The Reality TV Guru

The X Factor recap, Thursday September 22, 2011

Simon Cowell's The X Factor airs on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8/7c on Fox

Welcome again to The X Factor! We begin the next round of auditions in Miami after last night’s visits to Los Angeles and Seattle. Simon is acting as Paula’s wardrobe consultant as she tries out a dress in his penthouse suite before the show. He’s lounging on the bed reading something and casually adds, “And darling, can I have a cup of ginger tea?” “Yes sir, I’ll be right back,” she replies. “Thank you, sweetheart,” he smiles.

We’re reintroduced to the four judges as they step out of their limousines and into the arena. Ashley Sansone, 27, is the first “pop tart” to face the judges. Someone ought to pop a tart in her mouth, because it runs non-stop to the point that Simon has to interrupt her. Paula says she is already exhausted. Ashley takes her shoes off and sings Piece of My Heart. Unlike last night’s first performance, this one is totally forgettable as Ashley growls and hoots. The crowd is amused. The judges aren’t and out she goes, crestfallen and disillusioned as she’s escorted out by the guys wearing the CREW shirts.

Next up is Chanel Simone Dixon, a hairdresser who has the worst hairstyle we’ve seen on this show yet. We don’t find out where she’s from, but she yodels like a Swiss mountaineer to begin the song. She lasts all of five seconds before she gets cut off. She’s followed by a trio of cowboys in black hats who call themselves Kanan Road. One voice, two voices, three voices join together in cacophony and they’re cut off before the first stanza is over.

A mom and daughter pair, Charlese and Melody, known as the DreamGirlz (that’s with a “z”, they say) sing next — for all of about five or ten seconds before they’re cut off, too. Simon’s patience is running thin and he apologizes to the other three judges for misjudging Miami talent, “That’s my mistake. I apologize.” To think these opening acts actually passed the triple screening to get on-stage is appalling, indeed. (The X Factor got totally thumped by the sitcom Modern Family in the ratings last night, so go ahead.)

{Edited to add by this blogger: I later found out the production and editing of the DreamGirlz audition is a complete and total fabrication. Here is the DreamGirlz audition (thanks, Charlese). The singing part of their audition ran for two minutes although the editing made it appear like five or ten seconds. While I couldn’t make out all of the details of the interview, there was a lot more to it than was shown, including some rather insensitive comments by Simon Cowell. After asking and finding out that Charlese (mom) no longer lived with Melody’s (the girl’s) father, Simon remarked that he’d have left them too after hearing them sing. What a bloody boor. You owe more than your fellow judges an apology, Simon.}

Gloria Estefan arrives to save the day! (Sadly, she does not.) “Who has the X Factor out there?” she hollers to the audition crowd outside the arena. They all cheer. Kaitlin Curtis, a 16-year old junior in high school, sings the piano version of Firework. The song starts with the lyrics “Do you ever feel like you’re a plastic bag?“, but it’s already too late for one of those after the opening acts. For once, we get a halfway decent audition, all twenty minutes into the show. Kaitlin has a fairly pleasing but unpolished voice, but she falls just short of the mark with the judges, who think she needs more time to prepare. Kaitlin breaks down into tears on stage and Paula goes up and comforts her. Maybe we’ll see her again next season, as there was a hint they might like to see her again after she works on her voice.

At this point, the judges despair of the lack of talent they’re (not) finding. During a dressing room break, Paula says she is concerned and Simon openly wonders why they even came to Miami.

Half an hour into tonight’s disastrous show, twenty-one year old Nick Voss is the next one on stage. He was fired from his job because his boss wouldn’t give him two days off to do an X Factor audition. He also tells us that he was fired from the airport for dancing while directing traffic. He chooses a high difficulty song, Trouble by Elvis. He kicks off the song strongly, dancing and pumping the lyrics out as they audience cheers him on. He heck of a few dance moves during the song that fit in nicely. The judges are smiling. They all say he needs to polish his act, with Simon saying, “I absolutely love you” to top if off. This guy’s an entertainer at heart, so we’ll likely see more of him in the coming weeks.

Next up is cute looking 17-year old Ashley Deckard, who we find out is a ghost hunter. Simon actually wants to hear more about this. He’s intrigued. Simon is incredulous, but Paula supports her because she claims she sees ghosts too. Ashley sings Price Tag. She has a rhythmic and happy melodic voice, but she obviously could use some training and the judges all say no. Then we get yet more clips of failed acts and we might begin to think this already haunted show is going to suffer the same fate. On cue, production plays with the lights and sound effects as if it were Halloween already, even though one of their crew visits the judges’ panel and claims that he can’t explain what’s going on.

Marivana Viscuso, 55, ex-music teacher comes on stage next with George Gerschwin’s Summertime. She belts out huge, long sustained notes with a few staccatos thrown in. She’s obviously got a well-trained voice, powerful enough to break glasses even in the lower registers, but it wasn’t really a stage performance of any kind. The possessed judges’ panel all give her a pass.

