"The X Factor," FOX's favorite Wednesday, Thursday, sometimes Sunday and sometimes Tuesday drama is back. On tonight's episode, we're going to see lots and lots and lots of clips from earlier episodes, but we may also learn the identity of the season's Top 16.
Click through for all of the live-blogging excitement!
8:00 p.m. ET. This would be the "X Factor" equivalent of The Green Mile or The Chair, however you describe that familiar episode of "American Idol." Will they mix up the formula any? Or is the formula already mixed up enough since there are FOUR Chairs and FOUR Green Miles? Let's FACE THE MUSIC...
8:03 p.m. I assume that if you lined up Steve Jones' various introductions from Paris, the clouds would be in the same place.
8:03 p.m. PREMISE REPETITION. Yes, yes. Simon = Girls = France. L.A. Reid = Boys = Hamptons. Nicole = Over-30s = Malibu. Paula = Groups = Santa Barbara.
8:05 p.m. The first contestants to lean their fates will be Simone Battle and Tora Woloshin. Simon already admitted that he had a bit of a wobble last night. Will that wobble impact Word-Forgetting USC Trojan Simone or Bleached, Pierced Auto Enthusiast Tora? It turns out that both girls want this. How much? So bad. We're cross-cutting. Simon remembers Tora's first audition vividly. He's enjoyed meeting Simone, who he calls Simonny. Both Simone and Tora have to hear that they're in the toughest category... Tora didn't make it into the Top 16. She has to make the expensive phone call to her mother back in the States. "I just wanted to make you cry," Tora says. But the first person in our Top 16 is Simone Battle. That's a happier phone call.
8:10 p.m. Justin Bieber-Loving Drew Ryniewicz is up next. She wants to show teenage girls that they can become something and they don't need to follow. If Drew doesn't make the Top 16, it's a crime and she says that "It's either gonna be a huge day for me or one of the worst days for me." Simon praises Drew for her improvement and he tells her "you could not have done more" and she wasn't the best teenager. STOP TORTURING DREW. "You weren't the best teenager. You were the best contestant of the entire day," Simon says. "Are you legit?" Drew asks. So there... Drew Ryniewicz is the second person in the Top 16. "Are you serious?" Drew's dad asks. The Ryniewicz family has trouble understanding the veracity of good news.
8:16 p.m. Farewell, France. In Malibu, Nicole is describing this as one of the toughest decisions she's ever made.
8:17 p.m. We're starting with a no-brainer. It's Burrito Josh. "You just have to believe and I always have," Burrito Josh opines. This decision is going to change his life. Wait. Did Nicole just send Enrique Iglesias home? He doesn't get to be here for the happy or sad news? Nicole says something stupid about not knowing if "the guy next door is necessarily a superstar." The reveal... Josh Krajcik is through to the Top 16. "This is the beginning of a dream come true," Josh says. His wife agrees.
8:20 p.m. We're tripling up with Christa Collins, Dexter Haygood and James Kenney. Of that group, I could see justifiably sending Christa or James through. With Dexter, it would just be uncomfortable charity and pandering. But before we get any news, Christa has to talk about her child star youth and her second chance. James really isn't interesting enough to get the sympathy that this category requires. James just wants to support his family. How can he compete with Dexter? Dexter's freakin' homeless. Right now. Or right then. Dexter knows others may want this as much as he wants it, but nobody needs it as much.
8:23 p.m. Nicole tells Christa that she's unique, but that there's room for growth. Nicole praises James' vulnerability, but she wonders if he's a solo artist. She loves Dexter's energy and his light, but that he's hit-or-miss. Decision time! It's "No" for Christa. Sorry. As a parting gift, she receives a hug from Steve Jones. It's also "No" for James, who says he got half-way up the mountain, but not all the way up. "My heart says one thing, but my head says another thing, but I have a big big heart," Nicole says before making the silly, sentimental decision to make Dexter Haygood the next member of the Top 16. Dexter declares himself the happiest man in the world and face-plants into the swimming pool.
8:29 p.m. You know, I'm getting the feeling some of these decisions are based on which people will make good TV, rather than the people with the most talent. [Yes, this is apparently my first time watching a reality show.]
8:31 p.m. Let's get some results for the Groups, eh? In one big rush, we're going to learn the fates of Illusion Confusion, The Brewer Boys and 2 Squar'd. Of this trio of Groups, the Brewer Boys were the only act I actually liked, though 2 Squar'd got hosed by that ridiculous Paula song selection. Paula's proud that the Brewer Boys made it through. Paula liked Illusion Confusions vocals, but not their stagecraft. Illusion Confusion will not be advancing. I can deal with that. "I'm mad as hell," Illusion Confusion Man #2 says. 2 Squar'd also won't advance. But the first Group in the Top 16 is the Brewer Boys. Good. Right choice, Paula!
