The X Factor recap: Who are these people?
I don’t get it. Where is the talent? Two freaking hours of more auditions and they were mostly terrible. I’m not even talking about the joke auditions, like the 56-year-old poor man’s wizard who claimed to have “a buttload of natural talent,” or the “model” from Denver who gazed cross-eyed at some sort of low-functioning karaoke app on her phone to remember the words. I’m talking the people they put through! I’m flummoxed! They are just not good. I can barely believe I’m about to describe them. Or that I’m really recapping this. No one seems to be reading or watching.
“This is the worst session,” Simon drawled at one point in Denver. Check!
Rylie Brown, 15: Nice, bubbly girl from Missouri with — seriously, am I missing something here? — nothing remarkable about her except that she forgot the words to “Clarity” by Zedd, that crazy song that always makes me wonder if I have lit-ruh-lly forgotten the definitions of clarity and remedy. Most of her segment was close-ups of Rylie wincing in pain to remember the rest of the words, not sure if they’d dribble out. At one point they showed two girls in the audience, vaguely nodding along in boredom. “She’s singing again.” “Oh. True.”
“Your life is about to change forever!” drooled Paulina Rubio. “You don’t sound 15,” said Demi. “So you messed up. But who cares, when you’ve got a voice like that? I absolutely love you,” lied Simon. “He doesn’t ever say that,” said Liar Lovato. HE ALWAYS SAYS THAT.
Jeffrey Brinkman, 36: This guy! He runs a doggie day care in Colorado and just had a baby girl arrive six weeks early — two facts which were supposed to hypnotize us into a stupor of admiration, I guess, as he croaked through a way too dramatic “You Are So Beautiful” complete with so, so many uncomfortable pauses. Was anyone into this guy? I felt like he was a Will Ferrell character on an SNL sketch… but the sketch got thrown away, and Will Ferrell’s stand-in was actually the one rehearsing it. Ho, hum.
“You’re fresh and original” (?!?!?!) “and I really enjoyed your performance tonight,” said Paulina. Simon, who’d been crinkling one side of his face in apparent discomfort, agreed: “That was a brilliant, brilliant vocal. I really, really like you, Jeffrey.” Double words double lies!
I mean, this guy would’ve been a fine, sweet addition to the lineup at 3 a.m. in a karaoke bar. Dude sounded a little drunk, and that can be very soothing in the right situation. But multiple other songs from him? On TV? What is going on?!
NEXT: Finally, one bright spot, salty and sweet Rachel Potter, 29: Okay, THIS girl I like. A lot. She’s brilliant and I like her. Single words no lies. I agreed right away with Kelly Rowland, who announced to Simon, “Her vocal control is crazy,” at the start of Rachel’s country version of “Somebody to Love.” Finally I was feeling something from a contestant. In addition to a huge range and clear, twangy vocal, Rachel offered the kind of honest facial expressiveness that I think people really wanted out of Kree Harrison on this past season of Idol. She’s also kinda Britney Spears-ish in the face.
I liked how they showed her finishing the whole song, too. I don’t know if the industry is clamoring for Rachel, like Demi said, but this show certainly should be. I hope she doesn’t get overshadowed by all the show kids and other various braggarts. This girl is salt of the earth.
Jorge Pena, 22: Ewwww. Creepy ice cream man! No female his age or younger should ever be left unsupervised around this aggressive flirt-demon. “My Latin charm is all I’ll ever need onstage,” he claimed — and then the judges just LET THAT COME TRUE! This kid could not sing! And he was really gross!
Surprisingly Paulina made the most sense here, in subtitled Spanish: “Please. You need to change your attitude, because it’s not good. Please come down from the stars, dude. Because you are not a star yet.”
Simone Torres, 19: She has potential. This one was totally set up as a joke audition, announcing that she liked to speed-rap (may we see that, please?) and that she was “quirky” (always a foreboding sign) and getting the dreaded “She’s a funny little thing, isn’t she?” from Simon. I’m not sure “Mustang Sally” was what anyone in this largely teenage crowd wanted to hear in its entirety, but Simone definitely transformed from an awkward nerd to a smooth, low-toned belter/growler once the music began. I have no idea if the shtick will work with other songs. I can see she has talent, but I can’t say I’m dying to hear or see much more.
I did love Simone’s humble reaction to all the love, though, and hope she’s got a full arsenal ready to go. Her dad was AMAZING, by the way. I loved the “Ohhh!” he blissfully grunted backstage after Demi told Simone, “Everyone can agree we all just want to hug you.”
Roxxy Montana: Zoom-in on Kelly Rowland, for a mini-Destiny’s Child has stepped right up. And they’re related! “Usually you don’t find three pretty sisters — there’s always an ugly one,” said one before the others chimed in: “Did you really just say that?’ “Who told you you were pretty?” I was digging the banter for sure; I love sisterly dynamics as long as the sisters in question aren’t total bitches. And I think these girls’ hearts are in the right place, even though they’re brazenly begging The X Factor to pleeeeeeease not make them attend college.
The problem? They’re not that good yet. Temperance, the 21-year-old on the right (her sisters are 20 and 22), earned the “For me, your voice is so much better than the other two” from Simon we all knew was coming. Their “One Night Only” cover was quite cringe-worthy at most moments. But I did love how they re-grouped directly following Simon’s declaration of a non-democracy and harmonized much better on an a cappella church song. They could definitely be taught, I suppose, if they were coached well.
Of course Simon had to overdo it: “Apart from the groups I’ve put together, this is potentially the best group we’ve ever had on The X Factor.” WHAT.
NEXT: “I sing on the train.” “WHAT’S THAT?”Al Calderon, 19: Oh dear. This daddy’s boy from Long Island sang “Sara Smile” by Hall & Oates — piss-poorly if you ask me, but Kelly Rowland was a big fan of the song choice…and, perhaps more importantly, Al’s dreamy big eyes. I died a little inside when this child ran his tongue over the upper portion of his mouth during one of many way too sensual sections of this song. But he’s cute! That is what we must remember.
“There were some tuning issues on that song, but I’m gonna put that down to inexperience and nerves,” Simon said. “The potential of your voice coupled with the way you look, your charisma… I believe the music business is waiting for someone like you right now.”
“I’m done!” announced the restaurant host/”Happy Birthday” specialist. “No more ‘Happy Birthday’ for me.” Oh, come on, Al Cal. It is always someone’s birthday. Don’t front like you’re not gonna sing.
Denise Weeks, 41: I loved how the judges pretended they had no idea what a subway singer was. A freaking subway singer! Are you kidding me? Have they ever visited any cities? We have proof that they have on TV! Anyway, Denise began Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” with an all-too-pushy backing track. “You’re rushing it! Therefore, we weren’t getting any emotion,” protested Simon. “Sing that song without a track. Let it breathe.” Yes, Denise, do it! Imagine the subway rails beneath you — your home track! It’s all you’ll ever need!
I just didn’t get why this was good. I can think of no defining characteristics about Denise’s voice or the performance. I mean, hers is a nice backstory and all, but I wasn’t stirred by anything happening onstage. Huge disconnect for me here.
Eh, maybe I’m just the wrong audience. I spent eight years in NYC. Some lady starts singing on the train = I put on my headphones. Every single time. I am clearly a monster.
What about you?