Tonight, we visit the Britney Spears and L.A. Reid judges homes. Twelve more hopefuls will perform for a spot on the live shows.
Britney and LA are mentoring the youngest and the oldest contestants on the show. I found the 13-15 year olds eerily self-possessed and driven. It’s a little creepy–and sad–to see children behaving like little adults. You wonder if they sprung out of the womb that way. I’m also mourning their lost childhoods for them! The kids talked in absolutes about the experience. Beatrice, for instance, called the X Factor her only chance. There’s got to be an adult in her life who can step in and give this 13 year old kid some perspective, no? Unless her parents feel the same way. Yikes.
The Over 25’s narrative is all about what desperate sad sacks they are to be past their expiration dates, grasping for their last chance. LA reminded them once again that he wasn’t too keen on mentoring a group of oldbies. As if 26 year old David Correy is ready to be put out to pasture. Sheesh. Justin Bieber’s minder, his manager Scooter Braun was along to help. That seemed kind of weird until Justin opened his mouth and pretty much had nothing to say.
If I had to predict now, I’d say the winner of X Factor will come out of ether Simon’s groups or Britney’s teens. I think Mr. Cowell is looking for some fresh faces to market this season.
First it’s LA’s house in Beverly Hills “my home” he says. We KNOW that’s really not his house right? LA reiterates that he DID NOT WANT THE OLDBIES. He mentors hot young talent like THE BIEBS who is there with his manager, Scooter Braun, to help mentor. Does Justin go anywhere without his manager? Like the other houses, the other hopefuls wait in an adjacent room close enough to hear auditions. Their reactions are cut into the performances.
Jason Brock – 35 – “Big Girls Don’t Cry” – His family told him that he was not good enough to make it in the business. Those voices are still stuck in his head. He’s got a strong voice but he oversings. He’s really really really shouty. He felt really good about that. LA and Justin believe his vocal was really strong, but does he have the whole package. Probably not! The rest of the hopefuls are intimidated. He sings loud, but I don’t think he’s that good. The unsaid thing, of course, is that not only is he too old at 35, but his pudgy punky look is not a marketable image.
David Correy – 26 – “Domino” by Jesse J – He’s the guy looking for his birth mother. Another slowed up rendiition of a pop song. David has a very strong voice. David’s falsetto notes gave LA some chills. Scooter appreciated his pure passion. LA wonders if he could be viable in the marketplace. I don’t see why not.
Daryl Black – 37 – “She’s Gone” by Hall and Oats – He’s got a sweet soulful voice, but he’s wicked old fashioned. “You felt that?” says LA. “Yes Sir,” says Daryl. LA didn’t think he was unique. Scooter and Justin liked him. This dude is cannon fodder. BYE Daryl. It was nice hardly knowing you.
Tate Stevens – 37 – “Back at One” by Brian McKnight – Country singer wants his family to be proud of him. He doesn’t want to go back to construction work. Performing a country tune that was originally an R&B tune is a VERY SMART CHOICE. It’s a song that LA and maybe even Justin knows. This is they guy who conned young Willie Jones during Boot Camp, picking a song the young man didn’t know for their duet together. Tate is totally playing the game. But having said that, he’s got a sweet, pure tone that is effortless. Despite his age, I think he could be a viable country artist. Justin thinks Tate is charismatic. Scooter sees something special. But when LA asks them if they’d hand him 5 million dollars, they aren’t sure.
Vino Alan – 40 – “Sober” by Pink – His mom married an abusive man. Music kept him sane. WOW. That was ONE POWERFUL PERFORMANCE. Vino has a hard rock voice, but he sings with a ton of soul and emotion. Scooter says he was obviously nervous, but stepped it up. LA wants to know…is he the package? Honestly, I’m not even sure why they bother with the overs. Because it seems as if, by Simon and LA’s definition, nobody over 20 is viable.
Tara Simon – 27 – “The Reason” by Hoobastank – “I’ve always been a star.” and “I know I’m going to win.” “I want to be America’s darling.” OMG. She’s clueless. If she makes the voting rounds, who will vote for her? She’s annoying as eff. She gives this 90s alt rock song the Celine Dion treatment, and it’s really oversung and really weird. When she hits a big crazy note, cut to the guys in the waiting room rolling their eyes. Nevertheless, Tara thinks she gave a near perfect performance. Justin thinks she should have had more sweet moments.
After hearing the contestants, LA is having a change of heart, not only about his disappointment with the category, but who his favorites are.
Next, it’s Britney Spears, wil.i.am and THE TEENS! Holy crap! Listening to these children talk. They are as totally focused as any adult would be. Seriously, scarily precocious. I am officially creeped out.
Diamond White – 13 – “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne – She lives in a tiny house where she shares a bed with her mom. This is the best I’ve heard Diamond sing. Her stage presence is a little overwrought, but she sings with more dynamics than I remembered in her audition. Wil thinks she’s amazing, but cares about her moves too much. Britney thinks she needs to work on her stage presence and confidence.
Reed Deming – 13 – “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White Ts – He realizes that nerves affected his audition and knows that he’s got to take today’s performance up a notch from his audition. He’s very focused. Dead serious. I want to tell him to go out and play. I’ll bet that’s something he doesn’t do much. Kids growing up too fast make me sad. His performance is choppy and a little rushed. He is obviously nervous. I think this kid is smart, and puts up a good front, but he’s NOT ready for primetime. Britney thought he could have delivered it better. But Reed is satisfied with his performance.
James Tanner – 15 – “Party Like a Rock Star” by Shop Boyz – OMG. Imagine if David Archuleta was a rapper. Watching this little sweet faced boy rap a song is unbelievable. And that’s the problem. Britney isn’t convinced that performance was strong enough. Whoosh. He hardly gets a minute of screen time.
Arin Ray – 17 – “Starships” by Nicki Minaj – Wil advises Arin to use what he learned as a contestant last year. It’s a soulful, ballady version of the hit. Arin has a very sweet, expressive voice. Definitely marketable. Wil thinks he has something, potential. Britney thinks he needs to work on his vocals, but she loves watching him.
Beatrice Miller – 13 – “Titanium” by David Guetta feat. Sia – She’s another preternaturally mature kiddo. Yikes. She’s been doing this all her life. She knows nothing else. She’s got a super mature style. But she’s slightly underdone. In a few years, she could be amazing. I just don’t see the rush. She looks like she’s about to cry. “That was fresh,” says Wil. Britney thinks she needs to control her voice a little more.
Carly Rose Sonenclar – 13 – “Broken Hearted” by Karmin – Her first audition was at 2 years old. She wants to be a superstar. Sigh. Although Carly doesn’t have the self-possession of Beatrice, she’s mature and level headed. And her singing is effortless, like she came out of the womb singing that way. She makes Beatrice–who has a very worried look on her face as she listens to Carly perform–seem like a girl playing a grown up, rather than the real deal. “She’s possessed” laughs Wil. “She’s a caterpillar…but she’ll turn into a dragon.” Britney is worried she won’t be able to handle the pressure.
Now it’s time for Britney and Wil to make some decisions.
Next week, the judges reveal who they’ve chosen to advance to the live shows. 24 will become 16. DRAMA!!!!