"The X Factor" U.K. "boot camp" episode that ITV televised on Sept. 28, 2013, featured the selection of the Top 6 contestants in the Girls category (female solo singers ages 16 to 24), which this year is being mentored by judge Nicole Scherzinger. It was an emotionally wrenching episode for the contestants, since three contestants lost their place in the Top 6 when Scherzinger changed her mind and decided to replace them with other contestants.
Scherzinger also had a bit of a temper tantrum when she scolded some of the contestants in the Girls category as they were waiting to perform: "Girls, you watching these auditions? Not in the best mood right now. That last performance pissed me off. Please don’t waste my time because I care too much. You need to know what you are singing about, focus on that song, sing it with your heart or else I will not care and they will not care and you will not get through today. Tough love, OK? Kick some butt and grow some balls!”
In this episode, the judges found out which contestant categories they are mentoring in 2013. This information was leaked to the media several weeks ago. The judges will mentor these categories as follows:
- Girls (female solo singers ages 16 to 24), mentored by Nicole Scherzinger
- Boys (male solo singers ages 16 to 24), mentored by Louis Walsh
- Overs (solo singers ages 25 and over), mentored by Sharon Osbourne
- Groups, mentored by Gary Barlow
The Top 24 "X Factor" (six contestants from each category) who are chosen from boot camp go on to the "judges' houses" phase of the competition, where the Top 12 contestants (three contestants from each category) are selected by judges and guest mentors. The "judges' houses" episodes are previously recorded. The show's Top 12 contestants are the ones who perform in the live episodes.
At judges' houses in 2013, Scherzinger was joined by guest mentor Mary J. Blige in Antigua. Barlow was paired with guest mentor Olly Murs in New York City. Osbourne teamed up with guest mentor Robbie Williams in Los Angeles. Walsh received help from guest mentors Sinitta, Nicole Appleton and former Westlife singer Shane Filan in St. Tropez, France.
The "judges' houses" episodes are scheduled to be televised on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6, 2013.
Top 6 in the Girls category
Abi Alton, 19, played piano as she sang a slower, stripped-down version of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." It was a sweetly sincere performance that felt like a '90s throwback to Lisa Loeb or Sixpence None the Richer. Walsh said to Alton, "You're different. I think you deserve a place." Barlow added, "I thought it was a really brave and honest and gorgeous audition." Scherzinger decided to bring Alton into the Top 6 of the Girls category, which resulted in Lydia Lucy being ousted and Alton replacing her. Scherzinger didn't seem completely enthuiastic when she had put Lucy in the Top 6 earlier, so the decision to eliminate her was not a total shock. When Lucy had performed her version of Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life" earlier, Scherzinger praised Lucy but questioned if Lucy's performance was "different enough."
Hannah Barrett, 17, received a well-deserved standing ovation for her emotionally soulful performance of Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind." She tearfully told the judges and the audience before beginning her performance that she's been grieving over her father, who died in 2012 and who was her biggest inspiration for her to be a singer. Barrett said that she's been in a dark place emotionally since his death but is ready to climb out of it: "This is my life. Everything I've been through, I'm not going back there!" Osbourne simply exclaimed after Barrett's performance, "You are so blessed! Stunning! Stunning!" Barlow said to Barrett, "That's how to fight for your place in the competition. That was amazing!" It was good news for Barrett but bad news for Sheena McHugh, whom Scherzinger decided to replace with Barrett after Barrett's tour de force performance.
Relley Clarke, 23, sang Aretha Franklin's "Respect," which is a risky song to do because it's become almost a cliché karaoke song that has been performed so many times on talent shows that many people are sick of hearing this song. Scherzinger liked the performance but wasn't blown awy by it.. She said to Clarke: "You did a really good job, I am really proud of you. It wasn’t perfect. You know that." Still, it was good enough for Scherzinger to choose Clarke for the Top 6 in the Girls category.
Tamera Foster, 16, performed Rihanna's "Stay." She has problems with pitch and with staying on key, so it would be very surprising if she made it into the finals this year. During her first "X Factor" audition in front of the judges, Foster forgot the lyrics to Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing." Foster redeemed herself at boot camp by not forgetting the lyrics this time, but Scherzinger still expressed some reservations about Foster: "This was your last chance. You got it together today, you pulled it together, and I could tell that you meant it up there, but you are still so young. I don’t know if you are ready for this."
