The X Factor Recap: The Best and the Brightest [Updated]
I’m going to come right out and say it: This Wednesday’s X Factor was the show’s best episode ever — and partially because its stars included a pretty boy who spent what felt like 45 minutes debating whether or not to pop his collar, a trio of smokin’-hot sisters, a man who found a controversial (possibly deadly?) solution to male pattern baldness and a heavy-set black woman named Panda who got carried out on a stretcher. (Spoiler alert: All of ‘em advanced to Boot Camp!)
I know, I know, you’re reading this and saying “The X Factor is barely out of diapers. Is ‘best episode ever’ really such effusive praise?”
Well, actually, yes. During the course of the 120-minute telecast, I laughed, I chair-danced, I cried, and the entire extravaganza may have become a part of me. Or at least it became a part of my internal iPod, finally (!) ending the repeat loop of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” that’s been rolling in the deep part of my cerebral cortex for a week now.
Yikes. That’s way too much personal information this early in a recap, this early in a season. (I only had a glass and a half of X Factor Juice tonight, just in case you’re judging.)
In addition to a lineup packed with highly entertaining — and in some cases seriously talented — candidates trying to inherit Season 1 champ Melanie Amaro’s crown and sash, Wednesday’s show contained a few additional unexpected occurrences: British X Factor judge Louis Walsh pinch-hitting for Simon Cowell. (He was like a glass of weak soda-fountain lemonade compared to Cowell’s tart, homemade forumla). Britney Spears singing an a capella “Happy Birthday” to L.A. Reid. (Okay, she didn’t sound fantastic, but at least I didn’t have to put quotes around the word singing, yes?) And one of those “look at me, I’m on TV” auditions ending with the guy getting arrested for trying to steal his X Factor mic pack. (Wasn’t it payment enough to look like a total nincompoop on national television?)
Anyhow, without any further confessions
on a dancefloor, let’s get down to the business of ranking the 13 latest singers headed to Boot Camp, and then placing them in a larger context alongside the other successful auditioners from the first two nights of X Factor Auditions:
EPISODE 3 RANKINGS
13) Normani Hamilton: Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” | We only got a 15-second snippet, but the gorgeous teenager had things cranked up to 11 from start to finish. Needs a lesson in dynamics, perhaps?
12) Brandon Hassan: Ray Lamontagne’s “Trouble” | The lesser of two “Troubles.”
11) Jeremiah & Josh: an original track called “Now Life Starts” | Britney’s “I wish you could wake me up in the morning” said it all. Granted, we only heard a snippet of singing, but I wondered if these dudes would be headed to boot camp if they had the same severe allergy to the gym with which I’m afflicted.
10) Vino Alan: Ray Lamontagne’s “Trouble” | Whoever ends up coaching this 39-year-old dad will have to get past the fact that he’s replaced all of his hair with tattooed “flames,” a sight that prompted one of Britney’s hilarious/unfiltered “yeesh” faces. There’s an appealing world-weariness to Vino’s voice, though. (Also: Bonus points for the name “Vino.”)
9) CeCe Frey: Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” | Self-proclaimed button-pusher with leopard-print face paint stalked the cameras like a lioness tracking a baby impala — and tried to psych out her competitors with stare-downs and obnoxious asides. (Who else loved the irony of CeCe huffing to a fellow auditioner “wow, what a generic answer,” moments before dropping the most clichéd comment of the night (“I’m not in this thing to make friends”)? Still, The X Factor‘s editing team zigged where I expected them to zag: Instead of CeCe’s audition being a point-and-jeer experience, she actually performed with solid pitch and undeniable charisma — at least after Demi got her to switch from the ill-fitting “Unchained Melody” to “Ain’t No Other Man.” I’m not sure anyone in America is ready to speed-dial on CeCe’s behalf, but I’d also venture to guess that most of the postal worker’s bravado is simply a smokescreen to mask rampant insecurities.
8) Rizzloe Jones: Freestyle rap using the phrases “X Factor” and “marshmallow” | Rizzloe concocted a few sharp rhymes out of thin air, but I’m not convinced the “high-pack ADD animal” with a penchant for referring to himself in the third person has a particularly pleasing voice. As Britney put it (with unintentional hilarity): “You remind me of a young Vanilla Ice Ice Baby.”