I took a step into the dark side today.... as
Arrive time was 12:30pm, show was suppose to start at 2pm, but being the first taping...EVER in X Factor USA history, it was pure organized chaos.
The irony is that while I am typing this I am watching American Idol S4 auditions. :)
Upon arrival, I saw a handful of potential contestants out and about. Two girls, later to be identified as The Flawless Hotties were prancing up and down a set of stairs in their tutus, holey leggings & high heels. I couldn't see the camera but it was apparent they were getting a feature. B-Squared was also wondering around chatting with some folks.
Our section of the line had the
Keep in mind, the arrival time between LA and Simon was probably an hour....
LA Reid was the first to arrive, followed by Cheryl Cole. Both come over to say hit to the audience members told to stand there. Paula was "swarmed" by the media upon her arrival, and about the second she arrived the official press release for her joining the show flooded the internet. She was as petite and adorable as ever in a elegant purple dress. Not a moment too late, Simon arrived and the crowd responded with a loud roar. Right after exiting the car, Paula was there by his side.
♪♬ Reunited and it feels so good! ♪♬Big hug & perhaps a kiss were openly displayed for the press. Of course, this was (will be) probably the most exciting and anticipated moment of the entire
After 3 hours of waiting around, and already an hour late for the taping, you'd think they'd let us in. Some important person was on his walkie-talkie yelling at someone for not getting people in fast enough. I was laughing. The crowd started chanting, "Let us in! Let us in!" I was chanting, 'I have to pee! I have to pee!" What? I did!
Inside, there were about 3,500 audience members. Family & friends were up in the highest balcony with signs. The warm-up guy was great in the beginning. He really got the crowd going. There were dance-offs, sing-offs and even a dating game. Not gonna lie, I almost volunteered for that one. It's just an instinct when someone asks, "Where are the single ladies that are desperate to get married?" And my arm shoots up. The crowd around me chuckled at my hastiness, and I quickly retreat my arm.. "Heehee, just kidding."
Steve Jones & Nicole Scherzinger came out for a split second. It was more of an awkward moment than anything. They played some Pussycat Dolls music and Nicole danced along. Steve kinda just stood there. They tried to interact with each other and it didn't work so well. But Steve has a hot accent, so snaps for him!
The judges arrived on stage. Simon Cowell gave a speech about what X Factor was all about and how he was excited for all the judges & finding the next superstar [told us WE were the 5th judge]. He then introduced LA Reid ["Let's make it clear, I am not Randy Jackson"], who introduced Paula Abdul [thankful to be back working with Simon], who introduced Cheryl Cole [excited about working in America].
The judges sitting order, looking at stage [left to right]: Simon, Paula, Cheryl, LA.
Simon is the same old Simon. He's honest, blunt but adds that flavor of humor with his quick comments so it doesn't stab as hard when he is mean. Paula is fierce. No doubt she'll tell it to you like it is, but also adds those sweet comments. It helps that it comes from this petite woman who is always smiling. She brings hope to the table. Cheryl was quiet. Her mic was having difficulties for a while so it was hard to hear. I can't say she added much, but she was pretty straightforward in her comments, in a nice way. LA is brutal. He's like Simon but has no fluff (it's not funny when he says it). He has no problems ruffling feathers.
It was past 3pm when the first auditioners finally came out. And so it begins....
B-Squared - 4 Nos
Male duo made up of Theo, 25 & Jonathon, 21 (brothers from another mother). Sang TLC's "Waterfall" and CCR's "Proud Mary." Would call first album "Breaking Barriers." Simon asked them a ton of questions, and so they told their story of how they formed their group:
We were out at a club and were drinking. We were pretty drunk. So we went back to his place *awkward audience reaction* and we started singing the National Anthem. Simon cuts in, "you were singing the NA?" Yes, he was doing the top, I was bottom. *awkward audience reaction, take 2* [Guy realizes what they are implying and cracks up laughing.]Simon: "The song gave up on you."
Paula: "Future singing comedians." [this comment started the first 'tiff' of XF between Paula & Simon.]
IMO: They definitely captivated the audience, and were quite hilarious. Had some smooth moves and the vocals were decent, but there was nothing great about them. Jonathon had the better vocals of the two.
MARY - 4 Nos
Mary, a 52 year old mother. She sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" & "Independence Day." She kind of had a Crystal Bowersox carefree feel to her, which may have prompted Paula's question:
"Are you a native..(huh?)..a native to LA?" - PaulaThis was "time for mom to shine," and to show her children, now grown up, that even she could reach her dreams.
Simon stopped her, "Sounded like someone was playing piano with their feet." In regards to the WBMW track, which prompted a debate on whether she should sing "Hero" or "Independence Day." Simon wanted "Hero" but she wanted to showcase her power vocals in ID [which she clearly did not have]. This debate ended up with Paula yelling, "Just sing something!"
This woman was on stage for at least twenty minutes and she kept starting & stopping, fighting about what song to sing, and just standing there....Honestly, I don't know why they just didn't tell her no and get on with the show.
