If The X Factor is planning on featuring an “Over 30s” category in its second season, it had better hurry up and start scouring the nursing homes and intensive-care units where these irascible, gray-haired beasts reside.
Indeed, after three hours of programming over the last two nights, 34-year-old Jason Brock is the only Boot Camp-bound singer who fits into X Factor‘s category for people old enough to look back on the ’90s with genuine nostalgia, not just as the decade when they were still young enough to unironically rock lunch boxes and Trapper Keepers. (Side note: Please tell me lunch boxes and Trapper Keepers still exist — even if they don’t.) (Cut to me imagining a world of “iLunches.”) (Now I’m weeping.) To put it another way, the bulk of this year’s successful auditioners aren’t even eligible to legally sip a sauvignon blanc (aka “X Factor Survival Juice”).
It wouldn’t hurt, either, if the show whose stated goal is to find the nation’s next $5 million recording act would be a little more generous showing us people who can actually sing. Thursday night’s installment delivered only three successful auditions in the course of an hour, which, unbelievably, is a lower talent-to-airtime ratio than you’d find on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. If I had to rank those three folks, I’d do it as follows:
3) Johnny Maxell: Was anyone aware that “hecka” is now an acceptable word choice among today’s youth? “There’s hecka people here, mom,” 16-year-old Johnny told his gorgeous mother, who in turn reminded him he was not going to an audition, but rather “the performance of a lifetime.” (No pressure or anything.) Yet cool as it may have been that the kid composed his own song for the occasion — “Do it big in front of all these people!” — I was a little dismayed that none of the judges acknowledged Johnny’s voice was, simply put, about steady as an octogenarian trying on roller blades for the very first time. “This is your time,” declared Simon, obviously aware that at 16, the bloom of Johnny’s youth (aka potential to star in his own Nickelodeon/Disney Channel series) was beginning to fade.
2) Carly Rose Soneclar: I’ll admit I’m always a little uncertain when it comes to hearing 13-year-olds sing (anywhere other than school recitals/talent shows). But Carly tackled “Feeling Good” with such power and composure, it was easy to forget her youth and instead get drawn into the concepts of freedom and clarity that she was selling. Plus, she did it in a pair of flats — a refreshingly unheralded twist in a reality-competition genre that seems to pride itself on making female contestants perform on stilt-like high heels.
1) Jason “Let’s Hear It for the AARP!” Brock: The walking embodiment of a hoot and a holler, Jason somehow managed to throw cocky zingers (“I have some talent, and I think this room already knows it.”) without every losing his everyman charn. Sure, his twist on “New York State of Mind” was arranged in a very cabaret fashion, but his phrasing was immaculate — lending depth and meaning to every word he sang — and his pitch was darn near perfect. Perhaps that vision of Jason’s involving dancers emerging from the floor and an explosion of glitter at the end wasn’t so far-fetched after all. As L.A. Reid put it: “Your voice is a song’s best friend.”
Anyhow, now it’s tme to turn it over to you. What did you think of Episode 2 of The X Factor‘s second season? Did you spot any potential winners? Sound off in the comments, and for all my X Factor news, interviews, and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSleakTV!