X Factor US 2011: The Auditions

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(For Week 2 auditions, scroll down after Xander Alexander's recap)

Here it is! The Season Premiere of X-Factor USA. Our Judges Panel consists of record executive L.A. Reid, pop star Cheryl Cole, talent magnet Simon Cowell and his partner-in-crime, choreographer Paula Abdul. Hosting is Steve Jones. Who will rise? Who will fall? And who will win a recording contract with Epic Records worth 5 million dollars? ... It's time to face the music!

Recap after the JUMP ...


Hello, I am Charlie and I will be the US X-Factor reviewer for at least the Audition/ Boot camp phase of the competition. I basically watch these shows because I'm desperate for new and fresh music/ artists... all of the time. Please pardon my occasional "truthiness" as it can be slightly obnoxious sometimes. Thanks to MDS for letting me take this project on, it will be a fun journey. Now onto the review...

Los Angeles

First up is Rachel Crow (13), who we have seen quite a bit in the promos, performs "Mercy" by Duffy. She's got quite the personality, very cute and spunky, and the most adorable smile in the world. Performance-wise, I was a bit underwhelmed (not a word). It was a good song pick for her and she can definitely sing but her vibrato was really annoying to me and seemed a bit out of control. It will be interesting if Simon manages the girls for this season, it might be telling of how far some people want her to make it. As expected, 4 yeses. She leaves the stage jaw-dropped and stays like that for 10 minutes or so. Heehee.. - VIDEO

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Next is Terrell Carter (36), Cheryl and Paula immediately likey. He is sings "Ribbon In the Sky" by Stevie Wonder. Very amateurish and bland, nothing special or mind-blowing. The Judges give him 4 yeses, alrighty then. - VIDEO

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Ellona Santiago (14) is next, we only get to hear a snippet of her performance. She sounds pretty good for being only 14 years old. Pretty good glory note, 4 more yeses and she moves on. - VIDEO

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John Lindahl (14) comes on stage, he brought a lot of fan-girls from his school. He sings "Forget You" by Cee-Lo Green. His voice is quite average and boring for his age, but it doesn't stop the Judges from approving him. He goes backstage and drowns in a sea of 40 girls and cardboard signs. - VIDEO

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The ridiculous hotel performer Siameze Floyd (30) is next, he wants to be a mega-star and have his own energy drink named Siamenergy. Ok then! He comes across as the love-child wannabe of Michael Jackson, Prince and Sanjaya Malakar. In my opinion, he can't sing. He goes back and forth between "singing" and interpretive dancing, he is jumping all over the place. He rips his jacket off to reveal to us a lovely fishnet t-shirt. He then makes matters worse by trying to go for a high note, then doing a combo of headbanging, jumping, spinning and doing 10 splits in a row. He finishes it all off by running on his knees, which looks like he's trying to run in carmel sauce, and then convulsing on the stage floor. At this point, I believe he thought he was auditioning for "So You Think You Can Dance". L.A. Reid votes "no" based on originality, thank God. The other 3 judges are fascinated by him and want to see more. Ugh... - VIDEO

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Duo Dan & Venita (70 and 83) are next, they've been married for 2 years (wtf) and would love to tour all of the senior centers in the Country if they win X-Factor. I'm sure they are totally what Simon Cowell had in mind he decided to gamble his stint on Idol and 5 million dollars on this show *wink*. They sing "Unchained Melody", I don't even recognize the song. Dan sounds like a bad Tom Jones and Venita is dressed to out-sparkle Las Vegas. Her high notes are horrifyingly embarrassing. I hate to admit I even watched this. The Judges successfully say "No" to them without crushing them. Dan asks "We didn't make it?". Duh. Venita leaves the stage waving at the back wall, does she even realize where she is? - VIDEO

Next up is another duo named You Only Live Once, two girls (15 and 19). One is singing off-key, the other one is going for this goth screamo thing, all while jumping on stage. Screamo starts climbing the skeletal structure of the stage wall. "It's like, you were singing and she swallowed poison." says Simon 4 nos. OMG I laughed my freaking ass off to the point of tears. - VIDEO

Surely, it can't get any worse. Right? Next up is Linda Ofstrofsky (61) aka Jetta. Why is her nickname Jetta? "Cuz my real name is Linda and there's always a bunch of Lindas." she explains... How clever of her. She's dressed as a giant Dutch elf, I think. She murders "I Touch Myself" by Blondie and makes me begin to wonder how many horrible auditions we can have in a row. Needless to say, she did not make the cut. - VIDEO

Miranda Singleton is next, she wants to be the next Madonna! So she picks a song by... Katy Perry. Completely off-key throughout "Firework" only slightly worse than Katy Perry singing it herself live. They criticize her performance for the disaster it was. Miranda decides to get into it with Cheryl, always a good move. "You have a bad attitude" says Cheryl. 4 nos. Bahahaha...

