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THE X FACTOR – 2.01: “Austin, Texas & San Francisco Audition”

Welcome to the new and improved The X Factor, at least according to what FOX and Simon Cowell have been promoting. They’ve claimed that they’ve learned from what worked and didn’t work in the first and put all the changes into motion for the new season. Did the premiere accomplish that? Somewhat.

The first few minutes of the premiere were interesting. There was a quick little bit about One Direction being a huge success that came out of the U.K. edition of the show. Nobody from the first season of the U.S. edition has even come close to their success, so I guess they have promote something.

First, let’s discuss the judges. Simon Cowell & L.A. Reid return from the first season. They are now joined by Demi Lovato & Britney Spears. Both of them have experienced a lot of trouble in the spotlight the past few years, but both seem to be in a much better place. The show really tried to focus on the bonding between them as new judges. The editing really made it seemed force. Before they walked out before to judge the first set of auditions, Demi & Britney both discussed that they didn’t know where they would be sitting on the panel. They also showed them later in the dressing room talking about making it big and remaining successful. And later in a break from judging at the table, Demi discussed getting a tattoo with Britney. Demi seemed affable at attempting to make a connection with Britney, but Britney just nodded along and made small talk. It was a little hard to watch, but I guess the show is trying to push the chemistry of the judges.

The show also really pushed the angle of Britney being much meaner than anyone had anticipated. Once again, this was the editing making a mountain out of a mole hill. A lot of her comments were actually pretty tame and honest for the acts she was critiquing. But the montage of various “mean” comments surrounded with contestants looked shocked at Britney really piled on. That lead into the critique of the Justin Bieber look-a-like, where they really played Britney’s positive comment as a rarity. I’m a huge Britney fan from back in the day. I want her to have a big comeback, but I don’t know if this will do it. She still looks really sedated and out of it some of the time. I’m going to be fascinated by her during the live shows, where they won’t be able to edit around it.

The real chemisty on the judging panel was between Simon & Demi. There was a fun little exchange between them in the dressing room where Demi admitted to having a crush on one of the One Direction members. Simon told her to stay away because that one was “pure”. There was also a fun moment before walking out to judge where Demi commented on Simon wearing the same outfit every time. I think the real fun is between them and it’ll be interesting to see that develop throughout the season.

I realize that I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the judges, even more than the contestants. Honestly that’s one of the main reasons to watch this show. I don’t know if I will really care about any of these contestants after the show ends, but the journey is the fun part.

The first audition in Austin was from Paige. She’s got a great sense of style/fashion and had probably the best performance of the night, with her rendition of Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Going Down” (which we heard numerous times last season thanks to perpetual bottom-two contestant Marcus Canty). The only other strong audition they showed from Austin was from the Bieber clone, Reed. I wasn’t too impressed with him. They praised his personality, but his vocals need a lot of work.

One of the weird things they kept focusing on in the Austin was the two evil sisters, Kaci & Kaylee. They kept showing them giving very nasty comments and looking annoyed at everyone. It was very forced and it didn’t show them in a positive light at all. To top it off, Kaci auditioned and did a horrible job. You think that would be embarrassment enough, but the show really steamrolled over her with the villain edit.

The San Francisco auditions were much more interesting. Quatrele, a man dressed in a wedding dress and hot pink lipstick, actually impressed the judges with his entertainment level and made it to the next round. Jenell Garcia, an 18 year-old girl inspired by Joan Jett, was also strong. She’s different from everyone else in her age group that has audition, so she has that going for. They also featured a “boy band” (although they refuse that title) called Emblem3. Their original song was catchy, but their douchebaggery towards a fellow contestant didn’t do them any favors and probably means they won’t make it too far.

The final audition was from was Jillian Jensen (nice alliteration). She’s a 19 year-old that was severly bullied in high school and found inspiration to keep going from Demi Lovato. There was a nice moment between them before and after the performance and it was geniunely touching. The segment maybe went on a little too long and became a Lifetime movie, but it was a strong audition and the memorable audition will definitely help her move forward in the compeition.

That’s all for this recap. I’ll be back tomorrow with another recap of the two-night event, plus the premiere of Glee. I might even recap Project Runway over the weekend. Remember to comment and share on Facebook/Twitter/other social media if you enjoyed this.