THE X FACTOR (US) “Auditions #3: Chicago/Seattle” Review

THE X FACTOR (US) “Auditions #3: Chicago/Seattle” –

So being that I’m coming into this new (American) series a week late (Belfast, Ireland was lovely, thanks for asking) I suppose I should give my initial impression before going into the particulars.

Let’s get this out of the way: The X Factor is American Idol. The producers (of which Simon Cowell is included) seem to know exactly what worked on A.I., and basically snatched it up—and then made it bigger. Now “bigger” isn’t necessarily better—in many ways it’s cringe-inducing, the way the show overstates its points and lingers WAY too long on sobbing backstage moments, and the word “manipulative” can be heard on the tongue of every critic who’s covered this fledgeling show thus far… but it’s not like you can deny that it’s bigger. From the broadened contestant pool (which I heartily endorse) to the prize money (which should snap up just about every potential and halfway-qualified A.I. contestant), this monster is, well, a monster.

Let’s get this out of the way as well: The X Factor is better than American Idol. Cowell and Abdul in particular are better—and more entertaining—than anything A.I. has left in its arsenal; even Steven Tyler falls flat in comparison, if for no other reason than the fact that he has no one to bounce off of. Paula seems sober, which, believe it or not, makes her funnier. And L.A. Reid crushes—crushes—Randy Jackson in basically every way you can list. Add Nicole Scherzinger—who I personally view as offputting but actually works very well with the show—and A.I.’s judges basically go splat.

I’ll give the edge to Ryan Seacrest, sure, as far as hosts go. Over… whatsisname. I don’t know his name. He’s forgettable. You know what? They should have gone out and gotten Dunkelman. That would have been a slam dunk. —elman.

(I slay me.)

Oh, and The X Factor logo is cooler too.

Today’s contestants:

Brock and McKenna – not sure they would have gone through if they didn’t have that little “Brock is in love” story twist (or at least be featured on the show), but color me surprised a Country act made it through the Simon Anti-Country Filter. Let’s be serious, dude hasn’t endorsed a country singer since Carrie Underwood. (That Skyler kid doesn’t really count; he was saved by the fact that his music ran out. Dude really wasn’t that good.)

J-Mark: This guy is proof that X Factor learned to improve from A.I., because you, me, and everyone else thought this nerdmonkey was going to crash and burn. Paula said it most succinctly (LOL): “I think I visited there once or twice in my life. The places we could go together!” Indeed. Will he be more than just a one-show gag? Not unless he has nine different new personalities. “Creep” won’t carry past one show.

Josh Kradjik (at least that’s how it sounds like it’s spelled—rhymes with “tragic”—but who knows, since the X-Factor neglects to put their full names up on the board) and his skittish-as-a-cat mom: Sounds like Eddie Vedder and Michael McDonald’s misbegotten love child. At least I hope so, since his shared-admiration relationship with his mom is a lit-tle too close for comfort. Just sayin’.

Drew the Belieber: the 14-year old with the eyes-bulging backstage mom wasn’t bad… but close your legs if you’re wearing a short skirt and heels, sweetie. I feel like she may be just a little too “precious,” (awwww) but her love for the Biebster may garner her a large chunk of votes if she makes it past the “boot camp” part. Whatever that is.

Peet the 6′ 1″ son of dwarfs: not going to be famous. Sorry.

4 Shore: See, I was going to say Boyz II Men even before they chose “End of the Road.” So they better show a hell of a lot more than a cloning experiment. That’s all.

Elaine Gibbs: Throw down the Aretha, sister! (She won’t escape those comparisons, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing). She’ll challenge the 40something chick with the runny eye makeup, though I don’t think she’ll pull the crowd as well.

Francesca Duncan: the 17-year old looks slightly fragile up there, and doesn’t really exude the force of personality that a lead (or solo) persona needs to show. Unless she shocks me with a spine in the coming weeks, I don’t see her going far.

Tiger Budbill: One (long) note wonder. Possibly got a pass just based on his funny name.

Phillip Lomax: Ol’ Blue Eyes—make way for Ol’ Brown Eyes. He’ll go far unless the judges find his overconfidence in need of deflating. Which is possible.

Tiah Tolliver: Not quite DOA. (I kind of love that inside joke). But Scherzinger and Abdul were right; this chick has a hard time staying on key. And I’m not sure practice will get it for her.

My final thoughts: this looks like it’s going to be a better show than American Idol, because it’s already proven it can throw a curve ball from time to time, whereas A.I. just seems to be on autopilot these days. We’ll see if it can beat the Daughtry / David vs. David / Glambert heyday of ‘Idol; if they can, then I’ll really be impressed. I do love the fact that there are four categories, though I wish bands could be a part of the mix (partly because I just don’t see the attraction in singing groups). By that same token I realize that would probably be impossible to manage, as rock (or whatever) bands would just drown everyone else out.

Anyway. Keep impressing me, X Factor! You’re not that good of a show, but you’re at least more entertaining—and thus better—than the competition.

Follow me on Twitter! That’s @Axechucker, Dunkelman!