The X Factor Series Premiere Recap: Homie Is Where the Heart Is

Pop quiz: Which of these unlikely acts advanced to Round 2 during the season premiere of Simon Cowell’s hyped-to-iPad-proportions talent competish, The X Factor?

a) The chick in the striped top who left L.A. Reid “completely underwhelmed” with a sound she described as “a threesome between a cheerleader, a hipster, and a drag queen”
b) The dude in the powder-blue mesh (!) shirt who undulated on the stage floor and expressed the desire to launch an energy drink named after himself
c) The 42-year-old mom who wound up with alarming rivulets of mascara streaming down her face.
d) The recently-out-of-rehab meth addict who performed an atrociously titled, self-penned track “Young Homie”

If you answered “all of the above,” then congratulations! You’ve won the right to sing “Happy Birthday” to Nicole Scherzinger, a true honor that you can cash in on June 29 (the date Nicole entered the world) or June 30 (which used to be Cheryl Cole’s birthday until Nicole wrestled it away as part of a vicious final act in her X Factor contract negotiations).

Seriously, though, for all its America’s Got Talent-ish contrivances — the gasping audiences, the contestants’ relatives crying tears of joy in the wings, Simon’s withheld-till-the-last-second grins of approval — there were moments during The X Factor‘s long-awaited premiere that resonated with genuine emotion and a sense of the unexpected (starting with the decision to retire the word “singer” in the intro package for “choreographer and performer” Paula Abdul).

But just like the show itself, let’s not wade too long in the production minutiae, and instead get the motors of our 18-wheelers running, head out on the highway through the scrubby desert, and look for adventure or whatever comes our way in the quest to find a musical act that’s worthy of a $5 million recording contract. Over the course of the two-hour telecast, we saw a half-dozen acts who exhibited enough promise that it’s not hard to envision them lasting well into the holiday shopping season. (Side note: If you’re like my sister Kathy and have half your holiday shopping completed, I don’t wanna hear about it!) Let’s review the evening’s best and brightest:

* I had every reason to root against scrappy 13-year-old moppet Rachel Crow: For starters, I’m a disciple of the school of thought that says you should at least be old enough to have a driver’s license before you can qualify for a record deal. And then, of course, there was the way Rachel seemed to have rehearsed and polished her interview answers into glistening, 14-karat sound bites. Her X Factor audition, naturally, was “the most important thing” (chops air with hand) “that I have ever done” (chops air with hand again) “in my life” (chops air with hand once more, just for added emphasis). And I may be wrong, but her bit about being a girl and needing her own bathroom may have been lifted wholesale from an ancient episode of Full House. All of my misgivings went out the window, though, when the music kicked in and Rachel starting belting out a rendition of “Mercy” that was ragingly powerful and completely in tune. Better still, the kid exhibited a deliciously natural flow — as if she had read and processed every word of the lyrics and then delivered them with a connectedness that couldn’t be learned from someone merely mimicking Duffy’s original. Simon (because he’s Simon) had to immediately drill home that Rachel was proof positive that The X Factor did the right thing in lowering its minimum age to 12, but I’m taking a wait-and-see approach: Rachel could be the exception, and not the rule, y’know?

* If you’re a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, then prepare to get obsessed with saucy Simone Battle, a college student who wears red satin booty shorts, dreams of autographing people’s babies, and wants to title her debut album Honey, Work. (Insert spontaneous snap in a Z formation here.) Plus, her sound is informed by drag queens, cheerleaders, and hipsters! I had to agree with L.A. that her rendition of “When I Grow Up” was utterly pedestrian, and not really worthy of a “yes” vote, but I wasn’t unhappy that Simon pushed Simone to give the audience a second number to better showcase her vocals. That subsequent performance of “Bulletproof” showed off a muscular tone and a “you must love me” fervor that any good pop star ought to have. You could eye roll at Paula for declaring Simone “individualistic” and telling her that “being smart, witty, and current” would set her apart from the competition, but I kinda know what she meant.

* Last week, Fox leaked most of 42-year-old Stacy Francis’ audition as part of an eight-minute promo reel, and it promptly activated my tear ducts. Amazingly, though, I found myself getting choked up watching it a second time on Wednesday night, even as my ears detected more flaws (a loss of control on a couple of runs; some unnecessary caterwauling where a straightforward delivery would’ve sufficed). The thing is, it wasn’t just Stacy’s back story — an abusive past relationship held her back from pursuing her singing dreams, as did the busted industry perception that she’d been too old to make it since she turned 30 — that got to me. Nor was it merely the tidal wave of mascara that washed over Stacy’s face as she wept at the judges’ standing ovation. Nope, there was a deep-rooted center of emotion in Stacy’s rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” that’s all too often absent in the work of younger, less life-tested vocalists. Somehow, this woman who’s forced to practice in her bathroom after her young children go to bed at night, was able to convey all the past pain and current joy of going through it, and from that breathtakingly filmed vantage point looking out on the crowd of thousands, saw a light at the back of the auditorium. In Simon’s gleeful words: “Stacy Francis, that’s 4,304 yeses.”

* I can’t pinpoint why exactly I get a Fantasia Barrino-meets-Kris Allen (but with better dance moves) vibe from 20-year-old Marcus Canty, but I’ve got to agree with Simon that the kid is “one to watch” based on a funky, flawless take on “I Wish” that detonated the conventional wisdom that one should never cover Stevie Wonder on a televised singing competition. (One of the few recent exceptions to this rule, if you’ll recall, was American Idol‘s Melinda Doolittle, so clearly Mr. Canty is in good company.) Bonus points for that jaunty sidestep dance, and for having a mother who gave the kid a two-year window to pursue singing, and then “after that, he’s gonna have to go and get me a degree.”