College student Simone Battle (21) calls herself "fierce" and wants to have millions of screaming fans wanting her to sign their baby. "I LOVE YOU" yells her dad in the middle of the interview. LOL. She wants to call her debut album "Honey Work" because she likes to describe her sound as "a threesome between a cheerleader, a hipster, and a drag queen". I'm dying of laughter at this point thinking the X-Factor auditions have been hijacked by every Worster in the country. She manages to slightly recover by performing "When I Grow Up" by the Pussycat Dolls, she's the best audition I have heard since the Siameze dance catastrophe derailed everything. Simon really likes her and agrees with Cheryl that she has "massive potential". L.A. Reid completely disagrees saying he is "underwhelmed". Simon asks her to sing something else. She sings part of "Bulletproof" by La Roux. L.A. still isn't convinced. Simone makes it through with 3 votes. - VIDEO

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We see a montage of auditions where L.A. and Simon disagree over certain contestants. The only actual audition we partially hear is "Rolling In the Deep" sung by Andrew Muccitelli, he can't be more than 14. No idea if he made it or not.

Charlie Cruzer shows up wearing an alien mask and super long arms singing "I Feel Good" by James Brown. He looks like one of the people in the alien Cantina in Star Wars IV. Not even 3 seconds into singing, he is cut off. No. no. no, no.

Stacey Francis (42) is next. We've seen her in a few of the promos. Her boyfriend was physically and emotionally abusive. She's been told she's too old since she was 30 and that she wasn't talented. Of course she is very emotional. In her condition, who wouldn't be? She performs "Natural Woman", gets off to a pretty good start and then she gets really shouty and pitchy with the high notes. It becomes very annoying and almost unbearable for me. She's leaving it all on the stage but it doesn't sound very good at all. However, it doesn't matter because she has already won over the judges and the audience. Simon calls it "one of the best auditions I have ever heard in my life". I think she deserved to go through but really Simon? 4 BIG yeses. - VIDEO

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Seattle

The auditions now go to Seattle, where Nicole Scherzinger has replaced Cheryl Cole as a judge...

The first audition we see in Seattle is Geo Godley (43), he's an internet blogger, which is code for "loser" at his age. We can tell by the way he's dressed (tye dye shirt with silver jacket and pants) this can't possibly be good. He sings an original song "Mr. Stud". Halfway through the audition he pulls his pants down and reveals his weiner for the world to see and continues for another 30-45 seconds. What angers me is that NO ONE went to escort him offstage and/ or arrest him immediately. I'm fine with people stripping in a private audition setting like AI with the 4 judges but this was an arena packed with over 4000 people, and obviously children were in attendance. Audience members walk out, as they should. Simon just stares while Paula leaves to go throw up. I'd say she over-reacted if it weren't for the fact that I also got nauseous and took a 20 minute break from the show. I can only take so many crappy auditions. L.A. recovers from delayed reaction and says it was "offensive, disgusting, distasteful, upsetting... Get him out of the building please." and he leaves... - VIDEO

Marcus Canty (20) is next up. His mom gave him 2 years to pursue his dream before he has to choose another career and the 2 year window is almost up. I'm not sure why his mom is still telling him what to do but anyways... He sings "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder and gives us a nice recovery from the last few trainwreck auditions. I really like his voice, it's nice to hear a smooth vocal on this show. The audience loves him, he tears up and lays down on the stage to take it all in. All the judges praise him, Simon says he's "One to watch" L.A. basically tells him that he is the next Bobby Brown. He advances to bootcamp unanimously. - VIDEO

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3 member boyband The Anser is next, after singing "Happy Birthday" to Nicole, they do an acoustic version of "Rolling In the Deep" by Adele. I personally think they are a bit shaky and pitchy but they're the best group we've seen thus far. 4 yeses, they go through. - VIDEO

Nici Collins (23) is next and she looks like she has potential. That is proven incorrect in the next few seconds. She's horribly pitchy and her high notes are similar to a rubber duck being run over by a semi-truck. She then stops the audition and asks to do another song. After failing to gain the judge's approval, she went on to rant in the white room for 10 minutes and then stalk Simon in between shoots. Fun fun fun. - VIDEO

T for Two (31 and 54) is next, they are a mother/ daughter duo and go onto murder "Livin' For the City". Simon goes on to make cow jokes after they leave the stage. Lol. After Darren Michaels proves to us he can't sing at all, he shares his creepy "Heh Heh Heh" laugh with us, which is the best part of his audition, aside from Simon imitating it. Which is hilarious. The Sonnets, a group of 30 or so female singers come on the stage to sing "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap and cannot harmonize to save their lives. The judges almost immediately say no.

