It’s hard to believe, but the X Factor auditions are already behind us. It seems like just last week that we embarked on this crazy, inspiring, and let’s face it—sometimes downright wackadoodle—journey across America. There was that time when Paula made a funny face, and when Simon stole a golf cart because you never know what that Simon Cowell is gonna do next! Oh, auditions. I just don’t want this feeling to ever end. But our little X Factor is growing up, so let’s enjoy these last few moments while we can.
Tonight’s episode takes us to the cultural capital of America, city of big dreams and bright Broadway lights, that’s right, New.... ark! Steve Jones just barely masks his disappointment as the camera yoinks us from the streets of Manhattan to another X Factor-grade superstadium in Jersey. “New Jersey is just across the river from New York, guys!” Jones breathlessly assures us. “We could still run over there for lunch if you want… look, I’m sorry, Jersey has better tax laws! And okay, fine you got me—this was all Simon’s idea. You see, he loves the idea of New Jersey for some reason, and got it in his head that holding auditions here would be like a cross between Jersey Shore and American Idol, which is the concept of the latest show he’s pitching. Simon loves his regional stereotypes so very much so please don’t tell him that nobody wants to watch that show. He just might put it on the air out of spite.”
Unfortunately for Simon, the Newark auditions provide us with quite the crop of definite future superstars, and nary a guido in sight. Let’s talk about who got in! Brian Bradley comes out wearing distressed skinny jeans, lens-less glasses, and a porkpie hat, but he’s 14 so he gets away with it, I guess. He’s a li’l rapper! A hipster Bow Wow! Steve asks if he’s ready to perform and he answers “Tornado,” which I might actually start employing in my everyday speech as a substitute for “yes” or “no.” I’d love it if the judges did the same, actually. Bradley performs the born-to-be-a-trending-topic original “Stop Lookin’ At My Mom” and he gets four tornadoes. Onward!
There are a lot of boring girls in Jersey, it turns out. I already am having a hard time differentiating all the Kellies and Carries tonight; nobody made me too angry or too happy so I guess I’m happy for them that they passed on to the next round. I like to see people getting what they want! In fact, we are privileged enough to witness that rare bird, the Win Package, a montage full of success and talent and people supposedly amazing enough to move on to bootcamp, though you could never tell from the two bars the frenetically paced editing lets us hear. Look, they threw back their head and did vibrato—that’s star material right there!
So now that we’ve positively reinforced all these peoples’ dreams of fame and fortune, let’s do some humiliation—for it’s been such a very long time. Out comes Andy, a truly hopeless case who is all too eager to tell the X Factor crew that he’s in his 40s and has never kissed a girl, and even sadder, is under the impression that MTV Cribs is still a thing. He sings, and he’s just as awful as one would expect, but rather than do the magic hand wave that cuts off the music, and put him and the audience out of their misery, Simon lets him go on for quite a while, then proceeds to joke about setting him up with Paula. It’s all so very icky, guys, like watching the jocks invite the special needs kid to their lunch table and tell him that the head cheerleader has a such a crush on him. Nothing’s funnier than giving a hot lady’s number to a developmentally delayed adult! After what seems like an eternity, the judges tire of batting poor Andy around and he is sent back to his mother. I think the takeaway is that he may have failed, but he has a great story about how he was mocked by four celebrities on national TV, so we shouldn’t feel too bad for him.
Guess who I don’t feel bad for at all? Ausem, the boy-girl duo with the throng of screaming fans who are basically what happens when you let ordinary (and I mean supremely ordinary) children watch Glee. They talk about connections and energy and passion in a really vague yet upbeat way, then over-emote and under-sing in their performance. Then, hilariously, the Austin half of Ausem is pretty much told “You’re way more talented than your friend, why not lose the deadweight, you’d be a shoo-in for boot camp!” Am I a terrible person for breaking into delighted giggles at the sight of Emily’s face? There is something so nastily entitled about her crestfallen disappointment; anyone who is that surprised to learn that they aren’t God’s gift to the universe deserves to feel that way. Anyway, Ausem gets through completely on the merit of its male half, but I don’t give ’em too long before they’re sent packing.
You’re all dying to know who the winner of tonight’s “Hey, I Didn’t Hate That” award is, and I’m going to have to go with Tora, the 21-year-old mechanic from Tuscon with the tats and the funny dress. This one has a lot to do equally with song choice and characcter—Tora has the kind of voice that could have very easily lent itself to a Whitney-esque ballad, but she was smart and went with “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5, a foolproof feel-good song that still let her showcase her powerful vocals. Also, I was pretty much sold on her from the shot of her smiling at the camera before going on stage—she’s pretty much the anti-Ausem, not only for her considerable talent but for her levity and confidence. If the judges would have sent her home I somehow doubt that we would have seen her weeping in the Xbox afterwards.
So that’s that! The X Factor has successfully identified every single talented person in the country! Good work, everyone—here, have a montage to relive all the memories. Next week is bootcamp, and with it, hopefully a chance for this show to build on its following. (I say “hopefully” as an X Factor reviewer for whom it would be a lot more fun to cover a show that everybody and their mother is watching. Shh—I’m actually a little more concerned about the fate of Community than this mess.) I know I’m not the only one who hates, hates, hates audition episodes, so perhaps more people will jump on the bandwagon now that they’re out of the way. And while a lot of the talent we’ve see get through so far is pretty forgettable, there are enough bright spots to root for in the coming weeks to make things potentially interesting. Plus, it’s fun to root for people! Here, let’s all pretend we’re at the watercooler in that mind-numbing office we all work at, just gabbin’ about X Factor like ya do.
“Phew, what a week! TGIF, amirite? So, did you watch X Factor last night? Oh, I know you did girl, don’t even lie! I don’t know about you, but I’m rooting for Tora, Josh Krajick, and Melanie Amaro. Who are your favorites?” (No seriously, tell me who you like in the comments. I’m the only person I know who is watching this show and I need to not feel so very, very alone.)