* You don’t need to tell me that Terrell Carter’s “Ribbon in the Sky” proved to be the rule to Marcus Canty’s exception on the “thou shalt not audition with Stevie Wonder” commandment. But anyone that mind-numbingly good-looking can’t be underestimated if he makes it to the public vote. I got my biggest laugh of the night when Cheryl Cole — who in her limited screen time came off as warm and engaging and completely not the kind of person whose employment you’d ever think to terminate — told Terrell that “you’ve got the package,” then paused, and blushed with pitch-perfect embarrassment.

* And finally, there’s the matter of Chris Rene, a 28-year-old trash hauler and father to a young son who came almost directly from rehab (at 70 days sober) to his X Factor audition and performed a self-penned track called “Young Homie.” Sure that title teleported straight from 1998, but Chris’ steady flow and the song’s pulsating instrumentation felt stunningly radio-ready, and the guy clearly possesses the rare ability to flavor every word he delivers with the spice of his hardscrabble life experience. (L.A.’s robot-serious face and machine-like swivel dance provided irrefutable evidence of this fact!) So what if Chris’ falsetto was a struggle, or if nerves occasionally percolated up through the verses? As Simon repeatedly noted, it’s the job of The X Factor‘s mentors to take these garage-sale steals and polish them into gleaming living-room showpieces. (Sorry…that metaphor got away from me. It can be yours for 50 cents.)

The only real worry with Chris is the question of whether it’s advisable, or even ethical, to take a guy a mere two months sober and thrust him into the intense glare of the national spotlight. I don’t pretend to have an answer, but I will say that the trouble with addiction is you can fall off the wagon at 70 days, 170 days, or 700 days, and you can take that fall just as easily from The X Factor stage as you can from a garbage truck. Whether or not the young homie in the natty fedora is ready for a happy chapter of life is up for him to decide, but it was nice to see L.A. Reid engage in an honest moment and tell the guy that he’ll need to stay clean to stay in the race. “Maybe you need the show,” added Simon. “Maybe we need you.”

And now, some quick takes on the season premiere’s less-promising auditioners — both those who got a coveted “yes” from a minimum of three judges, and those so putrid they had Paula Abdul riding a wave of nausea to a backstage hideaway.

* John Lindell: Fresh-faced youth with a magical red-striped hoodie that hypnotized all four judges into voting “yes” to  his exceptionally unexceptional “Just the Way You Are.”

* Siameze Floyd: Remarkably coiffed gentleman with a magical powder-blue mesh shirt — I repeat, mesh shirt — that hypnotized three out fo four judges into voting “yes” for his exceptionally strange “Give It to Me Baby.” Definitely a contender if X Factor gives out Best Split or Excellence in Hair-Flipping consolation prizes. (Burning question: Was that “vocal coach from hell” Peggi Blu in his entourage?)

* All of the other youth-types. Y’all ain’t no Scotty McCreery! Yer not even really Mikalah Gordon!

* The Anser: A too-old-for-boy-band-dom trio that failed their spelling classes at the Blaine Anderson School of Music and Fashion. Everyone said yes, and not in an ironic, joke-y kind of way? Wha?

* Dan and Venita:  I dunno, guys, in the future, I might reconsider the white, misty confessional treatment for wheelchair-bound octogenarian contestants. It’s really more ominous than adorable, although I loved Venita’s dream of winning and then touring only the most glamorous senior centers.

* Nici Collins: Her tone-deaf, self-aware slaughter of “Emotions” lasted longer than the entire run of Fox’s brilliant-but-canceled Lone Star. At least Paula got a chance to prove her lucidity with this critique: “I feel like you did this on a dare.”

* Geo Godley: The biggest misstep of the premiere, as far as I see it, was failing to leave this fame-seeking creeper on the editing-room floor. Was anyone remotely entertained by the sight of a paunchy, pale, middle-aged man dropping his saggy velour trousers while groaning about wanting to do “Bill Clinton stuff.” L.A. was right that the whole spectacle was “offensive, disgusting, distasteful, upsetting,” but again, it was Paula back on the Lucid Train who got up from her chair, walked backstage, and refused to participate in the ridiculata. “I’m disgusted. It made me sick to my stomach,” said the “Straight Up” singer. And for once, I think she was speaking for all of us.

What did you think of The X Factor premiere? Will you tune in for Episode 2? Who was your favorite act? Were there any decisions you vehemently disagreed with? And what about the Cheryl-Vs-Nicole debate? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Gill says:

    I’m sad that even Slezak can’t make this show interesting to me. That pretty much kills it for me.

    • Holly says:

      Yeah, it was pretty awful (though I admittedly didn’t see the entire two hours). Nothing seemed genuine. Everything seemed over-produced. And really, Michael, your praising Paula for her histrionics about Geo? The guy was a moron who should have been left on the cutting-room floor. Paula’s ridiculous antics helped to ensure he wasn’t. the minute he dropped trou he should have been escorted off the stage.

      • Tina says:

        Exactly. Had this been any other show, the minute this fool dropped his pants he would have been removed from the stage. Not allowed to pull his pants up and do it again. I kept thinking “where security to remove him”. And Paula’s reaction as well as the on going antics of Nici “i’m supposed to be delusional” Collins made me and the hubby question some of the authenticity of the show. I was hoping that Simon and team would just let things happen naturally not create these false moments for show value.

    • JSG says:

      I agree 100% Gill. This receap is as bad a the show was. Slezak, I love you to bits and pieces, but you dropped the Geo-balls on this one. Lets get some actual insight, not just a dandy run down of contestants. You must have some more insider information and insight into this type of show than what you`ve hastily assessmbled here. Leave the dull shot by shot reviews for your previous employer.

    • mliz says:

      Where have they hidden the real Michael Slezak??? The show was horrendous. I was looking forward to reading Michael today to give some honest, biting commentary. Weak.

