The X Factor Recap: The Secret Strife of These American Teenagers [Updated]

X Factor Carlos GuevaraI laughed. I cried. I seriously contemplated setting my television on fire.

Yep, it’s just another Wednesday night watching The X Factor, the show where every audience reaction shot looks like it’s coming from a wannabe actor feigning enjoyment rather than an actual human who’s digging the music. And yes, now that you ask, I was trying to bury that bit about being moved to tears under a blanket of bitchery.

What can I say? The story about Carlos Guevara — the kid with Tourette’s whose genuine talent trumped his backstory — gave me a case of the weepies. Or maybe it was just allergies. Yeah, it was totally just allergies.

Thankfully, Carlos wasn’t the sole bright spot, either! A few other hopefuls gave performances solid enough to have me looking forward to the next stage of the competition, while Chloe J and CJ provided the first unabashed bad-audition laughs of Season 3. (“I’m in Cleveland if you wanna come get it, daddy!” sounds like a tagline for a show that could easily lead out of Bad Girls Club or Double Divas.)

Anyhow, without further ado, let’s rank the seven folks who got “yes” votes from the judges (without getting glossed over, like that gorgeous black woman who was killing it for about 6 seconds of “Taking Chances” but never got ID’d. Hmph!)

7. Colton Pack | Were the judges so enthralled by the enviable fit of Colton’s tight pink Henley that they didn’t notice he’s got a vocal tone that’s about as pleasant as the Emergency Broadcast Signal? If nothing else, Colton’s forward march proves there’s not a single person on the Season 3 panel willing to voice even slight disagreement with the hive mentality. Of course, maybe Simon’s gushing praise — “I think right now there’s a market for somebody like you…I really, really, really like you” — was just a cynical way of saying, “If my old pal Britney is willing to lend me her Auto-Tune software, you’d look real purdy in a music video on CMT.” Which wouldn’t be untrue.

6. Josh Levi | The kid can carry a tune, but there’s something deeply disconcerting about watching a 14-year-old boy make a very practiced sexyface at Demi Lovato while singing “Come and Get It.” Um, come and get your Trapper Keeper, child, and go back to your 8th-grade social studies class! (And Simon, please scooch up the minimum age to 15 or 16!)

5. Jeff Gutt | I clearly remember Jeff from Season 2, but while Demi was right, dude definitely arrived with a glow that wasn’t in effect last yeah, his vocal on “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was about as enjoyable as the violently awful laugh track on freshman sitcom Dads. Not only that, I didn’t think Jeff’s spin on Radiohead’s “Creep” was all that much better. The odd pronunciations and occasional pitch problems, in fact, seemed to lie in direct opposition to Simon’s predictions that Jeff could be a major contender.

4. Brandie Love | Soft-spoken southern cutie showed good vocal control on “Up to the Mountain,” but her tone seemed too nondescript to survive the live voting rounds. (Yeah, I know, I probably said the same thing about Tate Stevens this time last year.) (Also, I probably ought to admit I’m still too recently obsessed with Kree Harrison’s sublime American Idol cover to fully embrace Brandie’s.)

3. Aknu | This brotherly trio needs to modernize their look — those pleathery tux jackets and Lisa-Stansfield-circa-1989-hairstyles did them no favors. But that can be ironed out by an interested mentor. More importantly, Aknu (ugh…the name needs work, too) impressed with retro-cool Bruno-Mars-on-uppers dance moves that didn’t sacrifice their tight harmonies on “Valerie.”

2. Carlos Guevara | I’m not a sucker for contestants’ tales of woe, which is why I appreciated the way Carlos didn’t spend his audition plucking the judges’ heartstrings like Enya at the harp. Instead, the kid got down to the business of covering John Mayer’s “Gravity” with an effortless charm and an appealingly gruff tone. Time will tell if he’s a one-track wonder, but I cannot lie: Carlos’ whispered “This is amazing” in the middle of the first verse did make me go a little misty-eyed.

