As the hopefuls take to the stage for the first time tonight, they must prove themselves to judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, LA Reid and Nicole Scherzinger, who must eliminate five contestants at the end of the broadcast. Who will make the cut? Stay with Digital Spy as we live blog the event!
22.29 And that's it! We'll be back next Wednesday at 8/7c with our Top 12 finalists!
22.25 Simon has to choose which three of his five will continue with the competition but is having difficulty on the second one to send home. Finally, he picks Drew, Rachel and Melanie, leaving Tiah and Simone out of luck. I told you Simon and I were soul mates! Good decisions.
LA is wowed by her talent, saying they saved the best for last and describing her as "unbelievable" despite the predictable song choice. Nicole connects with her every time she's on stage, calling her "so special" and saying she's grateful that Melanie is on the show. Paula agrees completely, while Simon is happy that they allowed her to come back but realises his difficult decision ahead.
I'm a bit disappointed, as she could have been given something that actually showed her range rather than a track in which her vocals are mostly drowned out by an overly loud chorus. I don't know if it bodes well for her, to be honest.
LA thought it was a great production, but admits that it lacked what he was looking for. Nicole is also not a fan but says that she was proud of her and that she looked fierce. Paula gives her credit for having so much ambition, calling it a fierce effort but noting that she still needs to work on her pitch. Simon calls Nicole and Paula "two spiteful cats" and congratulates Tiah on a job well done.
LA adores her voice and thinks that she's the "whole package", though it pains him to have to give Simon a compliment. "You're a star, girl!" he tells her. Nicole also applauds Simon, calling it "so ethereal" and dubbing Drew a "folk princess". Paula appreciates that she connects with the audience and is wise beyond her years, while Simon says that finding someone like her was the reason he wanted to get back on American TV.
LA loves her and thinks that she could have a career not only in music but in acting. Nicole is so proud of her "Little Miss Sunshine" and thinks that she did amazing even though she would have chosen a different song that showed her vocal range. Paula says that she is the most likable girl she's ever met and that she could do anything she wanted. Simon stands by his song choice and think she's an original, retro-influenced act.
LA wants Simon to explain why he's put her through as he just doesn't get it, saying he's never been a fan. Nicole also says it was predictable, though she congratulates Simone for doing a good job. Paula thinks that she looked beautiful but would have liked to see fewer dancers but Simon stands by her and says that the other panelists are trying to upset her as they've never liked her.
21.46 Nicole has to make a decision as to who to send home. After the Over 30s head back to the stage, she chooses Stacy Francis, Josh Krajcik and LeRoy Bell to proceed and sends Dexter Haygood home.
LA calls him one of the greatest singers of the competition and loves everything about him. Paula says he's her favourite voice of the past decade, while Simon admits that Josh is the one artist that he fears, calling it a "brilliant" choice of song and deeming it the best performance they've had. Nicole thinks it was "soul-stirring", and I agree. He's amazing.
LA thinks she got it right and is proud of Stacy, which Paula agrees with, adding that she looked like a star and still told a beautiful story. "It was a brilliant performance," she adds. Simon really likes her but wasn't fond of her outfit or her song choice. He thinks that she's a "church singer", which sounds a bit offensive but I totally agree that she has massive gospel leanings. Nicole applauds her, saying every aspect of the performance "gave her wings" and helped her "soar".
LA says it was really good but would have given him a better song. However, he's confused as to how he's not become a big star already because there's nothing missing from him being the total package. Paula calls his voice "pure magic" and compares him to Michael Bolton. Simon thinks he has one of the best voices in the competition but wonders if he's connected to Nicole yet as he seemed to lack confidence. However, Nicole stands by Leroy, congratulating him for performing so well.
LA thinks he found himself and is really proud of Dexter but doesn't agree with the song choice. Paula jokes that she doesn't get his version of the song, while Simon called it "the weirdest milkshake in the world" that he would sing such big pop songs. He also likes Dexter as he's "interesting and unpredictable", much like his mentor. Nicole is so proud of him as well for remembering his lyrics and was "such a rockstar" on stage.
21:09 Paula's got to make her decision now as to which group goes home. They're all called back to the stage as she announces that Stereo Hogzz, Lakoda Rayne and InTENsity, meaning the Brewer Boys are headed home. Whew!
LA says that he would sign them to a worldwide recording contract as he loves everything about them and Nicole agrees, saying that they sounded amazing and made girl groups look good. Simon is also on LA's side, admitting that there's a gap in the market for a band like Lakoda Rayne and applauding Paula for her work once again. Paula is emotional and choked up, saying that of all the groups, they impressed her most as they had the most to prove.
LA is impressed, especially since they were only recently put together and have managed to put together a "thoroughly entertaining" performance. Nicole calls them her "little pumpkin patch of yummy pumpkins" and says that they're all little stars. Simon thinks it was the equivalent of a music miracle as they've pulled it together despite all odds. And because Simon and I are soul mates, he thinks they're "the new young Glee". See? Paula loves that they rose to the occasion and is very proud.
LA congratulates them on a good job but thinks that it was outside of Paula's comfort zone and says that he wasn't blown away. Nicole says that if she was still a teenager, she'd have posters of them on her wall. Wow, ringing praise. Simon thinks that they've progressed but reminds everyone that it's a $5 million competition and they don't "shine" the way they should. However, Paula thinks they've come a long way and that they "nailed it" and they're "amazing and adorable". So... they're going home, then, right?
LA thinks it was "really, really good" and that they've come a long way since their first audition, admitting that he has no criticism to offer. Nicole agrees, calling it "foolproof and solid all around" and applauding Paula for her mentoring skills. Simon has a hard time praising Paula but tells her that she did a really good job with the group and saying that he loves them because there is nothing in the charts like them right now. Paula is "so proud" and thanks them for trusting her.
20:33 Uh oh, it's LA's time to make a decision on who he wants to send home. He admits that it's a tough decision as he's grown attached to each of them but understands that this is what must be done.
The first boy through to the Top 12 is Astro, followed by Marcus. The last to make it is Chris Rene, meaning Phillip is out. Thank God!
Nicole is a fan, saying that he makes it look too easy and that he was born to be on stage. Paula agrees, admitting that she feels like she's watching a veteran perform because he owns the stage. Simon appreciates that he gave it everything he had and appreciates LA's choice of song. LA is also proud that he stepped up to the plate once again.
Nicole says that he has no shortage of personality and charm and calls it "amazing" - were we listening to different things? Paula also thinks that he did a "mighty fine" job and enjoys that he connects with the audience. Simon says that he has massive potential but thinks that the song was too cheap and cabaret (I agree!) and tells LA that he "100% failed" tonight. However, LA applauds him for stepping out of his comfort zone and tells Phillip not to listen to Simon.
Nicole thinks it was a strong performance but questions the song choice. Paula loves the "genuine truthfulness" he conveys and the fact that he has a "spiritual connection" with the music, while Simon admits that he's not the best singer but would make one of the best recording artists of the competition, which is what it's all about. LA stands by the song choice and thinks that Chris did a great job.
20:06 All four (or in Simon's case, five) acts in each category will sing in turn before their mentor decides which of them has to go. The first up is LA Reid's Boys and it's Brian Bradley, going by his stage name of Astro.
20.03 We're live and Steve Jones explains the competition (yet again) and introduces the judges, who all look fantastic. Simon gets the loudest cheers - but no surprises there, I suppose.
19.58 And we're off! It's the first live show of the season. Can't wait to see how everyone does!