The fourth episode of “The X Factor” U.S. (which Fox televised on September 29, 2011) will probably be best remembered for the nation’s first look at two teens who could be breakout stars: Brian Bradley and Jazzlyn Little.
The show’s judges — Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and Antonio “L.A.” Reid — no doubt have a wealth of talent to choose from when deciding which contestants will be finalists.
Bradley (a 14-year-old rapper who auditioned in Newark, New Jersey) dared to mouth off and pick a mock fight with Cowell during his audition. Bradley said to Cowell: “What is your problem, man? Are you serious? You lucky we ain’t in the streets, because if we were in the streets, this is what I’d say to you.” Then he launched into a song that blew the judges away. Bradley backed up his feisty nature with undeniable talent, as he performed an original song called “Stop Looking at My Mom.” (I first mentioned Bradley in my review of the June 8, 2011 auditions in Newark. He was clearly one of the best contesrants of the Newark auditions, as I mentioned in my review.)
After the performance, Cowell told Bradley: “You are arrogant, obnoxious, argumentative, but you are one of the most talented young people I’ve heard in a long, long time.”
Reid (who used to be chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group) also had high praise for Bradley. Reid said to Bradley: “All the years that I was there [at Island Def Jam], I was looking for you, and you never walked in. So i’m the luckiest guy in the world that you walked into my life today.”
(Click here to watch Brian Bradley’s audition.)
If Bradley was bold and self-confident throughout his audition, then 16-year-old Little was the polar opposite: She was shy and nervous at the beginning of her audition when she had to talk to the judges, but she wowed everyone with her powerful version of Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Going Down,” which earned Little a standing ovation. The teenage Little is clearly one of those singers who may be shy off-stage but she lights up as soon as she performs. Reid said that Little has a “superstar voice.” Abdul told Little, “You’re a briliant gem.” Cowell said to Little, “You, I believe, could be a world star. You’re the one to watch, young lady.”
(Click here to watch Jazzlyn Little’s audition.)
Not surprisingly, Bradley and Little both got unanimous “yes” votes from the show’s judges.
Here are some of the most memorable moments from the two-hour episode, which featured auditions in Newark for the first hour and various U.S. cities in the second hour.
The Freakiest Contestants
Andy Silikovitz, 43, mentioned before his performance that he is a never-married bachelor who has never been kissed. Cowell cheekily suggested that Silikovitz ask Abdul out on a date. It was obvious before the nerdy-looking Silikovitz even sung a note that he was put on the show so people could laugh at his bad audition. He sang a very pathetic, off-key version of Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” Cowell said as he gave the verdict to Silikovitz: “It’s four ‘no’s” but I think you’re going to find it much easier with the chicks after this. Do you want Paula’s number?” Silikovitz then went over to the judges’ table to get Abdul’s number. Abdul clearly pitied him, and she gave him a hug.
Darlene and Sherone (no last names given), a male/female duo of 22-year-olds, gave a weird, embarrassing performance of Alicia Keys’ “Karma.” What was not shown on TV was that these two contestants said before their performance that they are cousins, which made their sexually suggestive stage moves with each other even creepier. Also not shown on TV: Sherone grabbed his crotch and Darlene stripped off her pants to reveal her skin-tight yellow outfit that was shown on TV.
Jor-el Garcia, a 22-year-old personal assistant, did a campy, tone-deaf performance of Madonna’s “Lucky Star.” His awkward and outdated stage moves included plenty of pelvic thrusting from Garcia that no one really wanted to see.
(Click here to watch Jor-el Garcia’s audition.)
John Duff, a 21-year-old college student who performed the Pussycat Dolls’ “When I Grow Up,” described himself as a “male Katy Perry with some Nicki Minaj and some Ke$ha.” He forgot to add “without any talent for singing and dancing.”
Aaron Surgeon, a 27-year-old store manager who looked like he was trying to be one-half of Milli Vannilli, sang Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Someone should tell Surgeon that it’s time to update his look because it’s not 1990 anymore. However, Surgeon was a good-enough singer that he got “yes” votes from all of the judges except Cowell.
(Click here to watch Aaron Surgeon’s audition.)
Clarissa Cheatham (also known as Cashmere), a 27-year-old office clerk, said that people screamed and yelled her name after she did a recent karaoke performance. She then launched into an awful version of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” Cowell laughed as he quipped, “When you said that people screamed after your karaoke [performance], I don’t think that was a compliment.”
