So far the X-Factor is turning out just as expected, and I mean that in a good way. I expected grand things from Simon Cowell. After all, it had to be something big enough that he would be willing to leave American Idol, something that was a definite cash cow for him. He didn’t have 100% control of Idol, so it stands to reason that he was going to put things in place here that he didn’t get at Idol. So far, what he’s getting is a lot of talent. I expect even more tonight, especially since I was witness to some of them, as I was lucky enough to attend the auditions on one of their days in Chicago.
Cheryl Cole is in on these auditions instead of Nicole Scherzinger, and is sitting alongside Simon, Paula Abdul, and L.A. Reid. They explains it’s her last day of auditions, meaning she only attended two days total before she was axed. As much as I like her, they were right, as the Nicole has much better chemistry with the rest of the panel.
Makenna and Brock, 22 and 18, are up first. They’ve been singing together for about four years now, after starring in a musical together. He didn’t like her at first, thinking she was stuck up and weird, but she thinks their chemistry is what has made them close. Someone asks if they are siblings or dating, and Makenna explains they’re just friends, which it doesn’t seem like Brock necessarily agree with. He admits later that when he looks at her, his heart kind of jumps out of his chest. He hopes she finds out someday, and I’m guessing she will when she watches this.
L.A. asks Makenna and Brock if they’re related. Sigh. He explains that when he started singing with her, it was the best thing he’s ever done. Simon asks if they’re dating, and Paula notes Brock is turning red. Makenna says no, and the hurt on his face is evident. They sing Colder Weather, and they’re really good. It’s obvious they wouldn’t be as good separately. L.A. and Paula completely enjoy the performance.
L.A. tells the pair that they completely made his day. Cheryl tells them their harmonies were spot on, and their vocals so controlled. Paula calls it a rarity to have two people come onstage and nail it. She found it lovely. Simon isn’t normally a fan of this kind of stuff, but Makenna’s voice is sensational. They get four yeses and are through. Makenna does say afterwards that there’s no one else she’d rather share it with.
Kim Terek, 35, a financial analyst, tells the judges she’s taken ten years of voice lessons, and believes the reason why she never got a record deal in all these years is because she never tried pop music. She sings Katy Perry’s Firework, and it seems not doing pop music wasn’t really the reason behind no contract. It’s because she isn’t very good. She tells the judges she couldn’t hear herself very well, and Simon’s response is, “You were lucky.” For him it was like two people singing at the same time. She knows there’s a break between her chest voice and her head voice. He mentions the chest won. In other words, she didn’t.
Tim Quinn, 21, a model, is here for his first ever audition, and wants to sing Kiss From a Rose, but Simon advises him it’s not a good idea. He sings it anyway, but should have taken Simon’s advice. Robin Royal, 45, an interior designer, is told by Simon she looks good for 45. The performance doesn’t hold the same merit. Simon asks her, “What the bloody hell was that?
Now this is one I saw audition. Charlesia Heard, 45, a shuttle bus driver, didn’t come here to sing, but came to audition to be a judge. She notes Simon mentioned last year he was looking for an unknown judge, and that’s her. However, Simon informs her she’s about six months too late. Nevertheless, she’d like to role play with him. He asks her what Britney Spears needs, and she responds, “Two types of sex, trashy and classy.” Simon tells her it’s a no for now. As she leaves, Paula calls it weird, and Simon calls it ballsy, but also lets L.A. know to keep on his toes, as everyone’s after his job.
Skyelor Anderson, 16, a student, is told by his mom that he’s going to win this thing. She works at a motorcycle factory, and he sees how hard she works. He wants to be able to help her out and buy her a house so she can quit her job. He’s from a small town in Mississippi. He knows he’s different just based on there not being a lot of young black country singers out there. He tells Simon he’s never auditioned before, then sings I Must Be Doing Something Right, and there’s a technical difficulty with his music, but he just keeps singing a cappella. Definitely a heads-up move.
