Somebody at FOX loves me.
Or hates me.
Yesterday, I blogged the Season 3 premiere of FOX's "The X Factor" and left the fate of future recaps in the hands of one of three possibilities. Well, the show wasn't especially awesome, but it also wasn't worse and in the last 20 minutes, we got Alex & Sierra and Rion Paige, who were pretty nifty. And traffic for the recap wasn't outrageously good, but it certainly wasn't bad. And, finally, the consensus from readers wasn't a consensus at all. Some of you said that without having my recaps to accompany the show, there wouldn't be a point. Some of you said that you'd prefer I not torture myself. And the vast majority of you probably couldn't care less.
That counts as a wash.
Then I saw that Thursday's (September 12) episode was a full two hours and that temporarily pushed me into the, "No thanks" camp.
But FOX cut me off on the exit ramp and posted Thursday's full episode online, thereby cutting out commercial time and letting me do "X Factor" on my own schedule.
That explains the strange time-stamps in this live-blog. They relate to time in the episode and not to air-time.
And that also explains why I'm recapping tonight's episode.
More after the break!
00:00 Don't worry, FOX. I have no desire to pirate this "X Factor" episode and post it online.
02:10 We're starting tonight in Denver and, if the prepackaged "Preparation" montage is any indication, the Mile High City's contestants are walking on sunshine. Also, why the heck did "The X Factor" have cameras in the showers of possible contestants? Or is this some sort of thing where "X Factor" subpoenaed NSA shower-cam footage just for this episode? In any case... It's awful. Never again with this particular intro.
03:21 Hi Mario. Yes, four categories. Boys, Girls, Geriatrics and Amorphous Blobs.
04:21 Judges. FOX cameras have managed to capture auditioners having totally spontaneous conversations about the judges. People are scared of Simon, love Demi and enjoy saying Paulina's name.
05:20 Many Americans don't have a clue who Paulina Rubio is, but our first Denver auditioner is a fan of Paulina's. But more than just being a fan, she also compares herself to Paulina. And she doesn't compare herself to Paulina. She says she's better than Paulina. And that, of course, means that Yosselin Marquez is going to suuuuuuuck. Nobody in talent show history has ever said they were better than a judge and then gotten onstage and proven to actually be better than the judge in question. Then Yosselin decides to announce that she doesn't know who Simon is. This just keeps getting better and better! And, finally, Yosselin requires a phone teleprompter to perform the lyrics for her song, which are mostly "La." I can't tell if this is just a slick, soulless advertisement for a cell phone. I mean, "X Factor" would never whore itself out and combine product placement and a freakshow audition, right? Sigh. Yosselin thinks Denver will want her. She's wrong. Paulina kindly tells her that she merely lacks the X Factor. She leaves protesting that she's never seen Simon before and he held that against her.
08:10 Things are likely to get worse, right? Deep-voiced Thomas Weiderspoon has never sung before in public, but he says that friends and family have been mostly OK with his singing in the past. He's no Scotty McCreery. "Have you ever gotten a shirt back from the laundry where it's got too much starch in it?" Simon Cowell says of Thomas' wooden persona. Carrigan Bradley is a 15-year-old beauty queen. She is not, however, a 15-year-old singer. After listening to Carrigan bellow tunelessly, Kelly Rowland suggests it might be nice to get more edge from Carrigan, but Simon says that'd be like trying to chop down a tree with a banana. Or do something with a banana. Clearly Simon has never heard the story of the ants and the rubber tree plant. Amber Ferrari does an shrieky Janis Joplin cover, which Simon compares to "a goldfish wanting to be a shark." Simon's going simile-crazy today! Puerto Rican duo K&B sounds like "two three-year-olds who've got flu trying to sing." And somebody else is like a llama in a petting zoo, which sounds awesome, but is an insult in Simon's mind. Sean Harris knows he can win, but his cover of "Amazing Grace" suggests differently. "You're like an elephant trying to skydive with a tiny parachute indoors," Demi Lovato tells Sean in a stuffy British accent. I'm 100 percent certain that Demi Lovato has never been hotter.
