The X Factor Recap: Whole World's Upside Down

x factor kelly rowlandStop giving me White Castle and telling me it’s filet mignon! That, in a Styrofoam container, is my desperate message to Simon Cowell and his producing cronies at The X Factor.

Tonight’s installment — the fifth one focusing on the Season 3 audition rounds — was littered with mediocre vocalists who received lavish praise and occasional standing ovations from a judging panel that really should (and probably does) know better.

Don’t get me wrong: Demi Lovato brings a sassy charm to her role as The Voice of The Youth (TM pending). But I just cahhhhhhn’t when she stares down fit young guys whose grasp of pitch is as shaky as my 2013 “cut down on wine and carbs” resolution and yaps out critiques like, “You are so cute: I’m gonna say yes!”

And when the actual talent highlight of a two-hour episode is a formerly engaged duo spitting their peculiar (but super-catchy) dance track called “You Better Ask Me to Dance” — or maybe Kelly Rowland boogying down to/lipsynching said number — then you know you’re probably not on the journey to find the next One Direction or Leona Lewis (or even Tate Stevens).

But enough of my kvetching! Let’s instead cut to my ranking (from least- to most-promising) of the dozen or so latest folks to advance to the Season 5 “Four Chair Challenge.” (THAT NAME!):

12. Khaya Cohen, “Love You I Do”/”I Put a Spell on You” | Nope, her second attempt wasn’t really any better than her dreadful first. Did Simon actually invoke Adele and Amy Winehouse’s names? And is there a tribunal at The Hague that’ll have his tongue for such blasphemy?

11. James Kenney, “Summertime” | A catastrophic reimagining of an American classic — like throwing gummi bears on a pizza!

10. A four-way tie among indistinguishable snippet types, none of whom I’d ever want to hear again…
Celine Polenghi, “When You Believe”
Bree Randall, “Treasure”
Primrose Martin, “Nobody’s Perfect”
Summer Reign, “Impossible”

6. Emery Kelly, “I Won’t Give Up” | His voice quivered like a freshly shorn poodle on a January day. Adorbs — but his insanely tan forehead kinda freaked me out.

5. Tim Olstad, “One Thousand Years” | “Look at his hands [shaking]! He’s so scared!” exclaimed Kelly of this reasonably talented but wholly unremarkable fella. I hate to tell her, but that issue’s probably not gonna get better on live TV.

4. Wesley Mountain, “Wanted” | If he’d had an ice-cream scoop, he’d have put Kelly in a bowl and scarfed her down for dessert. (Sorry…I hate that sentence, too. But I’m not the one responsible for the creepoisie.) No denying he’s handsome with a solid vocal, though.

3. Second Hand High, “You Better Ask Me to Dance” | OK, so the chica’s voice was a little bit like the chick on Positive K’s “I Got a Man.” But let’s be honest: “I Got a Man” was The Jam Back in the Day (TM). And Kelly’s hips did not lie when she shook it like a Polaroid pictchah during “You Better Ask Me to Dance,” did they? (Of course not! Kelly’s hips put their hands on the Bible before every episode!)

2. Lorie Moore, “I Have Nothing” | If wearing football padding on the regular is her shtick, I could get with it. I mean, Gaga doesn’t ever wear pants and nobody judges her! Plus, Lorie’s solid vocals made me not totally hate the most overdone Whitney Houston song in the history of reality TV.

1. The Three Soloists Spliced Together Singing “I’m Going Down” | Each and every one of ‘em was powerful, emotive and distinctive — and therefore were relegated to no more than six seconds apiece. Le sigh.

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of tonight’s X Factor? Who were your favorite wannabes? Did you disagree with any of the judges’ decisions (i.e. Second Hand High)? Take our poll below, then expand on your thoughts 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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39 Comments
  1. Timothy says:

    I went to the Long Island auditions. I was in the audience for Khaya and Joseph (Lillie McCloud, too). Unless my memory is failing me, I thought Khaya sounded a lot better when I was there in person than what I heard tonight. Maybe there’s a little bit of truth to the studio vs. tv card that the judges love to pull. Either that, or you get swept up in the excitement of being in the audience and go tone deaf for awhile, which is entirely possible. All that being said, the positive comments and yeses for a lot of the contestants were baffling. I hope the season gets better, because tonight was pretty painful.

  2. Jo says:

    It’s adorable that Fox is still airing this.

    • Timmah says:

      They really need to cancel it and put it (and us) out of its misery.

