Was anyone as excited as me for the return of Simon and Demi with X Factor season 3?!
This year, Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio join the judging panel (as replacements for Britney Spears and L.A. Reid) and the best improvement of this season is the complete and total absence of co-host Khloe Kardashian; who was probably single-handedly responsible for last season’s poor ratings.
With faltering ratings, less than stellar post-show stats for past winners, and multiple staffing turnovers, the show has not exactly soared with the American audience; but here’s hoping season 3 can turn that around.
All in all, the (two-part) season 3 premiere wasn’t knocking me out of my seat, but there were some noteworthy auditions that grasped my attention.
One such audition was from Chicago native, Carlito Olivero. The 23 year old barista started out shaky but otherwise did a tremendous job with his version of Rihanna’s “Stay.” The judges were impressed and he got the coveted 4 yesses.
Next up, and probably my favorite of the night, was 54 year old Lillie McCloud. The soul singer belted out a song that it appeared only myself and Kelly Rowland actually knew; her cover of CeCe Winans’ “Alabaster Box” was fantastic…impressive even. Demi choked back tears as she told Lillie she felt like she was watching the great Whitney Houston. Simon, who had never heard the Gospel ballad, was equally impressed and Miss Lillie got 4 yesses from the judging panel.
Another audition that stood out was the love-struck duo known as Alex and Sierra. Although their rendition of Britney Spears “Toxic” was actually quite good in my opinion, the constant giggling and face-making got old really quick. Thankfully this is a singing competition, and they were judged on their voices – which were pretty good- and the song, which, again, I thought was pretty cool and unexpected.
When Rion Paige took the stage it was clear she was a bundle of energy; with her big smile and big, curly hair to boot, this little country singer was adorable. Despite her physical impairments (curved hands and blindness in her right eye) she bravely belted out her version of “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood and left at least one judge literally “blown away,” as he said. Simon said Rion’s audition reminded him of the first time he saw Carrie during Idol auditions, in which he predicted she would go on to do great things. Simon was definitely right about Carrie, so here’s hoping this bodes well for 13 year old Rion.
The second night of auditions brought another stream of the good, bad, and ugly auditions, with a few standouts worth mentioning. One was 15-year-old Riley Brown, who had an underwhelming performance of Zedd’s “Clarity;” but it must have been better in person, because the judges loved her. Her voice was good, yes. But, for some reason, I check out once they forget the lyrics. Maybe that is what Idol has done to me?
Luckily, Rachel Potter was in the house to show us what a real audition looks like. The 29 year old belted out a country version of “Somebody to Love” and it was amazing. Kelly praised her vocal control and of course she made it on through.
The grossly arrogant Jorge Pena got put in his place by Paulina after announcing all he needed on stage with his Latin charm…please. This is a singing competition. "Please. You need to change your attitude, because it’s not good. Please come down from the stars, dude. Because you are not a star yet," Paulina told the creepy auditioner. That was just a mini-rant about the bad audition plants producers love so much.
The sisterly trio known as Roxxy Montana had a bit of trouble with their first song, with Simon telling Temperance that her voice was by far the best of the three. They buckled down to put the critiques at bay with a second song selection, this time a cappela, which was much better than the first, but still not worthy of Simon’s compliment that this was the best group (other than ones he had created) on X-Factor. Pretty sure Emblem 3 (dare I say it) was even better then these girls when they started. And the country crooning sisters who didn’t make the live shows last year? They were better, too.
The rest of the auditions were “eh” in my opinion. Some good, some terribly not-so-good…no real stars just yet. Let’s hope the rest of the auditions bring out some of the nation’s more accomplished singers with that real star power, ya know, the “X” factor.
X-Factor better start amping things up because the two-part premier brought in dismal ratings; 36% less than last year! Not good, Simon. Not good.