Last of the night is Chris Rene (28), he hauls trash and has a 2 year-old son. He tells the judges he just recently got out of rehab and has been clean for 70 days. He sings his original song "Young Homie", he's a little off in timing with the song and he's not really singing but the words are very sincere and touching. They definitely saved the best emotional audition for last. Simon makes sure that Chris agrees to stay on the straight and narrow path before he says "yes". The judges send him through unanimously and Chris walks out just trying to soak it all in. I definitely like Chris and his story, I just wonder if he has what it takes to make it beyond bootcamp. - VIDEO

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For me, this episode was a real disappointment. Especially for being the premiere of a new show. It's gotta be the worst season premiere I have ever seen. No one has given me chills or made me tear up in a good way or defined what "The X Factor" is supposed to be. I can only hope the coming episodes are less-nauseating.

Miami

Ashley Sansone (27) is the first to go tonight, she describes herself as "unemployed, starving artist", she is quite fashionable and likes to talk... a lot. She gets on stage and starts rambling, something about not just wanting to be some "cornball" who "sings songs about gummy bears or something.". She goes on to talk about Adele, spending her rent money to get there, making a difference, wanting to live in the 70's but not live in the past. The judges finally get her to sing, she sings "Piece Of My Heart" by Janis Joplin. She kinda sounds like a drunk Cookie Monster, I can't hear a word of what she is saying. The Judges quickly say "no" and move on. - VIDEO

Next is Chanel Simone Dixon, who comes up and sounds horrible. She is absolutely delusional and doesn't go quietly. She is followed up by Country Trio Kanan Road, who are essentially Rascal Flatts wannabes. They start with off-key harmonies and are soon halted by the judges, they are sent away. One of them says "This isn't the last you've seen of Kanan Road!" as they storm off stage. Cajun what? Anyways...

The Dreamgirlz are next, they are another mom/ daughter duo. They perform "Barracuda" and from what we see, they do a whatever-ish performance of it. The Judges eliminate them, which really angers one of their male family members, who goes into a swearing tirade backstage before they leave. - VIDEO

Marissa Hopson goes up next and murders "DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again". Embarrassing and not much else to say. 4 nos.

16 year-old Caitlynne Curtis walks onto the stage and performs a piano version of "Firework", I personally thought she was a little shaky but I liked it and thought she deserved to go through. The Judges did not think her voice was good enough and eliminated her, she breaks down crying and Paula goes on the stage to comfort her and send her off. Yet, that Siameze guy gets through.. Unreal. - VIDEO

No one has gotten through all day and Simon is getting extremely discouraged. Nick Voss (21) walks up and performs "Trouble" by Elvis Presley. I like him as a person but I don't care for his singing style at all. He has a very strong stage presence, however. He sounds like he's trying to directly copy Elvis' singing style and it is just not working. Very shaky vocal performance. Simon, desperate to just put someone through, totally raves about his performance. They advance him to the next round. - VIDEO

Ashley Deckard (14) claims she can see ghosts when asked if there is interesting about her. While Simon acts weird about the whole thing, Paula says she knows what she is talking about. Simon asks her to bring some of her ghost friends to the stage, if she can. Ashley sings "Price Tag", really pitchy and boring. The Judges give her 4 nos. The X-Factor editors then go on to make it look like ghosts are messing with the stage lighting after she leaves. Big pile o' whatever. - VIDEO

Marivana Viscuso (55) is an ex-music teacher but she seriously looks like a witch. She goes on to do a very shouty version of "Summertime". The Judges put her through, Simon claims to have felt like he was under a spell. Can we drop the fake haunted thing yet? - VIDEO

2 Squar'd, a group of 4 women (24-28) come up and perform an original song. This is really the first good group we have seen audition. It's nice to hear people singing in key on this show. The Judges approve of them unanimously. I can personally see them going to the live rounds. - VIDEO

Next up, we get teacher Kendra Williams (32) from Mississippi. I have never heard of the song she sang before, but she performed it very beautifully. Very nice and soulful country voice. I absolutely loved it. "You have a gift that is not to be wasted." Says Nicole. The Judges all say yes. Why the hell are all of the good auditions less than 40 seconds long? - VIDEO

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Brendan O'Hara is up next. His chances of advancing are already good because Nicole is obviously drooling over him. I don't quite remember his entire audition so I will update it later. Brendan is followed by Jeremiah Pagan (22), who is a male soprano. "There is only like 7 in the world." he claims. That comment dumbfounds me. He performs "Try It On My Own" by Whitney Houston. Another solid audition. 4 yeses.

