I have to acknowledge that that thing where I suggested that last Thursday's really awful episode of "The X Factor" might kill the show? I was wrong. I assumed that as a new show, its ratings might be vulnerable, but it turns out that just because "X Factor" had fewer initial viewers than "Idol" didn't necessarily mean that they were just dropping in to sample the show and might just as easily bail. Apparently not.
Anyway... Let's get down to business on the final Audition Night of the season...
8:02 p.m. ET. We're starting in New York City, or rather in Newark. And that can only mean one thing: Bon Jovi sample. As always, the local FOX affiliate is very excited.
8:03 p.m. We're out of Cheryl Cole cities, so that means we're going to be treated to the judicial stylings of Simon, Paula, L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger. The judges are all optimistic. "Ever since I watched 'Jersey Shore,' I had to go to New Jersey," Simon insists.
8:05 p.m. Who will be our first New Jersey representative? That would be 14-year-old Brian Bradley, who looks like he would have been in Another Bad Creation back in the day. He's got "an insane love for music." He aspires to be bigger than Jay-Z and Kanye West, figuring he only needs another five years to achieve that goal. He's certainly got confidence. Brian reckons that only politics have prevented him from getting a record deal in the past. Brian's got a strange shtick in which he picks a fight with Simon and launches into a little hip-hop joint in which he encourages people to stop looking at his mom. He's really fun and Simon has no clue at all what he's watching. He's got pretty solid flow and great stage presence, but isn't this a singing competition? It doesn't matter. The crowd loves him. "I am scared of you and I am not gonna look at your mom," Nicole says. "You are arrogant, obnoxious and argumentative, but you are one of the most talented young people I've heard in a long, long time," Simon says. "You are very, very unique," Paula says, perhaps forgetting that people like Brian were fairly common back in the early '90s. L.A. Reid says he spent years at Def Jam looking for somebody like Brian. It's four "Yes" votes. "I've never seen anything like that in my life," Simon says.
8:16 p.m. Can New Jersey continue to deliver? I like nursing home hair stylist Kelly Warner. Or at least I think she's pretty, which makes it astounding that she gets "Yes" votes from the female judges. Aaron Surgeon has terrific hair, but his voice isn't interesting. Nicole thinks it was "genuine" and Paula likes him as well. Simon says "No." And L.A. Reid says "Yes." Some other successful people aren't identified. I can't listen to "You Are My Sunshine," so I can't judge Liliana.
8:21 p.m. Our next singer is Andy Silikovitz. He's 43 and he may or may not be a Kevin Rankin character. Andy's been single his whole life, but he'd like a girlfriend... He is... alas... not very good. And that may be an overstatement. I'm not really sure why we're mocking this guy. He's sad. It's sweet that his mom loves him. L.A. Reid applauds Andy for just having a great time, but votes "No." Nicole thanks Andy for coming, but votes no. Wait. Does Paula Abdul whip out a "Baruch hashem"? WOW. And it's airing on Rosh Hashanah and everything. Simon attempts to fix Paula up with Andy. They hug. It's sweet.
8:29 p.m. Next, we've got a Philadelphia office clerk who calls herself "Cashmere." She's been singing since she was a little girl and she's been practicing at karaoke. Sadly, Simon knows what this means and he starts laughing uncontrollably. Clarissa Cheatham -- let's hold off on the nicknaming -- is just as horrible as Simon knew she would be. "Cashmere, when you said that people... screamed after karaoke... I don't think that was a compliment," laughs Simon, who was holding that one inside for five minutes. The votes are all "No." Simon compliments her smile at least. He's gone soft.
8:34 p.m. A singer named Nouf is "In it to win it." She obviously thinks this is the other show that Simon used to be involved with. Yawn. Hula-hoop guy. Maya Lehmann is astoundingly scary. Not enough Top 40 performers are terrifying. But Paula Abdul says she isn't right for this competition. Boo. We need an America's Scariest Singer competition.
8:40 p.m. People in New Jersey have big egos. Cari Fletcher is especially confident, for a 17-year-old. She's been singing since she was six and Nicole thinks she's beautiful. Cari tackles Heart's "Alone." It's a big song and it's too low for Cari, at least initially. Of course, you can't really judge "Alone" until you get to the chorus and Cari's better there. Frankly, "Idol" has had better Heart performances. Simon wanted Cari to be more memorable, calling her "boring." I'm inclined to agree with Simon. The other judges disagree. Cari gets three "Yes" votes.
8:45 p.m. Several other people are good, but not worth spending any real time with.
8:50 p.m. We haven't seen nearly enough groups. So I'm hoping AusEm -- made up of teenagers Austin and Emily -- will actually be good. They're pleasantly goofy. Uh-oh. Emily says they've had "some tears" when they sing. Whew. They're not a gag group. Particularly for their age, they're very talented, albeit perhaps a bit too "High School Musical" to be taken entirely seriously. It's Swell Season meets "High School Musical," to be more specific. "I think the audience you're aiming at will understand you perfectly," Simon says. L.A. Reid thinks Austin is a star, but he's not convinced by Emily, which makes her father unhappy. Uh-oh. Nicole wants to split them up and keep Austin. The crowd disagrees. "Nicole - Yes or No to the group," Simon says. Nicole just keeps on waffling and nattering and Simon keeps taunting her, forcing Paula to play moderator. My Slingbox goes out temporarily, but I return to see two happy teens. So I guess they got their "Yes" votes. "That could have been done 20 minutes ago," Simon tells Paula and Nicole.