11:40 "This is the worst session," Simon laments. Fortunately, the music changes its tone as we meet 15-year-old Rylie Brown. She comes from a small town and she's intimidated. "There are so many people here who have been singing as long as I've been alive," Rylie tells us. She's been practicing one song for a month. But will it pay off? Her voice sounds pure and over-produced, so we assume she's good, but then she forgets the words. Uh-oh. We think she might fall on her face, but after a few awkward seconds, she pulls it back together, saving Paulina from having to run onto the stage for an emergency hug. Simon and Demi look like they're appreciating Rylie's resilience. The audience stands for Rylie. "So you messed up..." Simon begins, "But who cares when you've got a voice like that?" Rylie cries with gratitude. "I was really pleased with your talent and your life is about to change forever," Paulina tells her. "You don't sound 15 at all. You have a wonderful tone to your voice," Demi says. "I want you to be here with us and grow with us," Kelly says. That'd be four "Yes" votes.
17:19 Let it be said that Rylie was good, but she wasn't THAT good. She was "opening half-hour" good. She wasn't "last 20 minutes" good.
18:10 Meet 36-year-old Jeffrey Brinkman. He's got a scruffy Burrito Josh vibe, except that he's not a burrito manufacturer. Instead, he runs a doggie day care. He just had a daughter, who was born prematurely, but also gave Jeffrey the opportunity to go audition for "X Factor." Let's go, Jeffrey Bark-Man! Kelly Rowland couldn't be more excited by the idea of a guy who runs a doggie day care, though she's initially terrified when she hears about the premie. Bark-Man does a gruff and soulful version of "You Are So Beautiful." If he lasts much longer in the competition, we'll have to deal with Jeff's weird resemblance to George W. Bush, so I'm wary. "Jeff, I love how sincere you are and you mean every word," Kelly tells him. "I love your raspy voice," Paulina says. "I think you have a beautiful recording voice," Demi says, suggesting [probably incorrectly] that he could sell records. "That was a brilliant, brilliant vocal," Simon says. After four "Yes" votes, Jeffrey goes to call his wife, perhaps using the same phone that once allowed Yosselin to remember her La's.
24:00 Off to Long Island, where we can surely expect some stereotypes.
24:30 With over 17,000 people, it's the biggest showing ever for an "X Factor" audition. And that sea of humanity yields... Some guy taking off his pants and a woman doing a strip tease.
25:00 We're in Long Island, but we're hoping from big things from Jocelyn Hinton, who shouldn't be confused with Yosselin, but probably will be. By me. She's 34, she's from Pittsburgh and she doesn't have any formal trailing, but she thinks she can sing at the level of the top divas. "This is not a game," she promises us. Oy. She's sure she can win, because she has The X Factor. Simon is skeptical. She has a fiance who makes bacon. Possibly metaphorically, but I'm interpreting literally. And for all of this, a full two minutes of dullness, Jocelyn is bad. And she can't remember the lyrics. To a Katy Perry song. From the judging panel, Kelly Rowland gives Jocelyn an assist with the lyrics or the melody or something. The assist is insufficient. And we have to keep listening. "I'm sorry, Simon. That's really not my style," Jocelyn apologizes, while Simon says the best part was when she forgot the words. Determined to prove her point, Jocelyn launches into a version of "Saving All My Love." It isn't good either, but at least it gets Demi flustered. "I like you, you just can't sing very well," Simon tells Jocelyn, who decides her problem is that she's holding the mic too soon. That's not, in fact, the problem. Jocelyn keeps interrupting Simon to sing, even getting booed by the audience. Finally, Simon takes the stage and escorts her into the wings. "When you watch it back, you'll understand what I'm saying," Simon reassures her.
30:20 Jocelyn wasn't the only person who disagrees with the judges.
