The X-Factor USA settled on our television screens last night with a melting Britney Spears and a crying Demi Lovato. We were prepared for the most exciting season premiere of the decade and boy, did it deliver! We witnessed the birth of stars such as Paige Thomas, Emblem 3, Jillian Jensen, Reed Deming (might he be placed into a super group by Simon Cowell?) and the exquisite Jenelle Garcia. Last night’s episode contained vocal theatrics, creepy people and the crazed Britney fan thrown in for good measure. Let’s do a review y’all!
Johnny Maxwell, a 16-year-old singer from California, was first on the stage with his self-penned song “All These People”. Johnny pulsated “star quality” as he waited backstage for the judges to take their seats, zealously exploded onto the stage and screamed, “X-Factor how y’all doin’?” Was this a case of ego, or was this a case of making his mark on the judges? Johnny’s short on-stage interview with Simon Cowell proved that he understood ambition and his craft, which makes Johnny already a winner in our books. Johnny’s opening notes were slightly too reminiscent of an off-key Justin Bieber (hand it to the Biebs, he can churn out a good tune if he needs to), but he quickly picked up on the energy of the audience and blasted his way through his own rap song. His voice, clearly having been affected by nerves, came off as bland and completely insipid in certain parts. His rapping was catchy, but his vocals were completely off-kilter and he gave off an aura of Brit-pop during specific and noteworthy parts of the song. All of the judges gave Johnny a yes and 4 out of 4. We’re giving Johnny 2 out of 4, as we doubt he would be able to reach the same artistic value of his same-sounding predecessor, Chris Rene.
The next contestant of the night was the flamboyant and self-indulgent Jason Brock, a 34-year-old who did a cover of the seminal classic, and one of my personal favourite songs of all time, “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel. His personality was over-the-top and vain, but oh so exciting! Jason went from being an annoying loudmouth to someone who is actually perfect for the current pop industry, especially during his cutesy tête-à-tête with the judges. We doubt Jason lives in the same dimension as we do, but he is unusual and out of the ordinary, which eventually makes for a superstar artist (ahem… Lady Gaga?) Jason’s personality wasn’t the only surprise of the night, because as soon as his velvet voice opened Billy Joel’s hit, we were tossed off our chairs in shock. L.A. Reid’s face melted, Simon Cowell smiled and Demi Lovato’s smirk turned into awe-struck laughter. Jason’s voice bathed in familiar and bluesy warmth while his lower register dipped into the gravelly depths of pitch perfection. The judges gave Jason 4 out of 4, but we’re giving him an over-the-top 5 out of 5! Watch out for this one.
The last noteworthy contestant of the night was Carly, a 13-year-old girl with the oldest soul since the Dalai Lama. She did a cover of “Feelin’ Good” by Nina Simone and delivered on every single inflection and every single note. A 13-year-old with this amount of talent is why shows such as The X-Factor were created in the first place – in order to find and nurture these young prodigies. Her voice stripped down during the opening notes of “Feelin’ Good” and delivered each pitch perfect note with emotion and feeling. This is what music is made of. Carly did not do a cover of the song, but channeled something deeper and divine and delivered one of the most exciting performances thus far. All four judges gave her a yes and 4 out of 4. We concur and hand her the title of “Best Audition So Far!”
Stay tuned to Celeb Dirty Laundry for all the latest X-Factor news, reviews and spoilers. Bookmark us and join us on this magnificent X-Factor USA journey. Let us know in the comments below who you think was the best of the night.