    • Yo says:

      Me too.

      Dear Simon: Blech!

    • Ben says:

      Well, back here weeks ago I did warn everyone that having seen the x factor out of other countries, its format just wasn’t as engaging as idols. There is something special about stripping away the audience, the music and forcing peoples vocals to speak for themselves the first time around.

  2. allie8 says:

    I didn’t really like it. Reminds me more of AGT than Idol and that is not a good thing. While I enjoyed some of the performances – two hours for a handful of decent auditions was ridiculous and a waste of time. I liked LA Reid and Cheryl Cole (oh well) but I was instantly bored with Paula and Simon’s banter… plus her security escorted trip to vomit during a performance was the worst kind of contrived drama. I was hoping for a lot more from this show… not sure if I’ll give it another shot.

  3. Eli says:

    No, I won’t be tuning in for Episode 2. I gave it a chance and it sucked just as bad as the UK version. I’m glad the ratings were disappointing, I honestly hope this gets canceled sooner rather than later.

  4. Eli says:

    And I must say I’m thoroughly disappointed in Slezak for praising this monstrosity so much. How much did they pay you to write this nonsense Michael?

    • Balthazar Remtocoquis says:

      Eli, as usual you are spot on. Something is up with the tone of this review. All the punches are aimed at the targets that were chosen in advance, not a single shot aimed at the man behind the curtain. Frout-Coutaz and her ilk were called out repeatedly when Idol pulled the same clumsy crap, why all of a sudden is Slezak taking aim at only the bad singers? Not a single mention of the nauseating Simon & Veyron Shoreditch Vice styled intro? A LOT of empty “Its so good!” comments filling up the noise ratio on this site. We know that they are paying for produce positive buzz, its a shame they can’t at least be entertaining while the do it.

    • Mark says:

      Gosh, you don’t think it has anything to do with the full page banner ads ofor XFactor on the TVLine site do you??????

  5. Maxwell H says:

    As an Idol fan I found it extremely disappointing and boring. It’s the same old nonsense in a not-so-new package. The Simon/Paula banter was as boring as ever. The sob stories and bad auditions were unnecessary, and the live audiences were obnoxious. I won’t be tuning in again. Simon can shove it.

    • stay says:

      Completely agree! Unwatchable! Disappointing!

      • adamfan says:

        Agree. It was just too much of everything. The show feels like an assault on all the senses. It is impossible to really hear the contestants. The audience is screaming, the lights are flashing, the families are crying and all that while the person is singing!!! This show is a mess. I love Simon and have been looking forward to this all summer. Too bad.

        • susela says:

          I agree! The energy and noise was relentless; I much prefer the individual auditions on AI, which feel more intimate. Everything here was rushed and shouted. Also, while Simon clearly thinks Nicole is All That, I preferred Cheryl. Too bad, indeed.

        • @adamfan says:

          Aree, completely. You said it all. Buh=bye, X Factor!

        • Kris Fan says:

          @adamfan — yep–just waaaaay tooooo much of everything. Too produced, too loud, too edgy. I prefer the simpler intimacy of Idol.

    • Ghost of Kelly Clarkson says:

      I agree, Maxwell. I ended up turning it off after 25 minutes — all the stuff I hated about Idol were front and center in XFactor. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll wait until “The Voice” comes back.

    • cathy says:

      I can understand why the AI fans didn’t like it. There wasn’t one WGWG to power vote their little hearts out for.

  6. Sybil says:

    I liked Cheryl Cole much better than Nicole Whatszinger. None of the musical acts really wowed me. I don’t like the manipulativeness of the big arena audition. I don’t like the backing track that obscures the vocal. LA Reid is a major improvement on Randy, though.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      I loved Reid’s frown while bopping to Chris’ Young Homie.

      Not sure if I’ll watch againt though. There’s too much else on tonight even with a dual tivo.

    • Tusk says:

      LOL ” Nicole Whatszinger” perfect…bring back Cheryl!

      NM not sure if I’ll watch again, the fake “mouth open” “they can’t believe what they’re watching” shots of Whatzinger and Reid were an unnecessary emphasis and contrived.

      The show kind of comes off like the auditioner who walks in like they are IT, only to turn out to be all ego and self delusion and no spark, no talent. The pilot was underwhelming considering the hype.

      I feel like I should see a few more episodes to give it a chance, but I get the feeling I won’t make it past the auditions to get to the interesting “bits”.

  7. Ken says:

    Overall I was underwhelmed. I think that Nici Collins was an actress and a plant (to make some drama…it didn’t work). She was clearly acting. I think if Bruno Mars had written and sung Young Homie (with a different title, of course), it would have hit number 1 immediately. Overall, the Voice, the Sing-Off and even Karaoke Battle USA have featured better singers. When are the producers of AI and, so far, XF going to figure out we want to hear good singers. Back stories and rejects are not as entertaining as the, “Holy crap that dental hygienist can sing her butt off,” moments.

    • idollover says:

      Idol has better singers than the voice and they are more successful. The backing tracks made The Voice contestants seem better also.

  8. Ivet says:

    I thought Simon was too nice, I missed his jerk side …. This first episode wasn’t that good, hope next one’s better and then we will see if I keep watching.

    • the real wendy says:

      I agree! What’s the point of another American Idol with nice-y niceness! They should have just hired J-Lo and Steven Tyler and played the “…it was beautiful man” soundtrack!!!

  9. Margie says:

    I enjoyed the bits I saw during the evening and on YouTube. I never was one for the auditions anyway. You just have to sit through too much junk to hear the jewels. I’ll probably tune in for real once the auditions are over. I expect it will be good then.

  10. Beth T says:

    I actually didn’t think Rachel Crow was all that much of an exception to the “no kids” rule. tbh, I enjoyed Anna Graceman from this year’s installment of AGT better.

