|I’ve been looking forward to seeing X-Factor for the past several months. I would have been looking forward to seeing it to begin with, but that desire was only increased when I got a chance to attend one of the tapings. Those auditions won’t air tonight, as it will be the ones filmed in Los Angeles and Seattle, instead of Chicago, yet I’m still wondering how they’re going to handle the auditions when Nicole Scherzinger was still a cohost, and not a judge, before she took Cheryl Cole’s place. Are they going to acknowledge the big change they made halfway through the auditions?
Steve Jones is now the lone host, and he starts it all off in Los Angeles, with the note it’s the city with the largest turnout. What makes this different than American Idol is that the age minimum is lower, and the maximum is lifted. Additionally, these aren’t just soloists, but singing groups as well. Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell are joined in Los Angeles by Cheryl and Seattle by Nicole. The fourth judge on the panel is L.A. Reid, the guy behind Pink and Justin Bieber. And of course, the fifth judge at the auditions is the audience, as they take place in arenas, instead of in a hotel conference room.
First up is Rachel Crow, 13, an 8th grader. She sings all the time wherever she goes, and her sister thinks she’s crazy. The rest of her family is supportive of her, in this most important thing she’s ever done in her life. Simon cracks that she and Paula should be related because of a similar personality. If she wins the five million, she explains, “My family has like no money.” There are six of them living in a two-bedroom house. She’s a girl and needs her own bathroom. She sings Mercy, and proves that she has a good voice to go along with definitely having “it.” The crowd and judges love her.
Paula tells Rachel what she just did is exactly what they need. She delivered the goods with personality, and then opened up her mouth and sung and blew them away. Rachel had Cheryl before she even sang, and once she sang, Cheryl thought, “Oh my God, we’ve found ourselves a little star.” L.A. notes she had everything every other artist he’s ever seen had, “Spunky, funky, fly, feisty, sassy, soulful.” Simon explains they spent a long time deliberating how low to make the age minimum, and she’s the reason why they made it the right age. He thinks we should remember her name, as we’ll be hearing more about her. He also tells her to get ready for a new bathroom.
Next up is Terrell Carter, 36, actor and singer. He came to L.A. for his music. He sings a great soulful tune and has the crowd on its feet. Cheryl tells him he has “the package.” Terrell gets four yeses and is through. Ellona Santiago, 14, a student, has a meek speaking voice, but a booming singing voice. Cheryl is impressed, and Ellona gets four yeses. John Lindahl, 14, a student, has experience through school productions. He sings Forget You, and after promising to work hard, gets four yeses.
Siameze Floyd, 30, a hotel performer, talks about his look and his talent. He notes that girls are “like way easy to get like when you’ve been onstage.” Once he’s a megastar, he wants to release an energy drink called Siamenergy. With the five million, he would invest in his career. He sings and combines it with a dance and a striptease. He seems somewhat confused. The judges don’t appear to know what to think either.
Cheryl asks herself if she really loved the performance, but can’t answer whether it’s genius or weird. Simon notes that Siameze is obviously a big fan of Prince, as he’s a copycat. However, there is something fascinating about him. Paula calls it rare to have someone willing to commit to that kind of energy, but doesn’t think it’s original enough. L.A. votes no based on that, while Cheryl votes yes. Paula wants to see what he has, and Simon calls him talented but diluted, yet says yes anyway. After he leaves, Simon admits he thinks he’ll be a nightmare. Paula wants him to have Siameze all to himself.
Dan and Venita, 70 and 83, retired entertainers, are a duet. They got married at the Gunfighers Club and live in Pahrump, Nevada. Their dream is to get that recording contract. They’re the first ones up on day two in L.A. Simon asks what they could see themselves doing in five years, and Dan mishears him, thinking he’s asking about having five at a time. Venita says they’ll be in their travel home playing in the most beautiful senior centers. The two sing Simon’s favorite song, Unchained Melody. In their day they were probably somewhat good, but it’s just not hitting it today.
Simon tells the two they won’t be remembered for that version of the song, as it was terrifying. He can imagine he and Paula being them in ten years. As they approach the vote, Venita asks if they’re not going to sing again, and the judges seem terrified that she and Dan might try it. Paula thinks the two of them doing this is fantastic, and they’ll probably live longer than any of them, but they aren’t right for the competition. Cheryl loves their reason for why they came, but didn’t love the audition. Simon likes that they didn’t give up, but dismisses them nonetheless.
You Only Live Once, 15 and 19, both students, combine two weird acts into one. Simon explains it as one singing, and the other like she swallowed poison. They get four noes. Linda Ostrofsky, 61, a retired court clerk, calls herself Shanna, as there are always too many Lindas. She screams almost as much as the last act. Simon refers to her as a little tiger and says not in a million years. Miranda Singleton, 30, a stay-at-home mom, wants to be the next Madonna. She struggles to find a tune, and tells Simon he’s wrong when he says he doesn’t think she’s a very good singer.
Simone Battle, 21, a college student, wants to be a pop icon. She thinks she’s different because she’s fierce and thinks she has the self-confidence the winner needs to have. She would call her first album Honey Works because she likes to describe herself as a combination of a cheerleader, a hipster, and a drag queen. She sings When I Grow Up, and she’s not bad, but I don’t know if she has it. Simon thinks she really is fierce, as well as ambitious, and would be fun to watch. Cheryl enjoyed it and thinks she has potential. L.A. completely disagrees, and Simon asks for another song to just hear her voice. The crowd loves her second effort. L.A. stands by what he says, as he just didn’t get excited about it, but the other three judges put her through.