Film and TV

The X Factor: Mentoring, Mentoring & More Mentoring

Last night I was officially annoyed with The X Factor. To be fair, the show suffered from my having to wait until the Yankees lost, and my husband was done swearing and stomping around the living room, so I had to stay up really late (for me) to watch. And then I realized that the show went from 90 minutes on Wednesday back to two hours last night ... and then *host* Steve Jones recapped the changing format via voiceover EVERY SINGLE TIME the show returned from commercial. I get it - people join the show after other shows have ended, but it still set my teeth on edge.

Three more groups performed for the judges tonight, but only one group was shown. 93-days-sober Chris Renee (whose sister made it through an audition in another city, and was put on his team) and his group performed "What's Going On?" by Marvin Gaye and we heard some nice vocals from several of the team members.

The other two groups perform "I'm Every Woman" and "Kids in America," but the show airs about five bars per performance, so I'm guessing there were very few notables among the members.

The new format - according to Steve Jones, 26 times - will consist of judges thinning the remaining herd into a field of 32 contestants, split into four categories, and each judge will mentor one category: Girls, Boys, Groups, Over 30s. These groups will then be sent to (live? work at?) their mentor's home.

The groups perform and the judges continue to whittle down the field, letting 64 contestants through to an individual performance round. Artists choose from a 35-song catalogue and are expected to "wow" the judges with a memorable rendition of songs like "Summertime," "Billie Jean," and "Cry Me A River."

Some of the great singers fall apart while some of the weaker contestants make it their time to shine - Tiah Tolliver continues to give strong performances, proving Simon's instinct was right all over again, while Simone Battle forgot all of the words to Elton John's "Your Song" and rap/sang her own lyrics about hoping she would make it through to the next round.

American Idol fans who watched the performance when Fantasia Barrino rocked "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess will recall the impact that it had on Simon Cowell, who lavished praise on Fantasia for her performance. It was such a memorable performance I am always amazed when others decide to sing it for Simon, but last night Stacey Francis went for it.

She shocked the audience by announcing her father had passed away on the first day of boot camp, and she delivered a reasonably well-sung rendition of "Summertime" but as Randy Jackson would say, it was pitchy.

Most of the contestants who make it through after their solo performances are predictable, if only because we have seen them featured most heavily since audition rounds.

I scan faces when the judges start dismissing singers and I barely recognize anyone, although my previous favorites Mackenna and Brock (duo who are less-secretly in love with every passing moment) do not make it through.

The teams are chosen and assigned a mentor, and the four teams are:

Over 30s, Mentored by Nicole Scherzinger: Elaine Gibbs; Tiger Budbill; Leroy Bell; James Kenney; Josh Krajcik; Krista Collins; Dexter Haygood; Stacey Francis.

Groups, Mentored by Paula Abdul: Stereo Hogzz; Squared; 4 Shore; The Brewer Boys; Illusion Confusion; The Anser.

The Boys, Mentored by L.A. Reid: Brennin Hunt; Brian Bradley; Skyelor Anderson; Nick Voss; Tim Cifers; Phillip Lomax; Marcus Canty; Chris Rene.

The Girls, Mentored by Simon Cowell: Caitlin Koch; Tora Woloshin; Simone Battle; Drew Ryniewicz; Rachel Crow; Jazlyn Little; Melanie Amaro; Tiah Tolliver.

Simon announces that he's just really happy for the girls in his group, because he knows they are thrilled to have him as a mentor. Next week the contestants jet off to their mentor's home for another grueling round of The X Factor.

The show continues next Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Fox. Watch video excerpts from past episodes online.

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Christina Uticone