This is NOT The Voice! Sorry! If you flipped through channels thinking that you found that one talent show with the pop-star from that Mickey Mouse show that premieres tonight on NBC, then keep flipping because you are missing the season 2 premiere of The X Factor. While CeeLo Green, his random cockatoo and the crew play musical chairs, Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato and Britney Spears are packing stadiums, searching for the next big act.
So what has all the hullabaloo been about? We know Britney and Demi have joined the mentor’s table, that’s old news. What artists will make a big splash this season? Who will crash and burn and become Youtube’s newest sensation? Of course I don’t have all the answers! Let’s find out now!
The show that discovered talents like Leona Lewis, Cher Lloyd and One Direction has returned to the states! Simon, L.A., Demi and Britney have assembled to sift through the brave souls, ready to have their talent — or lack thereof — poked and prodded.
We kick off the search in Austin, Texas.
“I’m about to embark on a whole new journey,” says Demi. Nope, this is not just about the talent, our new judges have a lot to walk into as well. Britney discusses the changes with her manager Larry Rudolph. Why? Because … why not?
We’re getting A LOT of backstage footage this time around as the judges meet up for the first day of auditions. Britney and Demi bond over their ensembles. Simon seems to feel left out, constantly butting in between the blondes to reinstate the crowd’s love for himself. Funny, seeing as how Britney receives the biggest round of applause.
Drama has already entered the building as Paige Thomas and Kaci and sister Kaylee Newton meet backstage. Kaci and Kaylee get all catty and Mean Girls-y when Paige and her adorable little girl are in front of a mirror. The giggles and whispering behind her back starts when Paige walks out on that stage.
Paige Thomas, ‘I’m Going Down’ by Mary J. Blige
Tears may have started rolling as she began talking about that cute girl waiting in the wings, but the attitude soon rolls out of her once she starts singing. Paige is an obvious powerhouse with the looks to match. All four judges are captivated, sharing smiles. Kaci and Kaylee look worried.
“You remind me of a girl I met about five or six years ago,” says L.A. “Her name was Rihanna.” Aside from the talent, Simon adds that Paige has the story to match. She’s got the kid and the responsibility to do what needs to be done. That’s four yeses!
“Not all are pretty,” giggles Kaci, “Not in this room.” The mean girls are steadily picking apart the competition.
Shawn Armenta, ‘Candy Girl,’ original song
After one year and six months, 6PM-10PM in a studio every day of the week, Shawn has been working on vocals and choreography. It is so bad that when he stops, absolutely NO ONE speaks.
“You’re like a mouse trying to be an elephant,” says Simon. This throws Shawn off the deep end. He tells Demi that she uses Auto-Tune. Britney comes to the defense, though and asks, “I want to know who let you on stage.”
From here, Britney is on a roll, barreling through a montage of really bad talent. Even Kaci and Kaylee have to look away! “You need a knew teacher to teach you how to sing,” Britney tells one sorry soul. She tells so many people “no” that Simon begins to look like an adorable and harmless puppy. It’s Britney, [insert derogatory name that rhymes with witch].
“I feel that at the end of the day, I would want to be told and I wouldn’t want to waste anyone’s time,” Britney explains. It makes sense, but who can break through her brick wall of “No?”
Reed Deming, ‘It Will Rain’ by Bruno Mars
This starts off really overdone and as if he’s trying too hard to look AND sound like Justin Bieber. Simon stops the music and asks him to sing something else, perhaps a cappella.
Take Two – Reed Deming, ‘Grenade’ by Bruno Mars
With just a piano to back him up (not really a cappella, but who am I to judge), Reed does SO much better. He pushes through the nerves and having to read just after Simon throws off his concentration. Reed could use some work around the edges, I mean, the kid is 13. Although, he has some pretty good potential.
“Yeah, I don’t wanna fall into that Bieber stereotype. I gotta be me,” says Reed to Reid who says he reminds him of another young lady killer. Simon believes he should work on his vocals, but he manages four yeses. “Now it’s bed time,” a voice says and Reed’s celebration is cut short.
Kaci Newton, ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry
Just as I expected. Mean girl Kaci does not have the chops to back up all the smack talk she has been delivering all day. There aren’t many ways to describe how bad her voice is. Maybe this is why she only sings in church? No one can really be negative in church, right?
“This is gonna sound odd, but it sounded like you were dying!” comments Simon. Kaci tosses out the nervous excuse, but singing Duffy’s “Mercy” doesn’t help at all. “Now I feel like dying,” says Simon.
