Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” made its American premiere on Wednesday night, rolling out a host of singers — young, middle aged, and even, an octogenarian, competing for a $5 million prize.
For most of the first hour of the two-hour show, the auditions – in front of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid and British singer Cheryl Cole (whose exit before the second audition city, Seattle, is left totally unexplained on the show) and later — Nicole Scherzinger – featured decent, but largely unmemorable singers, with a few exceptions.
Those that did make an impression included 13-year-old Rachel Crow, who sang Duffy’s “Mercy.” Her vocals got the judges moving, but what was most impactful about the youngster was her plucky personality.
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Later, Siameze Floyd, a 30-year-old in tight, tight jeans, an aqua mesh top, and fond of James Brown style splits, also caught the judges’ attention, not for his voice, but for his moves, as he took on Rick James’ “Give It To Me Baby.”
“It was one of those where I was like, ‘Do I absolutely love this, and think it’s genius? Or is it weird?’” Cheryl said. “I don’t really know what the answer is.”
Rachel and Siameze were put through, as was Stacy Francis, 42, who claimed she was pushed around by a past boyfriend, put down and told she was too old to make it.
She made her impression by showing off her emotions while singing “Natural Woman,” which earned her a standing ovation.
“You are so gifted,” L.A. said. “You got what it takes.”
A number of singers were then rolled out with far less talent, including Geo Godley, a middle-aged man in Seattle, who removed his pants, apparently revealing nothing on underneath (his package was disguised by an “X Factor” symbol). As he sang an original song, Paula leapt from her seat and rushed backstage, where the previous sight of the man’s bare groin caused her to nearly loose her cookies.
Geo was a joke, but Marcus Canty, 20, was seriously good. The young man told the judges his mom had given him two years to try and make it before he had to get a real job, and his audition -– on the edge of that time frame — became the second one of the night to completely bowl over not only the judges, but the audience.
After an incredible rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish,” Simon likened him to Usher and L.A. compared him to a young Bobby Brown.
As the show inched closer to the end of its two-hour run, a trio of men known as The Answer, from Salt Lake City, also managed to show off their “X Factor” with their harmonic take on Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.”
Finally (and ending the show on a tearjerker) joining in the mix was 70-days sober trash collector Chris Rene, 28, who performed his own song, “Young Homie,” about his battle toward sobriety.
He captivated the panel, including L.A., who was clearly moved by the singer’s journey, his talent and his words.
“I’ve worked with some of the greatest hip-hop artists, from Jay-Z to Kanye West, and all of my boys, they would be proud of me today to tell you that you are the truth,” L.A. said.
“My favorite feeling in the world is when I sit in this chair and I meet a star for the first time,” Simon added. “There’s something about you… Maybe you need the show, and maybe we need you.”
Marcus, The Answer and Chris were all put through by the panel.
“The X Factor” continues on FOX on Thursday at 8/7 C.