkey sandwich and an apple. A show that resonates in New Zealand, bores in the states. A show where 4 of the 6 remaining in Australia are terrific, do not have 4 good acts to begin the live shows in the states. I remember night one of the auditions of season one. I remember how much promise the show had. It has deteriorated to a show that tries to manipulate both our emotions and our votes. It is all very sad.

  11. Lana says:

    I don’t understand why all this comparing to the Voice. The Voice is suppose to audition only actual singers that were asked there because they were known as singers and quite a few were already in the music business. The X Factor and AI is suppose to be finding raw talent and while there are some singers who are versed in the music business the majority are only wanabees who have decent voices but don’t know what to do with them. In X Factor the Mentors are suppose to take these raw talents and help them get better, learn how to use their voices, how to use the stage and so on. Soo I don’t know why everyone expects everyone to be perfect, you are suppose to see who would be the best out of the 10 and then let the Mentors do their job and then the live shows will be when the talents show us if they can listen and learn and if the Mentors have the ability to teach. That is X Factor. The Voice is just finding already awesome professional voices and let them go at each other. There is no comparison between the shows or the singers. The Voice does not do cattle calls, it is by invitation only at least at the beginning it was, and anyone can audition at X Factor and AI.

    • Lumplestilskin says:

      The Voice also holds lots of open call auditions, too. Danielle Bradbery, for example, had never sung for an audience before trying out for The Voice.

      • scooby says:

        Quit repeating that lie. You’ve said it before, almost word for word on this comment section. It’s not true. She HAD performed for audiences prior.

  12. RS says:

    Sweet suspense or whatever the first girl group was called lip synced. I have never seen that on a singing competition before.

  13. Bohr says:

    I agree with Simon’s picks. Restless Road could possibly win the whole thing imho.

  14. Lyn says:

    I was very happy with all the final choices in the 4-chair challenge. I do think it is going to be interesting after the mentors have had a chance to work with their people. Really you can’t compare XF-USA to The Voice or American Idol. It is different concept entirely. At least it is better than TXF (the UK version) that had their peak in 2009. Does anyone know what Melanie Amaro, the Season 1 winner is doing now? Have they released anything for Tate Stevens yet the Season 2 winner? I think they wait to long to release music by the winners and people tend to forget about them.

    • HTGR says:

      5th Harmony, I think, are the only ones to have success from last season. Tate sold absolutely less than nothing. I still don’t know how he won, considering that he was middle of the pack of the finalists, maybe even just below the middle, although certainly not among the bottom few.

      • scooby says:

        As soon as the top two became clear, I dreaded the imminent 2nd flop year in a row. I don’t think Carly Rose would’ve been a successful winner either. She just seemed annoyingly precocious with stage parents. She already had an agent. Even if she’s nice and talented, she’s not a pop star, she’s a young Broadway actress who needs to mature a bit to be taken seriously as a musician. She already made it in theater as a kid (Les Mis right?), what could X Factor possibly do for her? She might’ve worked out on tv, but what’s Simon’s goal? To, once a year, have one of his contestants end up with a show on Disney or Nickelodeon, to have one contestant win but flop, and to have a girl or boy group finish near the top and outsell everybody else while barely charting? Mission accomplished, I guess. I actually like Fifth Harmony. I expect it’ll take some time but they’ll turn into something. Simon may not know how to produce a good tv show, and his solo acts seem to have issues, but he knows pop groups. Those girls have actual talent and they’ve been doing some great covers along with promoting their singles pre-album release.

    • Babar says:

      All the songs Melanie released which flopped terribly so he album has been pushed indefinitely. I read somewhere that she was doing something on Broadway.
      Tate’s album, released in April, has sold around 40k copies.

  15. HTGR says:

    “I think Season 3 woulda been more fun if they’d replaced Sweet Suspense, don’t you?”
    Umm what?? Replace the best of the groups??? Replace the group with the most potential? Are you nuts?
    But yeah they would’ve added some excitement and something totally different. Bump the country guys for them.