Next up is San Francisco, California!
And we’re greeted by fabulous drag queens!
Unfortunately, we’re shown a montage of really, really bad talent. One guy is like a little old man who walked on stage drunk. There’s also a woman in the mix that’s brought her friend, a mini cut-out of Simon that she holds in the palm of her hand. How cute?
Quatrel’e Da’an, ‘Born This Way’ by Lady Gaga
Quatrel’e is a reasonably tall young man of 21 years dressed in a Madonna-esque bridal gown and bright pink lipstick. He looks ridiculous, but he sounds GOOD! The crowd loves it, too. Quatrel’e is a fun performer.
“If you imagine, Madonna, Bobby Brown and Dracula had a child,” starts Simon, “It would be you!” L.A. can’t get on this train, but Britney, Demi and Simon send Quatrel’e through.
Backstage, a group of three sit next to an artist all his own. The party of one proceeds to give his life story, dropping names of countries he’s toured in with some obscure boy band who was supposed to be the next coming of The Backstreet Boys. This new and improved band doesn’t seem to care much. Both acts are up next.
Vincent Thomas, ‘Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word,’ by Elton John
The moment he opens his mouth, Vincent begs the question, “He’s done this before?” He’s trying too hard. It’s just a weak performance, all around.
“There used to be boy bands years ago, there were five of them,” starts Simon, “There was one that wouldn’t sing. Well, that’s you.” Harsh! Bye, Bye, bye, Vincent
EMBLEM3, ‘Sunset Boulevard,’ original song
They’re a boy band, but not your usual idea of one. The biological brothers sing while the adopted brother raps. It’s new, it’s fresh, it works. The girls, including Britney and a smitten Demi, are taken by their energy and voices.
“I think you guys are so cute!” smiles Demi. Somebody is looking for a date after the show and she just might get one. “We think you’re cute too!” chimes the younger of the brothers. Apparently, everyone shares in Demi’s opinion because they each give a “yes!”
Don Philip, ‘Halo’ by Beyonce
“Oh my, God!” says Britney, “I know him!” Ten years ago, Don did a little duet with Britney. He chokes up trying to explain what has happened since then. I think everyone is rooting for this guy, but it’s just not going to happen. He sounds as though he needs to clear his throat constantly. None of the judges can look his way.
Simon wants to be honest with Don. “You don’t have a good singing voice,” he says. There’s still some hope though; Don still has Britney. “Your voice just doesn’t meet the bar for what The X Factor is looking for,” she says with as much sincerity as she can give from 10 feet away. Don leaves the stage and breaks down, disappointed with himself for hurting Britney. Poor guy.
Who of Providence, Rhode Island will make the cut?
Jennel Garcia, ‘Paris (Ooh La La)’ by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
It’s obvious that Jennel is inspired by classic rock greats such as Pat Benatar. This 18-year-old slides and shimmies left and right across the stage growling out and belting some smooth vocals.
L.A. calls Jennel a “feisty little fire ball.” She’s liked across the board, all four judges love her. Simon says that Jennel is exactly what is missing from the pop charts today.
Jillian Jensen, ‘Follow Your Heart’ by Jessie J
She speaks of being bullied in school and having the words “stay strong” tattooed on her body to remind her that she can make it through the storm. This is the exact same story and cause that Demi Lovato dealt with. As Jillian opens her mouth and sings, the pain just unfolds and then it’s like everyone’s eyes are magnetized to her. Her raspy voice is welcoming and sexy. She’s great.
Demi stands to her feet and meets Jillian onstage as soon as she’s finished, pulling her into a hug. “I know exactly what you’re going through, but I made it through it and you can too,” are her words of encouragement to Jillian. Simon tells her to do exactly as her shared tattoo states and “stay strong.” With four yeses, and tears from Simon’s eyes, Jillian’s family runs out on stage and bum rushes her. It’s an amazing sight to see.
And that’s how you kick-off a season premiere of The X Factor! Sure, it’s about the celebrities and the talent they strive to find, but this second season is digging deeper than that. The backstage footage is a great addition. Not only are we able to see the acts before they present themselves and their talents on the stage, we’re allowed into the dressing rooms of Simon, L.A., Demi and Britney. It’s raw and provokes emotion.
So have you picked your favorite artist yet? I believe I have! If not, don’t worry because tomorrow night The X Factor returns for night two of their premiere. Make sure you tune back in and leave your feedback and comments. Let’s make this season a fun one!
(Image courtesy of FOX)