Hey gang. I decided to stick around with “The X Factor” for at least another week of recapping. It’s all about consistency and seeing a job through to the end, even if you frequently threaten to quit.
Wednesday (September 18) was my first double recap Wednesday of the fall and I’ve already done “Survivor: Blood vs. Water.” It’s possible/probable that if I continue to do “X Factor” through the live shows that I’ll do “X Factor” first followed by “Survivor,” but tonight it was the other way around.
No screener tonight, so I’m back to normal time code for the live-blog.
8:02 p.m. We’re starting our auditions tonight in Los Angeles. A bunch of really unlikable teens wander down Hollywood Blvd talking about how they’re on the verge of fame, as “Fame” plays on the soundtrack.
8:03 p.m. Host Mario Lopez is on-hand to remind us that we have four categories: Boys, Girls, Geriatrics and Amalgamated Blobs.
8:04 p.m. And our judges don’t even get specific introductions, but Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland and Simon Cowell are in attendance. Paulina Rubio had something better to do.
8:04 p.m. We start with sisters Shirley & Cynthia, sisters performing as a duo. Simon is bored to tears by their story about their chemistry. They’re awful, so Simon goes to the trouble of putting on his glasses for nothing. At least they’ve got lots of energy, even if several people in the crowd are confused by how they’re supposed to be reacting. “Pain” is the consensus reaction. As they finish, the crowd laughs nervously. Simon passes to Demi. Demi passes to Kelly. Kelly passes back to Simon. “It was like a competition as to who could sing the worst and you both win,” Simon says, calling them one of the worst groups they’ve had on the show. Kelly asks one of the sisters to come back later without her sister. “I couldn’t even hear myself,” The Good Sister says. “You’re lucky,” Simon replies.
8:08 p.m. We’re off to a bad start in Los Angeles and the planted “captured” conversations from the people in line suggest things may get worse. Young Josh Levi at least has a big smile. He’s 14 and because he’s from Houston, he gets a cheer from Kelly. He asks to surprise the judges on his song choice, which produces some clumsy “Who’s On First” banter before the guy starts performing. His song choice is an acoustic version of “Come & Get It,” which makes Demi smile. Things that make Demi smile make me smile, even Josh is at least 80 percent youthful enthusiasm and maybe 10 percent singing. Then again, what percentage of Selena Gomez’s person is youthful enthusiasm? I like Josh. You can go far on that. “That was amazing,” Demi says, calling it “adorable.” “You are a star,” Kelly says. Simon thinks we could be looking at “a future little star.” Three “Yes” votes. Kelly Rowland wants to coach the Boys. Now. She previously wanted the Groups. And possibly the Geriatrics.
8:17 p.m. A group of scantily clad young ladies call themselves Drama Drama. They call themselves that because they’re teenage girls, except that they’re in their 20s. And they dream of being like the Spice Girls. They decide to do an a cappella version of “Party in the USA.” I’d say that two of them can sing and the other three are there to provide a diversity of hotness and the result is exactly what you’d expect from five girls singing together if three are borderline tone-deaf. They get cut off early and Simon calls them “old-fashioned” and sends them packing.
8:20 p.m. This sets off a montage of old-fashioned groups. “It’s like you’ve been locked in a room from 15 years ago,” Simon tells one of them. That’s still better than the group that has been locked in a room for 50 years. And the couple that should be locked in a room forever. Fortunately, there’s an indication that Aknu, featuring The Brothers Scott, might be old-fashioned in a good way. “A Kind Never Understood” is what the name means, so I guess they’re actually AKNU. Aww. One of them works at a shelter for underprivileged kids, one has patients of some sort and the other sells cars. Unfortunately, they choose a song that Simon announces he hates. Why hate “Valerie”? AKNU is certainly old-fashioned, but they’re fully committed to their schtick. They move smoothly, the lead singer is solid and his two brothers provide sturdy backup. Actually, they move more than smoothly. When they hit the dance breakdown, they’re a ton of fun. I’d cast them in a “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”-style jukebox musical in a second. The crowd is deafening. “You guys are so refreshing,” Kelly says. Demi dances in her seat and announces she had the chills. “It’s like watching Motown all over again. Normally that’s the part I hate. But I think that you might be on the forefront of something new here,” Simon says, adding he could watch the audition again. Three “Yes” votes. And I’d also like to watch AKNU again.
8:32 p.m. Farewell, Los Angeles. Hello Charleston. Brandie Love is 21 and her boyfriend is a helicopter pilot in the army. It would be disrespectful to our Armed Services for her not to be good, so let’s hope Brandie can sing. “That’s a pop star name,” Simon says when she introduces herself. Well, that’s nicer than saying, “That’s a porn star name,” I guess. So… sure! Paulina Rubio’s here for this one. Brandie professes to love country music, but she picks a song that isn’t country, utterly flummoxing Paulina. In addition to possessing a gorgeous smile, Brandie has a much more soulful voice than I might have predicted. I’d want to hear her sing something just a bit more up-tempo, because she gets a tiny bit lost in the middle of this slow build, but I have no doubt she can sing and her reaction to the crowd’s enthusiasm — her hands are shaking as she pushes back tears — feels genuine. “You’ve got The X Factor, honey,” Paulina says. “Brandy, you took us to church,” Simon says. Kelly loved watching Brandie get lost in the song, which is the only part I didn’t like, but whatever. “I’m from Texas. You just took me home,” Demi says. Four “Yes” votes for Brandie.
8:39 p.m. Speaking of great names… Mille Thrasher has a roller derby appellation and huge voice for a 14-year-old. Also young, Timmy Thames is only 13 and I’d be terrified that his voice would change in the middle of a live show. Then there are some other good people who don’t have names. I like Yellow House Canyon because they’ve got sass and good voices.
