X Factor Auditions, Part Two: You’re Embarrassing Your Family

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Resident X Factor expert Josh Ridgway will be blogging about the US version of The X Factor on FOX this season.  You can also follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshFactor.

Night two of ‘The X Factor’ featured auditions from two of my favorite cities: Miami and Dallas.  Since these are two of my favorite places to be, the auditions had to be good, right?  Not quite.

Miami hit a bump automatically with the vocal stylings of 29-year-old Ashley Sansone.  Ashley said, “People automatically assume I’m a pop star.”  My response?  “Ashley, when you said that, I automatically thought you were delusional.”  Ashley was peppy, slightly annoying and could make a fine elementary school music teacher.  Except for the whole singing issue.  When she opened her mouth, it was like there was a Muppet inside of her trying to escape.  She also sounded a lot like Amy Poehler when she used to do Saturday Night Live sketches as 10-year-old Kaitlin, the one who constantly said, “Rick!  Rick!  Rick!,” over and over.  Needless to say, there’s no chance of Ashley becoming a pop star.  L.A. Reid will probably make sure of that as he told her, “When you starting singing, I wanted to slit my wrists.”  Ouch.

Ashley was followed by a string of other terrible auditions.  There was a girl in a sassy blonde wig who couldn’t carry a tune to save her life and required an explanation as to why the judges felt she couldn’t sing.  Then there was a group of Cuban cowboys who probably perform during mutton busting competitions at the Miami-Dade County rodeo.

They were followed by mother-daughter duo, The Dreamgirlz.  Yes, with a ’Z.’  They tried to perform Heart’s “Barracuda” to poor results.  However, they had big fans in their family backstage.  Some of them started to yell and curse at the judges, which finally resulted in one of the sane ones saying, “You’re embarrassing your family.”  This was the most truthful statement I heard in the first 30 minutes of Thursday’s ’X Factor.’  Nearly every performance was likely an embarrassment to a family member somewhere.  My thoughts?  “These people are ridiculous.

Luckily, Miami’s favorite Cuban import came to save the day.  Or at least turn the beat around.  Yes, Gloria Estefan came to pump up the crowd.  I was disappointed she didn’t bring along The Miami Sound Machine to convince everyone that the rhythm was going to get them.  Maybe next year.

But did Gloria manage to get the good singers on their feet for auditions?  Yes and no.  (I promise I’ll stop with the Gloria Estefan song references now.)

16-year-old Caitlynne Curtis was next after Gloria’s cameo.  She sang Katy Perry’s “Firework” and sounded pretty good.  She was nothing spectacular, but certainly nowhere near as bad as those who came before her.  The judges listened and gave constructive criticism, but when Caitlynne found out she wasn’t going to move on to the next round, she burst into tears.  Paula ran up on stage to hug her.  Now, I don’t mean to be insensitive because I know she’s 16, but I couldn’t tell if Caitlynne’s tears were real or fake.  Plus, it’s not like crying is going to make a Pussycat Doll change her mind.  Especially after Nicole told her that she had “plenty of room to grow.”  The judges told her what to do to get better, but it didn’t stop the tears.

Even more tears came from Nick Voss, who had to quit his job to audition for the show.  He told the judges he even got fired from a job at the airport once because he was dancing on the runway.  Hmm.  I’m glad I wasn’t flying that day.  Nick took on the Elvis classic, “Trouble,” which caused me trouble because the only good version of the song I’ve heard, other than Elvis’, was Carrie Underwood’s when she performed it on American Idol.  While his vocals were questionable, Nick had amazing stage presence and a great personality, which ultimately put him over the top with the judges.  He became the first Miami contestant to make it to the next round.  Nicole said he was like a mix of Jerry Lee Lewis, Jim Carrey and Elvis.  I was totally with her on that one.

Then started the odd portion of the show, when 14-year-old ghost hunter Ashley Deckard took the stage.  While her audition was not memorable, she allegedly called her ghost friends to the BankUnited Center in Miami.  If you believe what you saw, the ghosts stuck around and caused havoc for the remainder of the auditions there.  I’d believe the next two auditions were possessed in some way.  Kevin Martin said when he sings he always hears, “Wow.  You really touched me.  That was beautiful.”  He must only hear that when he sings to himself in the mirror.  Horrible.

Then there was Marivana Viscuso who was some sort of Ethel Merman/Stevie Nicks/witch hybrid.  She made it through to the next round, but only after Simon claimed, “When I hear you, I think of wolves mating in the forest.”  I can see that.  Only if Marivana is in the forest stirring her cauldron while singing “Rhiannon,” though.

Miami turned around by the end of the auditions.  The final 5 acts we saw all made it through.  2Squar’d, a Caribbean-influenced Destiny’s Child-esque group, and Kendra Williams from Mississippi stood out.  Nicole said Kendra had a gift that is not to be wasted.  Then there was the amazing voice of Brendan O’Hara, who Nicole couldn’t help but flirt with.  If only he would have performed “Buttons” by the Pussycat Dolls.  Nicole would have been all over that.  Brendan was followed by male soprano Jeremiah Pagan.  He was good, but probably only made the clip show because his voice was reminiscent of Kurt on ’Glee.”

