X Factor Recap: Putting the 'Lose' in Louisiana

The X Factor Andrew Scholz HotI’m a big fan of recycling — even with all the accompanying shame from the clanking of sauv blanc bottles down four flights of stairs every Thursday night — but in the case of The X Factor‘s third season, we may have reached a tipping point.

Pretty much every element of the show — save for Kelly Rowland’s refreshing mix of candor and sass — has the tired scent of “been there, done that”: The cocky hot guy who can’t really sing. Simon Cowell’s predictably dramatic “You don’t have four yesses…you have 4,301 yesses.” Paulina Rubio’s Britney-esque ability to be upstaged by an office chair. None of the four panelists having a difference of opinion. Ever.

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And now, as of tonight’s New Orleans-centric audition episode, even the contestants are retreads, not that Simon — the only mentor who was with the show when Ellona Santiago got emotionally pulverized as part of Paula Abdul’s pre-fab child group InTENsity (that name!) — was/is invested enough in the proceedings to recognize her.

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I mean, seriously, Simon’s not just a judge, he’s the freakin’ executive producer. And Ellona was a finalist — yes, an actual Top 12 contestant — only two years ago. And yet the poor girl was left asking, “Do you remember me? First season? No?” after igniting the crowd with a B/B+ spin on Little Mix’s “Wings”? SRSLY?

OK, OK, I could pull a Lionel Richie and kvetch all night long here, but instead, I’m gonna try to accentuate the positive(ish) and rank — from worst to best — the four folks who advanced to the next round tonight.

4) Andrew Scholz | High-school jock’s rendition of “Too Close” was as small and puny as his torso is broad and muscular. But, of course, when Kelly and Demi indicated they were going to vote “No,” Simon stamped his feet, asked for a second song, and then swayed everyone to vote “Yes” for a cover of “A Little More You” that was punctuated by stiff body language, multiple flat notes and a charisma vaccuum so pronounced I felt like 23% of my soul got sucked from my body and into the TV set to compensate. But whatevs — Hottie McPlaidshirt is through to the next round. Huzzah!

3) Stone Martin | No, I don’t want to see a babyfaced 14-year-old boy flip his hair back and forth and sing lyrics about a girl’s stomach and thighs while the camera pans to chicas in the audience more excited to see their faces on the teevee than having a genuine response to the middling music flooding their ears. Signed, A Cranky Old Man

2) Ellona Santiago | I liked the way the 16-year-old X Factor vet stomped it out during her rendition of “Wings.” She may not have been note perfect, but as Kelly noted, “Who is this person? She came out and she meant business.” Rated M…for MMMKAY?

1) Ashly Williams | Yeah, the juxtaposition of Ashly discussing her mom’s tragic murder to the maudlin strains of Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” had me prepared to dial 1-800-Just-Stop, but her rendition of “I Will Always Love You” had a gruff beauty, and was 90% in tune. Not bad considering she was fighting back tears in response to the audience’s zealous response.

And with that, let me turn it over to you. What did you think of tonight’s X Factor? Do you wish we’d seen more than four successful auditions in the course of the hour? Who was your favorite? 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. dj says:

    I can hardly make myself watch this year. Can we stop with all the pausing for dramatic effect? It really slows down an already boring show. Can we quit acting like homely boys who whisper-sing are on the brink of Beiberdom? The show seems as old-fashioned as Simon accuses some of the contestants of being. People are used to multi-tasking these days. Do they really expect us to sit through thid garbage?

  2. kelbir says:

    Why did they put that 14 yr old through? Why didn’t they tell him the truth that he has a mediocre voice and needs to really work on strengthening it before he decides to try out for a major talent show? How exactly does he have anything remotely resembling X factor? Why am I even watching this ridiculous show? Don’t answer that last one please!

  3. Olive says:

    Kind of feel bad for Michael Slezak and TV Line that they even have to cover this show in what is clearly going to be the last season. I stuck in there for two seasons (not proud of that) but when you can honestly say the best judge was Paula Abdul who got the boot, you know you have a clunker on your hands.

    • Salpax the Sarpinx says:

      You make me pine for the simpler days of L.A. Reid overselling Mar-Cuss Can-Tee.

      And Steve Jones, oh how I miss Steve Jones’s dour bellowing in the face of crying children. Where did he ever wind up? Did I.C.E. manage to find and deport him or is he holed up somewhere in Mary-Land? I wish you well Steve.


  4. Eric says:

    They have a lot of interesting things to come after next week, just wait and see.

