Are you tired of the "X Factor" auditions jumping from one city to the next without any sense of continuity? Whatever happened to linear progression? The editing is atrocious (like when Judge Simon Cowell was sick in Kansas City and the next city on the show, which is Austin, Texas, had the other judges wondering where he was; however, the next auditions in real time were held in San Francisco) and unless someone mentions what city they're in, it is often difficult to know exactly where things are taking place, giving the entire production a non-focused, discombobulated feel. Anyway, if you're feeling put off from all the jumping around to the five separate "X Factor" Season 2 auditions sites, episode five was no different, moving from Providence, R. I., to San Francisco, Calif., to Greensboro, N. C. Makes you think the discovered talent was few and far between...
"No" seemed to be the theme of the night from the onset, but that could have just been editing. Still, it would gradually ease into some fairly good singers and a couple of stand-outs before the evening ended.
Two guys with longshoremen accents named Adonis and John showed up in Providence. The had the judges panel -- L. A. Reid, Demi Lovato, Britney Spears, and Simon Cowell -- laughing with their introduction. (Adonis owned a diner. John was a waiter -- pause -- "in my diner.") But the two might as well have been butchers, because they hacked up Lionel Ritchie's "Hello," and with John simply walking around saying "Uh, uh" and "yeah." They were hilarious without the slightest intention of being so.
A couple completely enamored with each other and their not-Karmin act, Jaime (how not-Karmin was their act's name?), performed an original that sounded as if a bunch of high-schoolers suddenly decided to write their own lyrics for some generic pop tune. L. A. said they were "cheesy." Simon said they were "cabaret" (but that really would have been a compliment). Backstage, the two found that the judges simply didn't get it and they would continue, inseparable and unstoppable. (Well, except perhaps if they try to audition for another singing talent competition, that is...)
Changyi Li was an interesting sort. Her appearance on "X Factor" seemed almost whimsical. Reminiscent of the Alex Borstein character, Miss Swan, on "MAD TV," this 52-year old performed Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." Oddly enough, it sounded as if Miss Swan were actually singing as well. Well, perhaps the very polite Changyi Li wasn't that bad...
But one audition was. Judge Simon, after the girl said that "something unexplained" had come out of her: "There was a movie that did that once. It was called ‘The Exorcist.'”
Young Arin Ray auditioned and made it as a finalist last season as part of Intensities, a group made up of ten solo singers that then judge Paula Abdul was unfairly forced to mold. Even more unfairly, 16-year-old Ray was put in their midst and the act wound up being more "Glee" than an act that anyone would actually pay to see. But he performed an original that had the crowd on their feet. Although the song sounded like it needed work, his vocals certainly didn't and he got a boot camp pass from the judges.
Then there was the too-cute, dimple-faced California boy, Austin Corini. With a peroxide tuft on his teen head, he sang Hunter Hayes' "Wanted" and had the girls in the "X Factor" audience screaming. Judge Britney was taken with him, telling him his voice was "amazing." Although good, Britney may have been blinded by the blondness or something. Still, he got four "yeses."
Believe it or not, that Gene Simmons lookalike in the promos was actually Gene Simmons, master fire-breather and blood-spitting bassist for the incomparable hard rock band KISS -- and the star of the reality show "Gene Simmons Family Jewels." He was there to support his 19-year-old daughter. Sophie got in line like everyone else at the "X Factor" auditions, even though her father wanted a more VIP-like treatment. (See the "X Factor" video here.) He acquiesced and let her do it her way. As it turned out, Judge Demi recognized her as "Nick's sister, Gene Simmons' daughter" as soon as she introduced herself. She told the judges she let her parents know she was auditioning only the day before. (She said earlier to the cameras that she had just recently decided to try her hand at music, but she didn't want it handed to her because of who her father was or through his connections.) She does a passable job on Adele's "To Make You Feel My Love" and gets three "yese" to get through.
A 25-year-old vocal coach from Atlanta agreed with L. A. that Sophie Tweed-Simmons didn't have what it takes. Another of the super-competitive that is being showcased by the producers this season, Tara Simon walked out on stage and literally over-sang her song. L. A. called her "theatrical" but "good." Still, there was no doubt she has the vocal talent to be a great singer -- not to mention an over-inflated ego to match. She's through and it will be interesting to see if she clashes not only with Gene Simmons' daughter but the other hyper-competitive contestants that have made it to boot camp.
Dinah Jane Hansen is only 15 years old. She lives in a four-room house in California with her grandmother and 21 other people. And although the young girl was in dire need of the show's makeover (Judge Demi told her she looked a lot older and it had a lot to do with the multi-colored 60s-ish mop on her head). And she'll probably get it, too, because she was the night's biggest female stand-out. Singing Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy," Judge L. A. Reid told her she took the song places Beyonce never took it. And she did, showing off a great vocal range but amazing control and power as well.
There were two male stand-outs of the evening. One was 37-year-old father to five Daryl Black. A professional musician, Black has told his children to always follow their dreams. And although he has been a responsible parent, he still felt it necessary to pursue his own. He performed Gym Class Heroes' "Stereo Hearts," but in a more stylish, no rapping, and less irritating (no auto-tune) way. He not only worked the audience well, his vocals were superb and the judges rewarded him with four "yeses." Simon told him he reminded him of Nat King Cole -- and you can't get any better than that.
The second male stand-out was young adoptee David Correy, who drove 13 hours with two of his brothers to get to the audition. Originally from Brazil, he has never known his mother and told the judges that he hoped coming on the show and making it would be a bridge to connecting again with his birth mother. After that stunner, he produced another: His voice. Singing Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are," he owned the stage. Judge Britney commented on his stage presence. Judge L. A. liked his upper register.
What's with all the sirens this year? We saw Panda Ross carted off in an ambulance in episode 3 and another guy arrested in Kansas City. Now, in another cliffhanger, "X Factor" delivered us a rather plain 13-year-old named Trevor Moran that looked as if he might be chasing the Justin Bieber dream. After talking with him and watching him and another contestant dance to Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," the episode ended with young Trevor's collapse backstage. Cue ambulance, worried voices, and the "to be continued" sign-off...
But from the atrocious to the excellent, do any of those that auditioned on episode 5 have what it takes to make the finals? That's what boot camp and the mentoring and tweaking at the judges houses is designed to discover.
"X Factor" airs its last auditions episode on Thursday, September 27. The boot camp episodes follow and are succeeded by the judges houses and finalist choices episodes. The live competition starts in November.
(photo credit: Jason Hargrove, Creative Commons)