Miami wraps things up with 18 year-old Melanie Amaro, she performs Beyonce's "Listen" from Dreamgirls (not with a Z) and absolutely freakin' nails it. This is officially going down in my book as the best X-Factor audition we have seen yet. The audience is going crazy, you would think that Melanie just won XF and this was the coronation song. All 4 Judges give her a standing ovation. L.A. tells her she has the X-Factor, Nicole says is in tears, "This is why I do this, people like you inspire me... You made a believer out of me.". Paula says it is unlike any audition she has ever seen before. Simon says that when he took this risk to bring XF to America, he did it hoping he would find someone like her. 4 HUGE yeses. I think Melanie could definitely be the one to keep an eye on this season. - VIDEO

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Dallas


17 year old Jonny Rogers starts things off in Dallas. He is really obsessive with his hair, which is similar to Justin Beiber's. "I feel I had it first and I feel like he took it from me" he says. After watching his mom try and control how he wants his audition to go, Jonny finally steps onto the stage. Simon immediately asks "Do you know who you look like?", Jonny responds "Oh no. Wait, Justin Beiber?", L.A. jumps in "Actually, no". Jonny's surprised, he says "Oh, okay.. Who?" "Barbie's Boyfriend... Ken." replies Simon. He is spot on about that, it's kind of eerie if you think about it... Jonny goes up and sings an original song. His voice isn't anything amazing, he forgets the words to his own song. Simon describes him as a Justin Beiber doll gone awry. The Judges decide to say "no". - VIDEO

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Dylan Lawson (18) is next, he talks about music running through his family and how he sold his truck to get a ticket to audition here in Dallas. He has a nice Scotty McCreery feel to him and looks like he might have a sob story. I wonder if we're going to get some sad song from him. Nicole asks him what is the first thing he would buy with 5 million dollars, L.A. quickly replies "A truck." LOL. Dylan is very quiet so they just tell him to get to the singing. What he does next is unreal. We cannot identify what song he was singing for sure, but what we can tell is that we was jumping around violently and screaming a song with a lot of swearing in it, something about using the bathroom maybe? All I can definitely make out is the last line "Check your bladder, I'm the s**t." while he throws himself on the floor and rolls the microphone away from him. The audience is booing. Simon says "I think it's time for you to leave the stage." Dylan's response? "I lost the sponge" referring to the black pop filter that had fallen from the microphone in the middle of his convulsing. Words can not describe how hilarious this was, funnier than the screamo teens! You'll simply have to watch yourselves. - VIDEO

After hearing a very pitchy and weak performance of Shinedown's hit "Second Chance" by wannabe rocker Wesley Kimbell and an embarrassing duet from aspiring singers Michael & Michelle, we move on to 19 year old Curtis Lawson (Dylan's brother??) who goes by the name Phoenix because he dances with fire. After Nicole stops talking about his dream catcher, he starts "singing", which sounds extremely similar to the noises the machines in the Droid Phone commercials. Paula describes it as trying to start a lawnmower and Nicole says she feels "violated". He does not make it through. Finally we move on...

Dexter Haygood (49) is next, he was the lead singer of a band named Xavion back in 1984 and they went on tour with Hall & Oates. After joking around with the Judges, he goes to sing "Sexy Machine" by James Brown. Simon is already rolling his eyes because he already knows this is going to be a bad James Brown wannabe audition. He sounds alright, part of this almost feels like it's another joke audition. The audience likes it but Simon is annoyed and stops him from singing anymore, the Judges all agree that it's a tribute act and lacks originality. The Judges are disappointed, this guy obviously isn't getting through. Just then, Simon decided to give him another chance "Dexter, you know what? Forget the craziness... I'd like to hear you sing something else. 15 seconds, acapella, you, go." We then get to see his backstory, which is foreclosure, living from couch to couch. He still has his car, which has "enough clothes to wear on a stage". Obviously, they wouldn't show this backstory and NOT let him advance to the next round. He decides to sing "This Is a Man's World", sounds a lot better than the previous song. The audience goes gaga, "This is why we have an audience" says Simon. the Judges approve. He goes backstage to cry on Steve's shoulder. It will be interesting to see how he does in bootcamp. - VIDEO

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We then get rushed through the auditions of Hannah Jackson, Ma'at Shango, and Austin Simmons. Who all sound pretty good. Too bad we couldn't hear more.