    Overall I was pretty underwhelmed by this show after all the hype. I liked L.A. Reid as a judge (too bad Idol didn’t snag him to replace Randy). I also like Cheryl, but oh well.

    Of the contestants, I only really liked Chris Rene. Maybe because his audition didn’t sound overproduced? This show really drove home for me the advantage of those small-room a capella auditions Idol does – really brings focus to the vocal talent.

    • Snseblaze says:

      Or lack of it. Some of the ones who did get through, would not have on idol.

      I do like though the pretty much lack of age limits (except when it brang on the couple who sang Unchained Melody.)

  11. agrimesy says:

    I’m not going to watch any more auditions. Although the highlights (Marcus and Chris) were very fulfilling, the rest didn’t even come close to entertainment for me. I could have settled for boring and repetitive, but I had to mute the TV and look away several times. The show made me uncomfortable. I didn’t expect to be embarrassed and utterly disgusted. I still feel “icky” about it even today. I don’t know if I will try again later, top ten or something . . . no promises.

  12. Pop Vulture says:

    I am so surprised to see so few comments, and those that are here are negative! I LOVED it. Capitalized! I absolutely enjoyed the vast majority of the show, appreciated that they didn’t waste much time on bad auditions, wished they’d left out the streaker, but mostly just really, really enjoyed the ride. I’m worried that talent show fatigue might work against this show which, to me, has overcome the seemingly-insurmountable obstacle of treating a Pussycat Doll as if she’s a credible ‘expert,’ and has risen to the challenge of restoring the sense of wonder in finding unexpected talent. Hooray!

    • Laura says:

      I agree! I am shocked by the negativity. I thought it was a good show. I think it is vastly better than Idol. I am not a fan of Nichole and enjoyed the other one but I thought it was good.

      • Cathy says:

        Nichole maybe stuck on herself but no more than J-Lo is. I found this show refreshing. I think it is going to be great

        • Amber says:

          Refreshing, that’s just what I thought. It wasn’t much different from American Idol as far as this round goes, but I enjoyed it. And I love Simon and Paula back together.

      • JSG says:

        I dont comprehend why you can think it is vastly better. It is a subjective matter I know, but what really put that show above and beyond Idol? The only difference I can tell was the presence of a studio audience and the absence of any quiet & soulful singers, which is a given for the tone of the show as they were pushing hard for an aura of massive glitz and would have edited them out.

        I saw nothing to set it apart from similar shows. If you could kindly point out to me what I am missing, I`m all ears!

        • Pop Vulture says:

          Sure! As you said, it’s subjective, but I can tell you what I liked about it. I liked that they didn’t focus on too many horrible auditions (the glaring exception being the unforgivable streaker segment – not defending that at all). I liked that it seemed like the judges were really excited about/interested in talented people. I liked that they gave constructive feedback. I liked that the auditions surprised me – I hadn’t watched any of the spoilers, so that 42 year-old mother was an unknown quantity to me, and when she said her kids covered their ears and said, “No, Mommy!” when she sang, I was afraid she was cannon fodder, but no! And I didn’t love her as much as the judges did, but I did love watching her have a moment of greatness. Ditto the Young Homie guy. Ditto the Stevie Wonder song guy. Speaking for myself, I had a lot of moments of vicarious exhilaration through those contestants. I loved it.

    • Khesmith` says:


  13. Travix says:

    I did not like it either. While it was nice to see Simon at the judging table, the show’s format was a huge disappointment. I have missed the intimate atmosphere of the early auditions of American Idol and the huge arena setting just did not work. Some of the drama and the sob stories looked fake to me. What was up with Paula’s vomit act? I agree that the guy was an idiot and exposing himself on the stage was disgusting, but after Paula giggling for minutes and then running out of the room did not looked credible. I am sure Paula has seen more male genitalia in her life than I have and I am a guy! How come no security came in and stopped that guy? The whole thing just reeks of cheap sensationalism. LA Reed was a pretty good judge and Simon was also OK, but Nicole and Paula were boring. With the bad singing, fake drama, and overwhelmingly long commercial brakes this show is nearly unwatchable.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      I have to agree that the arena setting does not work. I found the audience and audience shots distracting (other than when the showed people walking out during Geo’s pants debacle). It did on The Voice because you did not see or hear the audience that much. Maybe the theater was smaller. They were not screaming lunatics.

      I also had a funny feeling beforehand that Geo was going to do exactly what he did.

      • Ssnetblaze says:

        Although I will admit that I cracked up when he did it (the blurring helped the tv audience from not being “tramautized” like the judges were). But at the same time, I was annoyed that it took 10 minutes of time away from hearing a potentially good singer.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          Hey Ssnetblaze – I agree with you completely. I was disappointed that so much time was given to the idiot that dropped his pants. “X-Factor” was in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle – those are three major cities, so I expected to see a lot more good auditions. No, make that GREAT auditions! I believe there was too much time wasted on the mediocre, the bad, and the downright offensive and annoying singers.

          I keep reminding myself that we never saw David Cook’s audition the year he won “Idol” so who knows what gems the producers chose not to broadcast. The show is different from Idol but I think it’s too soon to make a decision on whether I love it or hate it. Believe it or not I didn’t care for Idol when it was initially on the air. It took a couple of seasons to really grow on me.

    • JSG says:

      The only explanation for the vomit I can think of is if the producers included a Must Have A Contestant Sex Scandal clause in Pauler`s contract to further clone the Idol format and she was unsettled by this contractually obligated version of Justin Guarini 2011

  14. JKM says:

    Pretty underwhelming. I did like LA Reid’s input, however. This was a total rehash of Idol, down to the camera angles and stuff they showed in montages of the crowds. But, with a lot of hype, pomp, and circumstance with some fakey drama thrown in. I love Idol and was so mad at Simon when he checked out of season 10 while he was still on it. I didn’t enjoy his new version of Idol at all. Good luck to the contestants,though – especially if they are artists that don’t need or want to be “molded” and told who to be.

