Gospel Soundcheck

Tonight was the last night of auditions for “The X Factor” before next week we see the contestants at boot camp.  I’ll post some contestant audition videos tomorrow when they’re available, but for now, here’s a recap:

First, tonight was a better night for Nicole. Thank you, producers, for not making her look like a raving witch. They showed a much nicer and encouraging side of her tonight.

The first hour was all Newark, NJ. Brian Bradley, 14, came out with a  bit of an attitude and seemed ready to go head to head with Simon when he asked, “What’s your problem man?” … except it was all intro to his rap act. I don’t know the song – “Stop Looking At My Mom”? Is that a real song? – but Brian was cute. Simon called him arrogant, obnoxious, argumentative, but one of the most talented young people he’d seen in a long time. LA said he was “the luckiest guy in the world that you walked into my life today.”

Kelly Warner, 22, a hair dresser in a nursing home, also got four yeses.

Twenty-seven-year-old Aaron Surgeon got three yeses; Simon called it average. I’m with Simon.

After a montage of clips, Lilliana Rose Andreano, 26, surprised the judges with an acappella song, which I can’t remember right now. Mostly because I can’t read my own handwriting.

A string of clunkers was lead off by 43-year-old Andy Silikovitz, who came to the audition with his mom. Andy admitted he’s never kissed a girl and most of his audition consisted of him talking about how he was hoping he could find a girlfriend. No, it didn’t end up being a Susan Boyle moment. Poor Andy can’t sing. But Simon did leave him with these encouraging words: “I think you’re going to find it much easier with the chicks from now on.” He got a big hug from Paula.

Clarissa Cheatham, 27, from Philadelphia is also known as Cashmere. She told the judges that when she sings karaoke the crowd screams. Simon and Paula were giggling and laughing throughout the entire audition, which was completely off key, and when Clarissa was done, Simon said “When you said people screamed after karaoke I don’t think that was a compliment.”

Nouf Faraman, Jean Loup Wolfman, and Maya Lehman also got the boot.

Cari Fletcher, 17, is a junior in high school. She sang “Alone” by Heart and got four yeses from the judges despite the fact that Simon found her voice boring. But he liked her and saw her potential. LA said she has a star’s name, a star’s face and a star’s voice.

The hour ended with due Ausem – Austin and Emily, 16-year-old students who met in 6th grade and started singing together. They’re cute and have such optimism, but maybe a little room to grow in their performance. Simon said, “The audience you’re aiming at will understand you perfectly,” and said yes. LA said Austin was a star and meant no disrespect to the duo, but he wasn’t convinced. Since they auditioned as a duo, he said yes to them as a duo. And then it was Nicole’s turn. She liked Austin, didn’t love the duo, and waffled for … well, a  long time. Long time. Waffle, waffle, waffle, Simon all the while saying, “Yes or bloody no!” Paula told Simon he was like a honking horn putting pressure on Nicole, who seemed unable to form a complete sentence the more Simon carped at her. He finally got up and left, Nicole agreed that while she wasn’t a fan of the duo she’d say yes to them  both, and Paula gave them a yes, too.

Poor kids. I hate that they have to stand on stage like that while the grown ups fight. It’s like watching your parents battle over your report card while you sit there wishing you could disappear.

Torah Woloshin, a 21-year-old student of automotive technology, defines “super cool”. She’s spunky and unique (she’s a mechanic) and beautiful – and she can sing. LA said, “We are all so licky to have you in the room today.” The judges loved her.

Jor-el Garcia kicked of a montage of bad singers and bad dancers. Then the group The Stereo Hogzz sang. One of the guys’ wives had a baby just that morning, so there was an “aww” moment. To be honest, on my TV they sounded off key and really weird, but the judges loved them, although Simon did say they seemed overrehearsed.

We get another montage of Nicole using the phrase “your instrument” to refer to constestants’ voices, and Simon mocking her for it.

And then came Brennin Hunt, a 26-year-old model and musician from Nashville. He talked a lot about how great he looked, and while I suppose he’s attractive, he’s so self absorbed that he ended up just being icky. But he can sing. And he can write songs; he performed an original tune. The judges loved him. Simon said that despite his extensive experience professionally, he understands why Brennin hasn’t gotten a break, adding, ” I could work with you and make y ou into a great artist.” Brennin left saying, “Finally somebody gets me.”

Other contestants who made it through included 18-year-old Paige Elizabeth Ogle; 59-year-old Leroy Bill; duo The Brewer Boys (ages 13 and 15); and 14-year-old Nick Dean.

Devon Talley, 21, performed “Seasons of Love” from Rent, which went on and on and painfully on. Four nos.

The last contestant was 16-year-old Jazzlyn Little, a sophomore at Ida Baker High School in Cape Coral, FL. She was extremely nervous, self-conscious, and jittery when the judges asked her questions. But once she started singing? It was like a switch was flipped. She’s amazing and she blew the judges away. She got a standing ovation from the audience, LA, Paula and Nicole, and even Simon raised his hands to clap over his head. Simon joked, “I’d like to see what you’re like when you’ve got confidence,” adding, “You, I believe, could be a world star. You’re one to watch, young lady.”

Jazzlyn left the audition saying, “For the first time in my life … I feel accepted.” She’s one of those contestants you just can’t help but love. She has no idea how good she is, she’s down to earth, and she’s willing to listen to the mentors.

And next week, the mentoring will start. The contestants will be broken down into guys, girls, singers over 30, and groups, and each judge will be assigned a group to mentor for the rest of the competition. Thirty two acts will go through.

So far, “The X Factor” is lots of fun, and other than the naked guy on the first night, super clean family entertainment. While there are some weirdos, there hasn’t been an emphasis on the nutcases, no exploitive stories, and a focus on talent and entertainment.

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