Nino Munoz/ FOX
With the highly anticipated singing competition The X Factor making its premiere tonight, the competition between it and American Idol is officially on!
It's the audition rounds and the setting is in Los Angeles as 20,000 people show up for their chance to woo the judges and vye for the coveted Sony contract that guarantees $5 million dollars! Speaking of the judges, the show starts off with an epic montage of everyone's favorite record exec Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid and Cheryl Cole (more on her in a moment). The rules are laid out as follows: anyone 12 and up can compete, either as soloists or in a group. Contestants are split into four categories (boys, girls, over 30s and groups), with each judge mentoring one category. Then comes the systematic dwindling down of participants, with judges choosing who gets to go onto the live show where viewers can add their influence. So basically, it's like Idol with some extras.
First up is 13-year-old Rachel Crow. The ambitious young girl expresses her wish to be a singer and how this audition is the most important she'll face in her blossoming life. After winning over the panel with her attitude, charisma and talent, the adorable Rachel moves on.
Next is Terrell Carter, a man who could easily get any lady's attention. Fortunately for him, two are in the judges panel. His voice easily gets everyone's attention and he moves on. 14-year-old contestant Ellona Santiago also grabs the people's ears with her big voice and gets the nod to go forward. Another youngling by the name of John Lindahl (Justin Bieber?) follows suit and moves on as well. So far, so good.
In a similar vein to that "other" singing competition show (no, not The Voice), we get to see the not-so-talented contestants test their mettle on stage. Who's the first you ask? 30-year-old Siameze Floyd. The flamboyant singer appears to have the mega-star image he wants and the eccentric talent to back it up. After an unconventional performance from Floyd, he gets to go ahead. So things will be different from Idol after all.
The next day seems to pick up where Siameze Floyd left off.. performance wise, that is. Husband and wife duo Dan and Venita attempt to try their hand at auditioning and Simon gets to rear his ugly criticism, calling their performance "terrifying." Sounds like he's just getting warmed up. Another duo by the name of You Only Live Once got another jab from Simon, this time in response to the woman's voice He equated her singing to swallowing poison and they get the boot as well.
A college co-ed by the name of Simone Battle is in the spotlight next. Despite her raw talent, which could certainly use some polish (paraphrasing) according to Cheryl, and some long deliberating thanks to Simon, Simone moves through. She should thank that fierce personality of hers.
One of the more emotional moments came by way of 42-year-old Stacy Francis. The aspiring singer and mother of two from Brooklyn hasn't given up on her goal, a point that the judges don't overlook. Her determination and her phenomenal voice throws the crowd into a frenzy and her into the next stage.
The next brings us a new city, Seattle, and a new judge (like we didn't see this coming?). The show calls is a "big change." Anyone who's been paying attention knows that Cheryl was replaced by Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger due to her unintelligible accent. I, for one, was able to understand her clearly. Guess the producers figured most wouldn't. Moving on...
So they're in a new city, but the oddities are in full effect. Geo Godley is the first contestant to hit the stage with unparalleled atrocity. He gets appalled faces from the judges and then, just when you think you're in for another bad performance, the "Godley" one loses his pants which makes Paula Abdul throw up a little (a lot?) off stage. Geo obviously doesn't move on and lucky for us, Paula returns after her bout of nausea.
A 20-year-old Marcus Canty comes up next and after seeing his back-story, performs. He captivates the audience and the judges and moves on. I suppose after seeing Geo, basically anything is a welcomed sight. Utah trio The Answer comes up next and not only do they sing happy birthday to Nicole (bonus points!), they also bring their cool rendition of Adele's Rolling in the Deep to move on to the next stage.
More baddies show and go until 28-year-old Chris Rene comes and ends that streak. He gets everyone's attention with his performance, with the judges bobbing their heads and a slight smile from Simon! Suffice to say, Chris joins the other talented singers as he moves on.
So there you have it. The X Factor's first U.S. show was good and something tells me that the battle between America Idol and this show will be one to watch!