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‘X Factor’ Recap: Half of the Top 32 Perform for Their Lives

Paula Abdul Simon Cowell
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Tonight, the Top 32 ‘X Factor‘ hopefuls found out who would be their mentors and judges, went to their homes in different parts of the world and were introduced to the guest judges. Rihanna and Enrique Iglesias participated, while Mariah Carey was prevented from appearing due to Hurricane Irene. Still, it was an action-packed episode, and half of the contestants performed knowing that this could be the end of the road for them.

PopCrush is happy to present the recap of the evening’s events:

Nicole Scherzinger + The Over 30s
She wasn’t happy about being assigned to the over ’30s last week, but now said, “It means that much more to them. They have a story to tell and have lived their life, or two lives!” They all ran at her for a hug upon arriving at her Malibu home. She recruited the Latin pop superstar Iglesias for the guest judge assist.

Dexter Haygood: He rocked Beyonce‘s ‘Crazy in Love’ in his James Brown style. He broke down afterward. If he doesn’t make it, we’ll worry abut him. He’s emotionally overextended and incredibly likable.

Elaine Gibbs: The wedding singer delivered a soulful, earth-moving rendition of Oasis’ song ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out.’

Stacy Francis: She turned in a Gospel-style version of Prince‘s ‘Purple Rain’ with Iglesias asking if a record label would sign and market her. Maybe she’s better suited for Broadway?

James Kenney: This waiter/apartment building manager wants to improve life for his children and wife by winning the show. He offered up his take on Rihanna’s ‘Russian Roulette,’ which E said is a difficult song for a man to sing.

Simon Cowell + The Girls
The ladies screamed and ran to hug him upon arriving at his spread in France. Mariah Carey was supposed to be the guest mentor, but she was grounded by Hurricane Irene, so Simon was going to judge himself. What the heck, right?

Simone Battle: She turned ‘Help!’ by the Beatles into a ballad. Her voice cracked. She wore a skimpy outfit. We’ve noticed she gets a lot of screen time. Is it her confidence?

Tora Woloshin: The blond mechanic-in-training sang the Rolling Stones’ ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.’ Her voice was great, but she didn’t seem into this song and it showed in her approach. It was a worrisome performance.

Caitlin Koch: The rugby gal sang ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ in her shimmery, gorgeous voice. Her pitch, tone and delivery were spot on. She’s a contender and one of our favorites.

Drew Ryniewicz: 14-year-old Drew sat down to sing Roxette’s 90′s ballad ‘Must’ve Been Love’ and she did so while barefoot. She slammed on the breaks, enunciating and emoting every single word. She reminded us a bit of Skylar Grey crossed with Florence + the Machine . She’s a contender and probably our favorite … too.

L.A. Reid + The Boys
His pad is in the Hamptons, and he asserted that pound for pound, his team has the most talent. He brought Rihanna out as his guest judge. In terms of guest judge “weight,” this round went to Reid! RiRi told the boys, “I know this is a very big day for your guys and you are crazy nervous to audition for this scary guy. I know what that’s like.” Reid signed her six years ago, so she does indeed know what it’s like to be in their shoes.

Brian Bradley: His “artist name” is the Astronomical Kid aka Astro. He told RiRi, “We will be doing a collab one day.” He beatboxed and his flow was strong. RiRi called him a mini J Cole. Reid wondered if the fact that he raps and doesn’t sing will doom his chances.

Skyelor Anderson: RiRi said he has a lot of dimensions but needed polish when he performed ‘Nobody Knows.’

Philip Lomax: He was tasked with singing Rihanna to Rihanna. He’s a crooner so he turned her song ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ into a Sinatra version. RiRi called him charming. She and Reid mused that while he is original, he might not hit the mark, commercially.

Nick Voss: His rendition of Tears For Fears’ smash for the ’80s ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ was as odd as his sideburns. We still want to see more.

Paula Abdul + The Groups
At her Santa Barbara home, Abdul reminded viewers that she has spent a career with groups, creating dance routines. This is her wheelhouse. She was assisted by mega producer Pharrell.

The Anser: Abdul told the good-looking trio to “blow us away,” and they turned Pink‘s ‘F—in’ Perfect’ into a three-part harmony of the ‘perfect’ sort.

Lakoda Rayne: This judge-assembled foursome got twangy with Lady Gaga‘s ‘Born This Way.’ We like it. We think this could be the start of a beautiful pop-country quartet.

The Brewer Boys: This ep was heavy on Rihanna — her songs and her presence! This duo of dudes harmonized on her hit ‘Only Girl (In the World).’ The harmonies were far from perfect.

4Shore: These guys are flawless and their take on Brownstone’s ‘If You Love Me’ was as seasoned and as pro as it gets. Perhaps too polished? Maybe. But you can never be too technical when $5 million is on the line.

And there you have it. The episode that was planned for Thursday has been moved to Sunday, where the remaining Factor-ers will perform and the herd will be thinned.

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