  15. JKM says:

    I forgot to say I really didn’t enjoy Nicole at all either. And I kind of liked her on the Sing-Off! She seems completely unnecessary. I have no idea who Cheryl Cole is, but she was a lot more interesting and definitely more charming than Nicole.

  16. Jake says:

    I am a devoted AI fan, and I really liked X Factor. It seemed like a much more energetic, next generation version of Idol. I basically agree with Slezak’s recap and his analysis of the talent above. I disagree with others who say the talent is weaker than The Voice or other reality shows – to me the best singers were unique, interesting and talented. I do agree that Chris Rene’s vocal wasn’t the best, but considering he is an amateur who composed his own song – music and lyrics – I was impressed.

    I actually liked Cheryl Cole, but to me Nicole was a bit more original with fewer canned comments. I will say that Cheryl is really hot – problem is Nicole is hotter. I guess Simon just has to go for the gold in everything. No surprise there.

  17. JJ says:

    I found myself at odds with what the show thought was great and what I thought was/wasn’t great.

    The raves and highlighted stories of Stacy Francis and Chris Rene makes sense in terms of a reality show but the shrill screeches of Stacy’s performance didn’t impress me and Chris’s wannabe Jason Mrasz attempt failed to impress as well.

    I have no interest in seeing them twice a week. To go along with that I’m perplexed as to the elimination of the gorgeous and sincere Cheryl Cole to be replaced with Nicole Sherzinger of the low rated boring The Sing-Off. Sherzinger’s baby voice and self-indulgence was irritating and makes me think Cowell made a boo boo in letting Cole go.

    I’ll keep watching but they need to choose more interesting and talented folks…and somehow bring back Ms.Cole in some capacity.

  18. Denise says:

    I’m keeping an open mind and looking forward to the next show. I don’t like that they wasted our time with the drivel. That’s what I loved about The VOICE– they only showed us good singers.

    I am by no means a hip hop fan, but I thought that Chris Rene was really good and it was a bit of a hip hop lullaby if there is such a thing. I hope he succeeds. Marcus was my favorite.

    LA Reid is the real deal. He is the best judge so far. I agreed with him on everything. We’ve seen the Simon/Paula pairing so that is not fresh and new. I liked Cheryl, they should not have dumped her.

    In the end, The Sing-Off is my favorite music reality show right now. Those people have got some amazing voices!

    • luke says:

      I agree with you that the sing-off is a decent show. I know I’d like to hear some of those groups in a live concert. Can you even imagine The Sing-Off showing some sad dude exposing himself to the audience like X Factor did. And this is supposed to be a big-deal television show that is obviously ready to sell themselves and their audience so short – To stoop that low is pathetic.

    • The Ween says:

      The Sing-Off is my favorite of the singing competitions, simply on the merits of its judges. They give constructive, specific feedback designed to help a group improve, not just tear them to shreds. And I love how they so lovingly talk about music and technique and actually try to educate the audience. All of the other shows could learn something about criticism from the Sing-Off.

  19. blingedup.susan says:

    Well, I loved it, which I pretty much had already decided before it even started.

    Didn’t understand why they let the gross flasher get on the televised show, but other than that…..totally entertained.

    My favorite was Marcus, but I have to decide if that was mostly from his song selection or his performance. I loved both.

    Looking forward to tonight!

  20. Betsy says:

    I gave it an hour and was SO BORED and the singing was SO CRAPPY that we changed the channel. I saw comments on facebook this morning that the guy from rehab (who apparently went last) was fantastic, but I couldn’t stand to watch the show that long so I missed him.

    The show is a total let down after all the hype – the judges look like they’re sitting down on the floor at a fold-out table they picked up at Office Depot on their way there, in the first hour I didn’t see anyone who made me go “wow!” Really boring. I was hoping this recap would be as entertaining as the Bachelor Pad recaps, which were also about a show I didn’t watch but enjoyed Slezak’s hilarity, but……guess not.

  21. notmzbehavin says:

    The moment that the idiot dropped his pants security should have rushed the stage. While Simon has a European sensibility over nudity, there were kids an non-consenting adults in the audience. Not only should he have been kicked out of the building, but should have been at least charged with public indecency and lewd conduct.

    I’m not a prude, but the fact that there were children in the audience alone should have caused security to tackle the creep.

    I’d have had more respect for Cowell and crew if they’d not only physically kicked him off stage, but called the police and had him arrested for sex crimes against children.

    That scene had me so upset, I’m rethinking whether I’ll continue watching anything Simon produces.

  22. wendeeloo says:

    I feel strangely relieved that I’ll be taking this off my DVR already. I admit that I stopped watching early – I was hating the constant over-blown reaction to everything from the audience – the “atmosphere” music the show was adding was so annoying – Simon was acting really different – in a disappointing way – Liking people who were not worth it like the chick in the red satin hot pants with a heart sticker on her cheek – Sorry, when she sang again it wasn’t that special. Simon acted like LA Reid was an idiot for not agreeing but LA seems to be the only one with sense. Then the show decided what they needed was a flasher to prance around for what seemed an eternity – I hated the ridiculous “outrage” from the judges, when a security person should’ve been hauling him off. It’s the show who’s truly disgusting for having that in the show – they are the ones who are supposed to know better – not the sick guy who was obviously getting off on exposing himself to that poor audience. How much disregard do you have for your viewers – both in-house and across the country, when a supposed “family show” allows that to be aired? So, as Kramer once said as he slammed his money down on Jerry’s counter – “I’m out!”

  23. Lacey J says:

    So much cheering, not enough singing. By the end I was all applaused out. Stop the incessant noise!