      • Navin R Johnson Jr. says:

        I have this newfangled contraption with my TV. They call it a remote!!! That way I don’t have to be in misery. I can do something radical and change the channel.!!! Personally, I’ve enjoyed the show more than last year, but so far there’s no act yet that I really like. Maybe later in the season, someone will grow into it. I have the same opinion about this season of The Voice. Enjoying the season but no personal favorite yet.

        • Gramma says:

          Navin… I too enjoy the show.. not much on violence or nasty shows… so this is good wholesome entertainment… But… I have only seen one performance that really took me to the goosebump stage.. and that was Ashley Williams with her amazing performance singing “I Will Always Love You”………. She blew it out of the park…… AND she never made it past round one… go figure.
          PUZZE:…. the judges – all 4 gave her a standing ovation, then they give her the boot??????

  3. Laurien says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but after watching The Voice for the last two nights, X Factor failed in comparison.

    • Ashley says:

      My thoughts exactly. Because X Factor opts to also show the bad ones, it sort of cheapens it because you know half of these people have to know they’re not good enough for this show, so they’re there for their 15 minutes and the show allows it by airing them and making it seem like entertainment. Whereas The Voice showcases artists that don’t always go through, but it’s not because they’re BAD, it’s just because they’re not strong enough for how selective they have to be. It doesn’t go out of its way to almost outrightly make fun of people in the way that X Factor does.

      • GrumpyOleLady says:

        Ashley, these people go through several (minimum 3, probably 4) pre-auditions before Cowel et al ever see them. The producers know what they sound like. They”re put through because they sound that way. I know from personal experience having gone with someone when that person auditioned both for this and last years X Factor.

    • Mark says:

      I think part of the reason that The Voice has surpassed AI and left XFactor in the dust is because it doesn’t waste time on the cattle call auditions. The Voice starts out with 60-70 of the best performers, and doesn’t show the 120-150 marginally talented singers, nor the 1000s of untalented people who have no business holding a microphone. Ever. The early shows are more entertaining, and with the superior camaraderie of the panel it makes for a superior show. I don’t watch XFactor until the live shows start, and I don’t watch AI until Hollywood week (and that’s just for the Group Night train wreck). The Voice starts strong and doesn’t waste our time. Now, where The Voice loses momentum is in the Battle Rounds and Knock Out Rounds. By the time AI and XFactor get to live shows, we are seeing these performers every week. They go through more performances and have more opportunities to connect with the viewers. On The Voice, they appear once during the Battle Rounds, and then Once during the Knock Out Rounds. That’s two performances in 5-6 weeks. You forget who some of them are.

  4. asniech says:

    Ok, I know I’m exposing my lack of coolness here, but what is TM?

  5. Chablis says:

    Trade Mark

  6. Rich says:

    TM stands for trademark.

  7. AtoZ says:

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought Second Hand High did not get through,..Kelly liked the song, but I don’t think they got a “yes” vote, entertaining as it was…

  8. dj says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Michael. I don’t get it this year with the fawning over mediocre singers and giving them standing o’s. It’s like watching the Twilight Zone. And it’s so boring how the judges hardly ever disagree. And enough with the four big fat yeses. The you better ask me to dance number was the only fun part of the night.

  9. Angie_Overrated says:

    I didn’t even realize there was another season until I saw this headline. No kidding! Wow. Why?

  10. Anon says:

    “Stop giving me White Castle and telling me it’s filet mignon!”

    Hahaha. That’s should be TM’d….

  11. MDEP says:

    Looks like most of the better talent auditioned for The Voice this year. I really want to love X Factor because I love Simon, but this episode was painful. I could not believe the praise they heaped on everyone. Only the last solo audition was amazing.

    • Shaun says:

      there was plenty before this.Neither show has produced any talent of value(Although XFactor girl group seems to be in the ballpark).American Idol by far has built up a talented and successful roster.

    • Gramma says:

      Do you mean Ashley Williams… and her breathtaking performance singing
      “I Will Always Love You” -then- the gave her the axe before she even had a chance… I recorded that session.. and replay her performance for family and friends and we all have the same response… AMAZING… major goosebumps.. and even beings tears from the ladies.
      Why did they get rid of such a talented young lady??????

  12. rwfblog says:

    Shouldn’t there have been at least one person in the first 30 minutes who could sing really well?

  13. Deb M says:

    The talent on the Voice so far this season just blows away this sorry bunch. I cannot believe Simon thinks that any one of these people could be a superstar.

    • Gramma says:

      They sent the “Super Star” home…. still baffled by this…. Ashley Williams.. I replay over and over again her Standing Ovation performance.. singing “I Will Always Love You”…. originally by Dolly Pardon.. -then- Whitteny Houston.