I doubt they will even show this in TV thanks to the audience because this is when they got brutal, and I mean ruthless. Imagine standing on a stage being booed by 3,500 people. And in hopes to get you off the stage, just imagine 3,500 people breaking out into...
♪♬ Nah nah nah nah, Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye ♪♬After they finally told her no, the warm-up guy had to scold the audience for their behavior. It is okay to boo the judges remarks & decisions, but NOT the actual auditioner. At least not in that retrospect.
FLAWLESS HOTTIES - 4 Nos
Two girls, 21 & 22 (missed their names). Exposed stomachs, black & pink tutus, holey leggings, high heels (basically Lauren Alaina's mom dressed them). Sang "She Will be Loved" by Maroon 5. Name of first album would be "Flawless." They were over confident and well, had flaws.
Simon: "Lazy and whiny."
LA: "Song Choice did not fit...those dresses."
Cheryl: "I wanted more attitude from you when you sang."
I saw these girls before the show and had a feeling they'd be a complete train wreck. That said, they weren't awful but they were far from great. With all the sass they brought while answering Cheryl & Simon's questions...they had none while they sang.
[I honestly have no idea how to spell her name].
Salomy, 21 year old female from Georgia. Sang "Think" by Aretha Franklin. She was very quiet at first but she held her confidence. She worked the stage and audience, and was incredible. Her rang, her pitch, her stage presence....AMAZING!
LA: "I really enjoyed that."
Simon: "You sound like a really amazing wedding singer, but your old fashion."
LA asked her who she would be competing with in the radio market or where she would fit in. She responded, "good question, I don't know." When asked to sing another song, Simon was frustrated to find she had prepared no current songs, "Nothing from the last 30 years even?" She couldn't even name a current favorite artist, until she suggested a Michael Buble song...that was a cover of an old song. [Perhaps she would be a perfect fit for American Idol and it's dreaded old fashion theme weeks.]
Paula suggest she take the next few hours and find a current contemporary song and re-audition in the next session. I've been informed that she never showed up & missed out on her second chance. Sad, I really liked her.
I interrupt this recap of auditions for a word from our
As the crowd chants "X Factor," me and Snaps (my friend) chant "American Idol! American Idol!" We may have thrown in a few Kris Allen's as well. :)
At one point someone from the audience yells out, "Where's Ryan Seacrest!?" A serious question as our warm-up guy left us hanging and the XF host were backstage with the auditioners.
Snaps & I spent a lengthy time making Randy jokes and quoting his 101 Best quotes. Really we were just wondering, dawg, if anyone was "in it to win it." Ya know? For me for you, for you for me?
Can you dig it?
JETTA (LINDA) - 2 Nos, 2 Yeses
A 61 year old, young spirited rocker. No joke. Retired State worker in the department of rehabilitation. Sang "I Touch Myself." Though her first choice was "Piece of My Heart" because she is often told she sounds like Janis Joplin. Simon wanted ITM. This was my face the whole time --> \O/.
"I'm hard rock. I could really rock the place." And no doubt she did. it was actually pretty incredible considering it was coming from a 61 year old woman!
Simon: "You are a little tiger aren't you?"
Cheryl: "I'd love to have you as an aunt at my party!"
Both LA & Cheryl wanted to see her through to the next round, but Simon & Paula said no. Of course, right after Simon said no (and the audience booed this decision) he got up and walked away. Jetta just stood their confused. The camera guy had to motion her off the stage.
BROOKE INGRAM - 4 Nos
Small-town girl, 18, from Redwood Valley, CA. Sang "Anyway" by Martina McBride and "Mississippi" acapella. Her community paid for her trip to LA, she collected money in a bedazzled tip jar. Her demeanor was amazing. She knew what she wanted.
Her performance was my absolute favorite of the afternoon. She was a bit shaky from nerves but she has a powerful voice with a slight twang.
LA: "I didn't get the spark."
Paula: "You are not ready for this."
The judges all voted no, but LA placed emphasis on the fact that they were "passing so you can get better." They said she was definitely talented, just not ready.
"This isn't the singing business, this is the entertainment business." - LA Reid
BEST KEPT SECRET - 4 Yeses
Male group, three brothers from a small town, Twain Harte, in Northern California. (one stoplight). Sang Bob Marley's "The Woman Don't Cry" acapella. Huge crowd reaction but than again they had a lot of friends & family up in the balcony.
Simon: "Manoa, you are the best singer."
LA: "I would not sign you."
But despite, LA's comment he said yes (and Simon called him out on that), as did the other three judges. After 90 minutes, the first act finally made it through to the next rounds! The family ran out of the inside arena, and you could hear them celebrating when they all finally met up with the boys outside. :)
GINA RENE -
A female "peaceful" rapper, 35 (but looks 19). Sang an original song called "Cluck, Cluck." She said she was awful at self promotion and things like Youtube. She has a 12 year old daughter.
