On the second day of Boot Camp on The X Factor, several contestants and at least one judge were reduced to tears as vocalists were pitted against each other in what can only be categorized as a singing duel to the death. Or as it’s known on The Voice: The Battle Round.
Let’s not forget that X Factor came first, and this round of Boot Camp is, as judge Simon Cowell puts it, “a nightmare” for the final 60 singers remaining in the competition.
“This challenge is very simple, be better than your opponent,” said Cowell.
Of course, the judges and producers didn’t make it easy on anyone. Tattooed roommates Vino Alan and David Correy were pitted against each other as they battled on Marvin Gaye's, "What's Going On?" Alan thought he messed up his chance, but stormed off stage before looking over to Britney Spears, who had tears in her eyes and was clearly moved by the emotion in his voice. Correy may have annoyed the judges by describing them as "roadblocks" in his journey, but his take on Gaye's socially conscious lyrics was sweet and soulful. Since both singers are in different age categories, it's probable both could survive.
Also in competition were romantic soul mates Arin Ray and Normani Hamilton, who created real boy-girl heat with a stripped down rendition of "What Makes You Beautiful," by One Direction. We are starting to worry about Ray, who was grouped with InTENSity last season. Cowell looks like he wants to pair Ray with Hamilton quite badly as a group act.
“This is drama,” said Lyric Da Queen, a rapper with an eye patch that could be interesting if she had more air time.
She wasn’t kidding. Spears teared up after one girl froze in her audition, and evil tendencies were exposed in people we thought were so nice. Part of the task is both singers had to sing the same song, and each had to agree on the choice. We soon discovered 37-year old passive aggressive country boy Tate Stevens is really a devil in a white hat, as he outsmarted his younger opponent, Willie Jones, the African American version of American Idol Season 10 champ, Scotty McCreery, by choosing a song from the ‘90s the youngster didn’t know, “Nobody Knows” by The Tony Rich Project.
Judge L.A. Reid smelled a rat immediately, asking Jones if he knew the song when he flubbed the lyrics.
“I think Tate knew what he was doing,” he said to Demi Lovato, who noted Stevens had “an agenda.”
Sometimes, the song choices worked. Other times, the selections may have harmed both competitors. Case in point: 18-year old Jenell Garcia vs. vocal coach Tara Simon and their choice of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” The soft ballad took all of the sauce out of Garcia’s stage personae, and Simon suddenly looked much older than the average twenty-something. Cowell wasn’t feeling it, telling Garcia that he felt “sorry” for her, and that Simon aged right in front of his eyes.
“She just clipped her wings,” Cowell said. “She looked like a washed up old person.”
Several singers just blew their auditions by committing the cardinal sin of forgetting the words. Next week, expect to see 500 lb minister Freddy Combs and Jessie Bryant gone. Both men choked on “Up On The Roof” by The Drifters. Nick Youngerman, who impressed judge Spears in auditions with his Vanilla Ice imitation, knew he was dying a slow death on stage, and admitted it.
“That’s why we’re struggling..Acts like that,” said Reid.
The same heartbreaking scenario played out in the round pitting bullied girl Jillian Jensen against Latasha Robinson. Jensen still has deep-rooted bullying issues, as was evident in her interview when she said her heart dropped when she learned she was facing Robinson, who said she “don’t work good in groups.” Jensen and Robinson squared off to the Sugarland song, “Stay,” but Robinson’s emotions got the best of her, and she stopped her own audition cold. Jensen even tried to help her with the lyrics, but when it became evident no amount of prodding was going to help Robinson, she stepped in and just killed her part. Props to Jensen for telling the judges that Robinson knew all the lyrics backstage. That kind of character goes a long way with voters. Robinson seems to know it's over, crying that she was shown up by a "19-year old."
So who did well? Diamond White continues to shine on stage, completing upstaging Dinah Jane Hansen on Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger,” and is it possible to keep both teenagers Beatrice Miller of Maplewood, NJ and Carly Rose Sonenclar after they both shined on “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People?
Also, the show saved the best battle for last with CeCe Frey vs. Paige Thomas, which Reid described as “warrior time.” Cowell loved them both, and Lovato poked a little fun at him that “it sucks to be wrong.” Here is the thing, both girls did very well with OneRepublic’s “Secrets,” and even though the producers have it pitted, “Good Girl vs. Bad Girl,” there is no denying both have chops. Can both girls survive?
So will Justin Bieber lookalike Reed Deming survive and meet the real Bieber in person next week? Will the heinous Emblem 3, who trash talk everyone in the competition, go on to the group rounds? How about Sister C, the act dismissed as “annoying” by Spears? What of the fate of Sophie Tweed Simmons? We barely saw her. Did Panda Ross vanish? And will we realize that American Idol made a mistake skipping over Nick Jonas as a judge when he takes over mentoring duties?
We can hardly wait for the revelations in Miami next week!
Watch Jillian Jensen vs. Latasha Robinson below:
Here is the battle of the night: The Leopard Printed CeCe Frey vs. Rihanna lookalike Paige Thomas:
- Simon Cowell
- Britney Spears