31:00 Time for a condescending tribute to the Geriatrics. Rachel Potter is ancient, but she's determined to fulfill her dreams. For her, it's now or never. She wants to do what the young people want to do, but she doesn't want to be a person who lives with regret. She wants to "prove that my age isn't an issue." Rachel Potter is 29. Frankly, it's amazing she's able to make it onto the stage without a walker. I hope her wizened vocal chords allow her to be audible at all. Rachel's a bartender. At an retirement home? "I'm not a spring chicken," Rachel tells the judges. "What's the point of being a spring chicken when you can be a fine wine," Kelly asks perplexingly. Showing her advanced age, Rachel does a country version of "Somebody To Love." I'd say that she's oversinging the snot out of the song, but the judges are gushing about her vocal control, so what do I know? I'll bet the judges are just trying to respect their elders. They'd react the same way if Larry King showed up to audition. With Demi leading the way, the audience rises and everybody waves their arms for Rachel. The sad thing is that because she's so old, she can't see past the first row. Lousy cataracts. The judges stand for Rachel's heroism. "Rachel, what an amazing powerful future," says Paulina. "You just a beast," Kelly says. Simon thinks Rachel proved her point. "You have the look. You have the best voice that I've heard. This industry is ready for you," says Demi, who could be Rachel's granddaughter. It's four "Yes" votes for Rachel, who turns up the volume on her hearing aid to celebrate this moment.
39:00 We haven't had a single audition that wasn't a unanimous decision, have we? Maybe we're due for some bickering?
39:45 A montage of female judges disagreeing with Simon about singers who we aren't hearing. "Estrogen beats testosterone over there," Kelly says about a singer we don't get to see. So that was pointless.
40:45 We will, however, hear Jorge Pena, a sleazy ice cream man. "I'm kinda like a flirt," Jorge tells a fellow contestant. He's sure that he's got the ladies, while the music indicates that he's sexy and he knows it. "I want an ice cream," Simon says, learning Jorge's occupation. Kelly requests a red-white-and-blue pop. "And Pink Panther!" gushes Demi, who has never looked so excited about anything in the history of ever. The irony is that Jorge is lactose intolerant. And then things go wrong. Getting cocky, Jorge tells Simon he already has three votes and then he tells the judges that he doesn't have time for a girlfriend, but he has time for the ladies. Suddenly he's gone from pervy and amusing to sad and icky. Adding to the lactose intolerance, Jorge is also wicked cheesy. I'm relieved we're not going to have to deal with Jorge's nonsense in the future. Demi hesitates in her evaluation and Jorge sneers, "Tell me, woman." And with that, he went from sad and icky to generally repulsive. "What?!?" Demi says. "OK. Don't call me woman," Demi says, before telling Jorge that humility is sexy. Kelly agrees with that assessment of humility and calls Jorge handsome. Demi inexplicably gives Jorge a "Yes" vote. He winks at her. Paulina tells Jorge that he isn't a star yet and that she doesn't like his attitude, but she also votes "Yes." Seriously? Kelly gives a "Si." Simon votes yes, meaning that this loser got four "Yes" votes. Yeah. That was bad. He couldn't sing. He was a prick. And he got four "Yes" votes. This is why I'm probably done with this show.
47:20 Hoping to represent Long Island is Simone Torres. She comes from a musical family and she likes to speed rap. Her parents tell her that she has a gift, though she worries she may be too quirky. Ugh. Can we get to the last 15 minutes of this episode, please? The 19-year-old decides to do "Mustang Sally" and she gives a performance that I'll gently describe as "affected." She doesn't have a horrid voice, but it all feels a bit much and the slinking around stage isn't at all authentic. It's a put-on, albeit with an OK vocal at the center. The judges and crowd are weirdly pleased. Simone cries at their reaction. "You're so fresh," Paulina says. "I loved watching that light in your eye sparkle from the second you walked out," Demi said. Yesterday, Demi told us that that sparkle is the X Factor. Kelly thinks it was one of the day's best auditions. "I disagree," Simon says. See, Kelly *thought* it was the day's best audition, but Simon *knows* it was. And I don't have a clue what they saw or heard. It's four "Yes" votes. I think she's a sweet kid, but there's zero chance that she's advancing. [Cue Simone Torres winning "The X Factor" this season.]
55:10 Oh. Denver again. That's good. Long Island sucked. And yes, Mario. We remember the four categories.
