X Factor Night Two: Best Act? Take Our Poll!

The first half of Thursday night’s installment of The X Factor felt a little like one of those soul-crushing “endurance challenges” you see on Survivor or The Amazing Race: “How badly do you want to bear witness to the birth of the next great singing sensation, America? The big prize will only go to those of you strong enough to sit through 50 solid minutes of being thwacked about the stomach and face with a musical two-by-four!”

Was it worth it? The jury is still out, but as one of its members, I’m feeling a little restless, perhaps even mutinous, heading into the weekend. Certainly, that deeply unaffected college freshman who sang Beyonce’s “Listen” helped salvage the two-hour telecast, as did the four acts who preceded her: the woman with the green teardrop earrings who stirred Nicole with her rendition of “Almost Home”; the bearded guy who stirred Nicole before he’d sung a single note; the female quartet who brought to life a groove without the help of a track; and the male soprano who L.A. Reid said had the kind of voice that was “the reason great songs are written.” Oh, and the rugby player was pretty promising (and simply pretty), too.

But if X Factor is going to shake clear of the “didn’t do Idol numbers” shadow that’s following it and become a true cultural phenomenon, it’s going to have to deliver a better talent-to-trash ratio for the remainder of its audition episodes. There’s no other way to spin it. Mind-blowing talent is what drives the water cooler, not some unamusing fameosexual in a blond flip wig looking to add to her audition reel.

I’ll post my full episode recap early Friday morning right here at TVLine.com, but until then, take our poll and tell us who gave your favorite audition, then hit the comments with your thoughts and feelings on X Factor. And for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!