‘The X Factor’ returned for a super-sized premiere event, and without getting to ahead of myself, I think we might have already met this year’s winner.
The X Factor‘s two-night season premiere continued Sept. 12, and although the second night didn’t have quite as many sexy grandmas as the first, it was still bursting with talent. In fact, it featured what Simon Cowell called the best auditions he’s ever seen on the show — including one young gentleman from Long Island who might just be the next Justin Bieber. Only taller and less Canadian.
Denver Auditions: A Mixed Bag Of Emotions
The first “yes” went to Riley Brown, 15, who performed ‘her’ version of Zedd‘s “Clarity.” She was pretty shaky at first, but then she got better, even to the point where Demi Lovato started to tear up. “I absolutely love you,” Simon told a super-excited Riley, adding that she’s “one to watch.”
Jeffrey Brinkman, 36, also got a “yes” in Denver with his raspy performance of Joe Cocker‘s “You Are So Beautiful.” He’s a very likable guy — his wife just had a baby, he runs a doggy daycare, etc. — but I’m not sure I trust that these judges know what to with an older male contestant. (Just asking, when’s the last time anybody heard from The X Factor‘s season two champ, Tate Stevens?)
The auditions took a brief break from Denver, and when they returned, things got super-awkward. Three sisters, who make up the group Roxxy Montana, took the stage and one girl was clearly better than her sisters. Fortunately, the got another shot with a church song and blended beautifully. (How awkward was it when Kelly Rowland was like, “Obviously, there’s always a lead singer.” Beyoncé, anyone?)
Long Island Auditions: Bad Boys Vs. Nice Guys
The next stop was Long Island, which brought us 29-year-old bartender Rachel Potter. I’m not sure why the judges kept bringing up her age — seriously, you’d think she had one foot in the friggin’ grave the way they talked about her — but I’m really glad she blew them away with her kick-ass country rendition of Queen‘s “Somebody To Love.” Forget Riley Brown; Rachel is my “one to watch.”
Then came 22-year-old ice cream truck driver Jorge Pena, who gave a very sultry performance of a Spanish song I wasn’t familiar with — which is weird, because I took Spanish for nine years growing up. He was a huge womanizer and everyone hated him for it, but they let him through for some reason. I don’t predict he’ll be around much longer.
Long Island’s own Simone Torres, 19, then served up a weird-ish rendition of Mack Rice‘s “Mustang Sally.” I honestly couldn’t tell if she did a good job or not, but the judges seemed to like her enough to put her through. In fact, they loved her. Simon even told her she had the best audition they’d seen thus far, which I thought was a bit of an over-sell. But hey, I’m not on the panel.
After a brief trip back to Denver, we were introduced to 19-year-old Al Calderon, the designated “Happy Birthday” singer and host at a restaurant on Long Island. With his “gorgeous” eyes — so sayeth Ms. Rowland — and smooth vocals, Al quickly won over the judges. But more importantly, he had the audience screaming. I don’t know what “it” is, but this kid has “it.”
The final “yes” of the second premiere night went to 41-year-old Denise Weeks, who blew the judges away with her performance of Whitney Houston‘s “The Greatest Love Of All.” Looks like she won’t be singing on New York City subways any more!
— Andy Swift
More ‘X Factor’ Season 3:
- Alex & Sierra Flaunt ‘Toxic’ Love On ‘X Factor’ Season Premiere — Watch
- ‘X Factor’ Judges ‘Blown Away’ By Rion Paige, 13, On Season Premiere
- ‘The X Factor’ Season Premiere: Sexy Grandma Lillie McCloud Stuns Judges