55:32 Time for another well-meaning Geriatric. It's crooner Russ Poulliot, who thinks he's the next Sinatra. He's studied for four years with a teacher. Those were not years well spent. Russ sounds like a Serbian with a voicebox doing drunken small-town karaoke. Simon tries to stop the audition, but nobody will cut the music. That leaves Simon and the rest of the judges to sit laughing while Russ' eyes role into the back of his head as he finishes. "Russ, did you have fun? That's all that matters," Kelly tells him. "Less is more," Paulina tells him. "It did actually sound like you were drowning," Simon says, calling Russ "a trier." "I feel like had you had a British accent, you would sound like what Simon would sound like when he would sing," Demi suggests. The wily producer cues up the music for Simon to sing and Kelly gives him a mic. But we'll require a commercial break before hearing what comes next.
1:00:30 Kelly delivers the mic and Simon bleats his way through half-a-verse in Russ' style. "That'll never be aired," Simon says, after insisting he was just putting it on. It's four "No" votes for Russ. "I'm so proud of you! You did so bad," Kelly tells Simon, who adds, "I should sign myself."
1:02:20 Three sisters from Detroit make up Roxy Montana, auditioning out of Long Island. They've all got personalities, which is nice. Their parents don't know that they're there. Will they also be able to sing? They do "One Night Only" from "Dreamgirls." There's a lot of oversinging here, some of it is built into the source material, but it becomes increasingly clear that they have absolutely no restraint or touch. Simon says that one of the sisters is much more talented than the other two. Hoping for redemption, the sisters change things up with some a cappella. In this context, they're vastly better, though the oversinging remains. Kelly likes girl groups who sing their faces off. "You guys blow us away," Paulina says. Simon says they're good together, but that one of the sisters is a secret weapon. "Apart from the groups I've put together, this is potentially the best group we've had on 'X Factor,'" Simon says. They get four "Yes" votes.
1:09:30 Simon wants the Groups. Kelly wants the Groups. Demi and Paulina remain conspicuously silent, because nobody sane would want the Groups.
1:10:20 People in Long Island have dreams, including Al Calderon, a 19-year-old with a big, loving, stereotypical family. His father is even a "sanitation worker." For his part, Al is a restaurant host and "Happy Birthday" singer. He's desperate to leave that job. "Your eyes are gorgeous," Kelly tells Al. Kelly asks Al if he has a girlfriend. He's smart enough to merely say that he doesn't, rather than pulling a full Jorge. If you ask me, Al is perfectly suited to be part of a boy band. He's not strong enough or charismatic enough to really stand alone, but if he were with four other guys, I can imagine that girls might squeal when he did his solos. Now I'll sit back and wait for the judges to overpraise him. "If I were 18 then I would want you to take me out on a date," Kelly says. "But we don't have a time machine," Simon says. "You of all people should not be talking about time machines," Demi responds. It's four "Yes" votes for Al, with Simon saying that the music business is waiting for somebody like Al right now. I agree! Now if they find four more people like him, it can be an American One Direction.
1:16:08 I haven't loved anybody today. Surely the show-closer will change things?
1:17:00 We close with subway singer Denise Weeks. She's been putting her pride aside to provide for her kids. It's unclear how old she is, but her kids are fully grown, so she's ready to live her dream. She's 41, but Simon says she looks great. Simon also asks why Denise isn't married. That's a bit rude coming from Simon. Denise goes with "The Greatest Love of All" and she's... only so-so. Simon cuts her off very early and says she was rushing the song and they weren't getting any emotion. He asks her to sing again without the backing track. She's much better a cappella. And she's even better as she approaches the chorus and she begins to open up. But I'd say that she's also "midshow" good and not "show-closing" good. We've seen plenty of comparable singers over the years on both "X Factor" and "Idol." Simon has a hard time understanding the concept of a subway singer. Demi references a friend who used to live in Grand Central Station who has become something incredible. Do we know who that friend is? "We have been waiting on you. Period," Kelly says. It's four "Yes" votes, duh.
1:23:45 Yeah, nobody moved me tonight. However, I liked the dynamic with Kelly, Demi and Simon tonight much more than I did last night. Or maybe I just liked Demi more tonight. Between the Simon impression and her love of Pink Panthers... Go Demi.
Did you like anybody?