The X Factor Recap: No TV Show for Old Men

jason brock x factorIf 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!

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. Confidential says:

    Dude! Read every xfactor article out there. Its an “OVER 25s CATEGORY”

    • Michael Slezak says:

      The official X Factor Web site still claims the category is “Over 30s.” Apologies if that’s incorrect, but I felt like I had to go with the official source:

      • Jon says:

        The rumors out there say its going to be
        kids 12-16,
        teenage/young adult 17-24,
        A group caterogy
        People 25 and over

        • greysfan says:

          Those rumours are crazy. It goes against the entire X Factor brand worldwide. Its always been

          Under 25 Boys
          Under 25 Girls
          Over 25’s

          I could see it changing but i doubt they would change the format THAT much. In theory it would be better as the age group is lower but i just don’t see it happening. Put it this way i will believe it when i see it.

          • billy says:

            Jon is right. Even which judge has which category is has been reported and is available with a quick google search.

        • Pearl says:

          I believe will be “Under 18” category instead of “Over 30” and the rest to remain the same. It would kind of make sense.

  2. TheLamma says:

    FYI, Carly Rose Sonenclare is a plant. She’s already signed to a talent agency. This is how Simon intentds to claw his way back out of the basement. By raiding Broadway for anyone that can belt out a tune and work for less than scale. Wait a sec, no, Carly is probably getting paid pretty well for her time even before she did, if she did, a stadium audition. She wouldnt be relased from her deal for any reason aside from a cut of the profits.

    See you in the finals Carly. Better hope that none of your fellow plants can play innocent more convincingly!

    • Stacey says:

      The Voice has plants ALL over the place. So the fact X Factor is making use of them is not surprising. They made it clear they were willing to expand the field to those with experience. Personally I loved Carly. It will be interesting to see if she can do more; even if she is a Broadway vetern. Lea Michele proved she can. We’ll see if Carly can on X Factor. None of the talent shows these days are playing with a pure of heart. Idol is more naivety, but even they will allow those with experience to audition.

      • JoMarch says:

        What are you talking about with “plants” on The Voice. The Voice makes no secret that the people on the show may have had experience or made records before, so they don’t fit the definition of a plant. You’re trying to defend X factor by maligning the Voice.

  3. iMember says:

    Wow, you’re incredibly snarky and a bit rude. A little snark is good, but it’s like you’re just hate-watching the show. Also, Carly Rose deserves the #1 spot on your list by the way. But my goodness, your recaps just aren’t fun to read at all. It’s kind of sad, because TVLine is actually a very good site for entertainment news and reviews. Not this though.

  4. Titina says:

    I am so over X Factor already. It just rubs me the wrong way.
    It´s like a freak show. I am glad I decided to watch The Voice last night. Much better show and also more genuine and talent oriented.

  5. Liam Tait says:

    I have to agree, I love Slezak’s reviews for Idol, Glee and Project Runway but I really feel like his X-Factor recaps are a real chore to read? Even with the worst episode of Glee he can find a positive but its like with Factor he actively looks for negatives in areas where he would maybe give Idol a pass? I also feel like he’s opposed to the kind of artist the X Factor is trying to create which makes the whole process feel a little damp to me.

    Still love you Slezak but I think I’m out for the rest of your X Factor recaps. See you in a few hours for Glee though!

    • FreeHaley says:

      I do get the feeling that he almost takes it personally that x-factor and the voice are trying to steal some limelight from Idol. He always judges the singers on the other two shows more harshly. (that said the amount of talent so far in the x-factor auditions has been awfully low, with some 2-3 obvious exceptions, Carly Rose Soneclar was pretty spectacular and basically a musical prodigy to pull of that song with that emotion at that age).

      • kcostell says:

        I prefer singers who aren’t being graded on a sliding scale and called spectacular because they can sing a song “at that age”.

        “That was amazing for someone who’s 13” is four words too long to hold my interest.

        • FreeHaley says:

          I thought it was better than the singers who were much older than 13 did too though.

