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THE X FACTOR: The Live Shows Begin!

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This is it everyone- the live shows are finally here! Tonight is the night that the real competition begins. The finals have begun and the winner is among the 17 contestants that are performing tonight. On top of that, by the end of the episode, five more will be eliminated and each judge has to choose only three from their group to move on to next week. Pressure is on as the finalists perform live for the judges, a studio audience, and the viewers at home. Who will prove they deserve to take it all? Who will choke so close to the finish line? We will soon find out! Anything can happen when the competition goes live!

The much-anticipated live shows have started out with a bang! With bright, flashing lights and dramatic music, there is no denying that this episode isn't like any other that we've seen so far. We learn from the start that the contestants will be narrowed down to 12. Contestants from each category were coached over the past two weeks. They will each perform and their mentor will have to make the tough decision of which one (In Simon's case two) will go home.

First up are the boys. Brian "Astro" Bradley performed a very energetic rendition of "Jump." He was extremely entertaining and had fun ad-libs like, "The X Factor will make you jump, jump!" He is a true performer and interacts very well with the audience. In my opinion, he definitely has the X Factor! He received praise from all of the judges. Simon warned L.A., "If this kid doesn't make it to the finals you are literally insane!"

Chris Rene had a pretty good performance. His voice seemed a bit shaky, but despite his nerves, he held his own. This performance was not better or worse than any of his others. The judges had mixed opinions, but agreed that he had "truthfulness" in his performance.

Breaking away from his original jazz style, Phillip Lomax sang "I'm a Believer." His vocals weren't the strongest, but he was definitely entertaining. His performance was very fun and upbeat, much different from his previous performances. I enjoyed it and give him credit for stepping out of his comfort zone. The judges were unsure about his performance. Nicole and Paula both liked him and Paula said, "You know how to connect with an audience. Your smile is your golden ticket." Simon did not think his performance was good enough. L.A. thought he did well and was proud of him for not giving another Frank Sinatra imitation.

Marcus Canty gave a very strong performance. His vocals were great and he really worked the audience. All of the judges enjoyed his performance. Nicole said, "You just make it look too easy! You were born to be on that stage!" Simon praised him, "You gave it everything I would've wanted if I was your mentor." L.A. thought he did a great job and "stepped up to the plate once again."

L.A. made the decision that the three acts he would put through were Brian "Astro" Bradley, Marcus Canty, and Chris Rene. He believed Phillip Lomax was the weakest of the group and sent him home.

The next category to perform was the groups. The Stereo Hogzz performed "Try a Little Tenderness." They were entertaining and had strong vocals and clean dancing. Their overall performance was very good and well put together. All the judges agreed that they were great and praised Paula. Nicole announced, "That was solid all the way around. Hands down to Miss Paula Abdul!"

The Brewer Boys sang "Faith." There performance was fun, but a bit mediocre. The judges were unsure about the performance. L.A. and Simon felt that they "didn't shine." Nicole and Paula enjoyed the performance.

InTENsity gave a high-energy performance. They were very entertaining and sounded great together. The judges all praised them. Simon said, "This is a music miracle," and compared their performance to "Glee."

Lakoda Rayne also had a really solid performance. They sang "Come On Eileen." The judges thought they did a great job (I did too!). They had good things to say about the performance and Simon praised Paula for the work that she has done with the groups (Paula was on a roll! All her groups really delivered!).

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