Next we get to see Caitlin Koch (21) a rugby coach aspiring to become a singer. She sings "Stop In the Name of Love" by The Supremes. She slows it down and turns it into a really beautiful rendition of the song. This is the kind of originality we expect to see on American Idol, changing song arrangements. The Judges all love it and approve unanimously. - VIDEO

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Next up is the pretentious Xander Alexander (27) who is quite full of himself as we see in the following comments. "5 million is a lot, but I'm like, when you're worth a hundred million, you know, I don't want them restricting my career" "I wanna be the next Donald Trump meets Martha Stewart without the jail time meets Britney Spears meets Beyonce without the ugly husband." The stage crew keeps getting his name wrong. "It's XANDER, not Alexander". Bahaha.. "My concert would be like Britney Spears meets Lady Gaga on crack. Who's out there right now? Nobody? Bruno Mars? Well, I'm Black and Filipino like him and everyone is like 'Ph, you're like Bruno Mars' and I'm like 'Yeah, kind of. Except my hair's not nappy and I'm not chubby". What a Jackass! Finally he gets on the stage, Simon and Xander over whether or not his name is Xander, Simon keeps calling him Alexander. He decides to sing "I'll Be" by Edwin McCain (wtf). After another argument over his name, Simon tells him "Just shut it and sing". He gets cut off before the first chorus. He then sings "Fool In Love" by Tina Turner, his voice just isn't that amazing. He claims that he's nervous and has never been on a stage before. Simon suddenly has a change of heart and thinks that Xander with a full production has the potential to be good. Paula also likes him. Xander pretends to cry. The Judges split 2-2. Simon says "Where you blew this... was that you got the audience to hate you by the end of the audition, where they liked you at the beginning. The minute anyone criticizes you, you turn into a bitchy nasty diva. You blew it." Xander has a meltdown backstage on a bench. - VIDEO

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So far, second episode was slightly better than the first one but I'm still not amazed about this show. I think Xander and X-Factor one thing in common: Overrated.

Chicago

The 3rd episode begins with auditions in Chicago. It must have been filmed earlier because Cheryl Cole is on the Judges panel once again... It is raining, we see an overhead shot of the crowd with several umbrellas. Who will shine on this gloomy day? Stay tuned...

We start things off with duet Makenna & Brock (22 & 18), Brock confesses his love for her in the interview. "I love her, but she doesn't know it. I think one day she'll know." Yes, she probably knows now. Considering this is being aired to millions of people. Simon asks if they're together, Makenna says that they're just friends. Of course, Brock is crushed. They move on and sing "Colder Weather" by the Zac Brown Band. Brock sounds excellent, Makenna not so much. The audience and judges love it. 4 yeses. - VIDEO

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We move on to see Kim Terek (35) murder "Firework". Tim Quinn (21) decides to sing "Kiss From a Rose" against Simon's advice that he really shouldn't choose that song and it turns out to be advice he should have taken. Robin Royal (45) looks like she has potential but that thought quickly goes away once she starts singing. I don't recognize the song, "So mad in love with you" or something. All nos.

Next is Skyelor Anderson (16) all the way from Mississippi. He sings "Must Be Doin' Somethin' Right" by Billy Currington. Oddly, the people backstage running the sound manage to mess up his audition by turning off the backing music. Amazingly, Skyelor continues on and sounds better without the music. The crowd is clapping to his singing, the judges are impressed. I'm personally not amazed with his voice. "I came too far to stop" he says. I do love the fact that he kept going. 4 yeses. - VIDEO

J. Mark Inman (31) is next. As noted by several people, he looks like Kenneth Parcell from 30 R0ck. Simon asks J. Mark where he sees himself in the next few years, he replies "At the helms of a renaissance". This audition looks to be lulzy. He chooses to sing his version of "Creep" by Radiohead with his own backing track he made. I LOVE the backing track, his voice is alright but strangely fitting for the arrangement. The dance moves are awesome. "It felt so bad but felt so good". All of the Judges want to visit the planet he is from. 4 big yeses. - VIDEO

We then see part of 15 year-old Arin Ray's audition. He sings "Ain't No Sunshine". The judges all advance him to the next round.

Josh Krajcik (30) comes up next. To be honest, he looks like absolute crap. He "slings burritos", his very supportive mother drove him there. He looks like he is going to be one of those really bad auditions. He sings "At Last" by Etta James and absolutely NAILS it. His really soulful rendition of the song had the audience cheering all the way through. The best audition I have seen so far, just my opinion. After massive praise from the Judges, they advance him unanimously. - VIDEO

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Seattle

With Cheryl Cole officially out now, Nicole Scherzinger resumes her position as Judge for the rest of the season... Now, on to the Seattle auditions.

