The third episode of “The X Factor” U.S. (which Fox televised on September 28, 2011) didn’t quite measure up to the memorable auditions (good and bad) that were shown in the first episode and second episode.
Those first two episodes included the controversial “naked” audition of Geo Godley and the feisty “backtalking” audition on Xander Alexander, not to mention the outstanding auditions of Chris Rene, Stacy Francis and Melanie Amaro that had people buzzing all over the Internet.
Instead, the show’s third episode seemed to have a lot of filler that gave more air time than usual to “crazy contestants.” And in the third episode, even the the contestants that got “yes” votes from all of the show’s judges — Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Cheryl Cole, Nicole Scherzinger (who replaced Cole after Cole was fired) and Antonio “L.A.” Reid — weren’t quite as compelling as previously featured contestants who got unanimous “yes” votes from the judges.
Here are some of the most memorable moments from the episode, which featured auditions in Chicago and Seattle. (Cole was at the Chicago auditions, and Scherzinger was the Seattle auditions.)
The Freakiest Contestants
The Good Girls, a mother/daughter duo, inexplicably got more air time than most of the contestants in this episode. The eccentric mother and daughter were obviously featured to be a “freak show” for viewers to laugh at, but the Good Girls’ horrible version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” was just plain boring. It just made the duo (who lacked any kind of self-awareness) seem pathetic and not humorous at all.
(Click here to watch the Good Girls’ audition.)
J. Mark Inman, a 31-year-old graduate student who looks a lot like he could be the younger brother of “30 Rock” co-star Jack McBrayer, gave a sci-fi geeky version of Radiohead’s “Creep,” including awkward, robotic stage moves. Abdul described Inman as “other-worldy.” In the end, Inman got “yes” votes from all of the judges except for Cowell. Reid explained why he said “yes” to Inman: “It sounded so bad but felt so good.”
(Click here to watch J. Mark Inman’s audition.)
Peet Montzingo, a 21-year-old sandwich maker, stated that his ambition was to be a “teen heartthrob.” He also talked about being an “average-sized” guy literally growing up in a family of dwarves. (His dwarf parents were shown backstage.) Although the judges liked Montzingo’s offbeat personality, they weren’t impressed with his off-key performance of Bruno Mars’ “Billionaire” with the chorus changed to “I want to be famous.”
(Click here to watch Peet Montzingo’s audition.)
There were also several freaky-looking contestants shown in a montage that was edited to look like the contestants identified with Abdul and vice versa.
The Favorite Contestants
Makenna Sullinger and Brock Wade, a 22-year-old female and an 18-year-old male, were featured in a pre-auditon, and Brock confessed that he was in love with Makenna but she didn’t know it. (She knows now.) They performed the Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather” and sailed through to the next round.
(Click here to watch Makenna and Brock’s audition.)
Skyelor Anderson, 16, impressed the judges when, during his performance of Billy Currington’s “Must Be Doin’ Something Right,” the backup music suddenly stopped due to an audio malfunction, and Anderson (like a pro) just continued by singing the song a cappella.
(Click here to watch Skeylor Anderson’s audition.)
Josh Krajcik, a 30-year-old burrito maker, blew away the crowd with his powerful version of Etta James’ “At Last.” Because of Krajcik’s scruffy and disheveled appearance, Cowell admitted that Krajcik really surprised him because the performance ended up being so good.
(Click here to watch Josh Krajick’s audition.)
Drew Ryniewicz, a 14-year-old who is a self-described Justin Bieber fanatic, wowed the judges with her ballad version of Bieber’s hit “Baby.” Scherzinger said that she preferred Ryniewicz’s version of the song over Bieber’s version. Reid, who helped Bieber become a star when Reid was chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group, gave Ryniewicz a big compliment by calling her version “original,” “soulful” and “believable.” He added, “You are special.”
(Click here to watch Drew Ryniewicz’s audition.)
4 Shore, a male quartet, delivered an impressive version of Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” a megahit that was co-written by Reid. After 4 Shore performed the song, Reid gushed: “Babyface [the song’s co-writer] would be proud. I’m proud. Boyz II Men would be proud. It was just incredible.”
(Click here to watch 4 Shore’s audition.)
Elaine Gibbs, a 53-year-old wedding singer, belted out a soulful version of James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend.”
(Click here to watch Elaine Gibbs’ audition.)
Francesca Duncan, 17, sang an above-average version of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” and sailed through to the next round.
Phillip Lomax, a 21-year-old, gave a hammy, lounge-singer version of “Fly Me to the Moon.” The judges overall didn’t think that Lomax had a great voice, but they liked his on-stage charisma.
(Click here to watch Phillip Lomax’s audition.)
“Dead on Arrival”
The episode also featured a segment that could have been called “dead on arrival,” because it was edited to make it look like Abdul and Scherzinger were jealous of young, attractive female singers and were saying “no” to them. Cowell and Reid called it the female judges’ “dead on arrival” judgment.
One example that took a lot of air time was the disagreement that Abdul and Scherzinger had with Cowell and Reid over 19-year-old deli clerk Tiah Tolliver, who sang Shontelle’s “Impossible” and then the classic “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” At first Abdul and Scherzinger said “no” to Tolliver, and Cowell and Reid said “yes.” They had a heated disagreement over it, and then Cowell put the vote to the audience, which gave overwhelming cheers for “yes.” Scherzinger then changed her mind and then gave a “yes” vote but told Tolliver that she needed to work on her singing skills.
(Click here to watch Tiah Tolliver’s audition.)
Frankly, this “dead on arrival” segment is not as controversial as it was probably intended to be, since there is plenty of other footage that was shown of Abdul and Scherzinger being very supportive of young, attractive female singers.
The fourth and last “X Factor” U.S. auditions episode for 2011 will be televised by Fox on September 29, 2011. Auditions in Newark, New Jersey, will be featured in this episode. In June 2011, I attended all of the auditions in Newark, and you you can click here to read my reviews of the June 8 and June 9 auditions. Journalists who attended the auditions were asked by the show not to report contestants’ names or the outcomes of the auditions, but see if you can spot the contestants from my reviews who made it into the televised program.