Nouf Taraman, a 21-year-old bartender, sang Snow Patrol’s “Run.” I mentioned in my review of the June 9 auditions that Taraman was one of the worst performers of the day, and she was so rude and delusional that she blamed the audience for her bad singing. A lot of her worst comments were edited out of the broadcast. She was more obnoxious during the auditions than what was shown on TV.
(Click here to watch Nouf Taraman’s audition.)
Jean Loup Wolfman, a 42-year-old life coach, came out on stage with a hula hoop swivleing around his hips in order to stand out from other contestants, but the gimmick didn’t work. His version of Aretha Franklin’s “Think” sounded more like talking instead of singing, and it got him eliminated from the competition.
Maya Lehmann, a 58-year-old school teacher, gave a horriible rendition of Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” It sounded like a cat in pain.
(Click here to watch Maya Lehmann’s audition.)
Josh Katzman, a 22-year-old college graduate, gave a sweaty, tone-deaf version of the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun.”
Devon Talley, a 21-year-old sales associate, gave an excruciating rendition of “Seasons of Love” (from the musical “Rent”), and his painful audition never seemed to end. (As I said in my review of the June 8 auditions in Newark, he was one of the worst contestants of the day.)
(Click here to watch Devon Talley’s audition.)
The Favorite Contestants
Besides the aforementioned Bradley and Little, here are the other contestants featured in the episode who got “yes” votes from all of the judges:
Kelly Warner, a 22-year-old hairdresser, sang an above-average version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” It was very good but not outstanding.
Liliana Rose Andreano, a 26-year-old office worker who had a hippie/boho look circa 1991, sang a slowed-down version of “You Are My Sunshine.”
Cari Fletcher, 17, did a good-but-not-great version of Heart’s “Alone.” Fletcher was clearly nervous, so her voice was a little shaky in the beginning, but she redeemed herself in the song’s chorus. At first, she got “yes” votes from everyone but Cowell. But then Cowell changed his vote to a “yes.”
(Click here to watch Cari Fletcher’s audition.)
AusEm (pronounced “awesome”), a male/female duo of 15-year-olds, sang Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts,” and the performance caused a huge argument among the judges. Cowell got so frustrated by Abdul and Scherzinger taking a long time to make up their minds that he temporarily walked away from the judges’ table. (You can read all about the judges’ conflict in my review of the June 9 auditions in Newark. Not everything that happened was shown on TV.)
(Click here to watch AusEm’s audition.
Tora Woloshin (a 21-year-old college student with lots of tattoos, piercings and a Marilyn Monroe hairstyle) said that besides pursuing a music career, her dream was to have her own auto shop and to race cars. She gave an energetic performance of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”
(Click here to watch Tora Woloshin’s audition.)
The Stereo Hogzz, an R&B quintet of men in their early-to-mid 20s, impressed the judges with their harmonies and stage moves. One of the guys in the group mentioned that he had become a father to a daughter on the day of the audition.
(Click here to watch the Stereo Hogzz’s audition.)
Brennin Hunt, a 26-year-old graphic designer and part-time model, will no doubt be a top contender for biggest heartthrob on “The X Factor” in 2011. He sang “How We Make It,” an original song that he said that he wrote. Cowell said that Hunt has a “brilliant voice.”
Paige Elizabeth Ogle, an 18-year-old secretary, sang a very good version of Lady Gaga’s “You and I,” but there wasn’t much shown of her performance that would indicate it’s better than what people can see any singer do on a cruise ship or in a hotel bar.
Leon Bell, a 59-year-old songwriter who looks like he’s 39, sang Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” It was good, but like Ogle’s performance, not enough was shown of it to indicate that Bell has enough star quality to win the competition.
(Click here to watch Leon Bell’s audition.)
The Brewer Boys, a duo of 13-year-old and 17-year-old brothers, demonstrated a unique sound with their audition.
Nick Dean, a 14-year-old Justin Bieber wannabe, sang an original song titled “Walk Away.”
Next up for “The X Factor” U.S.: Contestants who made it past the auditions go on to the next round: boot camp. Fox will televise the “boot camp” episodes on October 5 and October 6, 2011, at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time.