L.A. asks him if his track got caught up, and Skyelor explains he just kept going, as he came too far to stop. Paula tells him that’s what it’s about, and L.A. notes how great it is that he didn’t panic. He also thinks he sounded good. Cheryl enjoyed it and thinks he looks great. Paula is impressed, but notes he needs to work on his vocals, even though she believes in him. Simon is impressed as well that he carried on. He thinks he’s different and realizes how much Skyelor loves his music. He gets four yeses.
J. Mark Inman, 31, is a graduate student studying philosophy in Europe. He’s always had both sides of his brain working simultaneously, with the left side analytical and the right side creative. He’s getting his doctorate in philosophy, but he also wants to be a musician and destroy the top 40. He sings because he has things to say, and doesn’t want to be a cookie cutter artist from a factory. He sees his life as more of an algorithm. J + Mark + X + Factor = $5 million. He tells the judges he’s here because of money. In ten years, he sees himself at the helm of a renaissance. Simon asks him if he’s ever dated Paula, and of course he hasn’t, but hopes to maybe someday. He sings Creep. He moves oddly across the stage, should I say like a “creep,” but in a humorous way.
After a standing ovation for J. Mark, Paula tells him he doesn’t belong here, is otherworldly, and definitely in a different jurisdiction for sure. She figures she probably visited there one time or another. “The places we could go together!” L.A. doesn’t think J. Mark wiull understand this, but notes it sounded so bad, but felt so good. Cheryl wants to visit this place so needs to know where it is. She’ll go with Paula next time. Simon has to congratulate Paula, because this is what she’s spawned. Oddly, he gets through, as Simon announces they’re on Planet Paula.
This sets off a display of odd auditions, including a woman who announces she has cautionary tales to talk about that include aliens, mythical creatures, unicorns, half men/half horse, and psycho fairies. She loves Paula Abdul. This sets off a collection of Paula’s weird talking bloopers. Also included in the weirdness is a person who looks and sounds female, but named Dwayne, and a young woman talking about a crystal child.
Arin Ray, 15, a student, sings Ain’t No Sunshine, and sounds questionable, but gets through.
Josh Krajcik, 30, couldn’t possibly have the same fate. He just doesn’t look like it will go well. His proud mom announces she drove him here. She is sure when Simon hears him sing, he’ll say, “Where have you been?” She thinks he’s gifted and cool and is worried about how her hair looks. He works in a burrito restaurant and smells like onions afterwards. Cheryl is astonished he drove this far. He sings At Last and is surprisingly good! Wow. It’s my favorite performance of this song next to Etta James’.
As Josh’s mom says he killed it, Simon adds he has always said after all these auditions throughout the years, he was never going to be surprised again, but he started singing and blew him away. What he loves about him is that he’s honest and didn’t come out here with any gimmicks. L.A. gets why he’s dressed like that, and he’s not fooling him for a second. It’s his before look, as he’s just too good. Cheryl calls it electric, and Paula says there are just some voices, and the second he opened up his mouth to sing, it got into their skin with that energy. She calls it a treat. L.A. tells him to give the slinging burritos job to someone else. Paula wants him to thank his mom for driving him. He gets four yeses, or 3335 yes, as Simon counts the audience as well.
We move on to Seattle, with Nicole now replacing Cheryl on the judging panel. She’s excited to find some amazing talent, as Paula kills herself with her own bracelet. I understand, but it’s those things that give her a certain rep.
First up is The Good Girls, mother and daughter, and …. there just isn’t anyway to explain them. Trust me on this. Sheree considers her daughter her biggest inspiration, as she got her back into singing. At one time she sang in coffee houses. They spend a lot of time together, yet this audition is the most important thing they’ve ever done. Darwin wants to perform in China, and even studied Mandarin in preparation for it. They want to become legendary figures like Lady Gaga. Paula remembers that the two of them once wrote a screenplay about Simon. It’s shocking to hear that Sheree is 70; she looks much younger.
The Good Girls sing What’s Going On, which is the same thing most of the audience is asking. Simon asks the two if it’s serous. He’s not being rude of course, but calls this the worst group he’s ever heard, and there was no movement. Nicole agrees, saying she likes her music full of life, and this felt kind of lifeless. They hear four noes. They believe the audience was getting into the song.
Drew Ryniewicz, 14, loves Justin Bieber. She thinks he’s so cute because of his hair, and knows that his favorite colors are purple and red. Her dad is a custom carpenter, and her mom does his paperwork. The things she builds are cool, but singing is her passion. Her mom asks if she thinks someday she could sing with Bieber. She hopes so. For that she needs to impress L.A., the music exec responsible for giving the world Bieber. She thinks she might just throw up or pass out. She’s singing Baby of course. She’s excited to sing it for L.A., and doesn’t mind that he might be extra critical. She’s actually pretty good, and puts a slower spin on the song.
After a standing ovation, Nicole tells Drew it’s hard for her, as she’s a real Justin Bieber fan, and she likes the original version of the song, yet it’s interesting, as she prefers her version to his. Simon admits he does too. Paula tells her it was commendable, daring, and bold, and she likes her a lot. Simon thinks this is exactly what he wants a 14 year old to do, as people her age would buy it. He likes her a lot. L.A. calls it original, and liked how she made it hers. It was soulful and believable. He calls her special. For Simon, it’s the easiest yes so far today. She gets four altogether.
Jada, ages 24-31 sing only a few lines, and are stopped right away. L.A. tells them it’s the home of great, great talent, assumably meaning Seattle, and they can’t come out and do that. They get four quick noes. Wow. Cut throat.
Peet Montzingo, 21, a sandwich maker, admits his biggest dream is to be a teen heartthrob. He’s six-foot-one, but the rest of his family are all little people. His dad is the second tallest dwarf in the world. His mom explains he was teased for a long time about his parents, and when he was young, he wanted to be a dwarf, too, feeling like the oddball of the family. The audition is important, as he wants to be so big to prove he can do anything and fit in somewhere. He doesn’t want everyone to know his age, because he’s still wanting to be a teen heartthrob. Simon loves that. Peet feels like this is his moment. He sings Billionaire and isn’t the strongest, but is infectious.
Nicole likes Peet’s rendition and that he has big dreams. He tells her he had to be honest. Simon is kind of with Nicole, but says the singing was terrible. He didn’t like the change of lyrics, but it was horribly honest. L.A. isn’t sure the singing measures up, but thinks he could be famous someday. Paula liked his timing. Simon is fascinated by Peet. He likes people who are ambitious and talented, yet Peet only has one of those. Nicole says no to the singing competition, but could see him in TV and films. L.A. says no as well, but could also see him famous someday. Paula agrees. Peet’s mom thought he sparkled.
After Paula went in the wrong bathroom, 4Shore, ages 20-23, from Virginia Beach, discuss their dreams of being the biggest boy band ever. They want to leave their mark on the world and plan to sing a song that L.A. Reid wrote. They’ve been singing together for three years and when asked if they can sell records, they respond “For Sure.” They announce they’re singing End of the Road, and Simon reminds them it’s an L.A. Reid song. They do pretty well with it in tier harmonies, and L.A. is definitely loving it. Separately their voices aren’t as good, though.
L.A. tells 4Shore that BabyFace and Boyz would be just as proud as he is. Nicole thinks their harmonies were beautiful together. She appreciated the little concert they did for them. Paula found their harmonies impeccable and spot on. Simon has always wanted to find an artist who could be a success all over the world and that American’s could be proud of. He thinks they could be proud of 4Shore. They get four yeses.
Elaine Gibbs, 53, a wedding singer, looks at least twenty years younger and not like a grandmother at all. She’s a great soulful singer with You’ve Got a Friend. It’s why Nicole loves this show. She gets four yeses.
Francesca Duncan, 17, a high school graduate, is called adorable by Paula. She sings Hero, and does very well. She gets four yeses as well. A bunch of other people are shown singing fantastic and make it through as well.
Tiger Budbill, 42, a wedding DJ (he needs to get together with Elaine), sings What’s Going On, with one fantastically long note. Nicole says yes, because she likes his name. So does Paula. L.A. votes no, as they’ve seen some great talent, and he’s not sure Tiger qualifies. Simon puts him through with his third yes.
