The X-Factor: Boot Camp No. 2
Well, boot camp went fast, didn’t it? On the second day, the contestants were met with their second and final task: They were paired up and given the challenge of agreeing on one song to sing, and how they would divvy it up. One, both, or neither of the acts could be chosen; all we knew was that after the task, only 24 contestants would get to go on to the next round.
First to perform were homesick Jennel Garcia and overconfident Tara Simon, who chose the song “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. Jennel looked nervous and didn’t seem to impress, while Tara added a lot of those flourishes she loves so much. The first words out of Simon’s mouth were, “I don’t know why you chose that song, either of you. You didn’t represent yourselves.” He said that he felt bad for Jennel because Tara clearly picked the song, and backstage, the former confessed that she had “felt out of [her] element.”
Next up was a pair of preteens: Carly Rose Sonenclar and Beatrice Miller, who was new to the spotlight. They sang Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” and the judges smiled and nodded along – especially when Carly sang, which gave me goosebumps. Demi confessed that at their age, it can be tough to withstand the competition.
Vino Alan and David Correy, who were rooming together in Miami, were put against each other begrudgingly. They had chosen the classic “Let’s Get It On,” by Marvin Gay. Their voices were both so lovely, each bringing something a bit different to the table, but Vino thought he messed up. The judges noticed his frustration, but praised him to each other.
Both Diamond White and Dinah Jane Hansen were concerned about their families, having entered the contest with a noble cause at heart. Simon reassured them before they began to sing a slowed-down version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger,” and while both were good, all Diamond had to do was hit her first note, and I had a tear in my eye. Dinah messed up the lyrics in the very beginning, but the judges didn’t seem to mind too much.
Then came a number of acts in quick succession: First, the group Sister C sang with Lauren Jauregui, and Demi and Britney weren’t fans. Then Brandon Hassan and Reed Deming sang One Republic’s “Secrets” together, and L.A. loved their passion. Julia Bullock and Ally Brooke sang “Knockin’ On Heavens Door” by Bob Dylan, and the judges’ consensus was that one was better than the other (though I’m not entirely positive which it was). Finally, Jeffrey Gutt took on The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young” with an unnamed contestant, but Simon said he thought he’d “had his moment” already.
After more of Pepsi’s annoying product pushing, country boys Willie Jones and Tate Stevens performed “Nobody Knows” by Tony Rich. Willie was visibly struggling with the words, and it was clear he wasn’t at his best. L.A. confronted him about it, and he admitted he didn’t know, leaving the judges to speculate if maybe Tate had set his partner up to fail. Poor Willie cried as he told the cameras he felt like he had ruined his chances.
Returning contestant Arin Ray had a bit of a spark with partner Normani Hamilton, which was apparent to the judges and viewers alike. The two put a spin on One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” and Demi couldn’t help but blurt out, “I love them. I love them.” Simon was eager for them to go places as well.
LaTasha Robinson and Jillian Jensen were paired up, and their individual moments with the camera showed that the former was ready to take down her opponent. Their song of choice was “Stay” by Sugarland. LaTasha forgot the words and started crying almost immediately, and Jillian took over, showing off her signature passion and husky voice while her partner stood back and continued to sob. After she finished, she assured the judges that LaTasha knew what she was doing, and offstage confessed that it broke her heart to see her fail.
The pressure was on, and the judges knew it. Freddie Combs, the obese minister, also struggled with lyrics, as did his partner Jessie Bryant. So did Nick Youngerman and Jordan Shane, and Britney almost started to cry herself when the latter ran off the stage, sobbing.
After a number of unfortunately bad performances, it was time for diva-off part two, featuring Paige Thomas and Cece Frey. When asked “Why should you win this competition?” Paige teared up telling the judges that she doesn’t fit in anywhere else except as a mother and a singer. Cece then got dramatic, telling them that she needs it the way she needs to breathe. After they sang, Paige cried offstage that she hadn’t wanted to do that song. Britney said she liked Paige best, while Simon said he was fond of both the girls.
Next week we’ll find out which of the 60 acts will make it to the top 24, and move onto round three, which takes places at the judge’s houses.