Next is another horrid mother/daughter duo named The Good Girls (70 & 31) they are inspired by Lady Gaga and see themselves as global superstars in the next five years. They go on to brutally murder "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye. 4 nos. Buh-bye. - VIDEO

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Drew Ryniewicz (14) is up next, she has an apparent obsession with Justin Beiber and knows his favorite colors among other things. Her choice of song is "Baby" by Justin Beiber, she's going into her audition fully aware that she needs to impress L.A. Reid, who signed Beiber and was an Executive Producer for his albums. She slows it down with just a piano as the backing music. She kinda sounds like him, maybe a little jazzier... or something. I don't know but I really liked it. Nicole says she's a big fan of Justin's and she actually prefers her version more than his, L.A. calls her "special" and loved how she made the song her own. 4 yeses and she is off to Boot Camp. - VIDEO

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It is 21 year-old Peet Monzingo's turn. His parents are dwarves yet he is around 6 feet tall. He wants to be a teen heartthrob, even though he is too old to qualify as one (lulz). He decides to sing "Billionaire" by Bruno Mars but replaces the word "billionaire" with "Famous" because he would rather be famous than be a billionaire. Obviously, the word change completely messes up the chemistry and feel of the song. He doesn't sound fantastic either. The Judges say no but believe that he will be famous one day. - VIDEO

Next up is the group 4Shore (20-23) from Virginia Beach, composed of 4 guys. They want to be the "biggest boyband ever". After answering "For Sure" to every question Simon has, they take a risk and perform "End Of the Road" by Boys II Men, which was written by L.A. Reid. This is the first group that I have actually enjoyed since the season begun. The harmonies are good. The one guy on the left, Darius, gets pretty damn annoying by talking over part of their audition when the other guy Alan is going for a glory note. The Judges all approve. - VIDEO

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Elaine Gibbs (53) goes up next and sings "You've Got a Friend" by Carole King. Her version is very Gospel-y, all 20 seconds worth. Not really my thing but I guess she's pretty good for what she does. 4 yeses. - VIDEO

Another quicky audition, Francesca Duncan (17) auditions with "Hero" by Mariah Carey ala acapella. She basically sounds like a weaker Mariah Carey but still nice. Another 4 yeses. - VIDEO

42 year-old Tiger Budbill goes up next and performs "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye, he manages to hold a nice strong glory note and for whatever reason, L.A. doesn't like it (maybe he prefers autotune?). He gets through 3 to 1. He walks backstage overwhelmed with emotion. - VIDEO

Auditioning next is local waiter Phillip Lomax (21), he refers to himself as a "hipster" and talks about hats definitely being back in style. I can definitely hear the narrator saying his name in the promo clip in the live shows. It has a ring to it, I suppose. Nicole asks him where he is from, he replies loudly "I'm from SEATTLE, Washington!" (lol). The crowd is now cheering for the homeboy. He goes on to sing "Fly Me To The Moon". He has a nice old crooner feel to him, the voice is a little shaky in some parts but he pulls off a nice slide across the stage. The Judges appreciate his self-belief and charisma and give him 4 yeses. - VIDEO

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Ivana Steelman (20) goes up next. Her actual performance got edited so much, I can't tell what song she performed but it is shaky and unimpressive. For whatever reason, Simon decides to be an ass and compare her to Nicole if she auditioned for this show at age 20. Nicole snaps back "That's funny cause you can look it up online. I was in a show called 'Pop Stars' and actually sang Whitney Houston 'I Will Always Love You'." Nicole then goes on to SING the chorus of that song and nails it. She may be pretentious, but she can definitely sing. I was impressed. Meanwhile, Ivana gets pissy and uncomfortable on stage. Simon gets PWNED, too bad Ivana got caught in the crossfire. - VIDEO

The last audition of the day is Tiah Tolliver (19). For whatever reason, both Paula and Nicole seem angry with Simon. Tiah wants to go "Platinum, Double Platinum and Diamond". The Judges like her ambitiousness. She performs "Impossible" by Shontelle. Paula mutters "She doesn't stay on key" and Nicole expresses similar concern and not having a track while Simon absolutely loves her and immediately starts pimping. L.A. makes a great point about auditioning with a track. "You're doing it acapella and for me, that's not how I listen to music. I don't buy music that way so... You kind of leave me a little lost." Simon stops just short of saying "The Force is strong within this one. MMmMMmm....". Nicole and Paula are really critical about her not having a backing track, Simon says if they can't see what she has, they are deaf. The Judges go for a vote and deadlock 2-2, basically eliminating Tiah. Simon gets frustrated and throws his pen. L.A. tells her she should sing another song to get another yes. She sings "It Don't Mean a Thing" by Duke Ellington, which is slightly better than the first song. The audience is definitely rooting for Tiah to advance. Nicole tells her to work on her vocals and changes her vote to a yes, advancing her to Boot Camp. Next stop, Joisey! - VIDEO

