Ranking the ‘X Factor’ Season 3 Top 40
On Thursday, the Season 3 "X Factor" hopefuls were reduced from 218 to 40 in one fell, cruel swoop, bypassing the entire customary Boot Camp process for reasons never quite explained. Those reasons probably weren't even adequately explained to the 178 out-of-luck contestants who never got to unpack their suitcases — and never got another chance to perform for the judges — before they were quickly shipped back home.
Yes, in the blink of one of Paulina Rubino's heavily mascara'd eyes, only 10 singers in each of the four categories (Girls, Boys, Over 25's, and Groups) remained. These 40 will move on to next week's even more brutal "Four-Chair Challenge" (not to be confused with "The Voice's" four chairs, of course), and man, they had no idea what they signed up for. At this stage of the game in Seasons 1 and 2, the semifinalists hung out on Simon Cowell's yacht or lounged by the pool with Justin Bieber and Scooter Braun during the Judges' Houses rounds. But this year, the top 40 must participate in a new Roman-coliseum-style bloodbath round, which will apparently involve sudden-death singoffs in front of a literally rioting live audience.
But before all that quadruple-seated madness, let's take a moment to count down the 40 contestants, shall we? Below is the master list of all four categories, with my personal ranking of the individual contestants within each grouping:
OVER 25's (mentored by Kelly Rowland)
Lillie McCloud – Lillie's past as professional dance diva Nicole McCloud may hurt her if she gets to the voting rounds; it could be Stacy-Francis-gate all over again. But the woman deserves a shot. There's no denying that her audition was one of the best of the entire season.
James Kenney – This soulman made it to the top 32 in Season 1. He should have made it much, much farther. He's amazing. Here's "The X Factor's" chance to right that wrong (now that James's old misguided mentor, Nicole Scherzinger, is long gone) and fast-track James straight to the top 16.
Jeff Gutt – Jeff is another robbed returning contestant (he was bafflingly cut at Season 2's Boot Camp, and Twitterverse outrage ensued), and he too deserves another shot. I think if he gets to the live rounds, when all those angry fans finally get to vote for him, he could be unstoppable.