Demi Lovato Twerks for Simon Cowell on 'The X Factor' - Rolling Stone
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‘X Factor’ Recap: Demi Lovato Twerks for Simon Cowell

Auditions end, cuts made as judges are assigned groups to mentor

Where to start? Thursday night’s X Factor crammed so much into a single hour, it made our head spin – auditions ended, huge cuts were made, teams were doled out to the judges and new rules were put in place.

First, there was the end of the auditions, which featured the good, the bad, the freakish – and a weird disclaimer about Simon Cowell’s love life.

Rolling Stone’s Complete Coverage of ‘The X Factor’ 

We’re not even sure what to say about 45-year-old Neal Macomber, who showed up to the auditions a sweaty ball of energy. His manic version of Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks,” during which he creeped out  Demi Lovato so much that she cowered in Paulina Rubio’s arms, was best summed up by Simon: “It was like something out of a lunatic asylum. It was your [crazy] eyes and that smile. If this were a movie, it would be like Nightmare on Elm Street.” 

But still not as crazy as when, pre-histrionics, Simon asked why Neal was single, to which he replied that he hadn’t “found the right girl” yet. “Neither have I,” quipped Simon. Then, the show ran a disclaimer: “This performance was previously recorded. We are please [sic] to report that Mr. Cowell has indeed found the right girl. Best of luck, Simon.” In case you’ve been living under a rock, “Mr. Cowell” got his best friend’s wife pregnant and ran off with her. So, yeah. 

Anyway, needless to say, Neal didn’t make it through.

Someone who did make it through, though, was 29-year-old Keith Beukelaer, who had tried out for American Idol 10 years ago in front of Simon, doing a borderline disturbing rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” that included awkward hair flips and hip wiggles. This was his redemption moment. He’d been practicing for 10 years for this. And when he stepped onstage, wearing what can only be described as a rainbow-colored, tie-dyed clown suit complete with feather boa, Simon immediately remembered him. (And that’s saying something, considering he drew a blank on Ellona Santiago, who was in the top 12 of The X Factor just two years ago.)

Keith’s comeback rap of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” got the crowd up on its feet – and even got Demi twerking for Simon. Yes, she twerked. For Simon. But only for a second, and only as a joke. But the joy the judges’ panel felt as they danced around the table as the auditions ended was no joke, as Keith found his redemption in the form of four yeses.

His elation was short-lived, though: Once the auditions ended, the judges immediately sequestered themselves and cut 218 acts down to 40 – just like that.

Ten acts in each category – Boys, Girls, Groups and Over 25s – were given the green light to proceed to the next round. This decision was based solely on the contestants’ initial auditions, which doesn’t seem like the best vetting process to us, but neither was raking dozens of contestants over hot coals week after week. So sure, go down fighting, X Factor.

After the 10 finalists in each group were announced, it was revealed which judge would be mentoring which group.

Highlights of the Girls, who Demi will be mentoring, included physically-challenged Rion Paige, wannabe Mouseketeer Ashly Williams, recycled Season One contestant Santiago, and The Voices Michelle Chamuel doppelgangers Simone Torres and Danie Geimer.

On the Boys team, mentored by Paulina, the only easily recognizable person was Carlos Guevara, who suffers from Tourette’s syndrome. That’s not to say there aren’t other standouts – or even better performers – but they all kind of blend together at this point, since we really haven’t gotten to know anyone. But here’s who else made it through: Carlito Olivero, Chase Goehring, Timmy Thames, Isaiah Alston, Tim Olstad, Al Calderon, Josh Levi, Isaac Tauaefa and Stone Martin. (Told ya.)

Significant Over 25s who made it were the stellar 54-year-old Lillie McCloud, Ke$ha knockoff Allison Davis, 69-year-old Santa Claus look alike Denny Smith (who performed Thursday night), and two past contestants: James Kenney and Jeff Gutt. Kelly Rowland will be their muse.

As for Simon, he got the Groups again. (He must think that’s where the money is – ahem, One Direction.) And, again, most of the names mean nothing on paper as of yet, but you may remember lovey-dovey duo Alex and Sierra and sister trio Roxxy Montana, who haven’t publicly admitted this but just so happen to be the granddaughters of legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye. In addition to picking seven “real” groups, the judges also manufactured three – one made up of Girls rejects and two comprising members of the Boys.

Got all that? Good, ’cause the competition is officially on. 

Previous recap: Simon Cowell Sours Marriage Proposal


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