sweet suspense x factor 'X Factor' Top 12 decided: Lillie McCloud, Sweet Suspense and Alex & Sierra highlight the night“The X Factor” kicked off its live shows on Tuesday (Oct. 29) with the judges having to make some hard choices, as each of them had to cut one of their four acts in order to form the Top 12.

The Girls

Demi Lovato and her smurf-tastic hair went first with the Girls category. Ellona Santiago performed Britney’s “Till the World Ends” and it was not a great choice for her. It did not show off her voice at all and left her sounding out of breath and weak a lot of the time — the dance moves did not help this. Not an auspicious start.

Danie Geimer was second with Miley’s “Wrecking Ball,” which was an interesting choice. It fit her better than Ellona’s song fit Ellona, but it was off-pitch at times. Rion Paige took a risk and sang Lovato’s “Skyscraper.” She too was not on pitch all the time — maybe they’re having a hard time hearing their accompaniment? But Rion was pretty solid. Khaya Cohen went last and sang Duffy’s “Mercy,” which was easily the best performance of the four girls for us.

It seems like either Ellona or Danie is gone and we would send Ellona home. However, none of the four girls were blowing the doors off the place, you know? They’re gonna have to step it up.

In a surprise, we got the results immediately. We were actually expecting they’d drag it out until the end of the show (or even to the next broadcast). But Demi chooses to send Danie Geimer home. Not a huge shock.

The Boys

Josh Levi kicks things with “Only Girl” by Rihanna and he seems nervous, but he works it out. Tosses in some nice moves, has some solid runs. He’s possibly a little superstar in the making. Second is Carlos Guevara on “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia and … wow. He is horribly pitchy. Terribly. We really are wondering how well the singers can hear themselves or the backing music tonight. Hmm.

Carlito Olivero went third with “Maria Maria” by Santana and this is the first song choice we’ve really thought nailed it. Now, he’s not perfect, but he definitely picked a great song for his voice. Should be more than enough to stay. Last up is Tim Olstad on “Always” by Bon Jovi and … wow. He pretty much makes everybody else who went previously (girls included) look like chumps. His pitch is spot-on, his phrasing and dynamics are wonderful. Really nice performance. He can definitely work on his stage presence and not being so Broadway, but the vocal is there.

Simon compares it to a funeral, but pooh on Simon. That was the best vocal so far tonight. Like we said, he can definitely work on stage presence. But the vocal was good, c’mon guys!

Should be Carlos going home, but nope. Paulina sends Josh Levi home, wow. That is ridiculous. It’s really ridiculous that Carlos got through, he was terrible.

I have to say — at this point, I actually thought to myself that the over 25s and the groups were going to suddenly blow all these kiddos out of the water. We’ll see if it’s true.

Over 25s

Lillie McCloud goes first with “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge and it’s amazing. Are you paying attention, kids backstage? Such control. Terrific.

Can they keep it up? Jeff Gutt is next on “Try” by Pink and it’s … hmm. It doesn’t really suit him. It seems rock ‘n roll, but it’s really kind of milquetoast. We would’ve liked to hear something maybe by Adam Lambert? “Whataya Want From Me,” perhaps? Hmm. Remains to be seen if he advances.

Rachel Potter goes acoustic and country on “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack and it’s very, very pretty. She has a beautiful tone and this song shows it off to perfection. James Kenney rounds out the “oldies” with “Red” by Daniel Merriweather, which is not a song we’re familiar with. That’s a risky choice, but at least the judges are voting and not the public. He does a nice job with it.

The judges all say that they don’t know what Kelly is going to do. Yes, it’s a shame each category has to cut one because all four over 25s should advance. But we think it’s between the two men, Jeff and James.

And yes, Kelly sends home James Kenney.

The Groups

Do you think Simon will keep both of his Simon-created groups? We suspect he will, but let’s find out.

Roxxy Montana is up first on “Royals” by Lorde and on several phrases, it’s hard to pick out the girls from the backup singers. That’s no good. They are definitely benefiting from the support staff. Hmm.

Sweet Suspense
is second with “I Love It” by Icona Pop. It’s much more exciting than Roxxy’s performance, but there is a lot of unison singing. At least Roxxy had more harmonies. But Sweet Suspense has better stage presence and the harmonies could be worked on.

Third is Alex & Sierra on “Blurred Lines,” doing their Alex & Sierra thing to it, it’s a lot of fun, honestly. Amazing how less creepy it sounds when done by these guys instead of uber-creeper Robin Thicke.

Restless Road winds things up with “Roar” by Katy Perry, which is … an interesting choice. The opening verses are too low for some of them, but it gets better on the chorus for sure.

We feel like Roxxy’s time is up and then, yep, Roxxy Montana is who Simon sends home.

Do you like the Top 12? It’s a shame we can’t swap in James Kenney for somebody and we’re very surprised Carlos Guervara got through, but overall, it’s a pretty solid group.

The live shows where you can vote at home start next week — who’s your favorite?

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."