"The X Factor" U.S. episode that Fox televised on Sept. 13, 2013, was the second part of the show's Season 3 premiere. Many of the auditions featured in the episode were from "The X Factor" auditions that took place in Uniondale, N.Y., on June 19, June 20, and June 21, 2013.
I attended all of the auditions in Uniondale, so I already had detailed reviews of these auditions. At the time I wrote those reviews, I didn't put the names of the contestants in the articles, since "The X Factor" requested that the media not reveal the names of contestants until after the audition episodes were televised.
Al Calderon, 19, is an early frontrunner in the show's Boys category, which is for male solo singers ages 12 to 24. When I saw his audition in Uniondale, I got the distinct impression that he was such a favorite with the judges that he is going to get a record deal regardless of how far he goes in this competition. It's pretty obvious that "The X Factor" U.S. wants to find the next Justin Bieber. (And the next One Direction and the next Miley Cyrus.)
Calderon is an experienced performer (he and Ariana Grande were among the stars of the Broadway musical "13" in 2008), but that information was not mentioned on "The X Factor." "The X Factor" apparently likes to give the impression that the show was the first to discover the contestants who made it past "The X Factor" auditions, when in fact many of these performers have plenty of professional experience. Most "X Factor" viewers don't care if contestants had previous shots at stardom. They just hate feeling that contestants' previous experience is being deliberately hidden from viewers. However, that type of "cover-up" is almost always the show's fault, not the contestants' fault, because we all know that editing in reality TV can be very misleading.
And regardless of all the praise that talented contestants over the age of 40 get on this show, there's little-to-no chance that Sony Music (the record-company partner of "The X Factor") will sign these older contestants. Don't be fooled by "The X Factor" allowing anyone ages 12 and up to enter this contest. "The X Factor" might as well be "American Idol" (which has an age limit of 16 to 28), because contestants under the age of 30 get the lion's share of the judges' praise and attention.
As previously reported, ratings for "The X Factor" U.S.'s third season got off to a bad start: Only 6.2 million U.S. viewers tuned in for the episode that was televised on Sept. 11, 2013, according to the Nielsen Company. The episode televised on Sept. 12, 2013 will do little to bring in more viewers than that episode. It was more of the same "X Factor" gimmicky formula: bad auditions mixed with good auditions; contestant sob stories; at least one "struggling single mom" and one "child prodigy"; tears of happiness and relief when contestants are put through to the next round; tears of anger and sadness when the contestants are rejected. For longtime viewers of "The X Factor," it's all become so predictable and boring, except when there is a truly talented contestant who stands out from the rest.
The show's judges (Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio) have better chemistry than the show's judging panel in 2012 that was dragged down by an overpaid, deadweight Britney Spears. "The X Factor" is really over-hyping the "girl power"/"female judges vs. Cowell" angle, which just seems very contrived and becomes very annoying when it's shoved down people's throats as it is done on this show.
As executive producer/creator of "The X Factor," Cowell is still the boss of these women, no matter how much they playfully insult him or "gang up on him" on this show. And as we can see from the ever-changing lineup of "X Factor" U.S. judges every year, being a judge on this show is not exactly the definition of "job security." It's quite telling that since "The X Factor" U.S. launched in 2011, Cowell is the only judge who has been with the show since the beginning.
And another PR image that the show is spinning in 2013 is that there are less arguments among the judges this year. As if to drive that point home, all of the auditions in this episode showed the judges giving unanimous "yes" or "no" votes.
Here's a summary of the best and worst auditions in the episode that was televised on Sept. 12, 2013.
Best Auditions (contestants who advanced to the next round)
Rylie Brown, 15, got a major break from the judges because she forgot the lyrics during part of her performance of Zedd's "Clarity," but she recovered her composure and finished the song. Brown is a good-looking teenage girl (and "The X Factor" U.S. is obsessed with appealing to teenage girls), so it's no surprise that the judges were more lenient with her about forgetting the lyrics than if she had been an unattractive middle-aged contestant. Cowell told Brown after her performance: "So you messed up, but who cares when you've got a voice like that ... You are one to watch."
Jeff Brinkman, 36, showcased his raspy, soulful voice perfectly by doing Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful." He needs to work on his stage presence (he rarely looked at the audience and paced around nervously on stage), but Brinkman helped fill the quota in the Over 25s category, so he sailed through to the next round. Cowell praised Brinkman by telling him, "That was a brilliant vocal."
Rachel Potter, 29, wowed the audience and judges with an outstanding country version of Queen's "Somebody to Love." In my review of the Uniondale auditions on June 21, 2013, I mentioned that she did one of the best auditions that day. As mentioned in my review, Potter is an experienced Broadway performer who gave up her Broadway career to pursue a career in country music. She talked about it on stage at her "X Factor" audition, but it was edited out of this episode.
Jorge Pena, 22, impressed the judges with his performance of Alexandre Pires’ "Ámame," but he annoyed the female judges with his cocky attitude. In my review of the Uniondale auditions on June 21, 2013, I mentioned that Lovato lost her temper when Pena called her "woman." Her rant against him was heavily edited in this episode. Believe me, Lovato's anger toward Pena was a lot worse than what was shown on TV.
