x factor premiere fox 'The X Factor' recap: The Dirty Dozen (a.k.a. Josh and 11 Other Acts)So last week there were seventeen performances and five eliminations in two and a half hours, and I complained. This week there will be twelve performances and one elimination, and they’ll take three hours. Shut up, Last Week Me.

At the start of this, the first episode where the performers will be singing (and in one case rapping) for votes, an urgent question is raised almost immediately: what public-access show did they get this new voice-over guy from? Last week’s personnel change was jarring enough, but at least I think that guy was the narrator of The Clone Wars. This dude sounds like they pulled him off the street and didn’t even give him a cup of tea. We have to sit through him giving us the whole refresher, since it’s been almost a whole week since we last saw this show. We’re down to a dozen acts, with three in each category under each judge/mentor. L.A. Reid has the Boys (Marcus Canty, Astro, and Chris Rene), Simon Cowell has the Girls (Drew, Rachel Crow, and Melanie Amaro), Paula Abdul has the Groups, (Lakoda Rayne, InTENsity, and the Stereo Hogzz), and Nicole Scherzinger leads the Over 30s (Josh Krajcik, LeRoy Bell, and Stacy Francis). Simon: “Now it gets exciting.” So what have we been doing the last month and a half?

Auditorium. Steve comes out onstage, greeted by the screaming audience, and he explains that the top 12 will be singing for our votes tonight, with the results revealed tomorrow, after which one act will be out of the competition. Only one out? How about five again instead? No? I’d settle for three? In any case, it’s time for Steve to bring out the judges, talk about the importance of voting, and remind us of the five-million-dollar recording contract and even more exciting Pepsi commercial at stake. By now the judges are at the table, and I’m glad to see we’re getting right to it, as Paula introduces the Stereo Hogzz while managing to only pause once to shove Simon sitting next to her. In the intro reel, they make some effort to introduce the five members in a backlot alley. Apparently Jon is “Mr. Rico Suave,” Just’n is “the fashion guy,” I assume selling vowels to support his couture habit, KG is “Mr. Charisma,” Trae Badd is “the Energizer Bunny,” (or, as I call him, “the Spellcheck Torturer) and Trace is “the wise one.” I still don’t care which is which. We see them rehearsing choreography with Paula, and in an interview clip, Simon makes one of those dire statements how this is a make-or-break performance for them (unlike the other eleven tonight). Apparently Simon is the only judge who gets to comment on all the other acts before they go on.

Stereo Hogzz sing “Rhythm Nation” with lots of choreography, quasi-military uniforms, and a small army of masked and helmeted Rhythm Nationals crowding the stage with them. They’re great, if not completely flawless, and they hold their ending poses long into the audience’s loud ovation. L.A. tells them they have what it takes to be stars, but it’s up to the public now. Nicole tells them she knows how hard it is to be in a singing and dancing group, I guess because she’s read about it, and says they did a great job. Simon is annoyed at how happy Paula is, but tells them, “I don’t think there’s a band in the world that’s as good as you.” Wow, Simon, hyperbole much? That sounds more like something Paula would say. When it’s Paula’s turn, they chant her name for a bit and get the audience going, until they finally calm down enough for her to gush over them while Steve tries not to look too nervous about the live television time they’re burning through. Especially given the giant mouthful of voting instructions he’s got to spout before the break, which I’m not going into. That information is no good to you here. Voting will over two hours after the end of the show anyway, long before you read this. If you ever do. You’re not even reading it now, are you?

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