1. Danie Geimer | Awkward 15-year-old had to endure Demi demanding that she remove her dumpy hat — the better for the judges to ooh and ahh and ogle and act surprised that she turned out to be really pretty. That unfortunate business aside — makeovers shouldn’t happen till the live rounds, people! — Danie definitely impressed with her rendition of Haley Reinhart’s “House of the Rising Sun.” There’s something world-weary and sultry about Danie’s voice that has me wondering if she might be able to put a more interesting twist on current radio fare. As long as the mentors don’t have her surrounded by Dangerous Liaisons dancers or drop her from the ceiling into a shirtless guy’s arms, she might have a real shot to take home the big prize.

And with that, let me turn it over to you. What did you think of tonight’s X Factor? Was the ratio of bad auditions too high? Who was your favorite successful auditioner? Take our poll below, then expand on your opinion in the comments!

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. @BWWMatt says:

    What about the odd audition by SYTYCD’s Mollee Gray and Jordan Lane Price and Stevie Steel from “All My Children”? I’m assuming it has something to do with this movie??

  2. Holly says:

    The girl with the big red camera was great!

  3. Matt says:

    What about the odd audition by SYTYCD’s Mollee Gray and Jordan Lane Price and Stevie Steel from “All My Children”? I’m assuming it has something to do with an upcoming movie called “Crazy For the Boys”?

    • Shaun says:

      Yeah…I was like,where have I seen that girl from?Then it clicked,the cute pairing from SYTYCD!

    • @BWWMatt says:

      Ok, apparently that wasnt Stevie Steel, but this was one of the most interesting flameouts on a reality show in a long time. They looked under rehearsed and u dee prepared, but I think they had talent.

  4. Annie says:

    The episode wasn’t boring like last week’s, but it wasn’t memorable either.

    I did feel like Carlos was doing an impression of John Mayer. I’d like to hear him sing a song by another artist.

  5. MB says:

    I really enjoyed tonight’s show. I think the talent is better this year. There are a few that are really good. I think on a whole it is a lot better than last season.

    • Bill says:

      It is better than last year. Too bad the show’s ratings don’t reflect that. The judging panel seems more sincere and sets a better tone, and there are a lot of enjoyable moments which is why I watch. Sure the shots of a parking lot of contestants is very AI (and 2002), I don’t like the wasting of time on bad contestants (also very 2002), and sure some of the contestants have had previous exposure BUT the overall tone of the show and the moments it produces is worth it.

  6. Kaba says:

    It doesn’t matter how much they take away from this show. If they don’t just take away the insane amount of scripting that goes with it I’ll never fully get comfortable with the show.
    It’s always the same “you look like a popstar” or “I think there’s room for you in the industry” line…over and OVER and OOOOOVER.
    I didn’t care for the boy with tourrettes, The entire ‘he walks in and is about to sing then makes a weird noise only for the cameras to pan back on his back story’ just made me walk away from the tv at that point. Then I cared not one bit for the vocals.
    And of course some country girl has to sing “Up To The Mountain” right after Kree on AI went and slayed it this past season so I just sat there judging every flipping note that escaped her mouth and had the most satisfied look on my face when she couldn’t even match Kree’s register throughout the song (still semi-stuck on AI mode…couldn’t help it).

    Then Jeffrey….I just thought his entire performance was all sorts of bad. Bad from the start, bad till a lot of the end…I just…idk maybe I didn’t hear him well enough cause many thought he was astounding on the second song…
    I thought he just managed to hit two upper register notes and was given a standing ovation…

    The only refreshing thing about that episode was Danie…but then I just wanted Haley to walk out of the shadows, take the mic and start singing it instead so that enjoyment lasted for a small amount of time…

    The moment the judges stop looking like they’re trying to find a diamond when they’re presented with a lump of coal…the better.

    • HTGR says:

      I liked the Up To The Mountain Brandie girl better than Kree I think.
      Yeah something about Danie’s version reminded of Haley (I could be wrong but I almost bet she watched the Haley season or at least has to have seen the performance) and then I did start thinking about Haley, but Danie was really good though.
      Yeah scripting but AI is every bit as scripted, at a minimum, so you can’t damn one with damning the other for that.
      I didn’t think that Jeff wasn’t all sorts of bad at all.

      • Kaba says:

        Kree sings it much better imo.

