September 13, 2013 - 3:39pm
BY GIBSON JOHNS
Back for its third installment, the “X Factor” has revamped its judging panel yet again by replacing LA Reid and tight-lipped Britney Spears with Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio. Demi Lovato, annoying as ever, is back as the third judge and, of course, Simon Cowell remains the show’s anchor.
I’ll be the first to admit that the US version of the “X Factor” has never been perfect — it has yet to have a convincing judging panel, the production quality has always been questionable and don’t even get me started on its host situation (two words: Khloe Kardashian). But year after year as I watch how amazing the original UK “X Factor” is, I find myself keeping the faith that maybe the third time’s the charm.
After these first two episodes from the third season, it’s hard to tell how the new panel will compare. Demi is a lost cause. Simon is as egotistical as ever but he still knows (for the most part) what he’s talking about. Paulina is a wildcard, but so far she has yet to show any real emotion or say more than six words to a contestant. Kelly, on the other hand, is the shining star this year. She proved herself on the “X Factor” UK a few years ago and she’s the more informative judge on the panel this year by far.
Enough about the judges, though. Here are the acts from this week’s audition shows you should keep your eye on:
It’s rare on the “X Factor” that a pre-formed group comes in and shows serious potential to make it far in the competition. The boyfriend-girlfriend duo of Alex and Sierra more than proved their worth, though, during their version of Britney’s “Toxic.” They were fresh, down to earth and goofy, yet they had everyone believing in their chemistry and artistry.
Simone Torres is one of those contestants that you can’t help but love. In her pre-audition interview, she seemed like a socially awkward oddball who would probably give us a joke of an audition. Wrong. Even better than her smokey rendition of “Mustang Sally” was her geuinely shocked, emotional reaction to getting a standing ovation to the crowd.
54 year-old going on 35 year-old Lillie McCloud sauntered onto the stage in a full-body leather catsuit and afro and delivered the best vocal of the first two nights with “Alabaster Box.” Demi was surprisingly on-point when she noted that Lillie shares some serious vocal qualities with the late Whitney Houston — it’s kind of crazy. But really, HOW IS SHE 54?!
Roxxy Montana is a group of three sisters aged 20, 21 and 22 who are, similarly to Alex and Sierra, another impressive self-formed group. After struggling with a backing track, Roxxy Montana delivered a rock solid a capella church song with harmonies that very few groups will have the ability to rival. The youngest sister, Temperance, is undoubtedly the “secret weapon” (as Simon called her) of the trio, but they’re all talented in their own right.
New father Jeff Brinkman surprised with his honest performance of “You Are So Beautiful.” Kelly was on the money when she felt that he meant every word he was singing — something that we don’t see enough of on “X Factor.” His voice hits the spot, but he needs to work on stage presence, no doubt.
Rachel Potter is a bartender from Nashville who thinks we should feel bad for her because she’s competing with 15 year-olds for recording contracts. Whatever. Despite her confusing song choice (“Somebody To Love” for a country singer?), Rachel has one of the best voices we heard this week and it’s no coincidence that she shows signs of a Broadway star.