Melanie McCabe, 19, sang Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away" well enough to impress Scherzinger and the rest of the judges. McCabe has been down this "X Factor" road before. In 2008, 2011 and 2012, she auditioned for "The X Factor" only to be rejected. In 2008 and 2011, she made it to the "judges' houses" stage when she was eliminated. In 2012, she was cut from the competition at boot camp. In 2013, she made it through boot camp to judges' houses. Scherzinger commented to McCabe: "In your past performances I didn’t know if I was with you, if I felt it or if I believed it, but you had me on this one." Karen Harding (who had previously made the category's Top 6 by also singing Perry's "The One That Got Away") was eliminated, as Scherzinger decided that McCabe should take Harding's place in the competition. The decision wasn't a complete surprise, since Scherzinger had earlier expressed doubts about Harding's song choice when Harding performed fun.'s "We Are Young."
Jade Richards, 22, performed Emeli Sandé's "Clown." Although it was a good performance, it wasn't as outstanding as some of the performance by other contestants in this episode. Just like McCabe, Richards has auditioned and has been rejected before by "The X Factor." In 2011, she was eliminated at the "judge's houses" stage of the competition. In 2012, she was dismissed from "The X Factor" at boot camp. And in 2013, she's back at "judges' houses." Will the third time be the charm for Richards for her to be selected to the Top 12? Scherzinger gave some insight into why she voted to eliminate Richards in the past: "Jade, in the past when I’d seen you other times, I didn’t know if you really wanted it." Although Richards made the cut at boot camp in 2013, it sounds like she has to be consistently outstanding to erase any lingering doubt in Scherzinger's mind. Given the stiff competition, Richards has an uphill battle to be considered "the best" in this category.
Some of the more memorable contestants in the Girls category who were eliminated at boot camp included Amy Mottram (who was eliminated from judges' houses in 2012), Hannah Sheares and Stephanie Woods.
Overs category: Top 6 selections begin
Osbourne, who is mentoring the Overs category, had to make some tough choices in her category, whose Top 6 will be revealed in the episode televised on Sept. 29, 2013.
Sam Bailey, 36, got a standing ovation when she performed Emeli Sandé's "Clown." Bailey's version of the song was much better than Richards' version. Osbourne, who was moved to tears, raved to Bailey: "I want you to know that for all the years I have been involved and not involved with this show I have dreamed of having a contestant like you." Bailey, who works as a prison guard, was told by Walsh after her performance: "To think that you have been working in a prison. You should be in a recording studio.”
Sabrina Ramikie, 28, was another contestant who performed Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" in this episode. Her version of the song wasn't as riveting as Barrett's version, but it was still an outstanding performance. Osbourne called the performance "flawless," so Ramikie sailed through to the next round. However, longtime "X Factor" viewers know that if a contestant's audition isn't shown, then it usually doesn't bode well for the contestant's chances of making it into the Top 12. The show's producers and editors decide which contestants to showcase in the prerecorded, heavily edited audition episodes, and it's clear from the editing which contestants the producers want viewers to have the most emotional investment in during this competition.
Joseph Whelan, 27, belted out Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" after delivering an emotional speech about how much he didn't want to be eliminated from "The X Factor" again. (Whelan was was cut from "X Factor" boot camp in 2012.) At the end of his performance, he began to cry. The judges gave him good feedback overall, but it was tempered with some constructive criticism. Barlow told Whelan that his "lower octave is very weak right now and you need to work on that. Your higher range is magnificent, and you sound great up there.” Osbourne was turned off by Whelan's tearful display of emotions and lectured him by saying, “The performance was really good and I know that this means a lot to you and your baby boy. I need people in my category that are going to be strong. I don’t want wimps. I need balls.” Despite the criticism, Osbourne was impressed enough with Whelan to select him for the Top 6 of this year's Overs category. It's great news for viewers who thought Whelan was robbed when he was dumped from "X Factor" boot camp in 2012.
In the Overs category, it was the end of "The X Factor" road for Jayson Newland, who failed to impress Osbourne with his performance of James Vincent's "Higher Love." It's just as well that Newland was eliminated anyway, since the Daily Mirror reported that Newland once called Scherzinger a "bitch" on Twitter and has made other misogynistic or offensive remarks on Twitter. That type of conduct reflects badly on him and on the show, even if he did make those remarks back in 2012, before he auditioned for "The X Factor."
The Top 6 in this year's Groups, Overs and Boys categories will be revealed in the episode scheduled to be televised on Sept. 29, 2013. (UPDATE: Click here for the full list of the Top 24 contestants.)