"You talked about being a peaceful rapper and you were killing chickens on that track!" - SimonHer original song was hilarious, but it was so good. And yes, there were clucking chickens on the track; however, the lyrics were quite clever. Paula & Cheryl commended her on that fact.
Gina: "I'm a Gemini, so I have two personalities."
Simon: "It was like going into a therapy session with you."
LA: "Don't let that guy shake you."
Gina "It was a joke."
[The actual exchange was quite hilarious, I really hope they show this one]
LA starts name dropping rappers he has worked with. "Oh, let me pick that name up for you..." Then he goes off on how she wasn't confident, and this just wasn't going to work. [Despite the fact that he said she was great]. She fights back with the fact that HE could help her and mentor her.
"People with the 'x factor' have the diamond in the rough, we just help surface that diamond." - LA ReidThe audience revolted against him and started booing him. "You could turn my no into a yes, but right now, my no is final."
Simon agrees, and says no. Cheryl & Paula both say yes. Gina walks off the stage and the audience goes crazy. LA stands up and recognizes the crowd's unhappiness with the decision. The audience starts to chant, "Bring her back! Bring her back! Bring her back!" And out she came!
Paula tells her, "You have 30 seconds to prove these boys wrong." Gina breaks out into an acapella song (no rap this time). It was beautiful.
LA, "You said you were a failure at self promotion but you just promoted yourself. Yes!" Simon also changes his vote and she's got all 4 yeses! Cue audience cheers!
STATIK EXPRESS - 4 Yesses
Five cousins, 12-14 years old, two boys & three girls. Sang the "National Anthem" acapella & "Bad Romance" acapella. They have performed at the Staples Center Nokia, etc.
Cheryl & LA both preferred the BR performance over the NA. Though the other boy was 'playing the pen' the whole time, then told Simon, "It's all talent, yo!" The held their grown pretty well. The 14 year old girl, Molly, has some sweet powerful vocals. Wow. The harmonies overall were amazing, too.
Simon spend the first 10 minutes arguing with them about who dressed them, who picked the song & group name. He was convinced the parents were running them into the ground. He got one of the boys to give him all the inside scoop. "Did you pick out that tie?" "No. My mom did." The mom ended up coming out on stage to chat with Simon herself. Well, she more took the critique then responded.
"I would fire your parents. Get rid of that silly name, silly outfits, and mother." - Simon
LA totally name drops Justin Bieber. "Everything I felt that day when Justin walked into my office, I am feeling right now." With that said, they received all four yesses, then preceded to walk off the stage without taking their mic stand with them.
SEAN JAMES - 4 Nos
'Mr. Pretty Boy Swager,' as he called himself, 21. He sang an original song. He is a rapper/dancer....but I am pretty sure he was just talking fast. He came out on stage very cocky, ignoring the judges and going straight for the crowd. Simon had to get his attention. He believes he will be bigger than Michael Jackson. Ha.
Simon: "Horrific. It's like something I'd expect to see on Hollywood Blvd."
JUANA BROOKS - 4 Nos
Fifteen year old male. He sang "Superstar" by Luther Vandross. He had very little charisma. Nothing made him stand out. Sweet voice though. He has potential but he is 15....
LA: "Too much key change for me."
Cheryl: "Nothing new, but definitely pursue this."
The judges emphasized the fact that is seemed "Old Fashioned," as they had with Salomy. Time after time, they noted that they were looking for a Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Katy Perry....someone who was a current contemporary artist who would become a superstar.
The number one question asked during the interview portion, "Who would you replace in the current music industry? Why would you compete with right now on the charts?"
MATT TADEM -
Twenty four year old male from LA, though originally from Palmdale. He sang "Disturbia" by Rihanna & "I'll be There" by Tiffany Evans. I have to words, "sparkle queen." He actually reminded me of Todrick Hall...with sparkles. He was wearing a top opened shirt and sparkly boots. Oh, and he had a tail. No, not a Durbin bandanna tail (ugh)... but an actual tail. Like a fox tail or something.
Simon argued with him about being on the wrong show and how he should go to Project Runway, but Matt insisted he was bad with patterns. ["Make it work!"] They voted and he got a no from all the judges.
But Matt begged for a second song, because he watches these shows and knows people sometimes get to sing another song. So he sang "I'll Be There." The re-voted and nothing changed. Bye sparkle queen.
Three move on.
I cannot say I would ever sit through an audition episode again. There was far too much down time between the acts. The warm-up guy was great in the beginning but he often left us hanging during breaks, so it got kind of boring at times. That awkward "silence" because you have no idea what is going on....happened far too often.
People were leaving the entire time & you could tell the OCA people were getting frustrated because they had to keep seats filled, especially up front.
Hopefully, we just got the bum group of the LA auditions because it was tragic for a long while. Theory was talent was better in the audience than on stage. Just ask they guy who sang "I Will Always Love You" in soprano, almost pitch perfect. Wow. Or the dancers who gave a real showdown on the stage during the pre-show warm up.