Last night on The X Factor USA, the top 32 broke up into their groups and went to the judges' homes, but the atmosphere was less than comfortable.
As their one and only last chance to secure a spot in the Top 16, each act performed a song in front of their judge and an intimidating, beautiful special guest mentor in Rihanna, Enrique Iglesias or Pharrell (except Simon's girls, who were tragically deprived of Mariah Carey by Hurricane Irene). The pressure was on.
Half of the acts performed in the first of two Judges' Homes episodes, and here are my picks for the best and worst songs of the night:
#3 4Shore (Groups):
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A four-man R&B group in the vein of Boyz II Men, 4Shore is far and away the most polished and compelling group that we saw last night. The dance moves are a little cheesy, but their harmonies are so on-point that it really doesn't matter.
#2 (TIE): Caitlin Koch and Drew Runiewicz (Girls):
I have a major girl crush on Caitlin, especially when she sings, and Drew is so talented, yet still has so much potential as a 14-year-old. They're both incredibly impressive in different ways, and I loved both girls' stripped down, gorgeous versions of their songs so much that I simply couldn't choose. So I didn't! If I were Simon, I wouldn't force myself to choose, and I'd let both of them through to the top 16.
#1 Stacy Francis (Over 30s):
When she's offstage, Stacy is a bundle of nerves and tears, but when she's on stage, she knows how to turn it ON. This was a performance with such passion and commitment -- and oh those glory notes! -- that I could see it happening in front of a packed stadium, not just two people on a couch. I do wish she hadn't ended the song by sobbing, but what can you do? She's an emotional woman, and if that helps her to keep performing like this ... well then, sob away, Stacy!
#3 The Brewer Boys (Groups):
These young brothers are adorable, and I respect that they tried to put their own spin on "Only Girl in the World." But it didn't quite pan out. The banjo backing was odd, their harmonies were basic and the lyrics were a little too mature for a hair-swinging 14-year-old. Pharrell was so uncomfortable that he could barely meet their gaze, and I don't blame him.
#2 Dexter Haygood (Over 30s):
I respect that Dexter has his own signature style, and he's not afraid to let it fly. But, on the flip side, he seems to have no concept of how to reign himself in. He was supposed to perform "Crazy in Love," but all I heard was "Crazy." And
Nicole and Enrique were so focused on trying to figure out what was going on that they could barely focus on the vocals.
#1: Nick Voss (Boys):
I admire Nick's, err, enthusiasm, but so far all of his performances have felt like over-the-top Elvis/Adam Lambert parodies, and this one was the most confusing, jumbled one of them all. Even Rihanna was left
wondering, in short, what the hell was
that? The best LA could say is, "I've seen him better." And, unfortunately for Nick, that's not saying much.
On Sunday, we'll see the rest of the Top 32 perform for their judges and guest mentors, and then each judge will have the heavy task of cutting four acts from their category. Which acts impressed you last night, and which do you think should make it into the Top 16?
Check out our full recap of last night's episode here
, and come back after Sunday's X Factor
episode (8 to 10pm on FOX) to discuss the acts who make it through to the live shows!(Image courtesy of FOX)