Pop Culture

Enrique Iglesias and Rihanna drop in to guest judge on 'X Factor'

FOX / Today
Rihanna guest judges with "The X Factor's" L.A. Reid

If there’s one thing “X Factor” didn’t need as it tries to get out of “American Idol’s” shadow, it’s a schedule change. But that’s what it got, thanks to Wednesday’s rain delay that pushed the baseball playoffs into primetime. No doubt Simon Cowell is muttering about how at least soccer begins and ends on time and is played despite the weather.

Instead, we had to wait until Thursday night to find out that the four judges each have ridiculously large estates that could hold all of the Wall Street protestors and then some. They got to play host to eight acts apiece, watch them perform again and then prepare to make a decision on which four acts make it to the live shows and which go home with only whatever stray towels and Grammys they can stuff into their carry-on. Sixteen of the acts were shown singing on this episode, with the rest set to perform this weekend.

The girls all flew to Paris to bunk with Simon in a house that looks to be about the size of the palace at Versailles but slightly more ostentatious. He was the only one without a celebrity friend to help, since Mariah Carey’s plane was grounded by Hurricane Irene, but when does he ever listen to anyone else’s advice anyway? Four of the girls performed for him on this episode, and Toro Woloshin probably doesn’t need to worry about packing an expanded wardrobe for the live episodes. Drew Ryniewicz is in the best shape, with Caitlin Koch and Simone Battle each shining as well.

L.A. Reid had the boys over to his place in the Hamptons, and Rihanna was there to help him make the decisions while simultaneously turning the men into jelly. Or at least, L.A. probably hopes that’s the case, because none of the guys brought their best. Brian “Astro” Bradley might have been the best of the four who we saw here, even though his nickname brings to mind the dog on “The Jetsons” instead of something with cred. Skyelor Anderson was fine but unmemorable, and Phillip Lomax is hampered by the fact that both judges and young record-buyers have an anti-crooner bias. Nick Voss will hopefully never sing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” again.

Nicole Scherzinger and Enrique Iglesias judged the over-30s, which is the most compelling group because they all want it with all of the sincere desperation they can muster. Stacy Francis has a great voice, but at some point we have to feel like she’s not a 50-50 bet to break down in tears before it finishes. Elaine Gibbs was excellent, James Kenney earnestly energetic, and Dexter Haygood ... well, if he makes it, it’s because Nicole really likes his backstory, because he still sings like he’s imitating others instead of putting his own spin on things.

Paula got the groups, and ... she might not win. The best group was probably 4Shore, because while Pharrell thought they needed to dirty up their style, the vocals were there. The Brewer Boys were cute but underwhelming, as was The Anser. Lakoda Rayne was uneven, probably because the cobbled-together-at-Boot-Camp band had previously performed only in Cari Fletcher’s Wall Township living room. If that’s not enough to get them to the next stage, at least they’ll always have Santa Barbara.

The other 16 acts will perform on a rare Sunday “X Factor,” added to the schedule because of Wednesday’s cancellation. Fox also airs the NFL on Sunday, but good news, Simon -- football players take the field even in inclement weather, so at least this one shouldn’t fall prey to a delay.

What did you think about those homes? Which of the singers do you think will go the distance? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.


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