'The X Factor' Recap: Mostly Groups, Mostly Bad
The third season of 'X Factor' has been enjoyable for the most part thus far, but it's also been incredibly jarring. You know what I'm talking about: The Costume Changes.
They're not intentional. It's just the way they've decided to edit this year - jumping between all the audition cities in each episode rather than just doing one city at a time. This has resulted in each of the female judges, particularly Kelly and Demi, showing up in wildly different outfits from one audition to the next.
Hairstyles change, hair colors change, animal bases for tops change. One moment Demi's in a leather jacket with her hair down looking like a rocker chick, the next she's in a suit jacket with her hair up ready to tell the singers to quiet down in the library. It just keeps changing with no reason or explanation.
It's gotten to the point that it's like one of those weird devices they use in time-skipping movies and TV shows so the audience can figure out what time or world we're in. Kelly's got her hair up and in a leopard costume? It must be Denver! Paulina's got a ridiculous purple outfit on instead of a ridiculous turquoise outfit? Oh, we're in Los Angeles! Simon's wearing a white T-shirt? We must be in...wherever. That exacerbates the problem, Simon's in his Cowell uniform every single time so the carousel of wardrobe to his right just makes it seem that much weirder.
As strange as it all is, hopefully it didn't cause too many people out there to miss the auditions. Second thought, hopefully it did, because there was much more bad than good last night.
The Two Best Auditions:
These were the three young squires with 1920s haircuts and a name that stood for something so inane, I forgot the acronym immediately.
The leader of the group is a star. He should really be on the show by himself with a completely current pop R & B voice and stage presence to just own the competition. I have absolutely no idea what his brothers were doing there - definitely the Pips to the leader's Gladys Knight - but they did throw in some half-decent harmonies and slick dance moves. I just don't know why they're necessary when the main guy is that good.
And why they sang a song called 'Valerie' other than the Steve Winwood tune is inexcusable.
This was the fifteen-year-old in hipster glasses and the hat to match that claimed to not "be good at talking" and I was ready to hate immediately.
She started off exactly as expected - the classic oversung tone tricks of "indie" girls who think they're being soulful but are really just being overly technical with something that should just flow.
Then, the music picked up and a real soul/rock voice just burst out of these teeny hipster in something of a triumphant moment as she roared over the song in a fiery burst of passion that definitely didn't seem like it was coming.
Let's let Kelly's reaction tell the rest of the tale:
The Five Worst Auditions:
Shirley and Cynthia
These are the girls who led off the show with an amazing group name that comes from...there two first names! Somewhere Tegan and Sara are cringing because these girls sounded more like a sister and sister cleaning company, if only because their warbling sounded like a vaccuum cleaner that just sucked up a week's worth of filth.
They were great bad singers because they actually hit a few decent notes to the extent that it's easy to see how their family would think they could sing and actually encourage. The rest sounded more like a jackhammer battle than singing, however. There we go, Shirley and Cynthia, handywomen for hire! They're gonna make it after all.
This was the five girl group that named themselves because the name applies to teenage girls despite the fact that they're all in their twenties. They took a hatchet to a Miley Cyrus song (apparently that's possible) and managed to get worse as they went along.
The girl in the sports bra, voice...not bad. The girl in the weird dress...not good, but not terrible. Little blonde girl...uh-oh...we're in trouble. The harmonies...wait, are they singing the same song? The harmonies continue...they're not, they're really not!
At least they know who The Spice Girls are.
This is the hip-hop clad long island boy with the bravado to match the stereotype. He's certain that he'll move on from his job at a bagel shop to selling out Madison Square Garden. Dead Certain. Couldn't be more confident.
Despite his attire and demeanor, he decides the optimal choice for his big break is Leann Rimes "How Do I Live?" Obviously.
Then, suddenly, this Long Island boy starts singing and turns into...Urkel? Yes, Urkel. He sounds like Steven Q. Urkel singing a Leann Rimes Power Ballad. It was from the lost episode of 'Family Matters' when Urkel annoyed Carl Winslow at karaoke after they saw 'Con Air'.
So thanks for the deleted scene, Vincent. Good thing you were a big enough man not to hit Simon as you threatened to backstage.
Chloe J and CJ
These were the pair of hairdressers who should absolutely have a podcast where they breakdown this show. Even better, a Statler and Waldorf-esque seat in the back where they can sass back at all the bad acts in real time for our amusement.
Whatever they shouldn't sing. Not at all. Their voices aren't complete disasters. Singing along in the shower or in the car, they may get by, but on stage they're a bit...audible. Y'know? Where you can actually hear how bad they are.
The problem is that their singing wasn't the worst part. Their choreography was the true atrocity onstage with moves that explained the lyrics as they acted out 'River Deep, Mountain High' to every word short of pretending to be a little puppy.
At least Chole J came down and awkwardly kissed Simon's face and neck. That made it all completely classy.
This was the country boy who dressed the part from his cowboy boots up to his...v-neck? Well, he came close on the look, much closer than he came on the singing. From the opening line of "Jacking up his Bronco" delivered with a face that would make Ted Levine in 'Silence of the Lambs' thinking he was pouring on the creepy to heavy until Simon mercifully just cut him off - Colton delivered an undersung, pitchy mess of a performance that didn't sound country beyond that it was reminiscent of a drunk at the end of a hick bar singing along to a jukebox that won't be shut up.
Unfortunately, Colton got through, so he won't be shutting up anytime soon either.
The Best of Simon:
"Wow. Amazing. What an incredible story." ~ sarcastically interrupting the most mundane "Why we became singers story" of all time.
"It was like a competition of who can sing the worst. And you both win."
"It's like you've been locked in a room from fifteen years ago."
"Thank you." ~ responding to a contestant calling Demi beautiful
"You taking on that song is like a mouse trying to be an elephant."
"You look like a cake."
"I think you'd be a very good group if none of you were in it."