        Yes AI is scripted, but there’s something about Xfactor where it feels like they don’t even try to hide the fact that it’s heavily scripted. Frankly it feels more heavily scripted than all other shows.
        The 1st season felt so much more natural to me. Now it’s just like…no

        Idk why I couldn’t bear to listen to Jeff

        • HTGR says:

          Well maybe you could make that case vs the first season of AI certainly or even the first few seasons where there was manipulation but it wasn’t so jumping the shark that keeping it on the low and sort of hidden was OK.
          But I mean once AI got to S10 the scripting couldn’t possibly have been more extreme, it just went way over the top, and yet they still try to play it as if it is all 100% natural, pure reality, completely fair and honest. I find that be a very dishonest and abhorrent way to go about things.
          At least XFactor isn’t trying to keep it all on the down low and they kind of own it to some extent. And with the team vs. team you know it is to be expected. I’d rather it be in owned and in your face than like someone backstabbing you all the while being perfectly friendly and ever so polite to your face. The latter may feel better in a sense but it’s actually completely fake and worse IMO.
          So while I give them zero props for the heavy scripting I do give them plenty of props for as you say, like not even trying to bother to really hide the fact all that much. i can swallow that MUCH more easily.

        • S. says:

          I bet Jeff didn’t come in to sing “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.” I bet they made him do it, saying his song wouldn’t clear or something but this Aerosmith one has and does he know it? Of course it sounds terrible. Then they give him a chance to redeem himself and he asks to sing the song he originally tried to do (I doubt he was in on that, he’s not a good enough actor to fake the reaction he had to being yelled at. I think they were messing with him. Do they edit out the parts where the people complain that’s not the song they picked so of course it sucked?). Do they think we don’t know how they pull that stuff? AI loves to make people audition with another song they didn’t pick, they sound terrible or forget the lyrics, get slammed for not being good, then they end up on the highlight montage of people butchering that particular song. There’s enough drama about people trying to make it as singers. I don’t get the need to manufacture it.

          • HTGR says:

            perhaps. And now that I think about it all the back story stuff last year that they kept going on about seemed to help boost Tate up and knock some betters down, so yeah it is too scripted no doubt.

  7. dan says:

    You can almost feel them plotting to put together some of the boys to make the next One Direction. Which actually might not be a bad idea.

  8. Thea says:

    Though it thrills me that Jeff is back, despite a shakey first go (this time around anyway), I have to give this round to Danie. Freaking AMAZING. Between her and Simone, my Girls-With-Soul-loving heart is full to bursting. Now I just need a super solid girl group, and I’ll be content with this season.

  9. Steb Teb says:

    Is FOX paying people to watch yet? I’d do it for around $20/hour. At some point the math would work out. Otherwise, how could you stand to watch such a boring, rote show. I realize their budget was slashed for underperforming in the past two seasons, but you can shake things up on that moribund judging panel for free, e.g.:

    Only unanimous YES’es get you in to the next round and all judges must vote before the other judge’s votes are revealed.

    Or, only have a limited number of slots into the next round. Have the running total be known and watch the fireworks as they cut the very-good tier of contestant to hold out for the hopes of someone better.

    Or, Make all the joke contestants sing at once on the same stage at the end of the day’s auditions. The one that can get noticed through the din gets to the next round, everyone else goes home right away.

    Or, keep one of the judges identities a secret, have their votes and comments appear on screen (and simulcast on Twitter) build up suspense over the audition round by dropping very vague hints and reveal it during Hollywood week. Cheesy as it is, people might actually talk about this show. Oh, and be sure to have a star worth hiding (Don’t reveal the mystery judge to be Melanie Amaro or someone)

    But no, Lazy Simon has no time for even simple tweaks, he has cheques to cash, undershirts to wear, bad haircuts to get and his harem to inseminate. No time to invest in actually improving his product.

    • Timmah says:

      They could have saved even more money by cutting out at least two of the judges. Especially the Latina one who sounds less coherent than Paula on a bender.