Miami wrapped up with 18-year-old Melanie Amaro.  After hearing Melanie sing her version of Beyonce’s ’Listen” from Dreamgirls, I think Melanie is THE ONE to watch this season.  You won’t get this reference, but she reminds me of a younger Alexandra Burke.  Alexandra won the fifth season of ’The X Factor’ in The United Kingdom and performed an amazing rendition of “Listen,” as a duet with Beyonce on the show.  Pretty amazing stuff.  Said Nicole Scherzinger about Melanie, “You made a believer out of me.”  She made a believer out of me, too, Nicole.

We bid adieu to Miami and moved on to Dallas for the second half of the show.  Kicking things off in The Big D was 17-year-old Jonny Rogers.  The first thing out of Jonny’s mouth?  “I hate when people say I have Justin Bieber hair.  I had it first.  He stole it from me.”  Actually, Jonny, your hairstyle is more reminiscent of one of Patrick Duffy’s haircuts from his years on ’Dallas’ as Bobby Ewing.  Good try, though.  You stole your hair from Patrick Duffy.  So there.  Simon disagreed with Jonny’s assessment of his hair, telling him he looked more like a Ken doll.  Why am I talking so much about Jonny’s hair?  Because that was the highlight of his audition.  His original song was forgettable, at best.  When will people stop singing original songs already?  It makes me want to pull my hair out!  Jonny also had what he called “intense choreography.”  Maybe if we are sweatin’ to the oldies, Jonny, but not for an ’X Factor’ audition.

Things didn’t get much better after Jonny.  Next up was Dylan Lawson who allegedly sold his truck so he could get to Dallas from Kentucky.  Just to try out for the show.  If this is true, Dylan should have kept his truck.  It almost sounded like when the devil was on his way down to Georgia, he stopped off and gave vocal lessons to Dylan.  Dylan ended up yelling and rolling around on the stage.  He managed to lose the microphone cover, which he referred to as “the sponge.“  This led to Paula saying “the sponge!“ over and over.

After Dylan, Michael and Michelle tried to turn things around with a rousing rendition of Shania Twain’s “From This Moment On.”  And by rousing, I mean absolutely horrible.  So bad that if I didn’t erase it from my memory, it would have tainted the song forever.  And there’s no need to do that to poor Shania.  Hasn’t she suffered enough already?  Taking the stage from Michael and Michelle was Curtis Lawson, who also goes by Phoenix.  Why?  Because he plays with fire.  Classy.  Nicole was focused on Phoenix’s dream catcher belt, which was centered on a certain area that didn’t need focus.  Nicole had the right idea to focus there, though, because when Curtis, aka Phoenix, opened his mouth, it sounded like he was playing a didgeridoo.  Alas, he was not.  He was making noises.  With his mouth.  Paula’s take?  “It was like a lawnmower.”  Straight up, Paula.

Auditions got back on the high road again with 49-year-old Dexter Haygood.  Dexter made it to Dallas from Memphis, where he works as a bar singer.  In his back story, we learned Dexter is homeless and lives out of his car with enough clothes to have a different look for each bar he performs at.  I wish I would have known this before I proclaimed his jacket looked like something out of the Pointer Sisters’ dressing room from 1983.  However, we learned all about Dexter after already hearing him sing James Brown’s “Sex Machine.”  The judges were not impressed and asked him to sing something else a cappella.  Dexter tore into “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” which got the crowd riled up and caused a change of heart with the judges.  They put him through, but not before Nicole snuck in another quotable line: “You’re one of the funkiest cats I’ve seen up here.”  Nicole says all the things I want to hear.  She and I need to be friends.

More good auditions followed, with three quick quality singers, including a 22-year-old pig farmer, but then we came to 21-year-old Caitlin Koch.  She traveled to Dallas all the way from Buffalo, New York, just to audition.  Caitlin talked all about how she plays and coaches rugby, but is most passionate about singing.  I kept looking at Caitlin, wondering who she reminded me of.  Then I got it.  She’s like a blonde Mila Kunis.  Seriously.  Watch her audition and then look up a picture of Mila Kunis.  Anyway, Caitlin took on her own version of “Stop! In The Name of Love,” and it was fantastic.  It was a more soulful version of the song that I want to download and listen to over and over again.  Luckily, Caitlin went through.

She would be the last to advance to the next round, as we were treated to 27-year-old Xander Alexander to finish off the second night of auditions.  I don’t even know where to start with Xander “Don’t Call Me Alexander” Alexander.  He managed to badmouth Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Beyonce and Britney Spears within a matter of 30 seconds.  I can’t even type in a public blog what I wrote in my notes about him, but Simon basically said it during his critique when he called Xander a “[expletive], nasty diva.”  My notes also included the adjective “sassy” in with Simon’s other words.  Great minds think alike.  Xander’s biggest problem, other than the fact he didn’t sing well, was that he came on stage with a bad attitude.  He sassed the judges, which caused the audience to turn against him.  When Simon tells you to “shut it and start singing,” you know it’s pretty much over for you.  Then Xander pretended to cry, which caused me to start reaching for the remote to change the channel to ‘Project Runway.’  However, I finished watching the last minute of ‘The X Factor’ just for the sake of the blog.

Four cities of auditions down.  Two to go.  Plus, we still have to take a look at footage from the audition booths across the country.  If you remember, one of them was at Oak Park Mall in Overland Park.  Hopefully we will see some local Kansas City talent on the show!

One last thing: I’d like to give a special shoutout to one of Wednesday night’s stand out stars, Nici Collins.  She found my blog and linked to it on her Twitter account.  She even shared a special message with me on Twitter, that I can’t repeat here.  Let’s just say she’s a class act.  Keep reaching for the stars, Nici!

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