The X Factor: The Good, The Bad, And the Enrique
‘The X Factor’ is starting to weed out the novelty acts and provide more audibly pleasing performances from week to week. However, there are still some possibly tone deaf acts still remaining who need to go as soon as possible.

After several weeks of auditions, it is time for the 32 remaining acts to perform in their categories at the judges’ homes. If you’re behind a few weeks, or thrown off by baseball rain delays, here’s a brief recap: The 32 acts are divided into four categories: groups, boys, over 30s, and girls. Each category is mentored by one of the judges. Paula Abdul has groups, LA Reid has the boys, Nicole Scherzinger has the over 30s, and Simon Cowell has the girls. Each of the judges took their categories to their homes (if they really live in these places; I’m a bit skeptical and think they might be rental homes).

One of the tricks to this round was that the contestants had no idea who their mentors were going to be. They knew where they were going for the judges’ round, but they didn’t know much beyond that. The girls were first to be surprised when they jet-setted off to France to meet up with Simon. I was entertained when Simon opened the door to greet the girls and they all ran up to hug him. It was like a scene out of The Sound of Music when the von Trapp children ran up to hug Julie Andrews. So that’s how I am now thinking of Simon. “How do you solve a problem like Simon Cowell?” It’s a great new song I’m working on. Also, I’m not sure Simone Battle remembered what show she was auditioning for. She seemed to be dressed for an audition for Hair, but she wasn’t about to sing “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In.” But let’s not forget: Simone is fierce and thinks she can do whatever she wants. Blah.

The groups found out they would be working with Paula in Santa Barbara. I really think Paula has the uphill battle, as the groups seem to be the weakest category overall. Paula went through a whole spiel about how she specializes in working with groups. She rattled off a lot of them, but the only one I remember her saying was Duran Duran. I wonder if she choreographed the video for “Union of the Snake?” That was one crazy video.

The over 30s were trucked off to the hills of Malibu to meet Nicole Scherzinger. I noticed they were playing Nicole’s latest single, “Don’t Hold Your Breath,” in the background. Cross-promotion, anyone? Nicole talked about how she was the hardest worker any of the over 30s would ever meet, and she would be there to support them 1000 percent. When people give any percentage above 100, it’s one of my father’s pet peeves because he thinks it’s ridiculous to make percentages that don’t exist. I could hear him complaining about this from 300 miles away.

Finally, the boys went out to the Hamptons on Long Island to meet up with LA Reid. Ah, the Hamptons. I don’t know if LA Reid really lives there, but I know someone who does! The Barefoot Contessa lives there! I was really hoping for a cameo appearance where Ina Garten would trot over with a basket of cookies, cupcakes or lobster rolls for the boys. Sadly, this never came to be. Bad call, X Factor. When you’re in the Hamptons, you always want a Barefoot Contessa appearance. It’s in the book of Hamptons etiquette. Check it out.

But each act learning their mentor wasn’t the only surprise in store; the judges each had a special guest judge to help them decide who to take on to the live shows. Paula welcomed Pharrell Williams to help her. Simon was supposed to have Mariah Carey, but Hurricane Irene kept Mariah from making it to France. This was fine with me, as Hurricane Irene took a turn and stayed away from Miami during my vacation. I’d far rather have a Mariah-free ‘X Factor’ than have to talk about how I was a hurricane evacuee from South Florida. Selfish? Yes. But true. LA brought in Rihanna to help him pick. And Nicole decided to bring her friend Enrique Iglesias. WHAAAAAAAAT? ENRIQUE??? Mariah who? I’d take Enrique over Mariah any day. Especially when he’s sitting on the same couch with Nicole Scherzinger. The only thing that could have made this better was the addition of Pitbull. Give me a moment now to think about what an Enrique/Nicole/Pitbull collaboration would be like. Ah. Amazing.

After all the set-up, it was time to get to the performances. 16 performances, to be exact.