  24. Larry says:

    Uhmm, well, missed it because too many conflicts with the DVR. Seriously when is DirecTV going to come out with a DVR that can record three shows at a time and not two? OMG, I just sounded like a TV addict. Suppose logging on to TVLine during work is another clue. Anyways, from the message board sounds like I chose wisely (“you chose wisely”, Indiana Jones anyone?) by recording the other shows. Though, I miss understanding what Slezak is talking about. Did I contribute to the conversation in any way just now?

  25. Alex says:

    I’m not going to say much about the show except that the highlight of the night for me was Cheryl Cole. And that’s the end of the road for me.

  26. Grace says:

    The minute Cheryl Cole opened her mouth, I opened mine and said four words: “Son of a b*tch.” She would’ve been SO F-ING GOOD! I hate them so much more for teasing us with her like that and then taking her away.

    On the bright side though, if Nicole hadn’t left, she would still be on The Sing-Off instead of the infinitely more intelligent and charming Sara Bareilles, so…

    • luke says:

      I know! Isn’t Sara B completely charming and funny? I was so glad Nicole went to X – making Sing-Off much stronger. And I too thought Cheryl was better – I loved her accent. I know I’ll only be checking the X Factor “progress” by checking in with Slezak.

    • Tina says:

      Oh I completely agree, love Sara B. on the Sing Off and so far loving the Sing Off better than X factor. When they announced that Cheryl was out and Nicole was in, I thought, this is not good, who made that dumb decision, did they not see her insincere, doofuss commentary on the Sing Off! And after seeing her last night for only a few minutes and Nicole going on and on about her birthday, I now miss Cheryl! Too bad they can’t change it now.

  27. Danielle Notaro says:

    Overall- I thought it was mediocre- I was wondering why they didn’t kick that wang hanging bozo off the stage if they were all sooo offended.

    I liked Homie guy- I liked Stacey’s emotion but man she was on and off key.

    Simese- they kept just for the potential “drama”

  28. BeverlyW says:

    Well I’ll be tuning in tonite. I enjoyed the show as I expected I would, and for me that’s the reason I watch these shows, for entertainment. The only real analyzing I do is to either agree or disagree with Michael Slezak’s observations, and I usually agree. The only thing I didn’t like at all was the jerk that decided to show off his family jewels.

  29. Blank Slate says:

    There are many reasons I could never watch America’s Got Talent: the manipulative reactions of the planted faces in the audience; the scripted facial reactions of the judges; the backstage supporters and their scripted sidebar commentary; the host watching backstage with scripted facial reactions and commentary; the obvious fake acts imported by Central Casting to offer comic relief; the obvious fake real contestants imported straight out of Cental Casting with a pre-printed ticket to the next levels of the “contest…” and most of all, the mediocre level of talent that seems to garner the praise of the fake audience and fake judges, talent that couldn’t make it out of the high school auditorium in real life…

    Oh wait. Did I say I was talking about America’s Got Talent?

    Scratch that. I meant X Factor.

    A big thumbs down. A big disappointment. And is there a doctor in the house to erase the memory of a fake nauseated Paula running like a 3 year old to spew vomit as if she had just been witness to a murder? Oh if only all of us had handlers who could kiss-up to us and tell us “You poor poor baby, you had to witness real live people doing something fakely stupid!” Please. Let me come back in my next life so sheltered and pampered and surrounded by a fake entourage of rear-end lip-smacking sycophants!

  30. Miranda says:

    It was so disappointing. I wish they would just show great singers and give honest critiques….that’s the secret, and it’s not hard to figure out. Simon botched this one. :/

  31. Sammie Borderc says:

    I was seriously disappointed in this show! Because I knew of the ” X Factor from Britain ” I believed it would be the same! ” WRONG “! This is just another version of American Idol…with all of its disgusting rejects of society! The show started with about 20 minutes of hype on the show and judges…..then begins….. I saw the first contestant and was immediately disappointed! A want to be Beyonce comes out with all of nothing close to resembling talent, and just WOW’s Simon! Are you kidding me? Then comes the nut case who drops his pants to expose his privates for the audience to see [ blurred out for television ] I am sorry, but do they not interview these people first before putting them through { Yes! They do ! } So why in the world was this guy allowed in, and also allowed to continue once he dropped his pants ? He should have been escorted off stage and charged with Lewdness and Obscenity! Paula walked off stage and right to a bathroom to vomit! And it was seen people walking out from the audience! This show is X -tremely horrible! I am very disappointed in Simon for this! Britain does much better ,and has better talent there, than here anyways! Luckily, I was watching Modern Family and just would peek in on commercial breaks after I got my first view of X Factor to such disgust! I believe Simon thought people would watch the show if Nicole Scherzinger was one of the judges, along with Paula and LA Reid! Bad assumption! Too many people auditioning that should be seeking employment or psychiatric help!

  32. Bill says:

    X Factor did get a little too “Simon driving a Bugatti” corny at times, but it always pulled back to the center before veering off a cliff – assisted by moving backstories (however glossed over) and more full-on performances in the first two hours than you’d hope to see in at least a half a season of AI.

    AI always wrestled with the “singing competition” vs. the search for “it”. I don’t know how X Factor’s way of finding contestants compares to AI, but whatever they did seems to have brought forward performers who don’t seem as shackled. The good ones felt so much more stage ready than AI contestants. Maybe it was the audition process, the theater setting, or editing but whatever it is I’ll stay tuned in.

