S1E4: Welcome back to week two of The X Factor, a fall show that is struggling to distinguish itself from its Spring counterpart, American Idol. The ratings aren't what Simon originally expected (he said less than 20 million viewers would be a failure), but perhaps viewers have been trained by Idol to skip over the sad sack auditions and not watch until the actual talent is chosen. But for those of you (like me) who enjoy watching performers suffer at the wrath of Simon Cowell, I hope you enjoyed Thursday nights show because the audition portion is now over. Next week, the selected contestants will be off to Los Angeles for "Boot Camp" where they will once again face the judges panel and a live audience. Then whoever makes it through "Boot Camp" will be broken up into four groups: boys, girls, over thirties, and groups. (Can I just say, I love the implication that people over 30 are genderless) Show producers will then surprise the judges with the category that they will be in charge of mentoring. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. We need a chance to bask in the aftermath of the final auditions. And boy, was it a night to remember.
Wednesday night's auditions left tempers running high between the guy judges and the girl judges, especially between Simon and Nicole. The former Pussycat Doll didn't want the final contestant of the night to pass go and collect a third judge's vote (there are no yellow slips distributed on this show, so I'm putting a Monopoly spin on it). Simon was adamant about this girl continuing on, so after much drama and suspenseful music, Nicole changed her mind and said "yes" (because we all know what happened to Cheryl Cole). Has the tension cooled between the judges or has the voting tug of war continued? Well, let's put it this way, Simon gets so frustrated with Nicole at one point that he walks out of the room. And here you thought all the intrigue was going to be coming from the contestants.
One young contestant leaves Simon speechless.
Brian Bradley is a 14 year old boy from Brooklyn and he knows what he wants and isn't afraid to go out and get it. Before he went on stage he stated that he wants to be bigger than Jay-Z and Kanye (calling them his competition), so I already thought he was going to be a terrible singer. Usually when contestants brag about what a great singer they are by comparing themselves to celebrities, it usually ends in disaster but I was pleasantly surprised with this young man. But the best part was the little trick he played on Simon before he even started singing. When asked why he didn't think he was a star already, his answer was simple: politics, it's all about who you know (so true). Simon looked over at Reid and commented how the boy is just like him, but the kid interrupts and asks Simon what his problem is. The look on Simon's face was priceless -- like a deer caught in headlights. He threw down his hat and glasses, looking like he actually wanted to fight, but instead he starts to sing. The crowd loves it, the judges love it, and if you're able to catch Simon off guard like that then you deserve to be put through.
A contestant is hoping the show will get him a girlfriend.
A 43-year-old man named Andy graced the stage during the competition and he admitted his intentions weren't purely for fame...they were for love too. He's never had a girlfriend and was hoping that if he was one of the competitors then it'd be easier to get a girl to like him. It was sweet in a somewhat pathetic sort of way, but sadly it was not meant to be. The guy had no musical ability whatsoever, but you have to give him props for trying. The audience members' faces were almost as priceless as the judges while watching him sing. Paula at least acted like she was enjoying it for his benefit, which I was actually very impressed with, but he still got 4 nos from the judges. Simon was kind enough to offer Paula's number to Andy at the end though. So maybe he'll get his happily ever after, after all.
Simon feeds Paula.
The description pretty much says it all. All four judges were just sitting at the panel together and Simon started feeding Paula with a little snack. It was something in a bowl (my guess is either berries or peanuts), so he would just pick one up and place it in her mouth. Seriously, it's like they're practically begging us to start up romance rumors about the two of them again. Simon is desperate to make this show popular in America and he's willing to use any means necessary to get our attention. And he didn't even offer any to Nicole or Reid. How rude!
One contestant mouths back to the audience, not the judges.
Plenty of contestants in the past have gotten upset and hurt by the judges' criticism, but I think this is the first time a contestant has given attitude to the audience. The girl was a bad singer...really bad. Plain and simple. So when some of the audience members booed, she snapped right back and said, "How am I supposed to sing if you keep booing?" She must have forgotten just how big of a role the audience members (and viewers) play throughout this competition. You end up relying on their votes, so she wasn't doing herself any favors by talking back. You're supposed to win America's heart, not their right hook. If you remember from last night, it was the audience that ended up convincing Nicole to switch her answer from a "no" to a "yes," so the audience is more powerful than you think. No surprise, she was sent packing.
America gets a look at the old Simon again.
So far throughout the auditions, Simon has been unusually kind to the contestants. So the natural question has been "What happened to the old Simon?" Where's the man that has made plenty of hopefuls cry in the past? Well, he is starting to make an appearance again. He actually laughed in one contestant's face who said that people screamed whenever she sang. By the end of her performance (which wasn't very good), Simon remarked (still laughing by the way) that he didn't think that the screaming comment was a compliment. His laughter lead to the other judges bursting out into a fit of giggles, leaving the contestant on the stage looking embarrassed. Ouch. And then another contestant -- who I thought sounded great -- was deemed "boring" by Simon, which I thought was totally uncalled for since they've let people through who have way worse voices than hers. Oh Simon, how I've missed arguing with your rude comments. Let's hope this attitude keeps up, so we can see more of the Simon we once knew and loved.