The X Factor Boot Camp: Contestants crumble under pressure

On Thursday's episode of The X Factor, contestants struggled not only to out sing their peers but to remember the lyrics.

Marion Curtis / AP Photo/Starpix
X Factor judge and actress-singer Demi Lovato appears at The Young Women’s Leadership School in New York during a surprise visit to the school for an anti-bullying assembly last month.

On Thursday night's episode of The X Factor viewers got to see the remaining contestants go head to head in a duet, or as the stage hand explained, "They will be dueting each other." Apparently The X Factor doesn't just create new superstars, they also create new verbs.

But lest we ever begin to suspect that this show is actually about the contestants, Thursday was also the premiere of the new Pepsi X, which was delivered to the judges who promoted the carbonated can of sugar water with big smiles for the camera. "I could drink this all the time," Demi exclaimed, unable to hear the dying breath of her integrity past the delightful fizz from her can.

In the second task of Boot Camp, the remaining 60 contestants were divided into pairs by the judges. Once paired off, they were to agree on a song choice and perform it as a duet in front of the judges. "The point of this challenge is very simple, which is: be better than your opponent," explained Simon. Seems simple enough, unless of course you listened to Simon explain only a moment earlier that the duets could result in both of the contestants going home, both staying or one would be sent home while the other stayed. So in reality, their performances were not technically being compared.

But those are simply details, my friends. Better to make the contestants believe that their partners success equals their failure. That makes for far better TV, after all. And really, is there any better TV than watching contestant after contestant crumble under intense pressure? The X Factor doesn't think so, instead they put together a montage of contestants forgetting their lyrics like Freddie Combs and Jessie Bryant.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, however. Some contestants managed to shine during their duet and some even did it together, like 13-year-olds Beatrice Miller and Carly Rose Sonenclar who performed "Pumped up Kicks," by Foster the People and 16-year-old Brandon Hasson and 13-year-old Reed Demming. In fact, it seemed as though it was the older contestants who struggled to get along during Thursday's task. Tara Simon, 27, who has gladly embraced the over-confident out-of-touch narcissist role of the season steamrolled over 18-year-old Jennel Garcia  when it came to song choice, resulting in a dismal performance for both of them. 

Then there wes the 17-year-old country singer Willie Jones who was paired up 37-year-old Tate Stevens. When the two began their duet, Willie stumbled with his lyrics, leaving Tate to flawlessly finish the duet. Although contestants had been forgetting their songs left and right, Willie's incident prompted L.A. to question how the pair came to chose the song. When Willie explained that it was Tate's suggestion, Demi accused Tate of intentionally setting Willie up to fail. Whether or not Tate intentionally rigged the duet in his favor, he did little to assist Willie as he stumbled.

Unlike, Jillian Jensen who, when paired up with Latasha Robinson stated that although she was intimidated because Latasha is an amazing vocalist, she had a great deal of respect for her. Latasha on the other hand, demonstrated significantly less respect  when she assured the judges that she could "take" Jillian. Once the song, "Stay" by Sugarland was underway, Latasha instantly showed signs of trouble as she struggled to remember her lyrics, at which point, Jillian began to sing the next line under her breath in hopes of triggering Latasha's memory. Although her attempts to assist her partner went unrecognized or appreciated by Latasha, Jillian's kindness did not fall on deaf ears with the viewers, nor did her stellar vocal.

Next Wednesday, The X Factor will return with the results of the second task, which will take the field down from 60 to 24 contestants, all of whom will then be invited to the judges homes as the next phase of the competition begins.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.