9:01 p.m. The trucks are on the move again. In this case, we're just going to show highlight interviews from around the country. CHEAT! Eccentric Tora Woloshin is an auto enthusiast and aspiring race car owner. "You're the perfect girl in the world - cute, tattoos and wants to make racing cars," Simon says. Tora's got personality to burn and she has a big voice to match. It's a little shout-y, but she prowls the stage like a devotee of Tina Turner. She gets better as she goes along and the audience catches the fever. "You're a little firecracker," Paula says. "I absolutely love you, Tora," Simon adds. "You just different," Nicole raves. Guess what? "Yes" votes all around. Paula becomes the first judge to make a "Tora, Tora, Tora" joke. She's in fine form tonight, even if these auditions were spread out over months.
9:14 p.m. Sigh. Some guy named Jor-El Garcia is inspired by "all the pop goddesses." And he's going to start from off-stage. This is all doomed to disaster. "This is going to be good. I can feel it," Nicole says. He's bad. They send him away. Why did we have to spend time on him? Just because he his name is Jor-El.
9:16 p.m. Sigh. John Duff describes himself as "a male Katy Perry." He's another waste of time. "That was a little strange for me," Paula admits. Several subsequent people are also bad. You wanna know how bad this is? I'm paying more attention to a college football game between South Florida and Pitt. At least Rick White makes Paula Abdul dance.
9:18 p.m. Steve Jones can't pronounce "Houston." But straight out of Texas, we meet the confident quintet The Stereo Hogs. They would be massive in 1992. MASSIVE. Today, they seem talented-but-stagey. Simon calls them "over-rehearsed." I can buy that. L.A. Reid gives them a "Yes." Nicole says "Yes." Paula says "Yes" and despite his earlier criticism, Simon also goes "Yes."
9:21 p.m. It's interesting how tonight's episode suddenly features everybody yelling, "We're going to Boot Camp." Previous episodes haven't given any indication of what's next, have they? And it's not like any of them know what Boot Camp means, but they're all excited.
9:25 p.m. Musical instruments aren't allowed in auditions. But Nicole keeps praising people for their "instruments," referring to their voices. Simon disagrees with this description. FILLER.
9:26 p.m. Nashville native Brennin Hunt plays music and he's also a model. "I know I already have a strike against me for looking like I do," he says, insufferably. "My ultimate goal is to rule the world," the humble young man observes. Simon asks Brennin why he doesn't have a deal, but Brennon mumbles something about wanting to hone his skills. Brennin's singing an original titled, "How We Make It." Paula's jaw drops immediately. Much as it pains me to say, Brennin is pretty decent, or I can certainly imagine how he'd be successful. "You've got a brilliant voice," Simon says. The ladies in the crowd tell L.A. Reid that Brennin is hot. It's four "Yes" votes for the pretty man.
9:34 p.m. These auditions are wicked long, y'all. [That's what she said.]
9:36 p.m. How did they manage to do all of these clip auditions without having a single Cheryl Auditon?
9:36 p.m. Paige Elizabeth is really good. And she's a cutie. I want to see more of her. Four "Yes" votes.
9:37 p.m. Wait. Leroy Bell is 59? That can't be true. He does a sturdy and traditional version of "Lean on Me." But really, he can't possibly be 59. That's crazy. Four "Yes" votes.
9:39 p.m. Very impressed by The Brewer Boys. Nick Dean could definitely be described as having Bieber-esque appeal. They get eight combined "Yes" votes.
9:40 p.m. Will Devon Talley continue the hot streak? No. He sings "Seasons of Love," from "Rent." Have we already established that I don't like "Rent"? This is making me like "Rent" even less. And Devon refuses to stop singing. "I love how you brought us all together... right now," Nicole says. Paula appreciates his spirit.
9:46 p.m. "The auditions are drawing to a close," Steve Jones teases. But our last auditioner is nervous 16-year-old Jazzlyn Little. For her, singing is an escape from reality. She's so nervous. So very nervous. It gets worse when she admits she's posted a video on the Internet and it got only 500 viewers. Simon isn't impressed. But you'll never believe this... When the music starts playing Jazzlyn's nervousness vanishes entirely and she's great. I know. You're totally astounded, right? Where did belly-of-butterflies Jazzlyn go? This new Jazzlyn has a very good voice and terrific phrasing and excellent stage presence. Three of the judges stand for Jazzlyn and even Simon claps happily. "That's a superstar name with a superstar voice," Reid says. "You are a little brilliant gem," Paula says. "I'd love to see what you're like when you've got confidence," Simon chuckles. Jazzlyn becomes the 1000th person to be the reason why Simon made this show. That would be four "Yes" votes.
9:54 p.m. The judges are pleased that auditions are over. Right there with you, guys.
9:54 p.m. We're going to end with a promo reel? With the judges walking in slo-mo? Ugh. Yes. I remember these people. Did they not have enough auditions to do ONE more?
9:55 p.m. They're very conspicuously editing around any footage featuring Cheryl Cole. So cruel.
9:58 p.m. BOOT CAMP!
Anyway, what'd you think of Thursday's episode?
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