  16. HTGR says:

    I agreed with the final four (although definitely not some of the intermediate steps, not sure what Simon was thinking with putting Forever up to a seat, the female judges called that one correctly) going by talent I guess.
    Although personally I’d prefer Girls United over Restless Road, not that the Girls United vocals were all that by any means, but at least they were pop instead of country, higher energy and better to look at, Restless Road doesn’t really have top of the top vocal either so going by what I like better Girls United all the way for me. I’m sure country fans are the other way.
    Roxxy did a lot better than I thought. I thought their audition was weak. One decent vocal and two painful vocals. Somehow they got way better since just then.
    Sweet Suspense have the best potential. The strongest set of vocalists overall. Good energy. Alex & Sierra may eventually become too much although they are cute and interesting for now. Roxxy did much better but I’m still not sure we can trust all the vocals, we’ll see. Restless Road are a little dull and not super amazing vocals.

  17. HTGR says:

    Anyway, overall I’d say over 25s have the best talent. Then the girls and groups. Then wayyyyyyyyy behind the boys. Someone from any group other than the boys could win.

  18. HTGR says:

    With one exception I can’t really make any super strong cases against any of the top fours for any category, so that’s good at least. Maybe quibble a bit over 2 or 3 out of the 16.

  19. Jonathan Gideon says:

    Yes, Wild Thingz are truly unique. People there said they blew up the place during two auditions and almost started a war of generations in the audience. Problem was I think the sound system and cameramen couldn’t keep up with their frenetic pace. The result was they didn’t sound as good on television as they really are. I’ve seen them live, they are great fun.

  20. RD says:

    This season the british X-factor had a six chair challenge and then judge’s houses to whittle it down to three acts which worked well,but with this dearth of talent I can see where they’d want to cut their losses. There is NO ONE to get excited about with this lot.

  21. Glamour was terrible. B-? I would have thrown them in front of a train just to get them to stop singing.

  22. I think the 4 chair challenge is a waste of time, as you forget the prior performances and choose the ones right in front of you. I loved ashley williams and when she was cut that ticked me off. Simon forgot his words that she is the reason they brought this show to america. ARGH. I am totally a devoted Voice fan over this whole 4 chair disaster. And Demi’s ability to pick out a good singer is beyond her period. Why Simon brought her back when he disses her all the time is beyond me. Paulina is too sweet. The only judge with the talent to pick talent is Kelly.

    • HTGR says:

      Yeah the cut of Ashley is the one that was truly unfortunate. In some ways the categories is unfortunate in that you have some like Ashley cut and then lots of weakness in the boys category. The over 25s and girls categories had people cut who were better than any in the boys and most in the groups.

      • scooby says:

        There’s a rumor that there’s a wild card. If so, I wonder who might be back for that. They didn’t say anything about a wild card. You’d think they’d do it if there was one. Maybe they want to see if there’s feedback online about who might’ve been robbed so they can basically bring that person or people back as a wild card as if that was the plan the whole time. If nobody gets that outcry, no wild card.

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  24. dj says:

    I still am not liking the four-chair challenge. I don’t think it’s an improvement over the judges’ houses. The judges don’t seem to have enough time to think about their selections, and they react too much to the audience. I thought some of the acts sounded like bad karaoke you could hear in any bar when people have had too much to drink and are feeling invincible.

  25. Jim Welker says:

    Nobody has commented on girl Santiago! I picked her to win from the start and still feel the same! My first pick to win it all Was group AKNU, but they, for some strange reason were not picked….ridiculous! I’ve heard they already have record deal and that was the reason! If this was reason, why were they present when the 10 groups were chosen! They really had best audition of all! It’s the only audition in all the years I’ve watched talent shows, that I’ve watched an audition many times! They are soooo entertaining…real talent!

  26. Jim Welker says:

    Actually, I picked AKNU, SANTIAGO AND WILLIAMS AS MY TOP 3! ASHLEY WILLIAMS BEING GONE IS WRONG….SO WRONG FOR SURE!!!!!!!!!!!! I expected Siman to give a reason why AKNU wasn’t chosen when they aoll loved them so much! When did Simon ever say he could watch an audition all over again?

  27. Jim Welker says:

    Texting error on spelling couple words wrong on last entry! If anyone can give us real reason AKNU cut, let us know! Thanks so much!

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