Night two of “X Factor: The Reboot.”
The judges are still in San Francisco, looking for their $5 million winner.
Is it 16 year-old student Johnny Maxwell – he of the Only Slightly Scary/Quietly Insistent Stage Mom?
Years of watching singing competition series has taught us that, if the kid’s a dead-ender, producers edit Mom to make sure she’s seen with bad lighting, bad dialogue, and throw in some menacing background music.
So, it’s looking good for Johnny.
“I knew since he was just a little baby boy this is what he was born to do,” Only Slightly Scary/ Quietly Insistent Stage Mom tells the X-camera.
Johnny is going to perform an original tune he wrote that he says is “basically about doing it big and not letting what anybody says that’s negative get in the way of your dream.”
Pretty complex, but Simon lets it go, telling him only to Take the Moment.
Johnny’s mediocre, but gets the crowd singing along with his catchy “do it big in front of all these people” gag.
The X-judges profess to be smitten. Two “cutes,” from new judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, one “amazingly accomplished” from LA Reid, and one “steel in your eyes” from Simon Cowell later, Johnny’s on to the next round.
Roll pre-audition tape of Lexa Berman, a 22-year-old sexpot in a catsuit from Florida. “I love showing what I have,” she tells the X-camera.
“You don’t have what it takes – it’s a tough, cut-throat world,” she says, trying to intimidate another female contestant as each waits for her turn on stage.
But, as we learned on Night 1 of this season, Demi-Enabled “X Factor” is a No Bully Zone.
“I love being under the lights,” Lexa continues, unaware of her doom.
“There is no plan B,” she says, then thinks better of it and changes that to, “or I’ll have to go marry rich into someone’s family.” And, why shouldn’t she take advantage of national airtime to get the word out?
On stage, Lexa lays the sexy banter on thick. Demi tells Lexa that Simon is single, but Simon, who apparently can dish it out but not take it, is too embarrassed to speak. Lexa fills the void by suggesting to Simon that perhaps “you can’t handle me.”
“You’re ‘Jersey Shore’ meets the Kardashians,” Simon says, recovering his manhood. “I like that combination.”
After just a few bars of Alex Clare’s “Too Close” -- she’s not awful, but not good – Lexa’s stopped quickly and Demi gets to deliver the news:
“The problem is that you came off as really over confident,” Demi huffs.
Simon isn’t going up against that, though we sense his regret. “You’re not the best singer in the world but I like your attitude. The problem is most people won’t like you,” he says.
And, as Lexa stomps off stage, Simon contemplates her backside. “There’s a lot of junk in that trunk,” he tells Demi.
Lexa’s followed by a montage of attractive wannabe X-testants without singing chops.
“Why is it that all the good looking people can’t sing?” LA Reid wonders out loud – another say of reminding everyone he discovered Rihanna.
And, this brings us to Jason Brock. If Adam Lambert were pear-shaped, giggly and exuberant, he would be Jason Brock, the 34-year-old tech support phone operator from San Francisco.
LA and Simon both look pained as Jason walks out on stage. Because, being the star-makers they are, they know every successful star in showbiz is as somber and stiff as a banker.
Anyway, Jason is taking no cues from these guys, and launches into a lengthy description of his ideal stage show. It starts with him entering alone under a spotlight, after which dancers descend from above, and then the stage elevates him – and glitter. He’s clearly thought about this a lot. Jason’s having a great time and it’ a rare, genuinely fun moment for a singing competition show. Producers better not be setting us up.
They’re not – he performs Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” with confidence, and gets a standing O from the judges.
“You were talking about this ridiculous concert which was never going to happen…and, you know what, we were at your concert,” Simon says in his first human moment of the new season.
“Flawless…Every song writer wants a guy like you,” gushes LA.
See you at the next round, Jason.
Patrick Ford is a 20-year-old ferret-faced cashier from New Hampshire. He’s come to stalk Britney.
So of course, the producers are sending him through to audition, in keeping with this season’s rapidly emerging story arc: How many creepy people can they throw at Britbrit before she breaks? On Night 1, it was some former duet partner who had slipped into has-been-dom.
Patrick prattles on in the holding area to other hopefuls about how people don’t admire and respect Britney like he does, adding, “I think she might be my sister.” He’s brought a large floral arrangement in a vase to present to her.
“This is a dream come true to even be so close to you,” Patrick says, while Britney strikes various cringing attitudes. In less than two episodes, we’ve learned Brit is able to express a whole range of emotions in the various ways she lets her mouth hang open.
Of course, he’s beyond terrible, singing Britney’s “Circus”.
All the judges say “no” to Patrick.
“That’s all you got for me, Britney, just a ‘no’?” Patrick says while tension builds as everyone mulls whether Patrick’s going to fling himself at the judges’ table. The slasher-movie-score music playing the background helps set the mood.
Patrick says he wants to give Brit the floral arrangement, which he had placed on stage. More tension.
Finally, Simon gets up to accept the flowers for her. Because, as with the previous night, the script calls for Simon to be ever the gentleman after throwing Britney in the way of clinging emotional cripples.
Backstage, a big cake is wheeled into the presence of the judges as a thankyou from the city of Providence, RI, to which the auditions have moved while we were distracted.
Simon scoops off a bit of icing and tries to shove it into Demi’s mouth, but she’s too fast for him.
Carly Rose Sonnenclar, a cute 13-year-old, is backstage with her doting parents. Her mom’s an artist; her dad’s a writer. She says she wants to be a superstar, but, from her, it comes across as girlish fantasy, not “overconfidence”.
On to the stage goes Carly Rose, and tells the judges she’s going to sing Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”.
Simon’s eyebrows go up. “Did you rehearse?” wonders LA, not believing this child is capable of scaling that mountain of a jazz standard.
Turns out Carly is another one of those cosmic jokes the singing gods like to play on the rest of tuneless humanity. Her performance is sure, and mature.
“Miss Thang, you are a little diva!” raves Britney.
LA: “You may be 13 but your soul is old!”
Simon jokes that somebody is behind the screen singing that song,” adding “A star has just walked out on that stage. “
“I’m obsessed,” adds Demi.
As a longtime student of singing competition shows, we know, sadly, those who audition with jazz standards have a .00037 percent chance of winning. But, for tonight, we’ll allow the producers to leave us with the warm and fuzzy feeling this kid could go the distance.