We're in Miami tonight, and first up is 29-year-old "starving artist" Ashley Sansone, who names herself as her biggest inspiration. She's slightly exhausting - to me, to the friend she's brought along and to the judges, who finally tell her to shut up and sing.
She admits to spending her rent money to travel to the audition, and I'd say that her landlord is going to be doubly angry after hearing the atrocity of her performance of Janis Joplin's 'Piece of My Heart'. It makes LA want to slit his wrists, while Simon couldn't understand a word she said. All four judges send her on her way.
Chanel Simone Dixon fares just as poorly, as do country trio Kanan Road. Both acts are none too happy about their rejection. Mother and daughter duo Dreamgirlz absolutely murder Heart's 'Barracuda' and are denied entry to the next round, much to the outrage of one of their male family members who goes on a profanity-fuelled rant backstage.
After the break, Gloria Estefan makes a random appearance on a balcony above the crowds lined up to audition, imploring the auditionees to "make 'em proud". As soon as she's come, she's gone again, which is a bit weird. But we don't have much time to think about it, as up next is 16-year-old high school student Caitlynne Curtis with an acoustic rendition of Katy Perry's 'Firework'. I'm never sure why people choose this song to showcase their singing voices, but whatever.
Caitlynne's not bad, but she's nothing special, either. Nicole thinks there's "room to grow", while Simon advises her to join a girl group as her voice isn't good enough to be a solo singer. As she receives two "no" votes, Paula has to go up on stage to comfort her. Still, the waterworks don't change the judges' answer and she's sent away.
Hopefully 21-year-old Nick Voss will fare slightly better, though I'm a bit skeptical of his shaved eyebrow and buzz-in hairdo which is part Morrissey, part Will Smith circa 1992. He launches into 'Trouble' by Elvis Presley, and I launch into my first eyeroll of the evening. It's all a bit heavy-handed, but is exactly the type of thing both the audience and judges eat up.
LA says that the performance is the first that excited him that day, despite the singing being only mediocre. Nicole was a bit confused because of the disparate elements of his act but ultimately enjoyed it. Paula, strangely, offers some "constructive criticism" about his vocals and Simon absolutely loves him. We'll be seeing him again.
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After the break, we're back with 14-year-old Ashley Deckard, who's a bit alternative and seems like she might give us a little rock and roll - something different from what we've seen so far. That definitely seems to be the case when she reveals that she sees ghosts, which seems to fascinate Simon but is pretty normal to Paula, who also admits to the paranormal. Oddly, Ashley launches into Jessie J's 'Price Tag'. It doesn't go well, and she's sent off unceremoniously.
Soraya Narasallah, 54-year-old delivery man Kevin Martin and Marivana Viscuso are likewise unimpressive and put on such outlandish performances that the judges are sure that ghost hunter Ashley is behind the strange happenings in the stadium.
Girl group 2Squar'd have some good harmonies and could be pretty promising. Nicole is feeling their energy and look, and the other judges agree. They fly through. 32-year-old Kendra Williams also has a powerful and rather unique voice, and will get another chance in the next round.
Brendan O'Hara is up next and is thankfully pretty good - particularly since Nicole's taken a shine to him. He's through as well, along with 22-year-old college student Jeremy Pagan.
Continuing the positive streak is 18-year-old Melanie Amaro with Beyoncé's 'Listen'. She's good - really good, in fact - and her vocals seems pretty effortless which is no small feat, especially for a Beyoncé track. She gets a standing ovation from the judges and the audience, with LA calling her "truly amazing" and uttering that classic phrase for the first time this season - "You have the X factor".
Nicole is in tears as she is inspired by people like Melanie, and Paula has never heard anything like it at any audition. Then it's down to Simon, who says that she's the reason he brought The X Factor to the US. Unsurprisingly, we'll see her again, and - if I may make a prediction - probably pretty far into the live shows.
We're now on the second hour of the programme and auditions have moved to Dallas, where 17-year-old Jonny Rogers has the most insane hairdo I've ever seen. It's very Justin Bieber ("I had it first," he insists) but very strange, as well.
He sings an original track, accompanied by some of the most awkward dance moves I've ever seen. The vocals are likewise lacklustre but somehow, the judges don't find it terrible. Still, he's not right for the competition and is sent home empty handed.
After the break, Nicole's gone a bit country, calling everyone "y'all" and picking up a Southern accent as well as enjoying some fried chicken and gravy backstage, much to Simon's confusion. However, her sudden change is put aside as the next auditionee steps up for his chance. 18-year-old Dylan Lawson, who sold his truck to buy a plane ticket from Kentucky to make it to the auditions.
After his touching introduction, you'd sort of expect him to be amazing... but you'd be wrong. He launches into a profanity-laced screamfest which culminates in him lying face down on the stage, much to the confusion of the panel. Simon calls it "horrible" and tells him that it's time to leave the stage and just like that, he's off.
Wesley Kimbell starts off another round of rejects, followed by best friends Michael and Michelle, whose performance Simon calls an "uncomfortable nightmare". Curtis Lawson, a 19-year-old street vendor, performs some strange version of throat singing and is also given the boot.
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Will 49-year-old Dexter Haygood fare any better? He's slightly eccentric but his performance of James Brown's 'Sex Machine' is decidedly interesting, if nothing else. Simon's not having it, though, comparing it to a "tribute act", which LA agrees with. Paula also wants to hear more originality and he's asked to sing something else acapella in 15 seconds.
Dexter then launches into Brown's 'It's A Man's Man's Man's World' which is much more up to scratch. LA thinks he "turned the place out", while Nicole calls him "one of the funkiest cats [she's] ever seen". Paula wants him to have another chance but also wants more originality and Simon takes the audience's appreciation for Dexter into account.
With four yeses, he'll get another chance to impress in the next round. As he celebrates his victory backstage, Steve Jones gives him one of the most awkward hugs I've ever witnessed on television and in life.
Also lucky to get through are 21-year-old Hannah Jackson, 14-year-old Ma'at Bingham Shango and 23-year-old rocker Austin Simmons. Their success is followed immediately by 21-year-old rugby coach Caitlin Koch, who impresses with a creative rendition of The Supremes' 'Stop In the Name of Love'.
Nicole says that she would be honoured to work with Caitlin, and Paula loves the authenticity of her voice. Simon and LA both appreciate her uniqueness and she grabs four yeses.
Following the break, 27-year-old Xander Alexander looks like he's going to be a real handful, correcting the crew on how to pronounce his name and insisting that he's got the X Factor as he slags off most current popstars. Once onstage, his attitude causes major issues as he exchanges rude comments with the judges. Finally, Simon tells him to "shut it and start singing".
Incidentally, his rendition of Edwin McCain's 'I'll Be' gets stopped pretty quickly as it's not working. He then moves on to Tina Turner's 'A Fool In Love'. LA finds him entertaining but doesn't think his singing is very good. Simon actually likes that he's pretty gobby and interesting, saying that he could potentially be quite good if given a full stage production.
Paula also really loves him but tells him to stop pretending to cry. However, Nicole wants him to drop the attitude and his weird affectations. Unfortunately, he needs three yeses and is turned down by both Nicole and Paula, with Simon saying that he blew it by becoming a "bitchy, nasty diva". Well said.
And with that, the Dallas auditions come to an end. Next Wednesday, The X Factor returns and will be in New York City, where more drama is sure to unfold.
The X Factor USA airs next week on Wednesday and Thursday at 8/7c on Fox.
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