After the first live episode of “The X Factor” U.S. aired on October 25, 2011, the show’s four judges (Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger) did interviews with the media. An Entertainment Weekly article has interviews with all the judges, who made some fairly candid admissions.
In this article, Cowell and Reid admitted which finalists from rival categories are the biggest threat to the fiinalists whom they are mentoring in their respective categories.
Here are “The X Factor” U.S. Top 12 finalists for 2011:
Female Solo Singers Under Age 30 (also known as The Girls)
Mentored by judge Simon Cowell
Drew (stage name for Drew Ryniewicz)
Male Solo Singers Under Age 30 (also known as The Boys)
Mentored by judge L.A. Reid
Astro (stage name for Brian Bradley)
Solo Singers Ages 30 and Older (also known as the Over 30s)
Mentored by judge Nicole Scherzinger
Mentored by judge Paula Abdul
The Stereo Hogzz
Here are excerpts from the Entertainment Weekly article:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was tonight’s elimination like for you? What was going through your mind as you made that decision?
SIMON COWELL: I kind of enjoyed that moment, when you can tease everyone a little bit, and I wanted to hear what they had to say. I like the fact that [the audience] cared enough to make that noise. It was a great ending to the show. I went with the crowd and I went with my gut feeling. Normally, I do these kind of things, and about an hour afterwards I’m thinking, “I’m not sure that was the right decision,” which is what happened with Melanie [Amaro]. This time, no qualms at all. I mean, I love Tiah and Simone, but these are the three that America wanted — I had to do it. They deserved it.
PAULA ABDUL: Steve [Jones] did cut me off. It was a little awkward, I must say. It was right when I couldn’t catch my breath. It was really difficult to me to let go of the Brewer Boys. I really love those kids. When Simon doesn’t know, I’ve been working with my acts. I’ve not had one day off. I’ve been with them from 8 a.m. to sometimes 2 in the morning. I’ve be working from anywhere between 12 to 15 hours a day, non-stop, and I know how hard they’ve worked. Those boys have never performed in front of everything like that, and to teach them how to connect to the camera and how to enunciate your words. When Nathan Brewer said, “I’m sorry we didn’t live up to your expectations,” I couldn’t catch my breath. That’s when Steve cut me off.
NICOLE SCHERZINGER: I didn’t want to send any of my contestants home. For the Over 30s, this means something different to them than to everybody else. The chances get slimmer obviously, in this category, to have an opportunity like this. It broke my heart to send Dexter home. I had to go based off of their performance tonight. He did an amazing job; I was proud of him. But, I don’t know, everybody brought it in my category, and you’ve got to send one person home. [Sighs]
L.A. REID: I had to send home Phillip Lomax, who I’m a fan of, and the time that we’ve spent [together], he’s become a friend. So it was really tough. I feel really good about the people who are left. So I don’t have regrets about it, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult. It was about, for me, talent. I think Phillip is certainly a handsome guy; girls love him. He’s probably the pretty boy of my category. But, you know, Marcus is a better singer. Astro’s a better entertainer. And Chris Rene is a bigger star.
Who is your biggest competition on the show?
SC: Josh [Krajcik]. Brian Bradley [i.e. “Astro”]. Chris Rene if he gets his mojo back. Stereo Hogzz. Intensity — I think there’s going to be an audience for them. There was seven or eight people I was really impressed with tonight.
PA: I think with the 12 finalists, it’s anyone’s $5 million to win here. You tell me, have you ever witnessed such talent? Seriously, I haven’t.
NS: I don’t know. I think there’s absolute contenders in every single category. And I know that they’ll continue to grow. You never know; it’s always different every week.
LR: Simon Cowell and Drew.
Of the three contestants now in your category, who’s been the biggest surprise?
SC: Drew. I am blown away by this girl. When I first met her, I thought she was a talented fan [of Justin Bieber], who maybe had one song as a party trick. I’ve watched this girl, and I’ve worked with some good artists before. This girl is smart, because she knows her audience. She’s not being told what to do by her parents. She won’t listen to me, really. It’s basically what feels comfortable [to her]. But we have a good relationship. We’ve now learned to trust each other. But this girl’s smart.
NS: I loved how LeRoy said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but together we’ve worked [on improvement]. I’ve really enjoyed my time working with them and hopefully challenging them and pushing them to be the best that they can be. They’ve just been so perceptive. No attitude. No diva moments. We’ve just worked so well together, so organically together, and we both want the same thing, for them to win.
LR: The guy who surprised me is actually Astro. He’s very good in his initial audition. But, I don’t know, man, I think he opened the show [snaps] and got us off to a killer start. I thought it was really good. Astro’s my surprise.