Simone Torres, 19, got raves from the judges for her sultry-voiced version of Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally." In my review of the Uniondale auditions on June 20, 2013, I mentioned that she did one of the best auditions that day.
Roxxy Montana, a trio of sisters ages 20 to 22, had to do two songs (the "Dreamgirls" tune "One Night Only" and the LaShun Pace gospel song "I Know I've Been Changed") to get the approval of the judges, who felt that the sister named Temperance was the strongest singer of the three. Cowell gave an overblown compliment when he told Roxxy Montana: "Apart from the groups I put together, you are potentially the best group we've ever had on 'The X Factor.'" We'll have to wait and see if Cowell really means that because he's said the same thing to other "X Factor" groups who didn't make it into finals.
Al Calderon, 19, won over the judges with his charming rendition of Hall & Oates' "Sara Smile." In my review of the Uniondale auditions on June 21, 2013, I mentioned that he did one of the best auditions that day.
Denise Weeks, 41, had the "struggling single mom" sob story because she makes her living by singing in New York City's subways. She impressed the judges with an a cappella version of Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All," which is a song that could have bombed for her because it's a song that has been performed too many times on "The X Factor" and other TV talent shows. In my review of the Uniondale auditions on June 20, 2013, I mentioned that she did one of the best auditions that day. Weeks is a very talented singer, but "The X Factor" and the music industry are more interested in young artists, so it's unlikely that Weeks will get a major record deal, no matter how far she gets on "The X Factor." Her outdated wig doesn't help.
Worst Auditions (contestants who were rejected)
Yosselin Marquez, 21, performed a dreadful version of Rihanna's "Only Girl (in the World)" while reading the lyrics on her phone.
Thomas Weiderspon, 19, awkwardly performed Josh Turner's "Your Man," and he was painful to watch. "X Factor" U.S fan favorite Willie Jones performed this song during his audition on the show in 2012. Weiderspon's performance of the song couldn't have been more different.
Carrigan Bradley, 15, wailed something that was very off-key, but only a few seconds of her performance was shown before she was rejected by the judges.
Amber Ferrari, 41, failed to impress with her bad karaoke version of Big Brother and the Holding Company's "Piece of My Heart."
K + B, a female duo (ages 22 and 23), bombed with a terrible version of Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca," which was made worse by K + B's cheesy dance moves. Cowell quipped, "It sounded like two 3-year-olds who got the flu trying to sing."
Sean Harris, 28, might be considered sacrilegious for how he butchered "Amazing Grace." He took his rejection with a smile though, which is a much better reaction than most eliminated contestants.
Jocelyn Hinton, 34, was the definition of "wearing out her welcome" when she refused to leave the stage until Cowell escorted her off the stage. She started off by wailing an off-key version of Katy Perry's "Firework." Then when she wouldn't take "no" for an answer, she tried to prolong her audition by doing horrific performances of Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love for You" and Rose Royce's "Wishing on a Star." Hinton was at one of the auditions in Uniondale, and in my review, I mentioned that she did one of the worst auditions of the day.
Russ Pouliot, 56, may have had Elvis Presley turning over in his grave when Pouliot croaked out Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love."
There was some silly banter when Lovato said to Pouliot: "I feel like had you had a British accent, you would sound like Simon if he sang!" Then Rowland took a microphone and held it up to Cowell's mouth, and he proceeded to imitate Pouliot's off-key warbling. It was a pointless gesture because everyone knows that Cowell will never "sing" in his real voice on any of his TV shows.
Cowell's main claim to fame on his shows is being a tough judge, but in that respect, he's definitely losing a lot of his edge. Millions of viewers are noticing it and are losing interest in "The X Factor" U.S., as evidenced by this show's rapidly decreasing ratings. Too many viewers have been alienated by "The X Factor" U.S. not living up to Cowell's overblown hype. It's too late to win back these viewers, so it's only a matter of time before this show gets cancelled.
Here are links to audition highlights in the episode that aired on Sept. 12, 2013:
Sept. 13, 2013 update: This episode of "The X Factor" U.S. managed to get only 6.8 million U.S. viewers, according to the Nielsen Company. It's a slight improvement over the previous episode, but still nowhere near the ratings that "The X Factor" U.S. was averaging in 2011 and 2012.
"The X Factor" came in second place in its time slot and second place overall for the night, behind CBS's "The Big Bang Theory," which had 8 million U.S. viewers. But second place is not impressive under these circumstances, if you consider that "The Big Bang Theory" episode was a rerun, and so were about half of the competing shows that night. The true test of "The X Factor's" ratings will be when the show is up against new episodes of "The Big Bang Theory," ABC's "Modern Family" and CBS's "Criminal Minds," which are consistent ratings winners in their time slots.
Sept. 25, 2013 update: TMZ reports that as of Sept. 25, 2013, Spears' Las Vegas shows have almost sold out. For the first 16 shows that went on sale, a total of 70, 242 tickets of 73,600 tickets have been sold. Most of the tickets that are still available are for the seats farthest away from the stage.