Demi Lovato got the girls, Paulina Rubio was given the guys, Kelly Rowland landed the Over-25s and Simon Cowell nabbed the groups as [article id="1714628"]"The X Factor"[/article] kicked into high gear on Thursday night.
More than 80 percent of the contestants were sent packing when the finalists were narrowed from 218 to 40 over the course of the hour-long episode.
Among those sent away, hopes withered and dreams dashed, was 29-year-old Keith Beukelaer, whose creepy-crawly rendition of "Like a Virgin" from season two of "American Idol" a decade ago still makes "worst audition ever" reels. Early on Thursday's episode, his hopeless take on "Baby Got Back" somehow earned a pass from the judges — mostly because it gave Rubio, Rowland and Lovato a chance to dance and actually got Simon to smile — but that was as far as Beukelaer made it. Later, when names were called for the 10 finalists in each group, he didn't make the cut, and Simon had the last laugh yet again.
Among those who will go on in the competition are Denny "Santa Claus" Smith, a 69-year-old Kris Kringle look-alike and pastor who's also a wailin' blues singer, and Victoria Carriger, a 41-year-old mother of eight (her children are between the ages of 4 and 20) who lives in Waynesville, Missouri. Her version of Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" led both Rubio and Lovato to say they felt the pain in her voice.
Both are in the Over-25s with Rowland, where they will be joined by season-one semi-semi-finalist James Kenney and female football player Lorie Moore, along with [article id="1713925"]Lillie McCloud[/article], Jeff Brinkman, Rachel Potter, Kristine Mirelle, Allison Davis and Jeff Gutt.
Khaya Cohen, who put a spell on the judges when she sang a little Nina Simone during her audition, leads Lovato's girls, where she is joined by Ellona Santiago, who was a member of first-season finalists InTENsity, and Ashly Williams, who was given [article id="1714356"]"4,301" yeses[/article] by Cowell after her audition performance of "I Will Always Love You." Rounding out the girls are Bree Randall, Jamie Pineda, Simone Torres, Rion Paige, Danie Geimer, Rylie Brown and Primrose Martin.
Rubio's boys are led by Isaiah Alston, who Lovato said had the potential to be "a little Michael Jackson" after his audition, and nervous Nellie Tim Olstad, who was shaking while singing Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years" but whose voice was compared to a "blanket of love" by Rowland. Chronic hair flipper Stone Martin is also in the bunch, along with Carlito Olivero, Chase Goehring, Timmy Thames, Al Calderon, Josh Levi, Isaac Tauaefa and Carlos Guevara.
Glamour, a female trio of 12- and 13-year-olds from Atlanta, was dubbed "a baby Destiny's Child" by Rowland, but now they're in Cowell's control as one of the 10 groups to make the next round. Also in the mix: Good News, Yellow House Canyon, Alex & Sierra, Roxxy Montana, Wild Thingz, Girls United and three groups made up of finalists who didn't fit in elsewhere. Cowell has had success doing this sort of thing before: Ever heard of One Direction?
Next week, the field continues to narrow with a new round, dubbed the "Four Chair Challenge," which replaces the Boot Camp round and which host Mario Lopez has vowed will change televised auditions forever. Or something like that. Can't wait!
What did you think of Thursday night's "X Factor"? Did the right people make the cut? Let us know in the comments!