It has been said that one of the biggest problems with shows like The Voice and American Idol is that once the auditions are over, the show isn't interesting anymore. This season, The X Factor has done everything in its power to ensure that their audition rounds are not the high point of the season. Thursday night's episode - which played like an SNL parody of American Idol - was the cherry on top of a series of audition rounds that became more scripted and ridiculous as weeks wore on.
Paradoxically, the sheer awfulness of the show's audition rounds are the very thing that gives hope that the later stages of the season will be better (and not just because they would be hard pressed to actually get any worse.) Maybe, just maybe, The X Factor is pulling a Susan Boyle on us this season? Maybe its coming out on stage dressed in outlandish and garish garments with a really bad hairdo and some disconcerting facial expressions just to make us think its going to be really terrible and then, once the music starts, the show is going to wow us with its pure and amazing talent?
A girl can hope, can't she?
On Thursday night, The X Factor reinforced my suspicion that all roads lead to Cow Palace since once again viewers found themselves back in San Francisco with Demi's multi-colored ponytail and Britney's shimmery gold dress. It was, as a wise contestant once said, "like deja vu . . . all over again." The decision to piece meal the auditions was just another example of the excessive manipulation that has been prevalent all season but unfortunately, rather than saving "the best" for last, The X Factor reserved their final audition show for some of the more outlandish auditions.
In fact, Thursday was part two of the medical drama that began Wednesday night when 13-year-old Trevor Moran collapsed. EMT's were on the scene encouraging the young lad to open his eyes and get back on his feet to fulfill his destiny, the dream he's been chasing for the better part of 156 months. With steely determination (and a few liters of water and Gatorade) Trevor was able to take to the stage and impress the judges with LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It." Trevor, like many of the acts to follow Wednesday night, were advanced without any real chance of making it through Bootcamp (AKA Hollywood Week goes to Miami.)
Another such act was 12-year-old Jordyn Foley who pranced onto the stage in pigtails, glitter high tops, a mini skirt and striped knee highs. Although Demi stated that Jordyn was too cute to say no to, Simon (salvaging his last, precarious string of credibility) did just that after Jordyn's over-the-top Broadway performance of Annie's "Tomorrow." Britney and L.A. were all too happy to overrule Simon and give Jordyn a ticket to Miami along with a hefty dose of false hope, which all 279 of her backstage supporters appreciated so much they rushed the stage in a completely spontaneous and synchronized display of appreciation.
Fortunately, there were at least two singers who earned their places in Bootcamp through the power of a strong vocal. Lauren Jauregui, refreshingly void of any dramatic back story, impressed the judges with a performance of Alicia Key's, "If I Ain't Got You," that was well beyond her years. The only moving thing about Lauren's performance, aside from her vocals, was the intense pride shining in her father's eyes as he watched from backstage. Sure, the cameras that are retro-fitted with advanced tear-seeking technology, zeroed in on his peepers the second they became damp, but his was one of the first truly genuine displays of emotion this season.
Unlike Lauren, Freddy Combs must have seemed like an early Christmas gift to producers hungry for dramatic back stories of inspiration and triumph. Freddy, wheelchair bound due to his battle with morbid obesity, proudly stated that he had once weighed 920 pounds and after nearly dying, was able to lose a whopping 380 pounds. He attributed his success to the love and devotion of his wife, who wheeled Freddy onstage to sing Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings," which he dedicated to her. Cue the close up of Freddy's wedding band during the crescendo of the song.
After his strong vocal, all the judges said "yes" while Simon declared that, as Freddy was singing, he had a vision. A vision of Freddy one day being able to stand up and perform that song. So inspired by his vision, Simon uncharacteristically offers to back Freddy if Freddy promises to back himself and do the work needed to achieve his goals. Sadly the producers never had a lesson in subtlety and in their desperate attempt to spoon feed emotion to the viewers, a moment that held even a shred of poignancy was tarnished by the fingerprints they leave on every minute of the production.
But viewers, let us not despair, Jordyn Taylor promises that the "sun'll come out tomorrow." What do you think? Are you willing to bet your bottom dollar that The X Factor is going to improve now that the auditions are over? Share your comments below!