Justin Bieber and will.i.am join L.A. Reid and Britney Spears for Judges' Homes: Night 2
X Factor
Credit: FOX
Simon Cowell, American Idol

The Judges’ Homes round continued with Part 2, featuring more expensive living quarters that are clearly sets, more eye-rollingly vague bouts of scripted indecision among our mentors, and more Pepsi. What more do you need out of your television set? (A set! IT’S NOT REAL EITHER.) No results yet — the judges will narrow the field from 24 to 16 next week. Let’s run through tonight’s performers, starting with The Olds.

Jason Brock: Awww. I hope he goes through, because I feel like we need a Liza Minnelli in the competition. Now more than ever! The former “total misfit,” whose own family told him he couldn’t sing, performed “Big Girls Don’t Cry” for L.A. Reid and a star any decrepit, over-25 human can totally relate to: Justin Bieber! Oh, and that Scooter guy. Can’t forget about that guy. So stop trying. This performance was strong — I thought I wanted to hear a little more variety in the middle of it because it all just blended into one high note, but at least the sound was as pleasant as his personality. Parting gift for L.A.: Friendly shoulder pat.

David Correy: Lest ye forget, he’s the lost soul orphan who thinks he will reconnect with his birth mother if she hears his voice. It seemed like every contestant (except the wannabe rapper) performed a slowed-down acoustic version of a more upbeat song tonight. This guy is a good performer with a lot of conviction in each lyric — no weak spots. When he launched into a series of crescendoing “ohhhhhhs,” Tara Simon looked up, startled. She’d probably realized for the first time that she was not the only person in the room. Scooter saw “pure passion” up there from David, and L.A. got “chill bumps.” Bieber liked his look. Hooray, a total package! Parting gift for L.A.: handshake, with feeling.

Daryl Black: Ugh, what the hell? We saw by far the least footage of his performance of “She’s Gone,” so I guess…he’ll be gone? It’s a shame if so — I liked his voice even though L.A. didn’t find it unique. “It was sing-ing,” he complained with that dreaded hard-g of his. But doesn’t this guy seem pretty marketable? I mean, at least he knows what he’s all about, is a decent family man, has experience to back up the emotion he puts into songs. Justin Bieber was so stirred by the snippet of Daryl’s sing-ing that he even put on his sunglasses mid-song! “With a band behind him, it could work,” said Scooter. Parting gift for L.A.: not shown.

Tate Stevens: He came off as arrogant to me tonight, bragging about being the “only dude in a hat” anymore and ripping on his city job back home. It’s so tragic when people describe their jobs — the jobs to which they will surely return within a matter of weeks or less — as if they couldn’t fathom the possibility of assuming their old (read: actual) identities. But anyway. Tate will definitely go through based on that clever country cover of “Back at One.” After Tate counted to three mid-song, L.A. Reid threw up his right arm in a “Voila!” fashion. That’s extremely promising. Then at the end, L.A. drew out the last note along with Tate as if L.A. was holding out a needle and inspecting his sewing handiwork. This can only be good. Kudos to Tate. Parting gift for L.A.: zilch.

“If you had to go into your bank account and write that guy a check for five million, would you?” L.A. asked Justin Bieber in a cruel reminder that Justin Bieber could do that for every single contestant on The X Factor as well as at least 60% of the individual clip-on hair extensions from Demi and Britney’s shared bucket of sawed-off My Little Pony tails. Money money money money!

Vino Alan: What I like about Vino is that he SWIMS as he sings. Has anyone else noticed? He’s languid about the stroke styles, but it’s like he’s just creeping gradually through a pool during every performance. As soon as he powered into Pink’s “Sober,” the Biebs leaned forward in his chair. Unheard of! Bold move by J.B. I liked the way the very dramatic Vino so forcefully croaked out the words “THIS GOOD.” This is not the way he wants his story to end, here on top of the world in Beverly Hills. “But the package…the package…I just don’t know,” lamented (?) (lusted?) L.A. after he’d stumbled away. Parting gift for L.A.: Scuffed up his shoes. TWICE. L.A. was a real brat about it too. Ugh, the rich.

