The X Factor USA resumed October 25 as the top 17 contestants performed for mentors Nicole Scherzinger, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and L.A. Reid. What happened when Over 30s overseer Nicole was forced to boot one of her hopefuls in order to establish the final 12? Here's a look.
The "funky phenomenon" Dexter Haygood was the first Over 30s contestant to hit the X Factor USA stage. Before performing, the homeless Dexter called himself a "rising star" in L.A. He had an interesting song choice medley in Britney Spears' Womanizer blended with Katy Perry's smash hit I Kissed a Girl. Dexter rocked it with much gusto while surrounded by dancers. Dexter has a nice charm about him and you want him to succeed, but there was something vaguely strained and unnatural about his screechy offering.
L.A. Reid said "I think you found yourself finally", but questioned Nicole's song selection. Paula asked why he didn't change the lyrics to sing "she kissed a girl but I liked it". Simon called the routine "the weirdest milkshake in the world" and appreciated his interesting and unpredictable qualities. Nicole praised him for remembering his lyrics and enjoyed his "Dex Factor".
The "coolest cat around" LeRoy Bell, 60, followed, and hoped to show Nicole --and America-- that "you're never too old to live your dream." LeRoy's debut live show performance was in stark contrast to Dexter's extravaganza. He stood alone on the stage and carried the song, Nobody Knows, on his own. It was smooth, sleek and on-point. LeRoy can sing.
L.A. said it was good, but didn't like the song choice. He said he didn't understand why LeRoy isn't already a star. Paula likened his voice to "velvet" and said it was "pure magic". Simon offered up high praise, calling his voice "one of the best" in the competition, but called him out as lacking in confidence. Then Simon and Nicole got into it over the pop star's method for getting the best out of her contestant. Nicole enjoyed what she saw.
Third to go for the Over 30s was Stacy Francis, who Nicole called "powerful beyond belief". Like LeRoy, Stacy stood alone on stage while delivering her vocals, a rendition of One More Try.
L.A. praised her for not crying, and said that she'd gotten it "all right". Paula said "you came out looking like a star" and enjoyed how she told the story. Simon disliked her get-up --sparkly pants and a feathery black top-- and didn't care for the song choice, asserting that Stacy should be a "church singer" and not a pop star. He said "I know how brilliant you are" but "this needs a massive switch in the right direction". Nicole disagreed, asserting that the moment "gave her wings".
The final member of the over 30s group, burrito maker Josh Krajcik, sang next. Nicole enjoyed the "raw" quality of the hopeful's voice, and Josh hoped that he'd be able to survive in a tough category. He delivered a haunting, nearly acoustic version of Forever Young. Like LeRoy and Stacy, he left the showmanship to the circus and stood alone on stage, save a pair of blue spotlights.
L.A. called Josh "one of my favorite singers in this competition" and wished him luck. Paula called it her favorite voice of the "past decade". Simon called him "the artist I fear" and enjoyed the "brilliant choice of song". Nicole found it "soul-stirring" and loved how his voice "just ripped out into the air".
When show host Steve Jones questioned Nicole about her plans, she said she'd just "wing it", and then the four Over 30s emerged for decision-time. The first to be named to the final 12 was Stacey Francis, followed by Josh Krajcik. After a moment of struggling with her choice, Nicole selected LeRoy Bell to go through, and the newly eliminated Dexter Haygood said "right now I'm in the boggle zone". When Nicole tried to speak to him, though, host Steve Jones cut her off, and the segment ended in uncomfortable fashion.
So there you have it: The X Factor USA Final 12 Over 30s are LeRoy Bell, Stacy Francis and Josh Krajcik. Will one of them win the big $5 million recording contract and Pepsi commercial? Keep watching to find out.