'The X Factor' USA: Chicago, Seattle auditions recap
First to take to the stage is singing duo Makenna and Brock. Awkwardly enough, when asked about their relationship, Brock gets a bit heartbroken when Makenna insists that they're just good friends as he secretly loves her. It's pretty awkward, but their singing isn't so bad.
They do a rather pleasant version of 'Colder Weather' by the Zac Brown Band which is a big hit with the audience. They've made LA's day, and Cheryl thinks that the harmonies were "spot on" (that means "perfect", Americans!) and appreciates the control they had of their vocals.
Paula thinks it's a rarity to have a duo that blends so well and even Simon's a fan, even though the genre of music isn't usually his style. Unsurprisingly, they sail through with four yeses.
Next up is 35-year-old Kim Terek, who absolutely bombs with a vaguely operatic (and completely terrible) version of Katy Perry's 'Firework'. Simon thinks it was "like two people singing at the same time" and she's sent away. 21-year-old Tim Quinn doesn't fare much better with a pained version of Seal's 'Kiss From A Rose' and Robin Royal murders Jordyn Taylor's 'You Make Me Mad'.
Cherlesia Heard, 65, then shows up on stage but doesn't sing. Instead, she offers to audition to be on the judging panel and tries to "role play" with Simon. However, she doesn't last long and is dismissed as the actual judges sit confused.
16-year-old Skyelor Anderson hopes to bring something unique to the stage as he's one of few black country singers. He offers up a version of 'Must Be Doin' Something Right' by Billy Curtington.
A slight technical difficulty makes the music stop but he doesn't miss a beat, continuing the song and is encouraged by Paula. His voice is pretty average but it shows a bit of promise and it'll certainly help his case that he's got such a fighting spirit.
LA is impressed that he didn't flinch when the backing track stopped and really enjoyed it. Cheryl agrees, as does Paula, who is extremely impressed with him despite the things that he needs to work on with his vocals.
Simon appreciates that he's different and can tell that he loves country music as it "makes a big difference" to his performance. All four judges send him through to the next round.
Graduate student J Mark Inman has big dreams of "destroying the Top 40" and insists that he doesn't want to be another cookie cutter artist. He decides to perform Radiohead's 'Creep' - but with his own backing track.
He sounds as ridiculous as I predicted he would and insists upon doing some rather bizarre dances. But wait, am I going crazy? The judges seem to like him, as does the audience! They're not stopping him, at least.
Paula calls him "otherworldly" and says that he's "in a different jurisdiction". I'm pretty sure that's only a compliment coming from her. She and Simon share a high-five after that comment. LA admits that he "sounded so bad, but felt so good" while Cheryl wants to visit the "different jurisdiction" that he's from. He gets three yeses before Simon even has his say.
We're then welcomed to "Planet Paula" as we're shown some of the stranger auditionees, all of whom seem to resonate with the 'Straight Up' singer and find inspiration in her. Paula is also shown in various states of confusion, admitting at one point that she "doesn't know what show she's on". That makes two of us.
15-year-old Arin Ray's version of 'Ain't No Sunshine' resonates, as does 30-year-old burrito maker Josh Krajcik's rendition of Etta James' 'At Last', which is soulful and rather unique and fine, I'll tell you now that he's probably my favourite act I've seen on the show so far.
Simon can't help but smile, while even LA keeps his eyes closed to feel the groove. Simon admits that he was surprised and blown away by the audition, as it was honest and had no gimmicks.
LA "gets it" and says that he's not fooling him with his low-key dressing style, as it's the 'before' picture of his future success. Both Paula and Cheryl notice the electric atmosphere in the room and he gets four yeses.
We've headed back to Seattle now for a new round of auditions. Poor Cheryl's gone off again without explanation, but Nicole Scherzinger is back and excited about the talent she's sure they're going to find in the city.