Tara Simon: Ugh, the entitled. Tara, a legend in her own mind and a complete effing joke in the rest of America’s, delivered what she called a near-perfect performance of “The Reason” by Hoobastank. I never bothered to learn what a Hoobastank was but now I’m just picturing that a Hoobastank is Tara Simon, and that seems about right. “I’ve always been a star,” she said. “People just have now caught onto it.” Note to Tara Simon: “People” is just “you.” Always. 100 percent. Enough with the Mariah runs, again, jeez. Lady makes Leopard Face seem likable. You hear that? LEOPARD FACE.

Moving on to The Teens, hosted by guest mentor will.i.am.here.to.prompt.britney.to.say.words and former Mouseketeer B-R-I-T-N-E-Y S-P-E-A-R-S…..

NEXT: The Teens!

Diamond White: I don’t know how you can not like Diamond. She’s a total sweetheart, she’s got some sass, and she has to sleep in the same bed as her mom but she’ being a good sport about it. All that plus she can sing?! Good stuff. “I’m With You” seemed almost too slow and pained to me at first — little did I know the other two girls would be even more angsty later on. I’ve gotta say the three girls blew the three boys out of the dueling waters (infinity pool vs. the glistening Malibu sea) at Brit Brit’s “home.” “I think she’s amazing, but she cares about her moves too much,” offers will.i.am. Britney thought she needed more confidence.

Reed Demming: “How do you compete against that?” said a terror-stricken Reed after Diamond had lured everyone into loving her. Well, you don’t really, not if you’re this little guy. He’s just a kid, and I’m sure I mock people (lovingly! it’s just reality TV!) too much as it is, so I’ll need to be careful about joshing these teens. What’s funny about Reed is that he YELLS everything he says, but since he’s so miniature, it’s still like just a wind-up (Justin Bieber) toy is enthusiastically talking. He sounded nervous on “Hey There Delilah” and I really wished there was any beat to that rendition whatsoever because it seemed like he was losing his way. will.i..am called it: Reed is a “little gimper” and needs to inject some of his speaking personality into his performance. According to The X Factor scripture, that is. I’m pretty confident I wouldn’t be impressed either way.

James Tanner: To be honest I couldn’t believe this kid had landed in the top six teens. He attempted to rap “Party Like a Rock Star.” In 2012. While wearing a terrycloth…cardigan? And diamond BieberStuds in each ear. Need I go on? I mustn’t. I cahhhhhhhn’t.

Arin Ray: So I still don’t see what’s superlative about this guy in any way, but out of the three boys who performed, Arin is definitely the most promising. The right mentor could do SOMETHING with him because it’s clear he’d be willing to try anything. But will Britney be that mentor? (LOL.) The best thing I remember about his competent, slowed-down cover of “Starships” was that he holds one hand flat against his stomach while he sings. Riveting.

Also in my notes for this segment, it appears I became extremely irate towards the rich because I’d typed “F— THIS VIEW!” That view made me forget anything I’d ever looked at before. And I’ve looked at a LOT. I’m on the internet ALL NIGHT.

Beatrice Miller: She was the real standout of the night for me — I love how she tenderizes every word (but not to the point they overcook) of what she’s singing — in this case, “Titanium.” We’ve seen less of her than Diamond or Carly, but the cameras loved her tonight in the sunlit holding cell. I get a “true music lover” vibe from this tiny teen instead of a “stage kid for life” vibe. Maybe it’s both, but I find her down-to-earth so far. will.i.am called her “fresh” but Britney thought she needed to “control the loudness” in her voice.

Carly Rose Sonenclar: Carly and Beatrice are very similar in style and appearance, but they’re also the best two in the group. Onward and upward, little caterpillar that turns into a dragon instead of a butterfly! I can’t deny the power and clarity of her voice, but I started to get a teensy bit annoyed by all the melisma in Carly’s cover of “Brokenhearted.” I guess if they insist on slowing every song down to the pace of Britney’s stilted conversations with other humans, that’s bound to happen. “I would be shocked if I didn’t make it,” said a giddy Carly. Considering the rest of the pool, I’ve got to agree.

Who else will make it to the live shows? Did anyone want to push Tara Simon into the pool…. OR WORSE?

See you next week!

Video reply time! Ask Annie anything about ‘The X Factor’ — or whatever — below.

Episode Recaps

Simon Cowell, American Idol
The X Factor
Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, and Paulina Rubio judge Season 3.
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