Published September 22, 2011
It was a blast from the past with Paula Abdul acting quite unpredictably around her fellow judges on last night's "The X Factor," particularly when she stormed off the set following one unusual audition.
The show started out well enough. From an adorable 13-year-old to a 42-year-old single mom to a talented rapper only 70 days out of rehab, “The X Factor” had more tear-jerker moments than a Lifetime movie. Even the commercials were inspirational.
But things took a major turn for the worse in Seattle, where 43-year-old blogger Geo Godley announced he was “classically trained” -- at taking his clothes off. The carefully placed “X” suggests that Geo took it ALL off, but we find it hard to believe that went down before an audience packed with children and old folks. Nevertheless, the little that he was wearing was enough to literally make Paula sick. She runs out gagging, and her overdone reaction kind of made us gag, too.
Still, all wasn't lost. And interestingly, Simon Cowell was actually not as mean as we thought he was going to be.
Let's review the rest of the show.
The first hour of the show, at the L.A. auditions, introduced the judging panel: Cowell, his flirting-and-fighting partner Paula Abdul, record executive L.A. Reid and British pop star Cheryl Cole.
But wait a minute: By the second hour of the show, Cole has been fired and replaced at the Seattle auditions with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger!
Of course we heard about this back when it happened in June, but somehow it didn’t sink in that Cole had already taped a few episodes.
Down one Brit, up another: Host Steve Jones gets just enough air time to inform us that the winner of the show will be awarded a $5 million record contract. That’s a lot of money, which is why it seems fitting that the first contestant, 13-year-old Rachel Crow, is broke. Or at least her family is, with six of them packed into a two-bedroom house.
“My family has like no money,” she declares, quite adorably, adding that, “I’m a girl -- I need my own bathroom!”
Not only does this cutie pie have enough personality for 10 contestants, she also does an impressive job on Duffy’s “Mercy.”
“You have everything every artist I’ve ever signed has,” L.A. says. Four yesses -- she’s in!
More unanimous yesses, follow, including for hunky 36-year-old Terrell Carter and 14-year-old teen heartthrob John Lindahl.
But would Simon Cowell really create his own show without giving us a few people to make fun of? Of course he wouldn’t!
Take 30-year-old hotel performer Siameze Floyd, who wants to be a megastar. Not a superstar, a megastar. Well, he does have some insane dance moves, a resemblance to Prince and a baby blue fishnet top that leaves nothing to the imagination.
“You are talented but you are deluded,” Simon explains, offering up a yes despite L.A.’s firm no. That’s the Simon we were waiting for!
But it gets even weirder. Married couple Venita and Dan are 83 and 70, respectively, and when they stop complaining about the price of a hot dog, they get around to singing “Unchained Melody” -- badly. It’s a no, but everyone appreciates their dream to travel around in their motor home playing at “the most beautiful senior centers.”
If you thought Venita and Dan were bad, you were in for a shock when Linda, a 61-year-old retired court clerk, came on to shriek the lyrics to “I Touch Myself.”
But there is one contestant who was able to successfully deliver the sexy factor. Simone Battle, 21, has two things going for her: She looks good in short shorts, and she’s “fierce.” Simon finds her “annoying” at first, but she wins everyone over with her “fearless” performance -- except L.A.
We guess L.A. was saving his applause for Stacy Francis, a pretty 42-year-old single mom who’s faced some tough times. Her former partner wasn’t supportive of her singing, but she “doesn’t want to die with the music in her.” Powerful stuff, and her gritty performance of “Natural Woman” earns a standing ovation from the judges. In fact, Simon thinks it’s one of the best auditions he’s ever heard.
On the heels of Paula's storm-off in Seattle, Marcus Canty was a little more family-friendly than Geo Godley. His mom gave him two years after high school to make it in the music biz -- and at age 20, he’s almost out of time. He blows the judges away with Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish,” and L.A. thinks he’s the next Bobby Brown. Boy band The Anser is also pretty cool, offering an original version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”
But the real show-stopper is 28-year-old Chris Rene, who hauls trash for a living to make ends meet for his 2-year-old son. He also just got out of rehab, and after struggling with drug and alcohol addiction since age 12, he is 70 days clean.
All we can say is, they saved the best for last. “Young Homie,” Chris’s original hip-hop song about his experience, could be a hit right now. L.A. says Jay-Z and Kanye West would be proud to call him “the truth,” Paula says words can’t articulate her feelings (no big surprise there), Nicole says Chris has “The X-Factor” and Simon says he loves “meeting a star for the first time.” L.A. and Simon make Chris promise to stay straight, and there isn’t a dry eye in the house.
Heart-wrenching stories, a few catty insults, a lot of talent and some serious weirdos. Sound familiar? It should. But we’re still happy Simon Cowell is back.
--Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman, PopNews Wire