I’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.
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!