First up is mother-daughter duo (and predicted trainwreck) The Good Girls. Incidentally, Paula remembers them for writing a screenplay about Simon. I'm a bit scared, but before I can register my panic, they're off with Marvin Gaye's 'What's Goin' On?'
It's one of the most boring, amelodic things I've ever heard. Simon questions whether it was serious before dubbing them "the worst group [he's] ever heard in [his] life". Nicole agrees, calling it lifeless. As sure as the sky is blue, they're sent home empty handed.
14-year-old Justin Bieber megafan Drew Ryniewicz takes on the teen heartthrob's 'Baby', though LA says before she begins that he may be a bit critical. She does manage to make it her own and is pretty good for someone so young, but I'm not blown away.
Nicole loves the original but admits that she prefers Drew's version to Bieber's and Paula thinks it was "original, commendable, daring and bold", while Simon says that she did exactly what people her age should do on the show. LA also loves that it was soulful and believable and did something so unique with it. Four yeses, and we'll be seeing her again.
Girl group Jada are up next and are an absolute disaster, sent home before they really get started. 21-year-old Peet Montzigo wants to be a teen heartthrob but unfortunately chooses Bruno Mars' 'Millionaire' to audition with and I can't stand that song, so it doesn't look good for him (in my eyes).
Nicole's face is pretty amazing as he sings - frozen in a mixture of confusion and disgust. Simon is also not impressed and rolls his eyes. Later, Nicole admits that she likes that he has "big dreams", but that's about all she can say. Simon describes the performance as "horrible" - a sentiment which LA agrees with, though he thinks that Peet may still be famous one day. He doesn't get through.
4Shore, a four-member boy group, hits the stage next for a performance of Boyz II Men's 'End of the Road', written by X Factor's own LA Reid. Considering how weak the groups category generally is on the UK version of the show, these guys aren't too bad. Their harmonies are pretty good and they're nice enough to listen to, so I can't imagine they won't get through.
LA is proud, calling it "just incredible" (which is a slight overstatement, in my opinion) and Nicole loves the harmonies. So does Paula, who describes them as "impeccable" and thinks that they're "just a blessing". Simon thinks that they could be successful worldwide and would make America proud. We'll be seeing them again, of course.
53-year-old grandmother Elaine Gibbs absolutely brings down the house with an extremely soulful version of 'You've Got A Friend' and she sails through. 17-year-old Francesca Duncan's performance of Mariah Carey's 'Hero' also wins her a ticket to boot camp, Tiger Budville takes on 'What's Goin' On' and will have another chance to prove himself as well.
Phillip Lomax, 21, is a bit of a poor man's Bruno Mars - fedora and all - and we only really need one of him, but I have a feeling he'll be getting through. He gives a bit of a forced version of 'Fly Me to the Moon', but it's exactly the type of performance you'd expect the show to eat up.
Simon likes his charisma and self-confidence but thinks his voice needs work. However, he finds him "interesting" and likes him. LA also thinks that he's a star, which Paula agrees with. He's through with four yeses.
We then see a montage of all the female hopefuls that Nicole and Paula just don't like and turn away. Simon thinks it's cattiness and finds it amusing as he and LA are impressed with some of the more scantily clad contestants, but the girls hold their ground.
Hoping to win them over is 19-year-old Tiah Tolliver with Shontelle's 'Impossible', and she's actually quite good. LA loves her "wonderful spirit" but wishes that she would sing with a backing track rather than acapella.
However, Simon thinks that she's got something in her and is "potentially great". Nicole thinks that she changes keys a lot, which Paula jumps on board with, causing an argument with Simon.
Nicole passes and while Simon and LA want her through, it comes down to Paula, who says no. So Tiah gives it another go in the hopes of convincing them to change their minds. Nicole finally relents - much to her chagrin - and says 'yes', but insists that Tiah must work on her vocals for the next round.
The X Factor USA continues tomorrow at 8/7c on Fox.