The “X Factor” premiere was mostly focused on the positive, but let’s be clear about one thing. Nobody watches Simon Cowell to hear him say nice things about people. The audience demands the nastiness.
For Thursday’s episode, Cowell and the other judges brought back the snark in an attempt to turn a bland audition episode into something entertaining. It didn’t entirely succeed, but worked out better than most of the auditioners did.
After a debut that was mostly focused on the positive, we got two hours of mostly underwhelming and downright horrifying acts. Those promos for FX’s upcoming “American Horror Story?” Some of the performances could be on the soundtrack, starting with the first singer to take the stage in Miami. That would be Ashley Sansone, the starving-artist-but-not-really-starving-because-she-had-two-hot-dogs-and-chatted-nervously-for-what-seemed-like-hour.
“You were getting on my nerves when you were talking, but when you were singing I wanted to slit my wrist,” L.A. Reid told Sansone.
Welcome to Miami indeed.
The mother-daughter team known as Dreamgirlz (“with a Z!”) was notable for providing the footage of the family member backstage cursing at the judges for not putting them through. “You’re embarrassing your family,” another member of the backstage support told him. Maybe, but Dreamgirlz had taken care of that already.
Ashley Deckard said she hunts ghosts, but the spirits apparently weren’t on her side. Marissa Hopson was told, “You sing like a 3-year-old with a cold.” Chivalry, clearly, is dead.
Dylan Lawson was the big fake-out. He looked like he’d be the story of the shy guy who sold his truck to get the money to come to auditions only to blossom onstage. Instead he was the really frenetic act who flopped in his Lil Wayne cover. Literally.
But the meanest Cowell got was for the last auditioner, Zander Alexander. Alexander showed up with an attitude and talked back to the judges, always a great move during a job interview. However, Simon strung him along, gave him a tiny shred of hope ... and then dashed it by announcing he wasn’t good enough after all.
“Where you blew this is that you got the audience to hate you," Simon said. "The minute anyone criticizes you, you turn into a bitchy nasty diva."
Must. Not. Make. Obvious. Joke. Here!
Did everyone stink? Of course not. Though we did get the first mock-serious “wow, we’re really worried about how bad the level of talent is” conversation among the judges in Miami, a strange storyline considering we’re supposed to eventually wind up with a $5 million act. (We also got the first Paula Hug of a Crying Girl when she got up to comfort 16-year-old Caitlynne Curtis, so if you had “Miami” in that pool you win).
Melanie Amaro was probably the best, and the 18-year-old should stick around for awhile. Nicole Scherzinger said performances like Amaro’s “inspire me.” That’s a low bar, but we’ll take what we can get.
Rugby player/coach Caitlin Koch sang a very nice version of “Stop in the Name of Love.” Nick Voss was either really good or really fortunate to come after a big group of awful auditioners; we’ll find out which one as the competition progresses. Male soprano Jeremiah Pagan was very good.
Brendan O’Hara got Scherzinger’s heart beating faster. If that makes you think of the cougar storylines that “American Idol” is so fond of, this is totally different! Scherzinger is younger than the “Idol” female judges have been, so the jokes are totally different!
But Dexter Haygood was the most memorable of the successes, though not entirely in a good way. The 49-year-old “bar singer” at first annoyed Cowell with “Sex Machine,” but when offered another chance he did “It’s a Man’s World” and got pushed along. His chances of winning are pretty much zero, but anytime you can try and turn a bar singer into a $5 million man, I guess you have to do it.
What did you think of "X Factor's" second night? Do you think these contestants have potential, or were there too many duds in the mix? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.