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'The X Factor USA': Third auditions episode - recap

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X Factor USA likes to keep things big, and this episode doesn't look like it's any exception - we're already being promised TWO of the emergency services, with glimpses of an ambulance and a police car. But there's one thing missing, and it's Simon Cowell-shaped.

Yep, Britney's in her hotel room telling LA and Demi that Simon's sick and can't make it, so he's sending "this guy named Louis". "Who the heck is Louis?" puzzles LA. Well, fans of the British X Factor will know Louis Walsh - judge extraordinaire and boyband guru. In a not-at-all-set-up bit, the contestants cheer when they hear of Simon's absence, while LA says he misses him ("just not so much").

The X Factor USA, s02 e02: LA Reid

© Fox / Ray Mickshaw



We're in Kansas City, and we should probably start seeing some singers! We briefly meet CeCe Frey, but first up is Rizzloe Jones, a rapper who likes "positive" rhymes ("It's not all about big pimping"). CeCe's clearly being set up as today's 'mean girl', since she raises her eyebrow when Rizzloe says he's planning to freestyle. She's not wrong, though, is she? It is a risky move.

It doesn't shake Rizzloe's confidence, though, as he heads up on stage and jokes that he had the X Factor when he "learned the ABC and learnt the word X". Everyone's surprised when he says he's a rapper and asks for freestyle suggestions - Demi jokes "marshmallows", but LA's suggestion: "The X Factor", while not original, is what he goes for. And he's actually surprisingly okay, too, spitting out rhymes so fast and even mentioning Demi's marshmallows!

The X Factor USA S02E03: Rizzloe Jones

© Fox / Ray Mickshaw



LA likes Rizzloe's "flow", saying he was "brave" but "really good". Louis declares that Rizzloe "lit up the room" and looks like a "real little popstar", while Britney compares him to a "young Vanilla Ice Ice Baby" (hmm...) As for Demi, she was surprised because she expected country, but she was "so impressed". It's four yeses for Rizzloe! And all his friends run on to the stage to congratulate him, which is always nice. "LA digged me and so did the ladies," he raps.

Backstage, CeCe is still trying to psych out her opponents, including a sweet duo - "What a generic answer!" she smiles sweetly after the guy tactfully says he thinks his female non-girlfriend partner is a "very nice girl". To be fair, her unimpressed face at a group of cheerleaders outside is something to treasure. Still, it's almost time for CeCe to take the stage, so she talks about how much she wants this and how she's different from everyone else and how she's here to win, not to make friends. And she seems to have the catchphrase: "Just another day at the office."

But it's time for CeCe's audition and she announces that she's happy to bet she's better than everyone else and could be a superstar. Unfortunately, her performance of 'Unchained Melody is... not good. LA whispers that it's a bad song for her, while Demi actually looks pained. So they stop her and get her to sing another track - 'Ain't No Other Man'. This is much better - not perfect, but it gets LA to do a bit of amazing dancing in his chair.



Afterwards, Louis says he loves people with ambition and talent, and says no-one will stop CeCe (he's probably right, there.) Britney says she's talented and young, with the whole package, while LA praises her attitude, style, passion and ambition: "I think you have the X factor". Demi even says she has a girl crush on her! In fact, they all give her a yes and praise her attitude - wonder what the contestants backstage would think of that?

Incidentally, it's LA's birthday so Britney brings him a cake and sings: "Happy birthday" - how much should I bet that someone's going to claim she was miming? Anyway, LA's happy but there are more auditions to see, and next up is very nervous Vino Alan, who is hoping to succeed to help support his 15-year-old son.

Stepping onto the stage, Vino wins over the crowd almost immediately by revealing that he plays shows for the military. But when he removes his hat to reveal a heavily tattooed head, Britney's less impressed (and makes an amazing face, too.) Demi loves it though, yelling that it's "sick"! Vino's so humble, though, talking about how he knows a music career is a lot of work, but he just wants the opportunity. And it's so good to know that he's talented, too! He sings Ray LaMontagne's 'Trouble' and has a lovely raspy edge to his voice.

The X Factor USA S02E03: Vino Alan

© Fox / Ray Mickshaw



LA says Vino has something "rather unique" in his voice, while Louis praises his stage presence. Britney even says she was "inspired", and Demi admits she was shocked: "There's something unique about your voice I haven't heard in this competition yet." Unsurprisingly, it's four yeses for Vino! "I'll make you proud, I swear," he vows. I do hope so!