Phillip Lomax, 21, a pat-time waiter, sees himself as a bit of a hipster and thinks hats are really coming back in style. Music has always been there with him. He loves performing and is absolutely going to seize this moment. As he shouts out to the crowd that he loves Seattle, Washington, Simon cracks that he needs a little more confidence. He sings Fly Me to the Moon with the same confidence. Paula seems to love his swagger, while L.A. sizes him up. Nicole and L.A. finally get into it, and Simon warms to him as well.
Simon tells Phillip he thinks part of being a star is self-belief. He has a certain charisma, although there is an issue with his voice when he pushes it. He’s interesting, though, and he likes him. L.A. thinks Phillip could be a star, and that he does have the X-Factor. Paula agrees he has that natural thing that happens onstage. Nicole found him to be charming. Simon notes his voice is still way off, but votes yes anyway, along with everyone else. As Phillip leaves the stage, Simon tells the others he hasn’t listened to a word they’ve said.
With Paula and Nicole rejecting many of the women, to which Simon starts announcing “D.O.A.” when they just walk onstage, the Pink Stilettos, a group of girls ages 19-24 takes the stage and sings Bye Bye Bye. They’re all wearing read high heels and shorts and capris. It’s a no-go.
Ivana Steelman, 20, a student wearing black hot pants and spiked heels sings Hey Big Spender. Simon remarks she reminds him of Nicole and what he thinks she’d be doing auditioning at 20 years old. She corrects him, saying she was actually in a show called Pop Stars at that point and auditioning with I Will Always Love You. She tells him to look it up online, then launches into a great rendition of the song, to Paula’s pure enjoyment. Ivana just walks off.
Tiah Tolliver, 19, a deli clerk, has a dream to be known worldwide. She notes people are constantly complimenting her on her lips and noticing her lipstick, which is bright, bright red. She brought one supporter with her, her fiancé. Paula thinks she’s a little firecracker. She explains she’s unique because she loves to be in front of people and wants to go double and triple platinum. Simon thinks she looks like a killer. Singing Impossible, she’s not really singing as much talking the words, yet the audience starts to get into it.
Paula remarks Tiah doesn’t stay on key. L.A. thinks she has a wonderful thing about her, but wishes he could hear her singing with a track instead of just a cappella. Simon has a wonderful feeling about her and thinks she has something. Nicole brings up that Tiah can’t stay on key, and that’s why they’re looking for something with a track. Simon tells her they don’t need a track to be able to tell if she has it. Paula reminds him you can choose whatever key you want, but you have to stay in that key. If she can’t see this, Simon thinks she’s deaf. Nicole informs him he’s not making any sense. They’re just trying to help Tiah out, because what she just did didn’t convince her. Simon knows “this girl was dead on arrival” the minute she walked out.
In a vote, the girls vote no, and the guys vote yes. Simon tells them they’re not giving the girl a chance. L.A. asks if there’s anything she can do to turn the other two around. Tiah comes back with It Don’t Mean a Thing and seems to have something more with this song. It’s a much better audition than the last song. Simon begs Nicole and Paula, and asks the audience for their input. They are affirmative. Nicole remembers when Tiah first came out, Simon said she had “steel in her eyes.” And when she performs, she sees it, but she needs her to work on her vocals. She gives her a chance and says yes. Paula doesn’t seem happy.
Afterwards, Paula argues her point, saying they can all see Tiah is a star, and Simon reminds her she said no. Paula gets upset with him and hits his hand that’s holding a cup of peanuts, spilling them. Simon calls her mature, but she just wishes it were juice in there.
Maybe it’s a male/female thing, as I’m on Nicole and Paula’s side with Tiah. We didn’t see quite the show of talent we saw last week, and that’s a puzzling thing since I know the talent was there in Chicago. There were a few acts that I couldn’t wait to see, and only two iffy ones from the audition day I attended were included. This means that just like like Idol, they’re holding out on us, waiting for the next step in the auditions before pulling out some of the best talent.