After Wednesday’s 5-ish hours of recapping and live-blogging, it’s almost a relief to only have one hour of “The X Factor” looming in front of me tonight.
So with that burgeoning excitement…
ALL ABOARD THE PANDA EXPRESS…
8:01 p.m. We’re in Greensboro and Britney Spears is excited to be back in the South and excited to be dancing and putting on makeup in her hotel room. Demi’s on tour, but she’s also judging. Simon’s excited to be text messaging and drinking… somehting.
8:04 p.m. Everybody in Greensboro is at the audition. Britney is spooked.
8:04 p.m. Simon wants to know where he can get “a grit,” because he’s been told Greensboro is famous for grits. So while everybody is waiting for him, he decides to go to a local joint to get one spoonful of grits. Sigh. At least he delivers food for everybody after making them wait.
8:05 p.m. Remember when Simon said that the lack of hosts for the audition rounds would make this more real and less contrived? I don’t…
8:06 p.m. If you love high-top fades, you’re gonna love 17-year-old Shreveport resident Willie Jones. Music is what he was born to do and he’s got a big ol’ American flag on the back of his blue-jean vest. “I love your style. It’s very Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” Britney tells Willie. Demi calls his style, “Sick.” We has some set of expectations for Willie, but those expectations clearly weren’t for him to turn out to be a cut-rate Scotty McCreery. He’s got a so-so bass country voice. Is this going to turn out to be a set-up for his real performance? “Willie Jones, you are an absolutely original,” L.A. Reid says. In what way, exactly, is he original? Just that he defied racial expectations? “I was very surprised. I wasn’t expecting that,” says Britney, who also thinks Willie is “original.” Demi wants Willie to remain likable. “I prayed we were going to find someone like you,” Simon claims. Willie gets four “Yes” votes, accompanied by silly hyperbole. Did anybody actually listen to Willie?
8:15 p.m. It’s Kalvin McManigle. He’s the guy in the picture accompanied this recap, so you can pretty much imagine what he sounds like — Boomhauer, basically. He works on lawnmowers. He has very few teeth. And he can’t sing especially well. But what he lacks in teeth, he makes up for in spastic leg twitching. “I literally couldn’t understand a single word of that,” Simon says. Kalvin says he loves Britney. “I’m scared I’m related to you or something,” Britney replies. That’s four “No” votes from the judges, who display their contempt for Kalvin with dueling Southern accents that sound nothing like Kalvin’s actual voice.
8:18 p.m. Trying to salvage the auditions is Julia Bullock. She’s 18 and she’s auditioning without the other members of her band. She’s pretty much ditching them, a moment that was captured in a very stilted and staged conversation. Julia’s ex-boyfriend Christian is in her band and he’s particularly broken up to be losing her from his ensemble and his life. She lies and says that if she advances without them, they have enough passion to continue without her. Julia auditions with a slightly rearranged version of “Pumped Up Kicks.” Anybody watching “The Voice” knows that Mackenzie Bourg did a more interesting cover of this one just last week. She barely sings for 30 seconds and displays no particular range or style, not that she’s bad. “I like your image. I love your taste. You look very current,” Simon says. “You definitely have a unique sound when you sing,” Britney says. “For me, you are exactly what I’m looking for,” L.A. Reid says. “You’ve got a really unique voice,” Demi says. Nobody tonight has a clue what the word “unique” means. Sorry, Christian. Julia’s gone. Four “Yes” votes for Julia. Christian can’t even bring himself to clap. As Julia hugs her family, he stands off to the side glowering, cross earring dangling from a different era.
8:28 p.m. Wait. This Pepsi taste test is part of the program?
8:29 p.m. Time for tonight’s first upwardly mobile single mom, 21-year-old hairdresser Krysten Colon. She’s finally “getting the confidence to share what I hear in the shower.” She’s singing Adele. Simon’s sick of Adele. Or he was yesterday. But the chronology of these episodes has been laughable, so I don’t know how he feels about Adele today. Poor Krysten is visibly shaking and you can hear the nervousness in her voice. Simon suspects that we’re not hearing the real her. Simon tells her to come back with a classic song, instructing her that she needs melody. The judges have to make it clear to Krysten that this is a good thing.
8:36 p.m. While Krysten evaluates her options, Jeffrey Gutt is chatting with a guy named Marcus. They’re both dads. And their conversation is entirely unforced and spontaneous. Yup. Entirely spontaneous and not at all excruciatingly stilted. Nope. Jeffrey has a four-year-old named Talon and for him, failure is not an option. Can we please discuss the architectural majesty that is Demi’s hair tonight? Jeffrey’s “Halleluyah” and he introduces it as Leonard Cohen and he is, indeed, not doing the Jeff Buckley cover that everybody seems to do on these shows. Well, maybe it’s not exactly the Leonard Cohen version. It’s a bit gruffer and more growly. If you love throbbing neck veins, Jeffrey Gutt is about to become your new favorite artist. He’s intense. L.A. Reid calls it maybe the greatest song ever written and says Jeffrey nailed it. Britney calls Jeffrey’s voice “soothing and unique,” which makes absolutely no sense. That was the opposite of “soothing.” “God’s even rockin’ out right now,” Demi says, as thunder rolls outside. “It was one of the most brilliant auditions I’ve heard,” Simon says. Four “Yes” votes. [We’ve had barely any judging disagreements this season. I wonder why not.] Talon comes running out to hug Jeffrey. “Talon, your dad is a rock star,” Demi says. Britney tilts her head and does her best open-mouthed smile.
8:47 p.m. Here come storm clouds. Krysten Colon is still rehearsing.
8:48 p.m. Thunder bolts and lightning. Very very frightening. Marchello Penn has a fun name, but an awful falsetto. The lights also go out while he’s performing. “That’s a sign,” Simon says. It isn’t just that the power is going out, though. The roof is also leaking.Uh-oh. Demi’s hair can’t get wet. Byron Edwards also stinks. Lots of people suck, so we get lots of “Carmina Burana” instead.
8:50 p.m. Krysten is still rehearsing and trying to find her confidence. Laryssa, Krysten’s y-obsessed mother, is confident that Krysten will be confident.
8:50 p.m. Take two for Krysten. Will she be redeemed? “I’m ready to wow you,” she tells the judges. She breaking into “I Have Nothing” and… sadly… she has nothing. She’s flat on nearly every note and she gets worse and worse and she progresses. Her family can tell. Her friends can tell. The judges can tell. This is really cruel. She’s rescued by thunder and the lights going off. Britney screams loudly, which was either rude or a welcome distraction. “The song wasn’t working,” Simon says. “I was about to blow it,” Krysten says. “Sweetie, you already blew it,” L.A. Reid says. The judges all vote “No.” Krysten is pissed off and utterly clueless. I can’t believe how much of this episode we dedicated to this not-very-talented woman. To make matters worse, Krysten throws a massive temper tantrum, throws water at a cameraman and even threatens to throw a chair. “Nobody promised her four ‘Yeses,'” says Krysten’s mother, who apologizes to us all.
8:55 p.m. That was a bad episode.
What’d you think of Thursday’s auditions?