  10. Ron says:

    I’m not sure why I still watch this show. Well, once more season/series premiers start in the coming weeks, I’ll be dropping X Factor. But anyway, Tourette’s kid wasn’t great. It was pretty much a poor man’s impersonation of John Mayer. He has potential to be good if he stops trying to sing like the people whose songs he’s singing. That country kid who brought his whole town with him…my oh my. Not good at all. He doesn’t have a good voice. He shouldn’t have advanced. It would have been kinda unfortunate to bring your town and then not advance, but he wasn’t good enough. And poor Jeff. I don’t know what happened between last year and this year, but this year was sad to watch. Hopefully he can get his vocals together. And I thought Brandi was good, but (aside from Patti Griffin, of course) Kree owns that song, and Brandi doesn’t compare to either Patti or Kree. All in all, not impressed. But holy freaking cow. Danie!!! She had that typical set-up of complete oddball and outsider who turns out to be good, so I was expecting a good performance. But when she said “House of the Rising Sun” I kinda rolled my eyes because I was thinking, ‘OK. You’ll probably be good, but that’s a big song. Maybe you shouldn’t be so ambitious.’ Man, I was wrong. She killed that song.

  11. dan says:

    Tonight’s contestants are kind of boring, at least in the first hour. And have all their votes been unanimous this season? I’m waiting for some dissent.

  12. HTGR says:

    I hope Colton Pack isn’t another Tate/Scotty type who might just soar to the top regardless of how much better others might do.
    Thrasher appeared to show a lot of promise although we didn’t really get to see much of her so it’s hard to really say for sure.
    The Vincent story was perhaps the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen on any of these shows ever, not one thing about it from the first second the back story to the end of the stage performance even began to fit together or to make the remotest sense. It was like watching a super model walk a mouse on a string leash down Venice Beach and then handing it off to Steven Tyler who then walks it back up Venice Beach while playing Happy Birthday on the panflute and then having the mouse shipped to NASA to oversee the launching of a rocket. WTF you say? Exactly.

    • jalahyacinth says:

      Bahahaha. I don’t even watch the X Factor and your description just made me want to look up that back story… Nicely done.

      • HTGR says:

        not just the back story though, everything (especially considering everything that went down right until the moment he gave his song choice and then started to sing), the whole thing every last second of it just made no sense.
        I mean he wasn’t crazy odd or dressed in weird costumes or anything freaky bizarre at all, so don’t expect anything wacky like that at all, I don’t mean he was that sort of a contestant, but it really just made no sense either.

        • HTGR says:

          a guy with more body guards and a larger entourage than any star, fending off hoards of crazed auto-graph seekers thirsting for the hard rap/hip-hop perfect pitch music hero who can barely get a minute’s work in at the bagel shop without his personal protection, who then has servants hover around and hand feed him before his stage performance and who then goes on on stage and rolls off a list of hard rap hip-hop names when asked about his strongest musical influences and who he patterns himself after and…. “For my song choice tonight, Leann Rimes” and then proceeds to literally miss every single note.

          • S. says:

            Do we know this isn’t a performance piece? I’m sure some people do that and just stay in character the whole time. Others are genuinely oblivious, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they were actors.

  13. HTGR says:

    I like the judges panel. Improved over last season.
    Simon is no change so that’s even.
    Demi is the same, liked her then and now, that’s even.
    Paulina has overall been weaker than Britney was during the auditions but she is coming to life a bit more now and the “arr, arr” thing was pretty hilarious tonight and she’ll probably be more lively than Britney was during the live rounds when Britney became to afraid to say much of anything at all while live (sometimes it can be tough for people under that much spot light).
    Kelly Rowland is like an infinite upgrade over LA Reid. And then toss in a few more infinities. She even has had a few Britney facial reactions hah.
    Of the three shows AI has been having the worst judges.
    The singing talent is showing some promise for the season I think, although the auditions can trick you, but there is certainly hope.

