When Simon Cowell left American Idol to produce a new Fox singing show, I think most of us figured it would be a bigger splash than what the X Factor USA has been for two seasons.
For the first season, Cowell tabbed American Idol friend Paula Abdul and original singing reality show girl Nicole Scherzinger to join he and producer LA Reid as mentors. For season two, he replaced Abdul and Scherzinger with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. Spears was a zero when it came to personality, but still, she’s Britney Spears damnit! Lovato played her role to near perfection, being the young and snotty little sister who would call Cowell on his stuff.
This season, Paula Rubio and Destiny Child’s own Kelly Rowland replaced Reid and Spears. Hey, if you can’t get Beyonce, get the next best thing. So far, so good with Rowland. So far, not so much with Rubio. But Lovato and Cowell have a ton of chemistry and they should be okay mentor-wise.
As for the hosts, the Mexican Ryan Seacrest, Mario Lopez is back, but Kim Kardashian’s less pretty sister Khloe isn’t. Khloe was an amateur who reminded me of when Cindy Brady got television-itis. And she reminded me of this every week. She was bad at her job.
They whittled down the competitors a little differently this season and I’d say it was more effective. There were 10 acts in each category of Boys (Paulina), Girls (Demi), Over 25s (Kelly), and Groups (Simon). Each category sang in front of the judges and their mentors had to cut from 10 to 4 in an hour and in front of all the contestants. That leaves us with 16 acts left and they have to be further whittled down to 12 tonight.
So will season three be any different? Probably not. Is the show on its last legs? Probably so. But I still enjoy it so we’ll be here for the entire season.
Ellona Santiago performed Britney Spears’ Till The World Ends and she hit notes that Britney will never hit in her life. It was an explosive start, but you could tell she was holding back, thinking she’ll get to the final 12 and save more for later. Danie Geimer‘s choice was Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball. Vocally, she was okay but you could tell she was nervous and the reason why that song works for Cyrus is because she call sell the hell out of it. Gemier didn’t have any of that. Rion Page picked a song by her mentor, Skyscraper and it wasn’t perfect, but she hit enough of the emotional moments to make it work. Khaya Cohen performed Mercy by Duffy and had a little flavor in her voice which made her stand out from the other three.
It was the right choice. Danie is awkward and probably really hard to work with performance-wise because of that. Awkward has worked on this show before, so maybe Danie could’ve been a fan favorite, but she would’ve been a tough sell.
Josh Levi went first Rihanna’s Only Girl (in the World). It was an attempt to make him hip and fun, but my man needed some Usher. Easily likable Carlos Guevara was next with Swedish House Mafia’s Don’t You Worry Child. It was hard to sit through as he strained. I didn’t like it until the end when he showed off his falsetto. Carlito Olivero smartly did Santana’s (and The Product G&B) Maria Maria and won over everyone. I don’t know that it was an all-star performance like the mentors gushed, but it was strategically very sound. But he’s prime for having a week where they want him to change it up and not do this every week. He’s going to be confused soon. Tim Olstad doesn’t have much of a future on this show. After Carlito’s energetic performance, Tim brought the boring with Bon Jovi’s Always. He has a great voice. But he has zero charisma.
From a vocals standpont, this was the right move. But unless Tim gets a lot of people to feel sorry for hims, he has less of a chance to be on this show for a long stay than Josh did.
Over 25s (Kelly)
Lillie McCloud made When A Man Loves A Woman sound new and yet classic at the same time. She might be my favorite singer in the entire competition. Jeff Gutt went with Pink’s Try, which was an interesting choice. He has this weird look of a guy stuck between trying to hold his youth and someone who looks too old to be doing so. His vocals were strong, but his rocker act is a bit stale. Rachel Potter, who was booed early on in the auditions because she let everyone know she wasn’t feeling well, performed Lee Ann Womack’s I Hope You Dance. She has a little bit of Dolly Parton in her voice. James Kenney was just as good as everyone else with Daniel Merriweather’s Red. He has more soul in his voice than Jeff and if I had to pick between the two of them, I’d take James every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
That was the hardest one so far, but I think Kelly chose the wrong cat.
RoXxy Montana had a weird performance. The church singing girls put on leather outfits and did Royals by Lorde which was a huge surprise and probably the best song choice if the girls were believable. I think they were good, but I’m not sure they were truly believable. Sweet Suspense which sounds like a late 80s high energy group performed I Love It by Icona Pop. It was fun and Spice Girls-y, but not dated. Alex and Sierra, who are cute as all hell, did Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines in a folksy way. It was cheesy, but Sierra in particular won me over. Speaking of cheesy, Restless Road, which should be the name of a bad soap opera, finished the show off with Katy Perry’s Roar; but twangified. I didn’t really like it much, but collectively, they do have a good sound.
I get it, even if I don’t like it or agree with it. Simon probably sees Restless Road as his countrified beefcake version of Il Divo. Sweet Suspense was my favorite of the four and I think the boyfriend/girlfriend duo is original. I don’t really like Restless Road, but they aren’t on this show for me.
Next week, the votes are in America’s hands.