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The X-Factor: 2.03: “Kansas City, San Francisco & Austin Auditions”

The X Factor is back for its second week on the air and they covered a lot of ground in this two hours. Auditions were shown from Kansas City, San Francisco and Austin. The show opened with the Kansas City auditions, where Simon was too sick to judge and was replaced by his friend Louis Walsh (also a record executive and one of the judges on the U.K. edition of the series). There is a horribly staged scene at the beginning with Britney, Demi & L.A. in Britney’s dressing where Britney breaks the news about Simon not coming and Demi & L.A. having shocked reactions. I wish they would’ve just cut that out because it was so forced and not natural in any sense. One thing I do have to say about the opening scenes and the Kansas City auditions as a whole, Britney seemed much more lucid and put together than she has in previous audition episodes.

The first audition comes from Rizzloe Jones, a blonde 18 year-old freestyle rapper. They try to give him the Susan Boyle treatment by setting him up as a loser than having him give a performance that the judges absolutely love. He does a freestyle rap for the judges by taking suggestions from the judges and audience (like some kind of comedy improv game) and incorporates The X Factor* and the word ‘marshmallow’ into the rap. The judges absolutely fall for his act and send him to the next round. I thought he had a nice personality and back-and-forth with the judges, but his voice was a little annoying and I can’t imagine purchasing any of his songs to put on my iPod.

Next up was CeCe Frey, who was the impromptu interviewer in the first few segments. She was setup as very catty and bitchy towards the other contestants. “I’m not in it to make friends. I’m here to win it.” (Reality show cliche 101.) That’s usually a setup for a bad audition, but she ended up having a mildly successful one. She starts with her CeCe-fied version of “Unchained Melody” and it’s not good. L.A. stops and has her pick another song. She does Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” and blows them away. She has a good stage presence and has great style, but I don’t think her voice was as great as they led on. And I also think that the whole audition was completely staged from the bad first song choice to the better song choice with the Xtina song.

There’s a brief moment where they come back from commercial: the judges are getting makeup touch-ups backstage and Britney comes out with a birthday cake to surprise L.A. Reid. Britney sings “Happy Birthday” as he blows out the candles. Maybe this was a moment to show that Britney can actually sing?

Vino Alan was next up on the audition stage. He’s a 39-year-old musician that has never made it big. He performs “Trouble” for the judges. He has a great deep, raspy voice that impresses the judges. The judges have a little bit of a lukewarm reaction. They all say positive things, but the inflection and enthusiasm in the voices are not present. He’s probably going to get lost in the shuffle and not make it to the live shows.

Day 2 in Kansas City begins with L.A. Reid and Louis Walsh having a conversation backstage. Louis asks if he misses Simon, and L.A. responds by saying a little bit but not that much. More setup of Simon as a villain.

DeAngelo Wallace is up next. He’s got an overconfident aura about him and says that he’s going to impress L.A.’s “shiny head” and he’s going to be better than Britney. He’s just annoying on every level. He performs Chris Brown’s “With You” and he’s completely awful. The judges don’t even both with a critique. They get up during the performance and head backstage. DeAngelo takes this as them being “too scared to face me”. DeAngelo leaves the stage and the arena, with his microphone still attached. Producers rush after him and call the police. According to one of the Audio Engineers, the microphone is worth $3,000. They catch up with him, retrieve the microphone (which he stole because he wanted to) and gets arrested by the Kansas City police.

The final audition from Kansas City is 37 year-old Tate Stevens. He sings Randy Houser’s “Anything Goes” (never heard it before) and the judges love it. L.A. says that he is a “true country star”. He has a great back-and-forth with them where he shoots off some funny one-liners and is very self-deprecating. It was a good classic country performance but he definitely needs to work on his stage presence.

The judges then return to San Francisco for the third time in three episodes and a big deal is made about Simon returning from his sick leave, even though a deal wasn’t made the previous times the San Francisco auditions were shown. There’s even a montage shown towards the end of the first segment with Simon at his snarky best.

The first audition up was a male group called Citizen, made up of 5 guys from ages 21-25. They perform En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go” (one of my all time favorites) and they do an average job. They’ve got the looks and personality, but their vocals are weak and their “choreography” was completely laughable. Britney, Demi & L.A. love them and send them to the next round. Simon is right on the money and gives them a No by saying that they’re 10 years too late. They need to get a time machine and go back 10 years to even be relevant. Absolutely right!

A 14 year-old girl, Adrianna Lemus, is up next performing Adele’s “Rumour Has It”. She’s very average and the judges don’t send her through to the next room. Simon is particularly harsh and says that he is tired of hearing people attempting to do an Adele song. I think this is mostly shown to demonstrate the judges are too scared to judge the younger people harshly. Which leads into Diamond White’s audition of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”. She has a strong voice and nice personality. She could be a huge contender with a little bit more polishing. This year’s Rachel Crow maybe? And there was also a random moment during Britney’s critique of Diamond where a P.A. walked behind them and exchanged Demi’s cup for another one. He couldn’t have waited another minute to do that and not be so distracting?

The show also crammed some more auditions from Austin, Texas into the final 30 minutes of the show. Ally Brooke was the first one shown. She performs “On My Knees” by Jaci Velasquez (who? what?) I don’t know if it my television, but her voice was soft and quiet that it was hard to hear. She has a good style and personality, I’m not sold on her voice and performance yet. And she also annoyed me by going on longer than what the other auditioners usually went for. The judges love her and send her to the next round. She’s followed by a montage of other great auditions from Austin, including: Brandon Hassan, Normani Hamilton, Sister C (Group) and Jeremiah & Josh (duo). I would rather see a quick montage of great auditions than long drawn-out mediocre auditions.

Panda Ross is up next. She’s a 42 year-old sassy black woman with a winning personality. When the judges ask about the origin of her birth name, she explains that her mother gave birth while she was in jail and had a white cellmate. So the name Panda was given to her. (Hilarious, but WTF??). She performs “Bring It on Home” by Sam Cooke and she absolutely brought it home. A strong voice infused with a lot of great personality. She gets sent to the next round but has some trouble breathing. She had just been released from the hospital the day before for pneumonia and it was flaring up a little bit. The paramedics tend to her and take her away. There’s a brief moment in the next part where the judges are told what happened and Simon tells Demi that she should be worried because Demi hugged Panda before she was taken away and she could be a carrier of whatever Panda had suffered. They have a great interplay between them and it’s been one of the more enjoyable things about the show so far this year.

The final audition of the night was from 22 year-old Jessica Espinoza. She’s had some difficult times but is hopeful that her life will change by winning this show and providing for her family. She sings Pink’s “Nobody Knows”. She has a strong voice and makes a big impression of the judges. She wasn’t my favorite audition of the night, but with her background story and personable charisma she could be a strong contender to win the whole show.

That’s it for the latest recap of the show. I’ll be back later tonight with some more Emmy predictions and the recaps for Glee & The X Factor.

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