  5. Dinah Reitman says:

    I think these comments are way too negative. There has been some very talented people who got through in the last two weeks, and isn’t that what the show is about? Tonight, I thought that Ashley and Ellona were amazing. The kid with Tourette’s yesterday was terrific, and brought everyone to tears, and Lilly, last week, is an amazing singer, who, at 55, decided that, having raised her family, decided that this was her last shot, and she wowed the crowd. There were also several groups that were terrific, including the 3 guys last night, who were a throwback to Motown days, but I loved Motown. All in all, I think this season will have lots of talent, and that’s what matters most.

    • Bill says:

      Agree! Sure there’s a few parts of the show that could use work. But overall there are plenty of good moments that pull it together and make it worth watching. I enjoy it and a good portion of the contestants.

      • HTGR says:

        It’s not like AI hasn’t been a completely made up farce either, but on this site, for some reason, for all the screaming and crying and hating it over that, in the end it still gets an automatic pass.
        You can even see how both writer here and many, well more than 50 percent, also automatically rate all contestants one third to two thirds of a grade higher just for being on AI than on the other two shows. Not to say that the XFactor overproduction might not get a bit out of control and this and that and so on, but not sure it’s unforgiven here and forgiven elsewhere.

  6. MariMari says:

    Ellona Santiago = Jessica Sanchez wannabe

    • BrazenSongBird says:

      Sure. And once upon a time, Jessica Sanchez was a Mariah/Whitney/Christina wanna be. They all have come after someone else. So that aside, what was your argument with her performance? IMO she has amazing musicality, has a strong, potentially great, voice, was in tune for most of the song, (I think there were about 4 blantantly bum notes in a live performance without an engineer), and got the crowd really going. I know Michael has the order as 1-4, but I would venture to set the bottom two at 5 and 4, skip 3, and give 1 and 2 to Ellona and Ashly, that how far above the cut they both were.

    • will says:

      Her tone isn’t as rich as Jessica’s but she was my favorite audition of the night, and I’m glad to see someone who is very much in the same vein and talent bracket as Jessica Sanchez. It shows promise for the season if they don’t ruin her with poor song choices, costuming, and staging.

  7. Kathy Butkovich says:

    We get it – Slezak doesn’t like the X-Factor. period. This show is no worse than any of the other singing competition shows. The only problem with these shows is there are too many of them and they are all the same ole same ole. But for some reason Slezak seems intent on despising everything about this show – I agree with Dinah – there have been some really good acts this year and the chemistry between the judges is a refreshing change from the disaster that was American Idol last year. And the Voice doesn’t do any better job of providing harsh criticism of contestants than this show does. Face it – the X-Factor will NEVER do ANYTHING right in Slezak’s eyes.

    • Tess says:

      Seems like there are a lot of bloggers out there who “reluctantly” cover the show but want to drag their heels and stomp their feet about the fact that they are – as if it’s the worst thing ever on tv, while over-praising shows like The Voice which isn’t any more original. I agree that the talent’s been decent this year and the judging panel is stronger than last season and it bugs me that so many people are just so bent to see this show fail that they refuse to give it even the slightest chance. Seriously, it’s not as bad as all the negative commenters want to make it out as.

  8. MB says:

    I am sorry but why do you guys watch if you are going to be so negative and tear everything apart. No the show is not perfect but neither is any of the other ones including The Voice. I think they are doing much better this year with concentrating on the contestant. I think no matter what they do you guys would rip it apart. There is some good talent this year but with all your whining you just miss it.
    Ashley Williams sent chills up and down my body she was so good. She sung that song better than anyone has in years but I guess not good enough for all you incredible couch singers.
    If you don’t like the show than stop watching and stop ruining it for everyone else.

    • Kathy Butkovich says:

      I agree!! Personally I think X-Factor has improved 100% and has some really good talent this year!

    • HTGR says:

      Agree. And you know, I bet she gets, if it were graded by everyone, a B+ average on this blog because she is on X-Factor (it would get an A- if she were on The Voice and an A+ if she were in AI haha).

  9. GrumpyOleLady says:

    We were standing in the torrential downpour in the initial (1st of 3 or 4) auditions in New Orleans, and there were hecktonloads more talented people there waiting in the sideways rain than showed on this evenings installment of auditions.
    Maybe the producers didn’t to show how one woman almost got swept over the railing on the ramp in the high winds and sideways rain–lucky for her one of the security people grabbed her by the pony tail to keep her on her feet. It took them hours before they opened the doors, and kept people outside waiting in that mess.

