We're back again for another night of "The X Factor" live-blogging. I don't anticipate that I'll live-blog next week's show -- Rosh Hashanah, among other things -- but last night went OK, so I'm fine with making live-blogging a fun premiere week game.
8:00 p.m. The trucks are rolling again... Where will they stop tonight?
8:02 p.m. We begin in Miami, which may be a veiled attack on ABC's "Charlie's Angels," which is premiering as we speak. Same stakes as last night. Everybody is excited. Everybody wants $5 million.
8:03 p.m. Cheryl Cole also did the Chicago auditions, I believe. So for Miami, we're stuck with Nicole Scherzinger along with L.A. Reid, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell.
8:04 p.m. Our first auditioner is 27-year-old Ashley Sansone, who describes herself as "an unemployed starving artist." She's a bit of a frantic goofball and she has "unstoppabletalent" as her email address. But does she have unstoppable talent of her own? Ashley is Ashley's own inspiration. And she doesn't want to be "a cornball" singing songs about Gummi Bears. Wait. What the heck is wrong with the Gummi Bear's theme song? "I could be somebody's inspiration," she says. The audience laughs at her. This is NOT a good sign. "I'm exhausted," Paula signs. Ashley rips off her boots as the music begins. Is there any chance she can actually sing? No. I've gotta say: When people on "Idol" suck, they're only being humiliated in front of the judges and a handful of tech people. "I hope you have really thick skin," L.A. says, adding that Ashley made him want to slit his wrists. "I couldn't understand a single word you said," Simon tells her, as Ashley begs to try a ballad. She gets four "No" votes. Bye, Ashley. "She's a nutcase," Reid says without any real judgment.
8:10 p.m. A scary girl named Chanel has an amazing nose-voice. It's not a good voice. She gets "No" votes and vows that nothing other than death will stop her. Three cowboys named Kanan Road aren't much better and they leave swearing. The Dreamgirlz are a mother-daughter act and Simon tells them they won't sell records. Other members of their family freak out and rush backstage swearing.
8:16 p.m. This isn't going very well. Can Gloria Estefan turn the beat around? Or something like that? Caitlynne Curtis is a 16-year-old high school student. She has a big family and it's pretty clear that she's going to be our first positive audition of the night, even thought she -- like Ashley -- suffers from a nervous bladder. Hmmm... This isn't nearly as good as I'd have hoped for after 20 minutes of suckiness. She's got an interesting bleating thing going on that's almost Alanis-esque. "Nicole, you like everything. I want to hear what you have to say," L.A. Reid says. But Nicole only says that Caitlynne has room to grow. Simon agrees and recommends that Caitlynne join a group with other girls her age. Caitlynne starts crying, which you know will melt Paula's heart. Instead of giving a "Yes" vote, though, Paula goes up on stage and gives Caitlynne a big hug. It's a sweet moment, though it grows awkward when we get Caitlynne still crying and bathed in the white light.
8:22 p.m. The contestants are nervous. And I'm nervous, too. "This is the worst session. Honest to God," Simon grumbles and takes a break.
8:23 p.m. Nick Voss has an epically bad haircut. If this were 1993 and he were Vanilla Ice... it would still be a horrible haircut. I mean, he has racing stripes. And he shaves his eyebrows. But will he be talented? Simon is worried. And the other judges are worried. And... we're going to commercial.
8:30 p.m. I'd put Nick under the heading of "mentor-able." Frankly his white soul affectations are hilariously at odds with his current persona. But I like the tone of his voice and could see how, with different packaging, he could be viewed as talented, or at least interesting. Or maybe he'll just be Matt Giraud without the piano. He certainly wasn't awesome or anything. L.A. Reid grades on a curve. Nicole compares him to Jim Carrey and Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis, all in one. Paula liked what he was doing except for the parts she didn't like. "I absolutely love *you*" Simon says, adding that Nick was emotional. Nick gets four "Yes" votes.
8:34 p.m. "I feel like I just saved the day," Nick says. It's not as egotistical as it sounds. But it's close. That wasn't worth waiting 35 minutes for, FOX.