        • ejones says:

          Allowing kids of 16 or less on these shows is wrong. There were two 13 year old disasters on XF last season who couldn’t handle bottom 2 and/or elimination. Even Alaina at 16 on Idol had a cry when she ended up near the bottom. I suspect the judges also have to extra careful with their critiques making it unfair on the older contestants who can take the full force of the criticisms.

    • Mary says:

      If what you say is true, he is not the only one who is opposed to the kind of artist XFactor creates.
      For me, I prefer someone who can sing live, without auto tune. It is okay to have bells and whistles but would I pay money to see someone live that cannot sing –NO!!!! I understand the it factor, but the majority of pop artist cannot sing their way out of paper bag. To be fair it is hard to review a show when 90% of what was shown was a joke contestant. It is sad that only 3 singers got through and 6 yesterday on three hours of television. XF will lose more audience if they don’t start showing talent.

  6. Annie says:

    I have a problem with the lack of good singers that have been shown over the past two nights, but I think that the biggest issue is that Jason and Carly aren’t going to be presented as legitimate contenders. I’m sure that we can look forward to Jason being treated like a joke.

  7. Ash Q says:

    I completely agree. I want to love the X Factor so so so badly. But, honey, you’re going to have to do better than two good auditions in an hour! (Johnny Maxell was mediocre at best)

    But I am enjoying it. Loving the judges, Loving their chemistry. Excited to see how this one pans out.

    • Tess says:

      I agree that they’ve been light on showing talent, especially tonight, and that could be a big problem going forward. I hope Simon and co. are back in the editing booth pouring over next weeks eps. and making sure they have more talent packed into them. Much as I like hearing Brit and Demi and teh boys telling people truthfully that they stink – I don’t want that to be the whole show. It’s as if they went to the extreme in response to everyone hating Idol’s “we love everyone even when they’re bad” approach of the last two seasons.
      All that said, I love the judges’ chemistry as well (I was skeptical going in) and I’m liking the documentary style to the auditions this year…but I’d like to see more of the people they are showing than just the snarky backstage comments. It’s cool to see all that but we need meat with the potatoes. I still prefer the XF format to The Voice. I find it funny how many people who love The Voice say that XF is so staged, when The Voice is just as staged and gimmicky. At least XF makes no qualms about being flashy.

  8. Jared says:

    Isn’t it ironic that the X Factor is getting bashed for things that Idol was (and still is) praised for doing for the past 10 years.

    And the same goes for Britney after only day one! She’s being bashed for THE EXACT reasons America fell in love with Simon 10 years ago! Short, sweet, and to the point critiques that are honest and what everyone else is thinking but too afraid to say.

    You people are so unfair and judgmental and just wanna be haters. Get a life.

    • FreeHaley says:

      Who is bashing Britney (now that is, granted many were trashing her and Demi before the show started airing)? All I pretty much see is praise for the job she and Demi and the panel have been doing.

  9. Steve says:

    Tired of the joke singers…the show is sucking without a host and there seem to be fewer and fewer auditions per episode and more sob stories than great singers and performers. Also for the overs category, it seems impossible. They’ve recruited the Idol swingbots and put them all in the first rows…Have you noticed? All the people they show are teen/tween girls who just ooh and ahh for the cute boy or teen girl. Simon seems to want a very young winner – whether they can sing or not- Wish a contestant who britney criticizes dares her to sing the song live…theyd but that out but it would be better than the demi autotune comment. And shame on them for cutting out so much of the brit cosinger story.

    • Sally in Chicago says:

      AI is still the best. I just hope that they don’t “reinvent” it too much and take away the heart and soul…which it seems it’s doing.

  10. Tim says:

    I can’t be the only one who thought that Jason looked like Adam Lambert in a fat suit.

    • Mary says:

      I thought he looked like a cross between Adam and Liza Minelli. That being said, I thought he did great. The sad part about it he doesn’t stand a chance in H.ll of winning. The truth be told I do not see anyone over 25 winning.