    I wanted you good people to know that there were a lot of talented people there that day, and to show only those who made it through to be joke acts are doing them all a disservice.

    • dj says:

      Thanks for that glimpse into the part we don’t get to see, GrumpyOleLady. I think the show would have been a heck of a lot more interesting if they had shown the ponytail incident.

      For all the people acting like it’s not ok to criticize the show, don’t be ridiculous. This is America. We have freedom of speech here. Go somewhere else if you don’t want people to express their opinions. I don’t have a problem with you liking the show. Why do you have a problem with me disliking it?

      • HaveANiceDay says:

        Its’s not that criticizing the show that’s wrong here, it’s just the way it’s being done here, where it seems Mr. Slezak, who i greatly respect as a critic, is adamantly slanted towards hating on it. For example, he said in his recap of the second episode that Kelly’s qualities as a fantastic judge (and I agree with him on her 100%) are being ‘wasted’ on the show and she should be on American Idol. In this case, instead of admitting the X Factor made a good casting decision, he simply complains Idol didn’t get her. In other words, X Factor shouldn’t try to get better by getting good judges. It’s okay to not like something, but to find a way to put a negative light on everything the show does right is unfair.

  10. nobody special says:

    PIG LATIN????????

  11. jeannie harris says:

    I enjoy the x Factor….but big mistake when they let Paula go.

  12. starship says:

    It’s awful, but still better than Idol which Slezak loves so much, at least the songs and performances are sometimes a bit more diverse and original…

  13. Sara says:

    You must get paid big bucks to trash every other singing show that isn’t American Idol. I guess people like what they like. I just don’t understand why people hate X-Factor so much. Two groups that were on last season have become quite successful, one more so than the other but they’re both doing pretty well. I love the show. I’d rather watch Simon and Demi help contestants rather than put them through unnecessary hell like Idol does.

  14. fromthegreyfort says:

    Somebody wake me up as soon as one of these shows coughs up a truly talented, interesting contestant with enough originality to keep delivering something fresh week after week. I used to love the original 21st century singing/talent/reality show-that-must-not-be-named, but now I’m just sick of the same ol’ same ol’ show after show, season after season. I’ll stipulate that most of the contestants who advance can truly sing, but they bring little else to the stage. And I’m no longer willing to be manipulated by the producers.

  15. Lana says:

    I am enjoying this panel of judges, though I wasn’t crazy about Demi’s mentoring I do love her judging and personality. I do like Kelly a lot and can’t wait to see her mentor. I like Paulina but don’t know enough about her so she is more of a wait and see. As for the contestants, they have only given us a very small hint of some that sounded like they may be awesome and made me hope we get to see more of them later, especially with the groups. I am enjoying this year a lot more than the other years and I for one am glad to see Simon still has his wicked side when he hears a bad singer, sorry but his insults crack me up. I agree with Michael that they put through some really mediocre singers but those guys will not make it through the finals unless a miracle happens and the 14 year old voice drops again and so on. I am so far a fan of X Factor again.

  16. Eric says:

    All I know is that they will be doing a lot of major cutting, and there’s no bootcamp or judges houses, they have a really interesting chair rounds coming up.

  17. CJ Smith says:

    The headline is really bothering me… Since when is there “lose” in Louisiana? Where is the E?

  18. HTGR says:

    Ashly Williams was ridiculously good. Nothing more need be said. Incredible voice PLUS super strong emotional connection AND great musicality. A real gem. Amazing.

  19. karen says:

    LOVE LOVE Ashley Williams…she did Whitney proud “I will always love you”

  20. JON says:

    I’d vote for Hottie McPlaidshirt if he becomes Hottie McShirtless by the voting rounds.

  21. Demi Lovato accused the contestant Primrose Martin of being over confident and BOLDLY revealed that she did not like it. I saw no evidence of overconfidence in this contestant’s performance or expressions to the judges. That comment was so rude and self-righteous.
    As for Simon Cowell, why didn’t at least one of the other judges stop him in his very cruel assault on the contestant? Simon, you can tell someone you thought their performance was absolutely awful without such nastiness. Having no respect for a performance is one thing, but having absolutely no respect for a human being standing before America, family and friends, after trying hard to do a good job is quite another.
    I erased the X Factor episodes that I had recorded and I will not watch the show again. I know I am just one person who was turned off about Primrose Martin’s treatment and my actions will be of no consequence to the show; however, I just cannot bear to watch the judges again.
    Demi, “Shame on you”. Simon, I hope that somewhere, somehow, someday, you get the same treatment that you gave to Primrose Martin.