  33. J Cold says:

    Simon is right. I think the show needs someone like Chris Rene. His catchy yet redemptive “Young Homie” is further bouyed by his inexplicably infectious stage presence. Yes, the vocals may be raw in parts, but Rene’s phrasing is bang on heartfelt and truly evocative. I think it has something to do with the rare (and eerie) openness of his face… As I rewatched and closely scrutinise at how he engaged the judges, the audience or when he was merely regarding the camera, I am captivated by the non-verbal emotions he conveyed. It felt like his entire being radiated a calm acceptance of his sucesses and failings, an unreserved willingness to entertain his chances for joy, and an honest gratitude for life and the things/ people he loves. By song’s sudden (impactful) end, I have witnessed a perfect storm of an amazing audition. LA Reid says it best. He is the Truth yo!

    • Bag of Toast says:

      You`ve gone into histronics at one merely competent audition. You might want to scale it back a little, you come across as hammering together a bunch of pre-assessmbled lines. The marketing firm that employs you to manage perceptions on web boards wants a little less gushing and more of the vague `better than idol` affirmations that we are seeing a lot on this comment section and others.

  34. Tara says:

    Overall I liked it. However, the things I hated where the fact that they didn’t drag the pantless moron off the stage, aren’t there kids in that audience that just seemed a really dumb move. The thing I especially hate is that they got rid of Cheryl Cole, the reasons I found floating online about “why” was that they thought people would have a hard time understanding her accent, I’m from the middle of the United States and didn’t have a hard time at all. She was a much better judge than fame-whore Nicole whats-her-face. I’ll keep watching, I just hope if it goes another season they really consider bringing Cheryl back.

  35. Blank Slate says:

    I missed the news that Cole was off the show. Already? It’s a sad day when we dumb down so much that producers think Americans cannot understand a perfectly poised accent and give us in exchange someone who has all the phonetical aspirations of a Kim Kardashian. I hated when Abdul and Nicole dramatically and on cue stood up to dance as if so overcome by the music.. Ugh. Can I go backstage and vomit now? I couldn’t stand whatever show Abdul recently did on CBS (can’t even remember the name). This reality show thing is done. Boring. We could write the script ourselves. Bring back brains to the US. I know we have it in us. Enough of the debasing ourselves to serve the lowest common denominators. What happened to us? :{

    • Delon says:

      To answer your question of “What happened to us?”: The severe reality of Sept.11 was so much to face that the Americans finally completely cut off their ties with reality as we know it and now leave in the world of reality TV. I thought this was so obvious to everyone.

      • Blank Slate says:

        I thought 9/11 would remind our country that we want the best for all of our citizens, not our worst. TV has turned to trash. Yes, I watch and get invested in some of these shows but we have truly fallen down a hole with all of these stupid fake reality shows that encourage competition at its silliest levels.

        What also happened is that it the producers realized it is cheaper to pay these non-celebrity actors and C-level writers than to pay for quality scripts and quality actors.


  36. Robert says:

    The whole show was an over produced mess and nothing but a set up. I know it is a TV show , but the trash hauler was a plant and never had to audition. His story may be true, but no way he went to Seattle with 10,000 other people and went into a curtain on the stage floor to sing for a producer, then came back two months later to perform in front of the judges. If in fact he was in rehb and no clean for 70 days, then he would have either been very very high at the first audition or not able to make it because he was in rehab. These people are hand picked and the first audtions were nothing but PR and TV tapings. It is the same process for AI, but they needed more stories for this show, so could no depend on who would show up.

  37. AJ says:

    The show was so bad. The Siameze guy, wow. Going on and on about his looks and he is fugly with weird hair. It also seriously looked like he stuffed a rolled up pair of socks down his pants to make it appear he had a huge package or something. Not buying it dude. Not buying the flirting with girls thing either, Mr. Obviously gay man wearing high heal boots and a mesh t-shirt.

    • AJ says:

      *heel not heal.

      Also, I thought the drama queen was an actress too. Glad I am not the only one. The plants are obvious and all these shows do it. When they come to Dallas they put out casting calls to producers who have known talent signed already and they skip right to the head of the line for auditions. The Voice did the same thing.

  38. anonymous says:

    It was definitely Peggi Blu, Slezak. She’s a mentor of his that is a close family friend.

    • Balthazar Remtocoquis says:

      Its a shame that Peggi can shout at a pair of children on Idol but dosent have a shred of courage to speak up when it comes to her self interests. Siameze’s voice and talent was nowhere to be found, if Peggy coached him through that she somehow forgot to include any criticism along the way. Good to see she throws standards and discipline out the window once family gets involved.

  39. darcy's evil twin says:

    It’s good to see some of the Idoloonie peeps commenting here! I miss you all, and Slezak, between May and January.

    That said, I found it hilarious that Stacey Francis was listening to someone that said she was “too old” to have a singing career. Yet she’s 42 and has a five-month old baby?????????? Talk about a skewed sense of what you can and can’t do at a biologically advanced age!

    I can sing in the shower all day long but Sweet Baby Jesus, do NOT ask me to have a baby!

    It took me a while to decide if that Siameze guy was male or female. I finally decided he had to be male due to the shirt.

    Overall I enjoyed the show. I would have enjoyed it more had there been more good auditions. I’m willing to give it a chance!

  40. Ken says:

    That’s the exact same thing I thought when I finished reading this article! I thought the whole episode (it’s too soon to say show at the very least) was a huge disappointment and I was shocked to see Michael praising it so plaintively.

  41. SlezakFan says:

    I recorded the show but haven’t watched it yet. One thing I did notice from a few quick peeks was the makeup(?) or possibly plastic surgery on Simon(notice the cheekbones)? Whatever it is, Simon definitely looked different to me.

    • 600 Feet says:

      I`d bet He`s had botox done around the eyes and lost some weight. I dont see evidence of anything that would involve a scalpel.

      Its a shame that nobody can talk him out of that flattop brush cut he is too cowardly to get rid of. He must think it pairs too well with ratty v-neck shirts.

