The X Factor started off strong Wednesday night with some truly amazing auditions. Seriously, Rion Paige and Lillie McCloud killed it, even if the ratings were horrendous. For the second episode, no one quite reaches that high bar, but there are some good stories.

In the second audition episode of The X Factor season 3, we go to Denver and Long Island, the homes of omelets and iced teas. We meet a sleazy ice cream truck driver who is trying to be the Latino version of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino as well as an inspirational subway singer and a powerful girl group.

The X Factor Premiere Auditions: The One Singer to Watch >>>

Off to a Bad Start

There’s an unintended metaphor at play in this episode of The X Factor. The third season got off to a terrible start in the ratings (down 2.5 million viewers from last season’s premiere), and now this episode starts off with a series of truly awful auditions.

There’s Yosselin Marquez, a model who claims she only wants to meet Paulina Rubio. That’s when I knew this whole thing was fake, because no one is excited about getting to meet Paulina Rubio. That’s like picking Kevin as your favorite Jonas brother. She sucks and reads the lyrics off her phone, then she claims she has no idea who Simon Cowell is. I’m gonna call B.S. on that. Everyone, especially people who audition for a reality singing competition show, knows who Simon is.

Thomas Weiderspoon sings that dumb-ass “Baby lock them doors” country song Scotty McCreery made famous on American Idol and it makes me want to pull a Van Gogh and cut my ear off.

There are some more, but it’s all a big waste of time. I guess FOX knows most people are gonna watch a repeat of The Big Bang Theory from 8-8:30pm, so why not fill the first half-hour of The X Factor with garbage.

Rylie Brown

She’s a 15-year-old girl from a small town in Missouri. She’s also a total cliche, amazed by all the bright lights of the big city and how talented everyone else is. Golly, gosh, gee whiz, she’s just going to try her best!

Her voice is good enough, but she forgets the lyrics after the first line and wanders around, looking like she’s going to cry, before catching back up and recovering nicely. Sorry, but I’m a tough critic, and the total lack of originality in her backstory combined with forgetting the lyrics makes me largely apathetic to her.

The judges are more forgiving and think she’s one to watch, putting her through to the next round. Seriously? She’s going to be competing in the same category as Rion Paige, so it’s hard for me to get excited about this Ariana Grande wannabe.

Jeffrey Brinkman

He runs a doggie daycare (news that makes Kelly Rowland so excited she piddles on the carpet) and his wife just had a baby six weeks ago. In other words, he’s the perfect Everyman.

He’s talented, but his raspy, soulful, slightly rock-tinged voice is so predictably Everyman, as is singing Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful,” which is the ultimate “I’m a new dad!” song. He’s moving on, but like Rylie, I find it hard to get excited about him.

Jocelyn Hinton

She has a lot of confidence, but absolutely no talent to back it up. She forgets the lyrics to Katy Perry’s “Firework” and then just shouts the chorus as loud as possible. Instead of listening to feedback from the judges, she just keeps singing a bunch of different songs. Simon literally gets up and walks her off stage.

Rachel Potter

She’s an aspiring country singer who is worried that she’s too old and doesn’t have much time left to actually make it. By the way, she’s only 29. So every time she talks about all the “young kids,” it makes me hate her a little bit more. I know the music industry is skewing younger, but Rachel acts like she’s going to be stuck eating early bird specials and wearing Depends if she doesn’t win The X Factor this year.

Like Rylie and Jeffrey, her voice is perfectly adequate. However, I have no idea what makes this performance of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” a country version. You can’t just call something a country version and then sing it just like the original. The judges rave like she’s the single most amazing talent in the history of the world. I must be in a bad mood, because I really don’t see it, nor do I see anything remotely special about her.

Jorge Pena

He loves the ladies and he works in an ice cream truck (despite being lactose intolerant). At first the girls on the judging panel are kinda into him, but the more he talks, the more they realize what a cheeseball d-bag this dude is. He’s essentially El Situacion.

His voice is on the lower end of average, but it’s hard to tell because he sings in Spanish. However, his personality is so sleazy that it turns everyone off. He says “Tell me, woman” to Demi Lovato, and that ticks her off. Everyone agrees that he’s kinda cute and kinda talented, but his attitude is super gross. Still, the judges all put him through to the next round.

The X Factor Interview: Kelly Rowland on Simon Cowell, the Judges’ Chemistry and the Talent >>>

Simone Torres

Finally, someone to root for. Simone is a 19-year-old who is quite weird and quirky. She seems to have a good sense of who she is and she’s comfortable with it. Simon calls her a “funny little thing,” which is a great compliment in my book.

Her voice is totally unexpected, soulful and powerful. If you only listen to her, you might think she’s twice as old as she really is. She probably won’t win, but I think she’ll be the person all the other contestants will really love. Simon and the judges love her even more than I do and he even calls her one in a million.

Russ Poulliot

He’s an old crooner who is bald on top with a ponytail in the back. Unless you look like Michael Buble (which Russ most certainly does not), then you have no hope in bringing back Sinatra’s style.

Based on the number of times he talks about all the voice lessons he’s taken, you just know this is gonna be awful. It sounds like he’s singing into a fan. The judges are all nice, but it devolves into Demi and the others trying to force Simon to sing. It sort of works as Simon does a little imitation of Russ’ voice.

Roxxy Montana

These are three sassy sisters from Detroit trying to make it big behind their parents’ backs. The problem is that they don’t have great chemistry and it’s just three loud, diva voices competing against each other.

They get a second chance and are actually much better at harmonizing a cappella, but Simon is right that one of the sisters, Temperance, is vastly superior to the other two. They move on, but something tells me Kelly Rowland just had horrible flashbacks of Beyonce going solo, leaving Kelly and the other one stuck judging reality shows.

Al Calderon

He’s a cute, excitable restaurant host and birthday singer. He’s got Demi, Kelly and Paulina eating out of the palm of his hand before he even sings.

He’s got a nice voice and a nice smile and everyone just loves him. It’s pretty hard not to like this kid, although Simon is right that there are some tuning issues. But the fact that he’s a good-looking, charming young kid makes issues like that irrelevant and he moves to the next round. See, Jorge, you don’t need to be gross to get the ladies to love you. However, I’m already worried that Simon might try to put Al, Jorge and Carlito Olvero together in some type of boy band,

Denise Weeks

She sings on the subway to earn money for her two kids in college since they lost their father at a young age. Now here’s the kind of sob story I’ve grown accustomed to hearing on these shows.

Singing a Whitney song is rarely a good idea. She rushes it, so Simon stops her and asks her to do it a cappella instead to make it more emotional. That’s a very manipulative move, and it works. But I still think it’s just a bad song choice because she’s really good, but she’s not at Whitney’s level.

Since it’s the last audition of the episode, the judges make a huge deal out of her triumphant story. She moves on, of course, but I don’t think she’ll be going to the end.

The X Factor shot itself in the foot by stacking the deck in the first episode, because right now Lillie McCloud and Rion Paige set the bar so high and no one in this episode came close to that for me. I’m not sure if anyone will.

Want to add The X Factor to your very own watch-list? Download BuddyTV Guide for free for your phone.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.