I thought the first night of the revamped “X Factor,” featuring a slack-jawed Britney Spears and Demi Lovato’s One Glistening Tear, was pretty good.
America, however, decided it’d be better to watch a third consecutive night of “The Voice.”
But on a “Voice”-free Thursday, perhaps “X Factor” will get a big audience bounce?
Or else I’ll just keep live-blogging into a vacuum.
Click through for all of the fun…
8:01 p.m. ET I’m a bit relieved that FOX didn’t attempt to claim that Wednesday’s premiere was a huge hit.
8:02 p.m. We’re back in San Francisco. This is confusing, because we were in San Francisco last night and then we were in Providence. That’s geographically confusing. And I’m easily confused.
8:03 p.m. The night’s first named contestant is Johnny Maxwell, a 16-year-old student, and his mom.
8:04 p.m. The judges are arriving in San Francisco. Again, I’m confused. We already did this. They’re very happy to see Britney Spears. And who can blame them? In the Judging Room, Simon tells Demi that they only need to find one star. Elsewhere, Rachel, Johnny’s mom, reassures us that her son has heart.
8:05 p.m. Yes. We love the hosts, too. They make people cry. In a bad way, but also in a good way.
8:05 p.m. Time for Johnny to meet the judges. Will he truly have heart, or is his mom a crazy person? Johnny definitely has enthusiasm. He’s not intimidated and he holds the stage with swagger and a big smile. “I got the ambition. I know what it takes to win,” Johnny tells Simon. Oy. But he’s also doing an original song. It’s about not letting negativity get in your way. And… Johnny sucks. Or does he? The initial humming is disturbing. Once he actually starts singing he’s… Well, he’s not great. His song songs like it was written by a 16-year-old kid with no life experience. “My lyrics erupt,” he says incorrectly. As bad as he is, the crowd responds to his spirit and even L.A. Reid is singing along, such as singing is required. “That’s what’s called giving it 100 percent,” Simon says. “You are exactly what we need,” L.A. Reid says. “I feel like you’re so passionate and fun to watch,” Britney says, also calling him “adorably cute.” Demi praises him for having “swag.” OK. So nobody’s gonna say that Johnny can’t actually sing or that his song sucks? Well… OK. “You’ve got that steel in your eyes and ambition,” Simon says. Four “Yes” votes despite, once again, the liabilities as both a singer and songwriter. Have we already forgotten Astro’s lyrical flow? That’s what a pint-sized rapper is capable of. This was weak.
8:10 p.m. Well that was confusing.
8:15 p.m. Still in San Francisco. My sense of geography appreciates that.
8:15 p.m. We meet Lexa Berman, a 22-year-old who likes to dance in public. She says that she’s “undescribable.” Everybody hates her from afar, but Page Stroobach is also a triple threat. They converse with civility, but they have harsh words for each other addressing the camera. “There is no Plan B for me,” says Lexa, though she admits that Plan B is actually marrying rich. See? It’s good to have a backup plan. When Lexa says she’s single, Demi tries to fix her up with Simon. “You’re ‘Jersey Shore’ meets ‘The Kardashians,'” Simon says. As a compliment. And guess what? Lexa’s a lot less bad than I would have predicted. If she were a stripper, you’d think she was a stripper who was a surprisingly good singer. By stripper-standards. By singer-standards? Yeah. She’s no better than “Meh” and maybe closer to “Meh-minus.” “There was like one tone the whole time you were singing it,” Britney says. “The problem is that you came off as really over-confident and it wasn’t likable,” Demi says. “I kinda feel that you need a second chance,” Simon argues. Simon votes “Yes,” but the other three judges vote “No.” Lexa jiggles her way off the stage. “There’s a lot of junk in that trunk,” Simon says.
8:20 p.m. The crowd and Demi love 17-year-old Dylan Osborn. Until he sings. “At least you’re cute,” Demi says. She also cheers for some dude named Ezekial’s six-pack. This leads to a montage of hot people who can’t sing. There are more six-packs and attractive twins and slabs of man-and-woman-meet galore.
