“Boot camp is the epitome of tough,” said the Army commercial — I mean, a contestant on The X Factor. We watched some of the “120 acts” prepare for Miami, where Demi Lovato had personally put everyone up at one of the nicest hotels in South Beach. The bullied girl with constant Kristen Wiig-in-distress face, Jillian Jensen, hugged her mom Sharon, and they looked exactly alike with their pink tees and tear-stricken faces. “You do it for yourself, kid,” said Sharon. (Subtext: Stop copying me!)
This is it, you guys. There’s no escape from BOOT CAMP. Unless you suck.
Task One: Sing a song. I told you Boot Camp was terrifying. Here we had a regular ol’ jamboree of mostly kids and some out-of-place “Overs” sitting Indian-style and glowering at each other. Better make it original! Maybe kneel on one knee, or lean 45 degrees to the side. No? You’re good? Fine. “Either stand out or go home.”
Diamond White kicked things off with Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” possibly in reference to the amount of personal space Diamond has in the house she shares with 700 people in her family. She’s strong — “amazing,” in fact, said Demi. “But the first one we’ve seen.” Good point. Great critique.
It pretty much went on like this for an hour — just a whirlwind of tiny snippets from maybe about a third (at best) of the 120 acts. I could barely keep up with who was singing, but the one thing I could count on was the editors’ insistence on checking in with Leopard Face (CeCe Frey) over there in the corner. But that ferocious beast hated everyone who wasn’t a leopard, so she wasn’t necessarily the best barometer. We knew only one thing for certain.
Looks like someone finally tapped into the overarching theme of season 2 of The X Factor!
Britney wasn’t feeling it with Willie Jones, the country-singing teen who’s apparently a novelty because he’s black. I wasn’t feeling it with his half-assed attempt at a country-singing outfit — green jeans, denim shirt, tiny bolo tie, trapezoidal hairdo — but it did make me stop and ponder whether colored jeans on men are ever a good idea, and for that I thank him. I’ve got a lot more thinking to do on that one, I can just tell. L.A. Reid appreciated how Willie switched the lyrics in “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” from “farmer’s tan” to “black boy tan.” But Britney thought he only sounded good at his lowest register, or in his natural singing voice. Simon said he was great. “I disagree,” Britney whispered salaciously. It was the most engaged with her surroundings we’ve seen Britney yet.
Jessica Espinoza was intimidated by the rest of the girls — “vocally, physically” — and the powerful voice we’d heard during her first audition was hiding somewhere inside, still scared, when she attempted to deliver on “When You Believe.” The judges would never believe in her again and sent her home — the only sad elimination of the night, at least in terms of what we saw in the episode.
Meanwhile, Jennel Garcia put on a serious show with her cover of “Sweeter.” If her vocal hadn’t been spot-on, her physical antics would have seemed completely laughable — but as it was, they were genius. She ripped out that pesky ponytail holder that was holding her back from her destiny as a hooker and bam! Yellow streaks in the hair! Fishnets! Legs! Somewhat trashy fringed top! Look alive, boys. And all 22 of the boys the editors captured during her standing lap-dance did. “Crazy sex appeal,” Demi mouthed to Simon. Poor Jessica Espinoza just sat there, horrified. Leopard Face was not impressed.
We endured a truly ridiculous montage of contestants who were only put through as a stunt, whose “nerves got the best of them.” Dudes, no. Judges. Come on. Simon on pigtail pillow Jordyn Foley: “That was just dreadful. I’m really disappointed.” NO YOU AREN’T. And after cult of personality, party of one Trevor Moran: “I thought he was going to be a lot better.” NO YOU DIDN’T. Need I go on? Formerly promising contestants Nick Perrelli and Jake Garza also choked.
Britney was sad.
NEXT: Tara Simon flashes us