8:46 p.m. Our whiplash tour is off to Long Island. Why do I feel like we’ve seen Vinnie Crisostomo? He’s got his own bodyguard due to his alleged bagel store celebrity. Demi tries to banter with Vinnie about his favorite Italian dish, but his only rejoinder is “pasta.” He looks up to a bunch of [mostly deceased] rappers and then decides to sing “How Do I Live Without You.” He’s epically bad and it’s like his posse has never actually heard him sing before. We make fun of Vinnie for a while, with Simon calling it one of the worst auditions he’s heard and telling him to get new friends. Vinnie knows his skills and expects somebody else to make money off of him.
8:55 p.m. Why couldn’t we just stay in Charleston? Why did we have to go to Long Island just for Vinnie? Our next contestant has Tourette’s. He’s 16-year-old Carlos Guevara. He’s an impressively well-composed guy for a kid who had to leave his school due to his Tourette’s and OCD. Fortunately, Carlos’ story isn’t a sad one. He has a huge group of friends who are there to support him. As for the singing? We’ve seen it many times before on “X Factor” and “Idol,” the kid whose ability to get lost in music is the only thing that helps them overcome a syndrome or or impediment, the only thing that sets them free. There are a lot of strange things happening in the vocal, but a lot of that is youth and inexperience. I feel happy for Carlos. “I don’t know you, but I feel proud of you,” Paulina says. “You have a beautiful voice. I can tell that you have a beautiful soul,” Demi says. “It was just so magical,” Kelly says. “You know what I like about you? You’re not a victim,” Simon tells him. Four “Yes” votes. All of Carlos’ friends come out on stage to hug him. Awww. Paulina hopes she gets the Boys.
9:08 p.m. New Orleans begins with Mario Lopez reminding us of the categories again. Why does this show think that we have such a short attention span? Also, where are all the Geriatrics tonight? Everybody on this show has been 14.
9:10 p.m. Demi Lovato has found an old picture of Simon with long, poofy hair and a mustache.
9:10 p.m. Surely we’ve seen Chloe J and CJ before, haven’t we? They’re friends from hair school, but there’s never been anything romantic between them because, um, that’s not what CJ is into. Simon is confused by the concept, while Demi just wants to get Simon’s hair styled. “I’ll flip you,” CJ tells Simon, either quoting Fenster from “Usual Suspects” or not. They’re going to suck, but I like them. They’re funny. Yeah. They suck. They need to stop ruining “River Deep, Mountain High.” “You are both absolutely awful,” Simon tells them. Chloe gives Simon the stink-eye. But then comes down and starts making out with Simon.
9:19 p.m. Lots of people drove a long way away. And they have dreams. Malie Delgado left Alaska because this was her time. Some woman with a headband isn’t identified. Other people whiz by in short order. Oh. This segment was just a Honda commercial. You fooled me, Mario Lopez.
9:21 p.m. West Virginia gave us Colton Pack and his entire town. They chartered a bus because they believe in Colton and his scruffy sideburns. I hope the whole town didn’t drive 1000 in a bus for somebody bad. Colton’s fine. If he were my neighbor, I’d drive 45 minutes to support him. But 1000 miles? That’s a bit extreme. He looks like he belongs on a country-fried version of “Teen Wolf.” But he becomes really monotonous and nasally as the song progresses. The crowd is happy, but he brought half of them with him. “I like you baby,” Paulina says. “It was pitchy at times,” Demi admits, praising his “natural stage presence.” Kelly digs him. Simon really, really, REALLY likes him.
9:32 p.m. Simon’s running late, so he may miss 15-year-old Danie Geimer who wears a 1850s Russian peasant hat, thick glasses and introduces herself to people by declaring, “Hi. I read books.” She’s got a really great voice, even if it’s really awkward to watch her. I keep waiting for her to throw off the hat and glasses and undergo a full “She’s All That” makeover. “Miss Thang, you are it,” Kelly says. Demi asks Danie to take off her hat and… Guess what! She’s pretty! Nobody asks her to experiment further by removing the glasses. But she gets three “Yes” votes.
9:43 At this rate are we at our last audition yet? Or will we fit in two more? Oh. We’ll get a montage of people who stink first, complete with Simon put-downs. I like, “I think you’d be a really great group of none of you were in it.”
9:44 p.m. Demi is happy to see Jeff Gutt back and Simon tells Kelly that he probably should have made the Finals last year. Why do I not remember him at all? FLASHBACK! Jeff arrives with his son. Still not remembering him. He says that nothing in his life has ever worked right for him the first time. This is his second last chance he tells us. Simon gets everybody psyched for Jeff and gives his approval for “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” as a song choice, but… It’s not a good song choice. Jeff is actually a head voice-y mess. [I went back and looked at my recap for last year’s auditions. I wrote “If you love throbbing neck veins, Jeffrey Gutt is about to become your new favorite artist. He’s intense.”] Simon is really disappointed. So disappointed that we have to go to commercial.
9:53 p.m. Simon asks what else Jeff has and he volunteers “Creep.” Yeah. I didn’t love him last year and I don’t like all that much now. He has moments that are vocally impressive, but I’m not enjoying listening to him at all. I don’t know why he was given an episode-closing slot, though Paulina and Kelly are nodding along with this performance. It’s not that he doesn’t have range, but he’s mostly wailing in general vicinity of the tune, not really singing. “Wow,” Demi says. Oh, whatever. Simon thinks Jeff has picked up bad habits, but he liked when Jeff hit the high part at the end. It’s laughable that they’re pretending Jeff is going to make a long run this year, but it sure sounds like he’s going to advance to the Finals this time around. Otherwise, what was the point? Jeff brings out his very cute son.
A couple decent performances tonight. Who’d you like?