First up was Brian Bradley from the boys group. He’s the 14-year-old rapper I’ve had so many problems with over the weeks. To add to my list of concerns, we found out this week that his stage name is Astro. Really? Like the dog from ‘The Jetsons?’ So does that mean my stage name could be Rosie the Robot and that would be cool? We also found out Brian has no lack of self-confidence after he said, “When you know your talent, no one can bring you down.” I suppose that’s true. But sometimes it’s good to be humble. Before he performed, Brian (Astro) informed Rihanna that the two of them would be doing a collaboration someday. Ugh. Astro, you are not Drake. In order to be Drake, you need to start wearing sweatsuits and act like the Rob Kardashian of rappers. I will admit, when Brian started performing, he did have some good rhymes. I just think he’s too young to be a legitimate rapper. He needs more life experience. We already have our young rapper. Her name is Lil’ Mama. There are only so many rap songs to be done about lip gloss and riding the school bus. Sure, Brian has talent, but I don’t think ‘The X Factor’ is the right fit for him right now.

The first of the girls to perform was Simone Battle. She’s fierce! We know, Simone. You think you’re hot. You just need to add mess after the hot. I also discovered that Simone would benefit from a stylist who isn’t vision impaired. Beyond her lack of styling, I think Simone could also benefit from more vocal training. If she continues the way she is going now, I would NOT vote for her. I can’t figure out who she is as an artist. Sometimes she sings jazz, other times it’s pop. She also dresses like a Pussycat Doll reject. And in her performance at Simon’s house, she had pitch problems galore. She needs to go home. Like yesterday.

Next up was the first group performance from The Anser. But before they sang, all the groups talked in Paula’s kitchen. And they were eating cupcakes. Some of the most delicious looking cupcakes I have ever seen. I think I need to take a redeye to Santa Barbara this weekend and find Paula’s house, just so I can ask her for cupcakes. Back to The Anser. Cupcakes will always cause a stray from the topic at hand. The Anser informed us that they are from Salt Lake City which is a “very Mormon community.” Seriously? I had no idea. Donny and Marie, Derek and Julianne Hough, and so many other Osmonds are from there. I would never have put two and two together. The Anser sang their own version of P!nk’s “Perfect.” I’m not the biggest fan of The Anser, but I really liked them this time around. They had some pretty awesome harmonies that made me want to hear them again. My opinion has officially been changed.

The first performance from the Over 30s was next. And those ladies in the category were certainly looking Enrique up and down. After seeing him in concert, I’m guessing he was totally into that. He doesn’t seem to care who he flirts with, which is just part of his mystique. Dexter Haygood was first to perform. He did his own version of Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love,” and certainly took some liberties with the verses. It wasn’t Dexter’s greatest performance by any means. He seemed to be out of his element and Enrique was looking at Dexter like he thought he was legitimately crazy – not just in love. I felt sorry for Dexter when he started crying on Steve Jones’ shoulder. But ‘The X Factor’ is intense, and if you can’t handle the pressure, it’s not really fair to keep you in the competition.

Back to the boys with a song from Skyelor Anderson. He’s the 16-year-old country singer from Mississippi who wants to be the youngest African-American country singer ever. I want to like Skyelor. I really do. He sings with such emotion and I can feel the passion when he opens his mouth. However, I think he’s always flat when he sings. And he doesn’t seem to have much range. But his conviction and passion are definitely there, so I am torn on him. Rihanna really liked him, though, which could help him make it past this round to the live shows.

Tora Woloshin, who I think might be Lady Gaga in a not-so-convincing disguise, was the next girl to sing for Simon. She claimed to have problems remembering the words to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” which I find highly suspect. The song doesn’t really have that many lyrics in it and doesn’t have many profound words to cause memory problems. But I guess I can’t remember the words to “Super Bass,” and an 8-year-old can, so I should cut Tora some slack. I used to really like Tora when she first showed up during her initial audition, but each time I see her, I feel like she’s missing something. She has an extremely powerful voice that I wouldn’t mind listening to on the radio or on a download, but when she sings live, it’s like she has trouble connecting with the audience. It’s as if she sings but doesn’t really feel anything. Simon agreed with me on this front. Perhaps Tora will make it through to the live shows, but I’m not so convinced right now.