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A third time might be the charm for Fox’s “X Factor” which got off to a good start Wednesday night. The atmosphere on the judge’s panel and with contestants could be summed up into one word: fun.
“What I am looking for is someone who has that sparkle in their eyes that we look for in the ‘X Factor’,” said returning judge Demi Lovato before auditions kicked off in Los Angeles.
Founder judge and producer Simon Cowell and Lovato were joined on the panel by newbies former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland and the “Queen of Pop Latino,” Paulina Rubio.
Starting off the auditions and impressing the judges was Carlito Olivero, a barista from Chicago, who sang Rihanna's “Stay" showing off a strong falsetto.
“I am the guy that has six espresso shots singing my head off, singing to customers,” Olivero said in the prerecorded segment before he took the stage. “You just watch – I am going to be the Latino Chris Brown one day.”
Apparently captivated by the performance, Cowell told the 23-year-old that he liked his charisma and there is nothing like him at the moment. Lovato said he reminded her of a mix between “Frankie J and Trey Songz.”
It seemed auditions went downhill from there, with soloists and groups not getting any sympathy from the judges.
One singer, Valeria Colombo, 41, of Boca Raton, Fl., told judges people would always yell after she would sing for them. Cowell said he didn’t think “it was a good thing.”
“What the hell was that?,” he asked the ladies on the panel as Colombo walked off the stage.
The judges did not hold back any punches toward the hopeful contestants, joking about singing dogs and airports.
And the jokes did not stop with those singing. When Rubio said a singer was a little “peachy,” Cowell joked that it “could be a Spanish thing,” showing they were not above getting laughs at each other.
Other highlights almost stealing the show came from two soloists and a couple.
First was Orlando’s Lillie McCloud, 54, who blew the judges away with a song that probably few had ever heard: CeCe Winans’ gospel anthem “Alabaster Box.”
“That was unbelievable, lady,” said Rubio, giving the mother of three (and seven grandchildren!) a resounding yes in Spanish.
Lovato followed suit, saying she felt like her heart was ripped out and that it was like watching Whitney Houston sing.
“I feel like your time was not supposed to happen until right now,” Lovato said.
Couple Alex and Sierra – a male and female duo from Florida – made believers out of the judges after they sang a stripped-down version of former “X Factor” judge Britney Spears’ “Toxic.”
And the night’s most inspirational story came in small package. Rion Page, who told judges she suffers from arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a rare disorder characterized by multiple joint contractures and can cause blindness, wowed the crowd with her performance of Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away.”
Lovato praised her voice and positive attitude and Rubio said “music heals everything.”
With a promising start, “X Factor’s” two-night premiere continues tonight at 8 p.m. and viewers can expect more auditions, a marriage proposal, Rowland calling a group “a baby Destiny’s Child” and a lot of tears.