The X Factor: Boot Camp week begins

The X Factor contestants flocked to Miami to begin boot camp where they had the opportunity to size up the competition in their first task.

Mario Anzuoni / REUTERS
Judge Britney Spears poses at the season two premiere of the television series The X Factor at Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, Calif. This week, The X Factor begins its Boot Camp in Miami, Florida.

More than 120 hopeful X Factor contestants flocked to Miami to begin what, to hear the judges talk, would be a week of unimaginable horrors.

And indeed, those horrors began to manifest very early in the episode; unfortunately it was the poor viewers who were put through the ringer. The forced and awkward exchanges between contestants and their families, did not bode well for the trajectory of  this X Factor episode. When 19-year-old Jillian Jensen's mother channeled Humphrey Bogart as she tearfully told her daughter: "You do it for yourself, kid," it seemed as though there would be no hope.

In Miami, the contestants arrived at a swank hotel that was selected specifically to give them a taste of the lifestyle that, chances are, none of them will ever attain (no sign of Season 1 winner Melanie Amaro in the socialite pages or on the Billboard Top 200 chart, for that matter). And what says fabulous Miami lifestyle better than a poolside welcome-to-boot-camp party?

But, never wasting an opportunity to teach the contestants the stark realities of show business, it seems that none of the plus-sized or plus-30 contestants were actually invited to the pool side party. We can only imagine that those contestants were quickly ushered up to their rooms via the back stairway with towels thrown over their heads. 

However, despite the rocky start and the strange phenomena between Britney Spears and L.A. Reid, whose eerily similar prissy pursed-lip expressions each convey a distinct meaning. Britney's seems to suggest that the contestant on the receiving end has mortally offended the once reigning Queen of Pop, while L.A.'s expression, paired with a swinging head and pointed finger can only be seen as an indication that L.A. is experiencing the contestant's performance on such a deep and profound level that he can no longer retain control of normal, socially accepted mannerisms. In spite of our dear judges' affectations, the show actually began to gain some steam as it went on. Largely due to the real talent of some of the contestants.

For the first task of Boot Camp, all 120-plus contestants were assembled together on the stage to perform for the judges and in front of one another. Diamond White, the 13-year-old student from LA, was first up and performed the Whitney Houston song, "I Have Nothing." After her impressive vocal, other contestants could be seen shifting uncomfortably, presumably because they were intimated by her talent and not because they were all forced to sit through 120 auditions while sitting on a wooden stage floor.

David Correy also impressed the judges and fellow contestants but when his information indicated he was from Riva, Mass., (a town that I, after living in the Boston area for most of my life had never heard of) prompted this entertainment blogger put on her investigative journalist hat. Turns out that there is no town in Massachusetts called Riva. Was this just a typo or perhaps the tip of a conspiracy iceberg so big it will bring the music industry to its knees? (Sorry, the drama of the show is taking it's toll).

There was a diva showdown between Rihanna-look-alike Paige Thomas and leopard-faced CeCe Frey. who both chose to tackle Houston's, "I Will Always Love You," and as luck would have it the girls were up one right after the other. Both of them made it through the day and will move on to the next boot camp challenge, although Simon cryptically stated that only one of them "killed it." Which one? My take is that CeCe Frey was a bit stronger and despite a slightly shaky hand, avoided the doe-eyed nerves that plagued Paige's demeanor.

Speaking of nerves,Jake Garza completely forget his lyrics, resulting in a heart-breaking display backstage with his mother trying to console him. He became Exhibit A in the case for raising the minimum age for contestants (now set at 12). Despite the marvelous exceptions, like Diamond White and last season's Rachel Crow, most pre-teen and early-teen contestants just don't have the maturity needed to handle this kind of pressure. Other 12-year-old contestant, Jordyn Foley who completely butchered the Christina Perri's, "Jar of Hearts," summed it up nicely when she said, "Maybe it just wasn't my time." 

Thursday night, The X Factor continues its torture of the remaining contestants. But rest easy, viewers; reports indicate that not only Khloe Kardashian but also Mario Lopez have been signed to co-host the remainder of the season.

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