12.5 million viewers tuned in for the U.S. premiere of
The stand-out performance of the night was college freshman Melanie Amaro (18), whose performance of Beyoncé’s “Listen” brought the cheering crowd and judges to their feet. Nicole Scherzinger was crying as she told Amaro: “This is why I do this — people like you inspire me.” L.A. Reid was equally enamored, saying: “Everything I walked away from to do ‘X Factor,’ you just made worthwhile,” in reference to the Island Def Jam CEO/chairman position he left upon signing on to the show.
Video: Melanie Amaro’s stunning “X Factor” audition
“X Factor” travelled from Miami to Dallas, where they found 49-year-old Dexter Haygood of Memphis. The James Brown-wannabe took the stage in maroon platforms and a bedazzled jean jacket, singing “Sex Machine,” but Simon stopped the “tribute act” and asked him to sing 15 seconds of a cappella. Those 15 seconds saved him, and the audience rose to their feet, cheering and shouting “Say yes!” as the judges hesitated. The former musician whose only belongings are “a car and enough clothes to wear on stage” got a second chance to make his music career happen, with a unanimous “yes.”
Video: 49-year-old Dexter Haygood’s audition, Sept. 22
A few more contestants were quickly approved, including hog farmer Kyle Corr (20), who was excited to be singing in front of an audience — rather than just in front of his pigs, and 21-year-old Caitlin Koch, a rugby coach who made “Stop In The Name Of Love” her own by turning it into a ballad.
The last contestant of the night was overconfident and argumentative Xander Alexander (27) who impressed Paula, not by his singing, but by his mocking comebacks to Simon’s questions. “Have you ever performed in public before?” Simon asked the clearly nervous singer. “Have you ever worn a shirt that isn’t gray?” Alexander snapped back, the banter continuing for a few minutes. In the end, Nicole said yes, Paula and L.A. said no, and as Alexander begged Simon to send him on, he was reminded that it takes three votes to get past the auditions. Simon told the heartbroken performer that he could have had potential had he not turned the audience against him — “The minute anyone criticizes you, you turn into a bitchy, nasty diva.”
Video: Xander Alexander auditions and bickers with Simon
The second episode of “X Factor” auditions ended there, and judging by the preview, there will finally be some epic Simon-Paula battles next week, when the show returns on Wednesday, Sept. 28.