Deangelo Wallace is the next contestant to audition for the judges, and he's a very confident young man. Though perhaps the judges wouldn't be happy to hear what he's saying about them backstage - the nicknames "shiny head LA Reid" and "Miss Oops I Did It Again" probably won't catch on, while "Princess" Demi probably wouldn't be pleased to hear him say: "She likes to talk a lot." Yikes! "If they don't see a star, they're fools," Deangelo announces.

I get the feeling we're not supposed to be rooting for Deangelo, and this continues on stage when he burbles about buying a fast car with the prize money, insults LA's protege Justin Bieber and chooses to sing a Chris Brown song. The judges are already annoyed, and when Deangelo starts singing (badly), they all get up and walk out. This actually strikes me as pretty damn rude, but LA explains that this was just a "big joke" to Deangelo, and Demi says he was trying to be funny rather than making the most of the opportunity.



Anyway, Deangelo finishes out his song to no judges and then backstage says: "If you ask me, I think they worship the devil, all of them. They're all devil worshippers." Well, it's an interesting response, I'll give him that. Then he decides to go home with his $3000 microphone, prompting lots of shaky camera footage and producers yelling on walkie-talkies. Still, the police turn up, cuff him, and charge him with a misdemeanor. "He will not be going to bootcamp," the onscreen caption says, in case you needed clarification.

Maybe Tate Stevens will be what the judges are looking for. The 37-year-old father explains that he was waiting for the timing to be right before he pursued singing - besides, he's been raising his kids (aww). Tate gets even more likeable when he gets on stage, joking that despite his cowboy hat his genre is rap, that he'd throw a "big-ass party" if he won the $5m (though his wife might disagree) and responding to a message of support from an audience member by saying: "Thanks mum!"



He's got the personality, and thankfully his performance of 'Anything Goes' shows that he's got the rich, full voice to match. LA even goes for a bit of head-bobbing! Demi notes the crowd reaction, telling Tate he's likeable and funny and blew her away with his voice. Louis agrees that he has an "amazing, authentic, effortless country voice, while Britney says he's her favourite so far. "I'm only mad at you for waiting so long," LA announces, as everyone votes yes. And Tate's daughter is so cute, laughing and crying with joy. "He's already my superhero and my star," she says. Adorable.

But that's it for Louis - after he gets a hug from LA and heads back to the UK, the auditions move to San Francisco and Simon's back! First to face him? Boyband Citizen, including Patrick, who's apparently the "heart throb" and whose face drops when he realises that no-one agrees he should wear his collar up. "That's three 'down's," he says, like a toddler who's just had his candy stolen.

Anyway, they take to the stage to perform En Vogue's smash 'Don't Let Go'. To be honest the amazingness of the song probably carries them pretty far, but their harmonies are quite tight and it's kind of a pleasure to see some old-school boyband dance moves, complete with swaying. LA praises the song choice and arrangement, Britney thinks they rocked it, and Demi loved the harmonies. It's down to Simon to ruin the party, as so often, when he announces it was "ten years out of date", adding that they got over-excited as the track went on and lost the vocals.



Its a no for him, but everyone else votes yes (which doesn't stop Simon from declaring Citizen are "in a time machine", causing Britney to pull an impressive cringe face.) Then it's time for a montage of Simon being mean - to groups Harmony and Elevate, singer Olivia Bonilla and someone who gets told they're like a "singing candle": "You just stand there and melt... I wouldn't play that at my funeral."

He's also mean to poor Adrianna Lemus, who's only 14 but offends Simon with her decision to sing Adele's 'Rumour Has It' ("I hate this song," he grumbles.) She leaves the stage in tears, terrifying 13-year-old Diamond White, who's waiting in the wings. She's keen to help out her mum, who's always been there for her, but she's nervous. And Simon doesn't help, as Britney asks what she's going to sing and he butts in: "Please don't say Adele."

Diamond opts for 'This Is A Man's World', but Simon's still rolling his eyes as she nervously giggles and promises to be good. Luckily, she then knocks it so far out of the park it's in Australia, making her incredible voice look effortless (and only 13!) "Your mother got it right - you are a diamond," LA announces, as Demi says that Diamond has a "sparkle in her eye" - the X factor itself! Britney adds that she's "amazing", while Simon gushes that she blew the roof off and is "incredible" and he absolutely loves her. Four yeses for Diamond, who's so thrilled she can't even talk!

The X Factor USA S02E03: Ally Brooke

© Fox / Ray Mickshaw



Leaving San Francisco on a high, we head to Austin, Texas, where Ally Brooke is excited about her audition - she wants to do films and to have her own perfume line and clothing line and do things that "nobody's seen before". In fact, she wants to be "as big as Beyoncé". Her performance of 'On My Knees' is fine - she has a nice voice, though it's not the most memorable we've seen tonight.