  42. karen Anderson says:

    I was highly disappointed in the show. It was overly dramatic, over-hyped, contrived and lacking in intimacy. The arena setting created a false sense of stardom for these mostly mediocre acts. Chris Rene might have been “original,” but his voice was shaky. Even the mascara woman went off pitch, yet one would think she was the second coming of Elvis by the reaction of the judges. The flasher guy was offensive and obviously a set-up. Tired of the over-the-top bad auditions. They don’t make me laugh one bit. Family members swooning in the wings, too many tears spilling everywhere, questionable decision about axing Cheryl Cole (Maybe American Idol can snag her for next season). Sick, sick, sick of these over-hyped shows. I won’t be tuning in to this mess.

    • AJ says:

      I loved all 4 judges strategically placed on the stairs for a “chance” encounter with one of the worst auditioners so that she could “tell them how it is.” It was so obvious she was an actor, and not a good one.

    • wendeeloo says:

      Really well said – That didn’t occur to me that the “arena setting gave it a false sense of stardom” – They were also singing along to a tape – The accapella stripped down version is so much better for hearing their voices – How can the judges really hear when the crowd is screaming after every damn musical phrase?!

  43. CZ says:

    I had to stop watching after about 45 minutes, I just couldn’t take any more.

    With the fake emotions, the annoying quick edits, the noise from the audience, the reactions shots of the judges and audience, the whole thing looked like a movie about a reality show. Know what I mean, every single moment on the screen looked like it was scripted and being performed by actors. Absolutely hated it.

  44. Marilyn says:

    I didn’t care for the show at all. Overblown, glitzy, fake were all adjectives that sprang to me. I didn’t find the contestants particularly memorable (I have a feeling that some of the better ones didn’t have enough back story to merit much screen time). And I was truly offended that Mr. Genitalia was put on display at all. Surely the screening committee had a clue that something was amiss and that maybe this guy wasn’t something kids (or adults for that matter) needed to see. As for Paula’s reaction, I thought maybe she got sick at having to be on a show that needed this particular water cooler moment. Ugh.

  45. corey says:

    no joke here- i turned to channel 5 last night, and the screen was on the judging panel. i thought to myself, “i didn’t know there was an american idol rerun series for season 8…”
    and then i realized that it was a different show with the same exact judging panel- not to be racially insensitive but the layout of the panel is exactly the same- african american man, then the young woman (i thought nicole scherzinger was kara dioguardi) and then paula and simon.

    this was clearly planned…

    and then…that guy with the stud song who dropped his pants???????

    what the heck is this show. this was clearly planned, simon did not even stop the music like he did for other people, he just let it happen to the audience….

    the clips that were supposed to be emotional and touch-feely just came off over-produced and plain silly.

    it seems like they mushed together american idol, the voice, and america’s got talent-into some horrible, horrible hybrid show called the x factor :( what a letdown after all the press

  46. margie says:

    I was an avid reality show viewer. When these shows started, Project Runway, American Idol, Survivor, etc. the contestants seemed to be real people who gave us some interesting and memorable moments, moments that made it into pop culture history. As each season progressed, they starting choosing characters instead of people and trying in anyway possible to amp up the drama. These shows have all become overproduced and the real spontaneous moments we wait for have become just obviously uninteresting scripted moments. That’s the problem with X Factor. It is so scripted and over produced that there doesn’t seem anything real about it. I have always liked Simon and Paula. LA Reid seems like a good addition. But the only part of the whole show that seemed genuine and charming was Cheryl Cole and they fired her. Watching I felt like I was being assaulted rather than watching a talent show. I won’t be back.

  47. James says:

    I was not horribly impressed with the show…However I will at least attempt to watch it till the live shows and see if any of that is good or decent…remember its only auditions so don’t discredit the show entirely until the live part.

  48. ohreli says:

    I am boycotting this show because of how Simon “Coward” Cowell treated Cheryl Cole. Others are too, and thats why XFactor got such lackluster ratings. Karma’s a bitch, Cowell.

  49. Yo says:

    Oh, Slezak, I so hope your review was not influenced by the two X Factor ads swaddling this page, or the eight second jobbie I was forced to watch before reading the review. Nah, you wouldn’t do that; I know you wouldn’t. And, all in all, it is not like it would make a difference; I already changed the channel. Maybe you could review Modern Family?

  50. Cathi says:

    This show is a AGT wannabe and I don’t watch that show either. I would love to see L.A. Reid on AI rather than this show. He was pretty much the only thing I enjoyed about the show. He always kept it real. He’s got the chops to back up his critiques. He was very engaging yet brutally honest when appropriate. I could give a rip if Paula left the stage but I was concerned that they let a pervert get away with indecent exposure on a supposedly family program with no word of the police being contacted or waiting for him outside. Wait. Isn’t that kind of behavior illegal? With all of the sexual predators and pedophiles out there, why is this show condoning it by broadcasting this on national TV. It was disgusting and all of the other things L.A. said but it was also ILLEGAL and potentially dangerous. Adam Lambert gets blacklisted for suggestive theatrics on the AMA but this guy walks free? That was the first and last time I watch this show.

    • asdasd says:

      I totally get where you and everyone are coming from, but the fact that nobody “did” anything about the flasher shows that it really wasn’t how it was presented. For starters, the guy wasn’t nude (though he might as well have been, lol). I honestly have this strange feeling that it might have even just been woven into the whole rigamarole or something.

      With that said, yea. It was WAY overproduced. The drama had me rolling my eyes more than watching the screen. There were some good singers, but it was just not interesting. I do like AI (to an extent) and am not really into the other reality shows much..and this is basically why. I can at least get into AI again because of last season (variety?!?!?!?) – I have a feeling Beyonce wannabes will dominate X Factor. I’m gonna be honest though, some drama last night and tonight made me lol but I might find reason to get back into Grey’s Anatomy this year.