A 14-year-old Belieber, a philosophy graduate student with a robotic twist, and a judges’ battle of the sexes over a key-changing beehive-sporting singer added up to one wacky, weird and wild outing of “The X Factor” on Wednesday night.
Last week, it was Paula Abdul who nearly tossed her cookies after seeing much, much more of Seattle contestant Geo Godley than she wanted to, after he dropped his silver pants. This time around, though, it was Simon Cowell who lost his lunch after a disagreement over 19-year-old deli clerk Tiah Tolliver that led Paula to flip his snack bowl upside down in anger.
There were hints that trouble was brewing between the men – Simon and L.A. Reid – and their female counterparts – Nicole Scherzinger and Paula. Each time a pretty female singer or group hit the stage in tight clothing, Simon or L.A. would say under their breath, “D.O.A.,” short for dead on arrival. And it was the last contestant in Seattle branded with the tag that prompted an uproar at the judges’ bench.
It began with eye rolling from Nicole after teen Tiah hit the stage in tight jeans and a figure-hugging top, sporting cherry red lipstick, and tackling “Impossible” by Shontelle.
Simon was an early fan saying, “I’ve got a real feeling about this girl. I’m telling you, this girl has got something in her, I promise you. This girl, potentially, is great.”
Without accompaniment to keep her in check, Nicole chastised Tiah for being unable to perform the song in the same key, a position Paula supported.
“This girl was dead on arrival the minute she came on,” Simon said of Nicole’s note, words that inflamed the women on his panel.
A quick vote revealed Tiah had just two supporters – the men of “The X Factor” panel, angering Simon who chucked something on the floor.
“This is insane,” he said. “Seriously insane! You two are not giving this girl a chance.”
L.A. quickly convinced Tiah to perform another song.
So what happened? Paula stayed firm on her “No,” but Nicole changed her tune.
Afterward, as the judges discussed the audition, and Simon taunted her, Paula reached over and upended Simon’s snack bowl.
Beyond the first big judges’ battle of the season, there were a handful of highlights, not all of them for the right reasons.
One of the more unusual contestants to make it through (and, as host Steve Jones called him, a member of “Planet Paula”) was robot-inspired J. Mark Inman, a 31-year-old philosophy graduate student who performed his own version of Radiohead’s “Creep.” His kooky take on street dancing-style moves, a little air guitar and some nerd strip tease (he took off just a shoulder’s worth of his jacket), combined with his not-completely-awful vocals got him through to the next round, and a standing ovation.
“You are definitely in a different jurisdiction for sure,” Paula said. “I think I’ve visited there once or twice in my life… the places we could go together.”
Another intro package portrayed 14-year-old Drew Ryniewicz as having a major case of Bieber fever – squealing about her love for the Canadian teen heartthrob, and singing to herself in the mirror in her bedroom. But on stage, the blonde youngster went from wacky to wonderful with her unique take on “Baby.”
“That was so original,” L.A., who signed the Biebs, told the teen. “It was soulful, it was believable, and you are special.”
“The X Factor” returns on Thursday night at 8/7 C on FOX.