The judges love it, though, even if Ally does end up singing for a long time after the music's stopped and Simon tries to stop her. When she's finally done, LA says she has a "special voice", and Demi adds that she was blown away. Britney tips Ally for Broadway given her "theatrical" voice, and Simon announces that they've found a future star: "I think you have an incredible talent." It's an "easy breezy yes" for Britney... and all of the other judges too!

The X Factor USA S02E03: Jeremiah & Josh

© Fox / Ray Mickshaw



Actually, it's going well - 16-year-old Brandon Hassan sails through after Britney praises his "bluesy and sexy" voice, as does Normani Hamilton (Demi says she has the "it factor" - I think she forgot the name of the show.) Group Sister C ("we are all sisters and our names start with 'C'") also make it through, as Simon says he's been looking for a group like them for a long time. And there's fun with Jeremiah & Josh when Britney says she'd like them to wake her up in the morning, setting up some serious innuendo and blushes. Still, they go through as well!

Next up is the magnificently-named Simon fan Panda Ross, from Dallas. She's doing this all for Simon and is even wearing a necklace saying "single" just for him. "He's my baby daddy," she says (really? Because that would be a twist no-one was expecting.) Anyway, Panda is so much fun - she says she likes to use her personality to brighten everyone's day, and it's working. She even reveals that she checked out of hospital (where she was being treated for pneumonia) to make it to her audition!

The X Factor USA S02E03: Panda Ross

© Fox / Ray Mickshaw



On stage, the judges have a great time learning about Panda's name - apparently chosen because her mother was pregnant in jail and her cellmate was white while she was black. I think LA may be unable to breathe at this point, as he hides his face with laughter, but Simon does say he loves pandas. "I'm cuddly and everything," Panda adds. When she starts singing 'Bring It On Home', it's so good to hear she actually has some pipes on her! It's a great, fun performance, and she even refers to Simon in the song.

"I can't deny how good that was," LA says, praising the song choice and saying she moved the room. Demi "loved every bit of it", praising Panda's character and "soulful" voice, while Britney says Panda has a good voice and is also "very charming" and "witty" and "hilarious". As for Simon? He says Panda sounds like a "legend"! Time to vote, and Simon gets naughty by saying: "I'm going to give you one." Four yeses for the lovely Panda!



Backstage, Panda says she can't breathe and everyone thinks it's just the adrenaline... until she starts talking about how much she needs to spit. Yeah, maybe checking out of hospital wasn't such a great idea! The ambulance comes to take her back, as she worriedly says: "Don't let Simon see this!" Still, she vows to get better for boot camp and I really hope she does, because she's lovely.

Demi's sad to hear about Panda's illness, but Simon's more worried that since she hugged her, Demi is now a carrier. "Demi's infected!" he yells, reaching for the hand sanitiser as Demi drawls: "Simon's just gross." Thankfully, Demi then decides to rub her hands all over Simon (even though he tells her not to touch anybody: "You saw the end of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, right?")

But once Simon's showered, there's time for one more contestant - Jessica Espinoza, who admits she's had a pretty tough life in Southside San Antonio. "I know I look well fed - trust me, it's a dollar menu," she says, winningly. She explains that she used to do whatever she could musically, whether it was with a broken guitar or in hand-me-down clothes. She gets a bit emotional but then says: "This is so embarrassing." She's really likeable!

The X Factor USA S02E03: Jessica Espinoza

© Fox / Ray Mickshaw



But will she impress the judges? Her performance of Pink's 'Nobody Knows' is great - it's not perfect, but her voice is clearly brilliant and there is so much emotion in it that it's almost hard to cope with! LA immediately says that she's "really special", saying she dug deeply inside of herself to come out with all that emotion. Britney praises her "strong" and "deep" voice, while Demi doesn't know where to start: "You have a sparkle in your eye."

As for Simon, he says he didn't like it... and then does a not-at-all-predictable fakeout when he adds: "I loved it!" He says he loves everything about Jessica, saying she sang for her life with "rawness" and "power". "My favourite audition so far today, by miles!" he adds. Jessica's crying now, saying it means a lot to hear the comments - and unsurprisingly she gets four yeses! "Please God, don't wake me up," she sobs backstage. "It's been a rough road - let's see if we can smooth things out now."

But that's it for another episode of auditions - who'll be making it through to bootcamp next? The show continues tonight (September 20) on Fox!

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