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Newark

We start off things in Newark with 14 year-old Brian Bradley a.k.a. Astro Kid. "Give me about 5 more years and I will be better than Jay-Z". Simon asks him why he thinks he hasn't had a record deal yet. "It's politics, man." he responds. Simon looks to L.A. and says "He's a mini-you". It originally looks like Brian is offended with what Simon said but it turns out to be a part of his act. He goes on to rap an original song "Stop Lookin' At My Mom". He's pretty catchy and raps well but he seems to have a pretty decent amount of arrogance. L.A. says "I used to run this label called Def-Jam and all the years that I was there, you know what, I was looking for you and you never walked in. So I'm the luckiest guy in the world that you walked into my life today." 4 yeses. - VIDEO

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Next is hairdresser Kelly Warner (22), we see a snippet of her singing "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. Sounds decent, the judges all like her and advance her. - VIDEO

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Aaron Surgeon (34) comes on stage, he looks like Xander Alexander in disguise. He describes himself as a "Pop Star with an R&B/ Rock edge". He sings "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing". I personally don't care for it. Simon says he is very average (I agree). He gets through with 3 votes. - VIDEO

Auditioning next is Liliana Rose Andreano (26) and she performs "You Are My Sunshine" by Jimmie Davis acapella. The snippet we hear is simple and sweet. "You don't look like pop star until you start singing... One of my favorite of the day. An easy, easy yes." She gets through with 3 more. - VIDEO

Andy Silikovitz (43) is next, his mom is present backstage. He doesn't think he's ever kissed a girl in his life but hopes to get a nice house, a nice car and lots of girls if he wins. He chooses "Hero" by Mariah Carey as his audition song. Most off-key audition of the year, forgets some of the words as well. The Judges say no in the nicest way possible. Paula gives him a hug.  - VIDEO

Next, we see 22 year-old Josh Katzman completely destroy "House of the Rising Sun". Hee.

Clarissa Cheatham a.k.a. Cashmere (27) goes up. "A few years back, I started singing at karaoke and really enjoyed it." Simon asks what the reaction to her was, she replies "My friends and family and people I don't even know screaming, yelling my name." She goes onto sing "Always Be My Baby" by Mariah Carey. Totally off-key and sounds like a sheep. She's giving Andy Silikovitz a run for his money! "Cashmere, when you said that people... scream.. after karaoke, I don't think that was a compliment." Simon struggles to say while laughing. I've never seen Simon laugh so hard, this was priceless. 4 nos. - VIDEO

Nouf Taraman (21) chooses "Run" by Snow Patrol and that should have been taken as a warning to RUN out of the performance center before she started "singing". Really shaky and bad. The audience is booing. "No no no no. Wait, hold on. Just let me finish. Like, you keep booing. How am I supposed to do anything? Seriously." More booing. Simon says "Nouf, we're going to go straight to a yes or a no, there's other people who can sing waiting." (ROFL) 4 nos. - VIDEO

We then get to see Jean Loup Wolfman (42) hula hoop, I don't know what he sang but I'm pretty sure he murdered it. We then get to see Maya Lehman (58) ironically perform "We Are the Champions" by Queen. It's like these people are aspiring to be the XFUS version of Wagner.

Cari Fletcher (17) comes on stage to save us. She's been taking classical vocal training since she was six years-old. She performs "Alone" by Heart, she sounds nice but I'm personally bored and unmemorable. 3 of the Judges give her mass praise while Simon tells her she was forgettable and boring. Still gets 4 yeses. - VIDEO

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We then quickly see snippets of Emily Michalak (12) and Dorit Yehudai (48) sing and advance to Boot Camp.

Last of the night in Seattle is duo Ausem composed of 15 year-olds Austin and Emily (I love the cleverness of the name), they have quite the support in the audience and backstage. They sing "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri complete with push-and-shove choreography. Austin definitely sounds A LOT better than Emily, who is dragging down the performance in my opinion. I sense an attempt to advance Austin and eliminate Emily. Sure enough, that's what is being considered. L.A. calls Austin a star and says he's not convinced of the duo. It comes down to Nicole's vote to advance the duo. "YES or bloody NO?" says aggravated Simon. Nicole stutters and remains indecisive for several minutes. "Oh for God's sake" says Simon, frustrated with the waste of time, and walks out (he does come back). Nicole finally decides yes, advancing Ausem. - VIDEO

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San Francisco

Tora Woloshin (21) is first up. She's a mechanic and her sense of fashion is eccentric. Aside from her singing aspirations, she would love to own her own auto shop and build race cars. She goes on to sing "I Want You Back" by Jackson 5. She gets the crowd to clap to the beat. Perfect song choice for her, I absolutely loved this audition. She's definitely a performer. Some of her raspy notes remind me of Haley Reinhart from the tenth season of American Idol (but of course, being a diehard Haley-tard, she doesn't come close to Haley), she is officially my favorite girl in this competition. The audience reception is excellent and all of the Judges dig her too. 4 definite yeses. - VIDEO