A group act follows with the ladies from 2Squar’d. They’ve obviously trained and practiced together, all in harmony vocally and in choreography. They get a pass but, still, we’ve seen better on America’s Got Talent. Following them is diva Kendra Williams, 32, from Mississippi. The crowd loves it and she gets four yes’s. Next is Brendan O’Hara, who could pass a movie double for Jesus. Nicole is swooned by him, asking him if he’s single or married. He makes the cut and remarks to the panel, “You guys are getting along. Kinda nice.” Then it’s Jeremiah Padong, who says he’s a male soprano, “one of seven in the world”. While he’s not one of the Seven Wonders of the World, he gets four yes’s. The judges admit now, after almost a whole day of rejects, they’re saying too many yes’s.

Next up is Melanie Amaro, 18, in college, who sings Listen by Beyonce. She starts off slow then gets into the song, demonstrating a wide vocal range with a polished tone. The judges let her keep going for the whole song as the audience stands up and cheers her on. She gets better and better as the song goes along. The judges love it. Best performance of the night. L.A. tells her she has “the gift, the soul, the spirit, the swagger, the X Factor.” Well, maybe Miami wasn’t a total washout, after all, in spite of the ghosts.

Dallas is the fourth stop in the X Factor audition tour. We haven’t heard a single country audition, so maybe we’ll hear one here.

It won’t happen with 17-year old blonde-haired Johnny Rogers. He’s got this thing about his hair, constantly flipping it around so much you’d think he’d have constant headaches. Simon says he looks like Barbie’s boyfriend. Instead of singing a song by his idol Justin Bieber, he sings one of his own. There’s the shot of the soundboard with the controls sliding up. (Here’s your cue to hit the MUTE button while you can. You were warned.) The crowd seems to like it, but then crowds seem to like Justin Bieber, too. The judges hint at everything they like — except his voice. Simon says, “It wasn’t quite right” and Johnny boy goes out with four no’s.

Nicole is obviously easily influenced wherever she goes. Production makes fun of her suddenly profuse use of “y’all” and other Southernisms that are clearly foreign to her.

Going on stage is Dylan Lawson, 18, from Kentucky. He sold his truck to make the trip and when asked what’s the first thing he’d buy if he won $5 million, he says he’d buy is a truck! Suddenly, this tame mild-mannered dude turns into a frantically moving body jangle spouting incoherent sounds. Who’d a thunk? It kind of makes you feel sorry for that truck he drove, as the *bleep* machine and on-screen “X” spots go into overdrive.

Some more rejects come and go. One guy, Curtis Lawson, 19, is dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with a dream catcher on his belt. “Is that a dream catcher down there?” Paula asks. “That’s what I’ve been staring at this whole time.” Curtis replies, “It’s supposed to catch dreams.” L. A. grins, “I think it just did.” Paula, you’re busted! This guy sounds like a motorboat engine gurgling water. Paula likens his voice to a lawnmower as it’s being started up. Well, there goes one more dream.

Next up is Dexter Haygood, 49, from Memphis who could almost pass as a Jimi Hendrix look-a-like. He almost loses his ring rolling along the floor on-stage while answering the judges’ questions. As he jives into James Brown’s Sex Machine, the crowd actually kind of likes it, although the whole performance is amateurish. Simon cuts the performance short and says it’s just a tribute song that he could predict the sound to and he’d like to hear something else. {Insert commercial break.} Then a back story about his destitution. On stage, after a long moment of suspense with a grimaced look on his face, he launches into Brown’s This is a Man’s World, doing it a capella. Midway in the first stanza, hitting it on “without a woman or a girl…” the crowd goes nuts. L. A. says he turned the place out. Simon says he treated the first part like a joke and that’s why he wanted to hear another song and concludes that he’s got a voice and soul. Four yes’s for Dexter, who’s got nobody to greet him outside.

We get some clips of some more who pass the cut, including Hannah Jackson, who endears a widely smiling Simon. The next story focuses on Caitlin Koch, a 21-year old rugby coach and player. She picks a high difficulty song in Stop in the Name of Love by the Supremes. She doesn’t have that Supremes sound, but she’s got a fairly good voice. The audience is quiet at first until she warms up and hits some nice notes mid-song. L. A. says it was special and the tongue bath continues down the panel and she gets four yes’s. “No more rugby,” Simon says.

Xander (“that’s Xander with an ‘X'”) Alexander (“don’t call me Alexander, I hate that name”) is next up. Oh, and we find out his last name is Johnson. What’s in a name, right? He chooses to sing I’ll Be by Edward McCain. But a whole lot of chatter about names and other nonsense goes on before Simon finally says, “Shut. It. And start singing.” Barely does he get past the first two lines of the song does Simon cut him off and asks him if he can sing anything else. After bumbling around with a cheat sheet of notes, Xander finally goes into Tina Turner’s A Fool in Love. He goes for a while then stops on nerves. Simon thinks he’s interesting, even if he’s “gobby and lippy”. The panel all seem to see some potential, but L. A. says no. Paula says no and he’s out without three yes’s, although Simon might have given him a pass. Simon tells him he blew it.

So ends the show as we get a few clips, good, bad, and ugly, of what’s coming up next week.

Until then, may your voice warm the hearts of those around you!

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