8:35 p.m. But what of 4Shore? If I had to only pick one throwback, polished group between 4Shore and Stereo Hogzz, it would be Stereo Hogzz. Paula tells 4Shore that she's in awe of their vocal ability, calling them technically the best Group. But Paula worries that they don't have a lead singer. She's not taking them to the live show. "I am so sorry," Paula says, as "End of the Road" plays on the soundtrack. The problem for the Groups is that it's a guarantee that at least one of the Judge Fabricated FrankenGroups is going to make the live show and there's a strong possibility both will, which doesn't leave many available slots, does it? It's my guess that InTENsity advances and Lakoda Rayne doesn't, but we have another 1:22 to find out!
8:41 p.m. Boys time! We're leading off with Brian Bradley, who wants fame and fortune and wants to be able to buy his mom a great Mother's Day present and get girls. L.A. Reid is struggling with whether or not Brian can maintain the right kind of attitude to go forward and win. Brian insists he's read. L.A. Reid agrees. Brian Bradley is in the Top 16. "It was very humbling," says Brian Bradley, who may not be clear on the meaning of the word "humble."
8:43 p.m. Ugh. It's a big group of people I don't much care for: It's Nick Voss, Skyelor Anderson, Phillip Lomax and Brennin Hunt. I'd send all four packing. Brennin swears he's insecure, deep down inside. Phillip worries he may be considered "old-fashioned." No, Phillip. You're "cheesy," not "old-fashioned."
8:45 p.m. Results. It's "No" for Nick Voss and his racing stripes. It's "No" for Skyelor. It's also no for Brennin, who will now only have his prettiness and moderate talent to see him through the world. The first Boy in the Top 16 is Phillip Lomax, proving conclusively that L.A. Reid hates me.
8:48 p.m. How is it possible that the only sporting event on TV to distract me is a football game between Arkansas State and Florida International? This is even worse than having to spend the next few months with Phillip Lomax and Michael Buble-lite stylings and Dexter Haygood and his manic wailing.
8:51 p.m. We're back to Simon, who's about to render judgment on the perpetually nervous Jazzlyn Little. I like Jazzlyn. She's probably the kind of singer this competition is designed for, to see if Simon can mentor her into finding her confidence on the live shows. And yes, this is the most important moment of her life as well. Simon loved the grit he initially felt from her, but he worries that she's already become too polished. Simon tells Jazzlyn that he likes her. She seems incredulous. "Sweetheart, it's bad news," Simon tells Jazzlyn. Poor Jazzlyn. She gets a hug from the ubiquitous Steve Jones and reassuring words from Simone Battle.
8:54 p.m. Nicole's about to give her verdict on the Zaftig Tiger Budbill and the Ageless Leroy Bell. I'd put Leroy through, but I'm pretty sure the logic of this show is going to favor Tiger. This is a tough choice. Tiger could lose his house if he doesn't get a break soon, but Leroy's always gonna have his AARP discounts. Nicole tells Leroy that he's amazingly talented and he's an amazing artist. Nicole feels like she's watched Tiger grow through this process. With Leroy, Nicole isn't sure that he wants it enough. With Tiger, Nicole's problem is connecting with him as an artist. It's a "No" for Tiger. I was wrong. "He said he felt his heart drop," Nicole cries. But the next person in our Top 16 is Leroy Bell. Nicole crawls all over him. Chill out, Pussycat Doll. He's got a 60-year-old ticker. I'm very happy for Leroy.
8:59 p.m. Seriously? Are we going to have to relive Chris Rene's journey like there's an iota of a chance that he's not in the Top 16? Apparently we're only a few months from Chris Rene's darkest hour, the moment that led him to rehab. Yikes. Do we have zero concerns about this? Chris Rene kinda terrifies me. I sure how he can handle the pressure and the spotlight. Chris tells L.A. Reid that he has been clean since 4/20/11. L.A. Reid reminds Chris that this is a competition and that consistency win. "If I was given this chance, I wouldn't let nobody down," Chris vows. L.A. Reid's had concerns about how Chris will maintain, but those concerns weren't damning. Chris Rene is in the Top 16. Is this the second or third time they've accompanied a Chris clip package with Coldplay's "Fix You"?
9:08 p.m. Oooh. We're pitting InTENsity and Lakoda Rayne against each other for one Groups slot. I'd favor InTENsity, because they're at least a good Up With People ensemble. Paula wanted more joy out of Lakoda Rayne. With InTENsity, she wants the 10 personalities to shine and for the girls to step up a bit more. This was a tough choice for Paula. "I think you can make history," Paula says, selecting Lakoda Rayne for the Top 16. Shocker! BOTH FrankenGroups are advancing. InTENsity is also in the Top 16.
