‘X Factor’ Boot Camp, Pt. 2: This Is ‘The Voice’!
This Thursday, "The X Factor" Season 2 moved on to the Battle Rounds. Um, I mean, to Boot Camp. It's easy to understand why I used the wrong term there, though, since Thursday's "X Factor" episode pretty much ripped off rival series "The Voice's" Battle Rounds phase, pitting contestants against each other in singoffs as a method of whittling down the remaining 60 hopefuls. Okay, sure, there were some differences. The "X Factor" contestants weren't performing in a giant neon boxing ring, for instance. And each duo also got to (jointly) choose their battle song; they sang a cappella in an empty theater; and there was a chance for both (or neither) of them to advance to the next round.
Well, putting any concerns about copycattiness aside, when it came to the Boot Camp singoffs this Thursday, there was plenty of the kind of drama that only a considerably less feelgood (read: not "Voice"-y) show like "The X Factor" could provide. Many of the real battles went on either backstage between the reluctantly paired-up contestants; between the contestants and their short-term memories, as at least half of them failed to remember their lyrics; or between the contestants' own inner demons, as they struggled to survive the show's most brutal round yet. What the episode really needed was some Panda Ross to liven and lighten things up, but sadly, she was still M.I.A. Where did Panda go?
Anyhoo, here's how "The X Factor's" Panda-free Battle Rounds--er, I mean singoffs--went down on Thursday:
Tara Simon vs. Jennel Garcia
Jennel, one of my favorites of this entire competition, has always exhibited so much fire onstage, but big meanie Tara just snuffed that fire right out. Tara insisted, inflexibly, that they sing Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide"--despite too-sweet Jennel's feeble protests that she wanted to do something more rockin' and uptempo--and of course Tara got her way. ("Um, no, we're set on this song," barked Tara.) When the two girls finally sang the song that only Tara wanted to sing, Jennel actually did better, since she understood that the sad ballad needed a little subtlety and restraint--unlike Tara, who as usual semi-shouted her way through the performance with about as little modulation as Will Ferrell's "SNL" character Jacob Silj. But neither Jennel nor Tara were at their best during their singoff, and when they were done, Simon grumbled, "I don't know why you chose this song." I wish Tara had been willing to own up to her mistake, but of course she didn't. Now, hopefully it won't be Jennel who pays the price. And hopefully Jennel, a barely-18 innocent lass who just left home, learned a valuable lesson here about sticking up for herself.
Beatrice Miller vs. Carly Rose Sonenclar
These little 13-year-olds showed a lot more maturity than 27-year-old Tara, as they seemed to get along just fine and they easily agreed to sing Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks," an interesting choice. Both girls were fantastic, but while Carly belted the tune out with a bit more force, there was something about Beatrice's warm, gorgeous voice that I gravitated towards more. She sort of reminded me of "The Voice's" Xenia, actually. However, that being said, I think both Beatrice and Carly proved that they very much deserve to advance to the next round.