Next is Jor El Garcia (22) who apparently has big Superman fans for parents. He lists Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Shakira, Lady Gaga, and Britney Spears as inspirations of his. He sings "Lucky Star" by Madonna. Nicole predicts this audition is going to be very good... Well, it isn't. Simon says "The singing was terrible, the dancing was possibly worse.". L.A. says "It was fun, but that big X on the wall behind you represents a 5 million dollar prize so... I'm sorry, it's a No." (I freaking love L.A.) and Jor El is sent back to Krypton... or something like that. - VIDEO

Ric White (45) auditions next with "Land of a Thousand Dances" by Wilson Pickett. Paula starts dancing, which I really don't miss... at all. Ric's performance wasn't really mind-blowing. We fail to see if he actually advances or not. Bah!! - VIDEO

Next up is The Stereo Hogzz (23-25) from Houston, Texas. I like the matching outfits. "Tell me something about yourself not related to music." One of them answers with big eyes "I just had a baby!" (lol). They sing an original song "Running". I like it a lot. Simon thinks they were over-rehearsed, but they still get 4 yeses. - VIDEO

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Coming onto the stage next is Brennin Hunt (26) from Nashville, Tennessee. He hopped on a tour bus at the age of 19 and has been performing ever since. White Guy with Guitar alert!!! The XF film department intentionally gave him a bad edit and makes him look like an arrogant snob-ass (yes, I made that term up), probably so if they eliminate him before the Live shows, people won't mind "because he was an arrogant blah blah blah". "I know I already have a strike against me for looking the way I do." he says, maybe he's aware of Simon's WGWG discrimination (lol). "I want to rule the world", don't we all? He sings an original song "How We Make It", Simon calls it risky (why didn't he say something similar to the previous audition?). His song is so good and catchy, I feel like I have heard it before somewhere. His voice is excellent, nice raspy tone. Best male audition so far, in my opinion. I love it and so do the Judges. 4 yeses. - VIDEO

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Paige Elizabeth Ogle (18) is next, she wants to take Justin Beiber out of the business. L.A. isn't very amused. She sings "You and I" by Lady Gaga, and does a nice job. Simon calls it "the easiest yes so far" She advances. - VIDEO

Next in line is Leroy Bell, he's 59 years-old but looks like he's in his early 30's at the most. The Judges are surprised by his age. He sings "Lean On Me" by Kirk Franklin, the audience claps to the beat. I really don't care for this one, he reminds me of Taylor Hicks in a weird way, but he seems like a really laid-back guy. 4 yeses. - VIDEO

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Getting a big 19 seconds to impress the nation is The Brewer Boys (13-17) a duo composed of two brothers. They sing "Rhythm of Love" by the Plain White Tees. The Judges all say yes. I actually thought they were very pitchy and average in the clip that was aired so I was laughing my ass off when they advanced because I thought it was horrible. But if you look on YouTube, you will see that they are damn good at harmonizing and quite enjoyable. Maybe they got a bad edit, I wish we heard more of them, instead of seeing some of these other "contestants" that are filler/ fodder. - VIDEO

14 year-old Nick Dean comes on stage and sings "Walk Away", an original song he refers to as his first single. He sounds alright but it's not the best I've seen on this show. The females in the audience appear to be going batshit for him. 4 big yeses from the Judges. - VIDEO

Devon Talley (21) is next. He sings "Season of Life" from Rent. Holy crap, he sounds just like Big Bird from Sesame Street. This audition feels like it goes on for ages, like being stuck in an eternal music competition inferno. His timing sucks and he can't stay on-key. 4 nos. - VIDEO

The very last audition of this season is Jazzlyn Little (16), I love her name. She is insanely nervous and shaky. Simon: How are you? Jazzlyn: Extremely nervous. Simon: Why? Jazzlyn: Everybody's looking at me right now. Simon: That's why it's called a 'stage' (lol). She's shy, nervous and lacking confidence. "Okay, you're not selling yourself well here, Jazzlyn." says Simon. The dialogue is hilarious, you should definitely watch it. We finally move on and she sings "I'm Going Down" by Mary J. Blige and kills it... in a very good way. She's very smooth and soulful, I love her falsetto. "You're the one to watch, young lady." says Simon. 4 BIG yeses. - VIDEO

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The audition phase finally come to a close for the season. I'm glad it got cut short but it still felt like it was long and nauseating. I will say that the second week's episodes were definitely better than the first. The show is slowly improving as we go along, hopefully we can keep that momentum of recovery going. I still think I'm leaving this phase of the season with a few mental scars though. Ahahaha... Next stop is Boot Camp, where the 162 acts will eventually be cut to 32 acts that will move on to the Judges Houses and see which judge is mentoring what category. See you then!

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