The X Factor USA, the newest reality competition show on Fox, has done what it set out to do; it has blown doors off its competition. Though it is nearly identical to every other competition show, it is bigger, better, and more entertaining. I was skeptical in the beginning, wondering how it could be live up to the hype, but the combination of a broader age-range and the auditions in front of a live audience like in America’s Got Talent; judges acting as mentors to the performers just like The Voice; and the rigorous boot camp type audition process of So You Think You Can Dance help to give it the edge over its counterparts.
Another engaging element to the X Factor is chemistry on the judges panel. This past season of American Idol was weak and lackluster sans Simon, but I didn’t truly grasp just how much I missed him until this week when I watched the X Factor Boot Camp episodes. I hate to admit it, but his unique combo of confidence, snark, intelligence, brutal honesty, and, dare I say, sex appeal, is unparalleled. Then there is the beloved Paula who is seemingly off, or maybe back on, her meds and seems stable and more articulate than ever. I didn’t expect to like Nicole Scherzinger, but she is actually quite likeable, and even endearing when she tears up for the contestants. Finally, there is LA Reid, the Chairman & CEO of Epic Records who I had never heard of before. This guy is one cool cat. It is clear how he got to where he is in the world. He’s dynamic and charming, but will take no prisoners when push comes to shove. The four of them work well together and are all engaging in their commentary. I can’t wait to see them in the trenches with the contestants as they begin mentoring them next week.
The only weak link in the show production is the X Factor host, Steve Jones. He’s hunky, yes, but vapid and uninteresting. For the first few episodes I didn’t even realize he was a part of the show. I just thought he was a contestant’s family member until it dawned on me that he couldn’t be related to every single contestant. I hope he finds his groove one of these days, like soon, because I’m really pullin’ for him. Wouldn’t you?
After the first few weeks of auditions, here are some stand-outs, including my X Factor early favorites and early predictions.
The Good Lookers:
Here are my four favorite hotties of the bunch. Don’t think any of them will walk away with the five mill, but they’ll be fun to watch.
Caitlyn Koch—There is just something about Caitlyn. She can hold a tune and the mic, but can she hold our attention?
Brennin Hunt—He is beyond cocky, but certainly has reason to believe he’s hot. He stole Zac Efron’s head.
Cari Fletcher—Simon called her “forgettable” and I think he might be right. Nevertheless, she’s a beauty and has some pipes. Good combo!
Stacy Francis – In her first audition, when sang a pitchy yet powerful rendition of Natural Woman, she admitted that her former husband/boyfriend/baby-daddy had constantly belittled her, making her feel unworthy. Then at last week’s audition she announced that her father had passed away earlier in the week. Her performance was raw and brought everyone to tears, even herself. After she performed, LA Reid said to Simon, “Now that is pain.” Though I don’t think her voice is the strongest in the competition, she has landed herself a place in America’s heart and will be around for awhile.
Rachel Crowe—You won’t believe the voice and ‘tude that comes out of this young gal. Her version of Beyonce’s If I Were a Boy brought the house down. She spunky and makes for really great TV.
Tiger BudBill – Probably the least likely to win this competition based on his looks, age, and overall stage presence, Tiger represents a large section of the population and will have a lot of fans if he continues to pick good songs and listen to the judges.
Brewer Boys—I’m not a big fan of the bands but these guys are adorable and definitely have potential with their distinctive sound and boyish charm. Plus they’re from Temecula and practically my neighbors.
My Top Picks:
Josh Krajcik – He’s very well could be the love child of Joe Coker and Uncle Cracker. His looks don’t and his voice will make you swoon.
Melanie Amaro—She brought the audience to their feet and brought tears to the judges eyes with her rendition of Listen by Beyonce. Her voice is gold.
Jazzlyn Little—Dang, this girl can sang. And she’s gorgeous and likeable and only seventeen.
Leroy Bell—You can’t help but root for Leroy, the oldest contestant at 60 years old. His voice is like buttah, and so is his skin. You’d never know he’s 60 years old! Watch out for this guy.
Drew Ryniewicz—Drew is a mousy teenager who hearts Justin Beiber and shops at Forever 21. Her voice however, is soulful and beyond her years.
Chris Rene —Though his voice is not the best in the competition, this guy has been one of my favorites from his first audition when he nailed a original rap song written about his addiction to drugs and subsequent sobriety. I am pulling for this guy along with everyone else in America! Check out his first audition below. Not only will you be hooked on him, but I think it will also make you want to watch the show.