  14. HTGR says:

    It’s so hard to rank and basically impossible and when it comes right down to it basically senseless…. so here are my rankings:
    1. Danie Geimer/Brandie Love
    3. Aknu
    4. Jeff Gutt
    5. Josh Levi/Carlos Guevara (I think Josh has the greater potential though, he is still really young.)
    7. Colton Pack (will probably win the show)

  15. Alan Dvorkis says:

    I am watching X Factor New Zealand. The show is amazing. They show people singing. They show full auditions. They have judges who are not swayed by sentiment. They stick to their own beliefs. The show starts after 30 seconds. They do not waste time on, “Later on the X factor”, “Still to come on the X factor” etc etc. At boot camp they showed the entire performances of the final 60. It was done in groups but we still saw every note. They have intelligent, passionate, knowledgeable judges commenting on mostly talented singers. We do not have to sit through 10 minutes of turrets syndrome, on those who can not sing as those who can.2 songs and more than ten minutes of an annoying singer from last year, who did not make it. We have to hear about an entire town coming to watch their man. We see as much time devoted to those who can not sing to those who can yet we see about 2 seconds of what seemed to be good singers who all got “yes” votes, who obviously dont make it. X factor US manipulates and it does a poor job of it. I am done with the show. Shame because other X factors Australia and UK are good and the aforementioned New Zealand is terrific. Sad.

  16. Titina says:

    Loved Carlos Guevara! Such an inspiration.
    And honestly I just don´t like him because of his touching story, I like him because he has an incredible voice and amazing talent. Probably won´t win but I hope he goes really far.

  17. Kaba says:

    Can I just say that if anyone is having the slightest doubts about Kelly as a judge, please proceed to youtube and search Misha B, Amelia Lily, and Janet Devlin.
    All brilliant on the Xfactor UK.
    Kelly is the most refreshing judge I’ve ever seen on any reality singing competition.

  18. Mary says:

    I only saw a few of the auditions, I actually got bored and turned it off. I find it amazing that Simon stated to a few acts that they could go far, I must be missing something but I only cared for one or two acts. I think I have had enough of this show, maybe I will come back once the final contestants have been chosen. I cannot see myself sitting through these auditions unless absolutely nothing else is on. Hopefully the live shows will be more entertaining.

  19. Alex says:

    I liked Brandie and Danie. Aknu really sucked. Sounded bad, looked bad, had bad moves. UGH!

  20. Erin says:

    Carlos was my fave. Someone totally cut some onions in my house during that intro/audition. I’ve never cried to a John Mayer song, nor will I ever again!

    But AKNU was fabulous too. Loved their dance moves, so in synch, crazy. But yeah, agree that the name is dumb.

  21. JON says:

    I totally thought of Haley all throughout that House of the Rising Sun audition!

    • Terry says:

      yes, Danie did a spot on impersonation of Haley Reinhart, that’s for sure, too bad she didn’t give Haley a shout out, but I suppose even if she did that the X-Factor wouldn’t air it.

      • Kaba says:

        Boy the people on TVline are so horrifically biased toward anything regarding Haley.
        You speak as though this was Haley’s song.

        • Terry says:

          I never implied that at all. But it undeniably was her version of the song, so I really don’t think it’s “horrifically biased” of me to think she deserved a ‘lil shout out.

          • Kaba says:

            You shouldn’t think she deserves a shoutout whatsoever.
            How often do reality singing shows actually have someone do a completely 100% original cover of a song? How often do the people who covered the song the same way as they did get shoutouts?
            They don’t. Ever.
            And onto other facts, there’s not even and finite proof that this was something that Haley originally thought up in the first place.

          • Terry says:

            @Kaba, I posted a link to a youtube video yesterday but I guess tvline doesn’t allow that since they deleted my post. But anyway you can search Finlay Robertson singing House of the Rising Sun on X Factor New Zealand and you will see that you are dead wrong. She sang, and I quote, “Haley Reinhart’s version” of HOTRS for her audition earlier this year. She gave Haley credit, and deservedly so!!! If it was your favorite idol who sang their own original version of a song and Danie completely copied it, you would understand where I’m coming from.

          • Kaba says:

            Haley is my favorite person to be on idol. And I still don’t understand.
            Danie isn’t required to give anyone a shoutout for a rendition anymore than other people give “shoutouts” to other artists when they give renditions.
            Get over it.

          • Terry says:

            I never said she was, just that it woulda been nice and pointed out that you were dead wrong when you said no one ever does it. Over and out, cheers!

  22. Phonda Abbey says:

    carlos is my favorite.he has a very talented voice.he will go far,tourrents is not going to get in his way of his love of singing.all judges were very impress..carlos will go far for sure,my votes are all on him and rion page