9:12 p.m. Are we going to get a second double-Yes? Because Caitlin Koch and Tiah Tolliver have both had their supporters in the early going. My instinct is that Caitlin deserves to advance, based on talent, hotness and rugby ability. But if Simon put Tiah in the Top 16, it would REALLY piss Nicole off. Caitlin is shocked when Simon gives her his "No" vote. I'm not sure why she's surprised. Simon being motivated by bitterness and the opportunity to prove other people wrong isn't at all unusual. That means Tiah Tolliver is in the Top 16. Deal with it, Nicole. It's Simon and Tiah against The World. Of course, The World votes for "The X Factor."
9:21 p.m. Wait. We've got 40 minutes left to put the last FOUR through? HELL NO.
9:21 p.m. For the Boys, it's down to Marcus Canty and Tim Cifers. This is very important for both Chris and Marcus. L.A. Reid loves Tim's voice tone and Rihanna loved his humble nature. L.A. Reid has had some concerns about whether or not Marcus is contemporary. It's a "No" for Tim Cifers. That means Marcus Canty is the last Boy in the Top 16. "I don't know what else I could have done," Tim says. Marcus' mother is very excited that he'll be able to delay college.
9:25 p.m. The last Group is down to The Anser and Stereo Hogzz. Ummm... This isn't very suspenseful, is it? There isn't a chance that the Stereo Hogzz aren't advancing. Right? With the Stereo Hogzz, Paula's reservation is that they're too dominated by their lead singer. With The Anser, it's that they're not especially good. It's no surprise that The Stereo Hogzz are in the Top 16. It appears that the gals of Lakoda Rayne were very close with The Anser. They cry. Meanwhile, the Stereo Hogzz all dive in the pool.
9:32 p.m. Wait. That was an easy choice, but I just realized that Simon's last slot is down to Rachel Crow and Melanie Amaro. That's unacceptable.
9:34 p.m. But first, we have to see whether Nicole's gonna pick Elaine Gibbs or Stacy Francis. Personally, I prefer Elaine, but I'm assuming that the show is going to favor the overpraised Stacey. Nicole calls Elaine one of the most amazing singers she's ever heard, but then she tells Elaine that that's not all the "X Factor" is about. Elaine knows what's coming and she's already sighing. Nicole also respects Stacy's voice, but she isn't sure she has the confidence to handle it. It's a predictably superficial "No" for Elaine. That means that Stacy Francis is in the Top 16. "It's been an awesome journey and hopefully my dream is not over," Elaine says. Nicole and Stacy agree they're going to be fighters together.
9:40 p.m. I know Simon keeps talking about how he had the hardest decision, but I'm pretty sure that putting Simone & Tiah through and jettisoning Caitlin, plus either Rachel or Melanie is gonna look like a huge mistake.
9:43 p.m. It's back to France, where Simon is about to make a choice that's guaranteed to be wrong. Melanie has one of the competition's best voices, while Rachel deserves the chance to win America's support. Melanie says this is the most important moment of her life and vows to be devastated if she gets sent home. Rachel is less fatalistic. Rachel just wants to make her family proud and get bathrooms for everybody. "I wonder if I'll be on a plane home smiling or on a plane home crying," Rachel says.
9:47 p.m. Simon tells Melanie that he'll never forget her first audition. Simon also loved Rachel's first audition. Simon says that some people are going to think his decisions are crazy. It's a "No" for Melanie Amaro. He went with personality over talent. "How do you explain that?" Simon laments. "I hate this job sometimes," Simon carps, relaxing in front of his palatial French abode. "It's not great news... It's fantastic news," Simon tells Rachel Crow, sending her into the Top 16.
9:50 p.m. So... Um... What are we going to do for the next 10 minutes. "So that's it," Steve Jones says.
9:51 p.m. But there's a catch. Simon is sitting in his mansion and he thinks he made a mistake. But it's not just a little mistake. It's a big mistake...
9:53 p.m. When we left Simon, he was having his Colonel Nicholson "What have I DONE?" moment. But which mistake is he going to think was his big mistake?
9:55 p.m. The judges had a confab to discuss their mistakes, or at least to discuss Simon's mistake. Simon heads to Sunrise, Florida. "I've now got to right a wrong. Simple as that," Simon says.
9:56 p.m. Simon and his crew ambush Melanie Amaro. "I wanted to personally apologize to you and your family for the mistake I made," Simon says. What? The other three judges didn't make any mistakes? This is ludicrous. Melanie doesn't know what to say, but her family encourages her to say "Yes."
9:57 p.m. Yo, Simon. If you admit that you made a mistake in NOT sending Melanie through, that ought to mean you made a mistake in putting Simone or Tiah through.
9:58 p.m. Well, OK. Next week, we'll have performances from the Top 17. And they'll all be packed into one 150-minute episode next Tuesday. Whee!
So, what do you think of the Top 17? Who should have made it? And who shouldn't have advanced?
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