  14. Kieran says:

    I hate this avuncular Simon. Doesn’t he know that every time he smiles, the ratings go down again! And I’m so glad that Michael made that White Castle/filet mignon comment. I was in shock when they were acting like Khaya was any better than your average high school choir kid! That audition, for me, is when X Factor jumped the shark. Seeing Simon give her a standing O proved that this show is no longer relevant.

  15. Lu says:

    You may want to check your facts. This is the 3rd season of the x-factor here in the U.S. not the 5th.

  16. Name That Tune says:

    Is anyone still interested in this thing?

    • Bous Stefanous says:

      Pretty much no. Several prominent recappers have dropped it. Ratings are in the Simon… I mean toilet, ratings are in the toilet.

      Its just a contractually mandated season before FOX can find a cheaper test pattern to fill time with.

  17. Mary says:

    I started watching waiting for Law & Order to come on, but seriously I couldn’t make it past 10 minutes. This show is no way entertaining and showing bad auditions is not the way to start a show and attract new people. Maybe and that is a big maybe I will give it a shot when it goes live, but too many other good shows are on, I cannot even see myself DVD it.
    Personally, Fox should put it out of its misery and make it go away.

  18. Alienate says:

    This was the worst two hours of TV that I have watched in years. I kept telling my wife I can’t take any more of this crap. She had to “talk me down” from deleting this show 3 times.
    The only saving grace is that it can’t possibly get any worse. But tonite my change that too.
    Thank God for The Voice!

  19. JIRARI says:

    The problem with the x factor is that simon has all the experionce in making stars ! so demi, kelly and paolina don’t feel confortable in saying their real thoughts ! But I got to say ” THE VOICE ” is the better show by miles !!

  20. Navin R Johnson Jr. says:

    Michael. I usually agree with you. But I don’t believe X-Factor judges are anymore over the top then The Voice coaches. Both shows have to put through their own form of cannon fodder but they can’t admit that at this stage in the competition.

  21. HTGR says:

    Second Hand High – weirdly catchy, sort of like a Kesha track
    and man Kelly sure danced to it. They do somehow just sort of hook you in even though you expect to be horrified and yet there it is everyone is dancing and singing to it the next thing you know. The whole bit after was kind of fun too. I sort of wish they had been sent through. Somehow by the end it had worked.
    .
    Everyone here is hating on Celine, but although not quite polished, there is definite pop potential there, I think more than with some of the praised Impossible singers, by the end.
    ,
    Lorie was pretty damn good. Wow. I was actually expecting here to be decent, but man not that decent hah and especially not with that sort of tone and voice.
    .
    Especially at the start, well after the disaster disasters part, they did seem to be sort of going crazy over some singers who seemed like the level of the best person at your high school out of a few local high schools and, certainly not bad, but not really seeming like the 1 in 10,000 types they made it seem like. Who knows maybe some could be in sound mixing for broadcast as some mentioned? Or maybe they just want to go crazy over 90% of all who get sent through? We haven’t even been shown a single one without four yeses getting through.

  22. Jim Welker says:

    When AKNU didn’t make it through, I pretty much lost interest in the show..X Factor! I feel girl Santiago and girl Ashley Williams have a chance…..especially impressed with 16 year old Santiago! Other than those 2….The rest are so so! I still feel AKNU was biggest mistake ever on a talent show, not making it through the groups catagory! Thanks…JW!

    • Gramma says:

      I’m wth you…. Ashley Williams I believe sang & killed the Whittany Houston song.. then didn’t even make it through the first round… What’s up with that… she was by far the best EVER!

  23. Lynne says:

    I think it’s terrible. They should listen to all the contestants and Then decide which 6 to choose.i know these contestants must be tough but they are yOung kids!

  24. Ginger Davis says:

    Simon truly exposed himself after not putting thru AKNU. They were easily the best of all contestants. I am tired of his pausing and that ugly little blink of his! He’s nothing but a jerk who manipulates the other judges. Back to AKNU….I think biggest mistake that creep ever made was not allowing viewers to see more of them. He’s a real beaut that Simon!

  25. JON says:

    I think it’s cute how they all told that Ricky guy, “It’s no… for now.” and “Come back.” Like the show is going back next season.

  26. Gramma says:

    I have been watching American Idol and X-Factor ever since they started.. and was truly upset when the young lady that sang Whitteny Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” got the axe…. I have replayed her singing that song.. about half dozen times now.. and truly get the chills, goose bumps, hairs stand on end… So… why was she really let go???? She was right on…very note hit to perfection. This really upsets me…..

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