Tonight at 8pm, the X Factor
judges will make their toughest cuts yet: After inviting the top eight acts from each category (boys, girls, over 30s and groups) into their homes for one last sing-off
before the live shows, each judge must thin their herd to a mere four acts.
Judging from the dramatic, tear-soaked preview for tonight's episode (watch it below), it's going to be a traumatic two hours (yep, TWO WHOLE HOURS, just to find out who's in and who's out) for everyone involved. It's so hard to say goodbye, especially to people who believe with all their hearts and souls that they are destined for greatest. Or fame. Or both.
The best solace we can hope for is that Simon, Paula, Nicole and L.A. will make the right calls and the right cuts. Here are my top picks for The X Factor USA
Top 16. Who are you hoping makes the cut tonight?
BOYS (L.A. Reid)Marcus Canty, 20:
He's got the face, the charm and the talent, and none have wavered since LA compared him to Bobby Brown in his first audition. Even Rihanna was smitten. This one's a no-brainer.Chris Rene, 28:
The recovering addict pulled on our heart strings from minute one, and impressed us with his original "Young Homie" song from minute two. The charisma and potential are vast and genuine with this (hopefully former
) trash collector.Brian Bradley, 15:
His confidence may be over-the-top for his young age, but so is his talent. Plus, I just really want to see a rapper on the live shows. It's unprecedented, and if anyone can take his pioneer status and run with it in an entertaining way, it's Astro Kid.Tim Cifers, 30:
This contest needs a little bit of country, and the more I hear of Tim Cifers, the more I think that he has loads of potential to be a real, from-the-heart country artist. GIRLS (Simon Cowell)Caitlin Koch, 21:
She's the perfect blend of hard and soft -- a rugby coach who wears heels and sings like Nora Jones. What's not to love?Rachel Crow, 13:
The spunky little 13-year-old proved she's more than just a novelty act in her earnest and powerful performance at Simon's home. She also seems least likely of the youngest acts to crack under the pressure. Jazzlyn Little, 16:
Jazzlyn can really sing, but her lack of confidence has made her performances inconsistent. I love her authenticity, and watching her learn to believe in herself would be great TV.Melanie Amaro, 19:
Melanie's got a powerhouse voice, and she doesn't need to indulge in her performances to prove it. She reminds me a little of Kelly Clarkson at the beginning of her American Idol
season. With a little polish, she could be phenomenal. OVER 30s (Nicole Scherzinger)Josh Krajcik, 30:
I mean, have you HEARD him sing? Since he opened his Bob Seger mouth and bared his burrito-making soul in his first audition, I've never even considered that Josh wouldn't make it to the live shows. He's that brilliant, almost impossible blend of impressive and relatable. Stacy Francis, 42:
Stacy is the biggest heart-string-puller of the show so far, and she's had a couple missteps when she goes over-the-top with her glory notes. She can be a lot to handle, but better to have too much emotion and talent than too little. Tiger Budbill, 42:
Tiger has a softness and vulnerability to his voice that make the impact of his performances more of a slow burn, which is why I'm not sure how he'd fair in the live shows. But he's just so lovable and good that I really want to watch him try.Leroy Bell, 60:
It seems that Leroy has found a way to funnel the signs of aging away from his face and directly into his voice -- not that he sounds old. He's experienced, smooth and mature. He's like a fine wine, and we've only gotten a small taste just yet.GROUPS (Paula Abdul)Stereo Hoggz:
I loved their modernized "Heard It Through the Grapevine" performance -- a little bit Jackson Five, a little bit boy band, and a whole lot of fun. Their dynamics need some honing, but the personality and cohesion are there. The Anser:
This trio have an impressive blend, and their performances, often of unexpected mashups, have been creative, surprising and fresh.Lakoda Rayne:
I hate their name, but love just about everything else. These four girls found a way to become more than the sum of their parts, and fast. They achieved impressive growth on their own between Bootcamp and Judges' Homes -- enough that I think they've earned a chance to show us what they can do with more time, more mentorship and more practice.4Shore:
They need to get a little more rough around the edges, but other than that, the pop R&B group is all sorts of solid, and always a joy to watch.What are YOUR picks for the Top 16?
(Check out the Top 32 Acts here.
) We wanna hear, down there in the comments. And don't forget to come back here after the episode (tonight 8pm ET) to share your thoughts on which X Factor
acts made the cut!(Image courtesy of FOX)