We've got to hand it to you, X Factor, you've certainly been keeping us on our toes this season. For two weeks, Fox advertised that the live shows would start November 1st. Then, in a head-scratching act of self-sabotage, the network decided at the last minute to launch them a day early. You know, on Halloween night, when people are more focused on candy and costumes, and just two days after "Frankenstorm" hit the east coast. Now, network execs are probably sitting around wondering why ratings keep plummeting. It's not rocket science – there's really something to be said for timing and consistency.
To make up for the premature kick-off, the show graced us with the presence of new hosts Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian, whose see-through blouse and pointy nipples stole the spotlight. "I think the air conditioning's on high tonight. It's very distracting," noted Captain Obvious Simon Cowell.
Also distracting were all the drastic makeovers. Judges/mentors Britney Spears and Demi Lovato rocked new 'dos, proving that blunt bangs aren't going away anytime soon. And Demi ripped through her team changing everyone's look – except the one person who truly needed it, Willie Jones. While Paige Thomas was left with a boyish buzzcut, Jennel Garcia became a non-descript Demi-bot and CeCe Frey fried her hair into a straw-like blonde mess, Lovato left Jones' Kid 'n Play-style hi-top fade inexplicably intact. Aside from a few small nips (ahem) and tucks here and there, all the other mentors thankfully left their peeps as-is.
As for the judges themselves, the claws came out immediately, with both Demi and L.A. Reid taking swipes at Simon. (Britney, meanwhile, just sat there doe-eyed and dropping the word "amazing" a thousand times.) At one point, Simon decided to test out the time-delay by cursing, telling Over 25 mentor L.A. he "completely and utterly cocked up" face-tatted Vino Alan by giving him a crappy song to sing. While Simon may have been right about the song (Nickelback's "Gotta Be Somebody"), we're not really sure what his 25-cent cuss word means. Must be a British thang that trigger-happy producers bleeped on the east coast but decided was OK for the show's official online clip.
But enough about all the bells, whistles and bleeps, let's talk about some of the top 16 contestants’ actual performances during Made in America night.
Standouts included not-so-girl-next-door-anymore Garcia, who rocked out to Mötley Crüe's power-ballad "Home Sweet Home"; whip-smart Lyric 145 with DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince's "Boom! Shake the Room" meets PSY's "Gangnam Style" (admittedly a little cheesy but no less "amazing" at the same time); and intense teen Carly Rose Sonenclar, who had one of the best vocals with the Christina Aguilera (via Etta James) track "Something's Got a Hold on Me." The X Factor producers would like us to put Emblem3 in this category – really, is there a more hyped act on the show this season? – but we're going to politely decline for now. They still just seem like silver spoon-fed frat boys who should be singing Limp Bizkit's "Nookie" instead of Matisyahu's "One Day."
The show's weakest links remain the same: Rihanna knockoff Thomas, R&B country boy Jones and Adam Lambert wannabe Jason Brock, whom Simon said was "utterly horrendous" during his disco-drenched, Vegas-style rendition of Jennifer Lopez's "Dance Again." (Proving what a hot mess he is, Brock actually pinched a stunned Mario Lopez's ass after professing his love.) If any of these people stick around beyond the next ep, in which 16 get cut to 12 by the judges, it's gonna be a long and trying season in which we won't be able to contain our disdain. You have been warned.
Previously: Demi Lovato in Tears as X Factor Picks Top 16