8:22 p.m. The judges are getting impatient. And… we’re going to commercial, so I’m gonna get impatient, too!
8:26 p.m. A 34-year-old tech support operator named Jason Brock vows to give the judges a true San Francisco experience. “When my voice comes out, it is unbelievable and it really stops people in their tracks,” says Jason, who is guaranteed not to be the talent infusion the judges have been hoping for. Jason says “Hello” to Britney from Japan, as Simon cringes in horror. “You are really excited right now,” Demi says, encouragingly. Because we have infinite time on this show, Jason goes into great detail on the stage show that he’s already designed for himself. The stage show, which will never happen, ends with “a big glitter explosion.” Then… Ha. Fooled us all. Jason’s version of “New York State of Mind” is far, far, far better than we had any right to expect. It’s possibly only good because they lowered our expectations to a sub-basement level, but sometimes a little bait-and-switch is appreciated. L.A. Reid gives Jason a standing ovation and Demi and then Britney join in. “I love you,” Demi gushes. “Then, suddenly, we were at your concert… You love music and it shows,” Simon says. “I thought it was magnificental,” Britney says. “You are completely flawless,” L.A. says. Seriously? “You sparkle and you ooze of joy when you’re singing,” Demi says. It’s four “Yes” votes for Jason, who wasn’t as good as they’re saying he was. I guess we’re all just relieved because it could have been worse. “I’m winning! I’m gonna win!” Jason says.
8:37 p.m. On the road… BACK to Rhode Island.
8:38 p.m. The last 20 minutes of this episode should be dedicated 100 percent to Britney Spears’ red dress.
8:38 p.m. Yes. We get it. Everybody’s excited to see Britney, but nobody moreso than Derry, NH resident Patrick Ford, who is convinced that Britney Spears may be his sister. He’s brought flowers and he wants to win the $5 million so that he can live in a “nice-ass house” and have a “nice-ass girlfriend named Britney Spears.” Pat’s singing “Circus” to a wary Ms. Spears. Everybody laughs at the guy with the mental illness. “It was like you had an argument with Britney Spears, got drunk and decided to scream the song at her,” Simon says, as Patrick protests that he could never get mad at Britney. It’s four “No” votes for Patrick, though Britney’s “No” comes with a smile. “That’s all you’ve got for me, Britney?” Patrick pleads. And he remains frozen at the center of the stage. He asks if he can bring Britney the flowers, but Simon volunteers to get them. “That was a disaster,” Patrick says.
8:41 p.m. If memory serves, “The X Factor” actually did this last year with an abysmal second episode that failed to introduce anybody of even middling talent. Not a great strategy.
8:47 p.m. The judges are presented with a cake from Johnson & Wales. Simon whips icing at Demi. Britney makes a funny face when she eats a bit.
8:48 p.m. A little girl is sitting with her family watching the backstage chaos. She’s Carly Rose Sonenclar and she’s just a wee bit precocious/robotic. But she has a good perspective in hoping that Britney and Demi will see versions of themselves in her. Carly has decided to sing “Feeling Good.” Simon and L.A. Reid hate the idea. But then Carly sings. It’s impossible to know where her voice is coming from, but it’s wildly implausible that it’s coming from a 13-year-old girl. There’s no texture to her voice, but her tone is remarkable. The three ambulatory judges are on their feet before Carly ends and Simon eventually finds a way to stand. I get the feeling we’re gonna see Carly again. She’s like a less bubbly Rachel Crow. “Ms. Thang, you are a little diva,” Britney raves. “You may be 13, but your soul is old,” L.A. Reid says. “That’s not you singing,” Simon laughs. “A star has just walked out on that stage,” Simon says. “I want to buy your music right now,” Demi says. Lots of “Yes” votes for Carly. “Everything I’ve been doing all my life just paid off,” says the 13-year-old girl.
I guess that’s it? What’d you think of Thursday’s episode?