      • Tim says:

        Yes, and he’s going to have an even more difficult time because I’ve heard the “old” group this year is over 25, so he’ll be competing against people significantly younger just to get out of his group.

  11. Tony Cork says:

    Great recap!!

  12. RaineriRRC says:

    I had this impression from the previous recap and now I can confirm it: it’s almost like Slezak is criticizing The X-Factor for not following exactly the same boring format that Idol follows since the beggining. The show is trying to be different, which is refreshing, and although you may not like the format or the lack of performances, it’s weird to blame the show for not being a cliché.
    That said, I love the “documentary” format of the show. It’s new and its different, but I think they really should show more auditions. They obviously have more good people, but, like in the UK, they are wasting too much time with each candidate

  13. Sally in Chicago says:

    The XF is good stupid entertainment. Don’t take it so seriously folks!

  14. JC says:

    I wish that it was another 2 hour telecast because I wanted more seriously!!! I will be tuning in next week because of Britney and the auditions of course :))

  15. JULES says:

    Yup, it’s the same thing AI does. Shows mostly bad singers and we barely get to see any good ones until it’s time to start voting. I’m sure it will show more as the show goes on.

  16. marygrace says:

    A great recap as usual. Jason Brock is going to be one of my favorites!! Sings very good and was so fun.

  17. blingedup says:

    Glad to see the last few positive comments, because I was wondering if I was the only one enjoying XF. I’m loving it — finding it completely entertaining. Liked Michael’s recap too. People need to lighten up!

  18. Am I the only one that noticed during the exit interview/tyraid of the crazed brittney fan that the flowers he “gave” Brit where siting on a table behind him?

  19. Scout says:

    It’s just that it wastes so much time and there is no payoff. if I sit through the unbareably long nonsense, then I want to see more good singers, and a couple of great ones wouldn’t hurt either. Most seem mediocre, and the judges have no personality so they can’t carry the show like the Voice judges can. I will only watch if I am trying to fall asleep….

  20. Stormy says:

    This is the first year I’ve watched any of the Voice or X Factor. So far, I’ve been greatly impressed by Nicolle Nelson, and Trevin Hunte on the Voice. The X Factor seems to be a gathering of potential mental patients. Simon appears to have zero sense of occasion since he dresses as though he was going to wash his car [as if]. That entire show seems to be a really sloppy reality show rather than a legit singing competition. I’ve never seen what goes on after the blind auditions on The Voice, but that’s the direction I’m leaning.

  21. jaxguy says:

    X Factor is almost creepy this year. Unless they are dumping all the crap on us early it may get uglier, faster. If they don’t mishandle Jason Brock he could be a real contender. Say what you will his voice is superb and I think with more exposure on the show and proper guidance he will be terrific. Carly was shockingly good. But all I really want is another Josh Krajcik so America can redeem itself for the huge mistake it made last year by not making him the winner of season 1.

    • Stormy says:

      I didn’t watch it last year. is Josh the X-factor equivalent of Adam Lambert? Because that was a travesty.

      • Tim says:

        Yes, Josh losing was a travesty too because Melanie Amaro had zero personality, the exact opposite of what an “X factor” winner should be.

        • Mary says:

          I do not think anyone from last year had much of a personality, in fact the closest one to the xfactor was Rachel and even then I don’t think she stands out that much.

    • BarbL says:

      Josh has been working on his album, but I’ve heard nothing about Mel. As I expected. She didn’t exactly shine in her only single (or whatever it was), and she didn’t have a sale-able voice, from what I’ve heard.

      I think Josh is doing what he loves though–creating new and interesting music.

  22. Mara says:

    X-Factor seemed almost more scripted than Idol!
    So disappointing since X-Factor UK is so good!
    they focused too much on the ‘bad singers’ and it was painful since Simon had nothing funny/ sarcastic to say. So boring and badly put together. Why don’t they just do it like the UK version? It’s always heartwarming and funny! There are real characters on UK X-Factor.

    Btw what happened to the project runway recaps??? I miss them :(