8:38 p.m. Our next contestant is Ashley Deckard. She's a bit of a punk girl, as as punk-y as a 14-year-old ghost hunter can be. Yes, Ashley also hunts for ghosts. But not only that, she CAN SEE GHOSTS. This comes up with Steve Jones and also with Paula in front of the crowd. What do ghosts look like? "People," Ashley explains. "I know what she's talking about," says Paula, who also sees ghosts. Simon requests that Ashley bring the ghosts down. Nicole looks a bit terrified. Ashley gets off to a truly rough start. Brutal, almost. She gets a bit better as she goes along, but Simon cuts her off early. L.A. Reid, Paula and Nicole all pass. Then we get ghost sound effects. Sigh. I'm sad. I wanted Ashley to succeed, or at least to summon Brian Dunkleman.
8:43 p.m. Power outage. Yes. We know. Miami is haunted. Nicole is a true believer.
8:44 p.m. Marivan Viscuso is more weird than good, but she's still interesting, wailing her way through "Summertime." Simon compares her voice to "wolves mating in the forest." He means this as a compliment and Marivan gets enough "Yes" votes to advance.
8:49 p.m. Sigh. We're 49 minutes in and we haven't had a contestant I'd describe as "good" without many reservations.
8:50 p.m. The ladies of 2Squar'd aren't bad and FOX had a picture of them, so they're now accompanying this recap. Kendra Williams, a Mississippi teacher, is better still. Brendan O'Hara has the female judges swooning. "You have a fantastic voice and you could sell a ton of records," Simon says of Brendan. I like his beard more than his voice. Jeremiah Pagan is very proud that he's a male soprano, but I'm not sure he's as unique as he thinks he is. He's definitely good enough to go through, though.
8:53 p.m. We've got high emotional hopes for 18-year-old Melanie Amaro, who has a lot of family counting on her. She's decent on the verse, which is a bit low for her, but when the song opens up, she's got my favorite voice of the night so far. Her voice in the second half of the song is instantly radio-ready and pop friendly. L.A. Reid is particularly impressed. Even Simon has a demonic little smile on his face by the end. Nicole is standing and crying, with her arm around Paula. OK. By the end of the performance, Melanie's pretty darned special. "You are truly amazing," Reid says. "This is why I do this. People like you inspire me," Nicole cries. "You have a unique ability unlike anything we've heard," Paula says. Simon says Melanie's why he wanted to bring "X Factor" to America.
8:59 p.m. Our next truck stop is in Dallas, which means tonight will be Cheryl-free.
9:05 p.m. Yes. We remember the rules. Speaking of... We haven't seen nearly enough groups or older contestants who have advanced. Well, really we haven't seen nearly enough good people.
9:06 p.m. Sigh. Jonny Rogers has stupid, blonde Justin Bieber hair. And he has a full-on dance routine. And he thinks the girls at his school love him. Oh, this is gonna be awful. Simon compares Jonny to Barbie's boyfriend Ken, a comparison which confuses him. He's going to sing one of his own songs. OH NO. MAKE THIS STOP. His performance consists mostly of tossing his hair. His self-composition sucks and it sucks worse when he forgets his own lyrics. MAKE IT STOP. It stops. L.A. Reid praises Jonny's energy and calls him "entertaining, for sure." Nicole praises his choreography. "I love surprises and you surprised me like there's no tomorrow," Paula says. Simon compares Jonny to an irregular China-produced Justin Bieber doll. I kinda love that. "Keep that enthusiasm up. It's all about self-belief," Simon says after four "No" votes.
9:15 p.m. Nicole likes to say "y'all." She likes fried chicken, gravy and peanut butter cookies. I'd also like fried chicken and gravy. Simon can't even pronounce "y'all."
9:16 p.m. Up next is Kentucky native Dillon Lawson. I can't tell him he's actually slow, or if he just talks show. He certainly likes wearing his baseball cap in a variety of stupid ways. Nicole's "y'all" addiction is so out-of-control that she's even calling single people "y'all." Dillon sold his truck to get here. "I'm guessing talking is not your strong suit," Simon says, correctly. But will singing be? Ummm... No. His performance is one that Lil Wayne might call "Over the top and slightly insane." It ends with him collapsed face-down on the stage. The crowd is booing. Simon is shrugging. "I think it's time for you to leave the stage," Simon says, but Dillon is deeply invested in the sponge from the top of the microphone, which fell off mid-seizure.
9:23 p.m. This is a hubris episode. "American Idol" can get away with 90 minute or two-hour audition episodes without ANY talent because FOX knows that viewers are addicted to that particular brand of smack. This was an episode scheduled with the identical hubris, but viewers aren't addicted yet. In fact, last night's ratings were soft and this is an episode that's been bad enough to sink the show. Somebody at FOX is regretting this audition sequence and editing choice.
9:25 p.m. Yes. More people suck. I get it. Michael & Michelle. They suck. Stop.
9:25 p.m. Some guy named "Phoenix" danced with fire and wears a dreamcatcher over his crotch. His voice verges on Tuvan Throat Singing. Or maybe he's like a human digeridoo? At least he's uniquely bad. Nicole feels violated.
9:27 p.m. Next, we've got 49-year-old Dexter Haygood, with wild hair and high platform shoes. He was apparently the lead singer of a band called Xavion way back in the day. This is his second chance, his comeback. Dexter's a bit of a lunatic, but I like him, as he tells Nicole that he has children Nicole's age. He's going to do James Brown, which causes Simon to close his eyes and brace himself. It's less James Brown and more James Brown's Hot Tub, but the crowd is engaged. "It is what it is," is Simon's wise judgment. Paula wanted more originality. So Simon tells Dexter to set aside the craziness and do 15 seconds of something else. Naturally, we need a commercial break.
9:36 p.m. Sing, Dexter. Sing! No. First we have to go back to Memphis to follow the recently homeless Dexter around his city. No, this isn't at all obnoxiously contrived that we're milking more than 10 minutes out of Dexter. With his 15 seconds, Dexter goes into a raw and emotional (and James Brown's Hot Tub) version of "Man's World." Simon's all smiles and doesn't cut Dexter off. "That is what you call Taking Your Moment," Simon says. L.A. Reid says "Yes." Nicole calls Dexter "One of the funkiest cats I've seen up here" and votes "Yes." Paula still wants more Dexter and less James Brown, but votes "Yes." Simon explains that this is why they have an audience and he gives Dexter his fourth "Yes."
9:40 p.m. I totally get that Dexter is proof of how "The X Factor" is different from "American Idol." And he was ultimately talented and intriguing. But under what circumstances did his audition need to fill 15 minutes?
9:41 p.m. Some "good" people. Kyle Corr sings in front of pigs. Hannah Jackson is like an uncaged bird. Ma'at gets one note out. Austin Simmons gets two words out.
9:42 p.m. Nice. Caitlin Koch is a rugby coach. Even Simon respects rugby. Nicole is astounded. But forget that rugby stuff. Caitlin is hot. And she's got a pretty good voice, doing an unfamiliar (to me) rendition of "Stop (In The Name Of Love)." Simon is totally smitten, as is L.A. Reid, who calls it "really, really special." Nicole would be honored to work with Caitlin. Simon and Paula are also fans. That'd be four "Yes" votes, with L.A. growling his "Yes" in the most suggestive way possible.
9:50 p.m. OK. Time for our heartbreaking triumph story. Or maybe not. Instead, we get Xander Alexander, a genuinely obnoxious 27-year-old. "I don't think I have what it takes. I know I have what it takes," Xander says. Sigh. Maybe we have one more contestant after him? His real name is Alexander Johnson and he banters aggressively with Simon and Nicole. Simon calls him "Alexander" and Xander talks back. "Have you ever performed in public before?" Simon asks. "Have you ever worn a shirt that isn't gray? Now I haven't," Xander says. Xander threatens to come down to fight with Simon, who finally tells him to "Shut it." Suddenly, Xander's confidence is gone and he can't even hold a mic.
9:54 p.m. Alexander is bad. We really aren't going to get anybody better? Alexander sings a second song and is suddenly markedly less horrible. That's not the same as "good." For some reason, this is tough for L.A. Reid. "Vocally, not so much... but you were very entertaining," Reid says. Here, Simon interrupts and says that Alexander is "lippy, gobby, but quite interesting." Paula's perplexed. Nicole thinks he has talent, but she needs him to drop the attitude. L.A. votes "No." Nicole votes "Yes." Paula votes "No." Thus, it's too late. "You got the audience to hate you by the end of the audition, where they liked you at the beginning," Simon says, telling Xander he becomes "a bitchy, nasty diva" whenever anybody criticize him. ZING. Simon, for the win.
9:58 p.m. That's it for Dallas.
10:00 p.m. Wow. That just wasn't the episode FOX needed airing tonight. FOX needed an "X Factor" episode loaded with stars of all shapes, sizes and ages. FOX needed viewers to walk away saying, "Dang. This could be a fun season." Instead, we got two hours of freaks and mediocrities, with Melanie and Dexter tossed in. That may have killed "X Factor."
What did you think?
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