“X Factor” auditions wrapped last night after two weeks, eight hours of footage, six cities and thousands of contestants. The first hour of New Jersey auditions was overwhelmingly disappointing — many winners, but most were little better than average. Finally, as the second hour crept along, Simon and co. found a few gems.
Within the first half hour, it seemed as if the judges had approved a dozen contestants, begging the question of just how many folks would move on to the next round. All of those winners were followed by an equal number of rejects, and it began to feel like the producers were packing the show with contestants to hide the fact that Jersey brought little talent to the table.
One stand-out star of the day was tattooed and quirky Tora Woloshin, who sang Jackson 5’s “One More Chance.” Simon told the talented performer: “There’s something about you, the minute you walk out. That’s why this show is called ‘X Factor’ — it’s more than just the voice, it’s something else.”
Video: Tora Woloshin’s “X Factor” Audition
She was followed by Jor El Garcia, a young man who couldn’t sing, but could definitely put on a show. He performed Madonna’s “Lucky Star,” dancing his heart out in the most disturbing and entertaining way possible.
Video: Jor El Garcia on “X Factor,” Sept. 29
And then it became the hour of the bizarre dancers: a 20-something male who described himself as “Katy Perry with some Nicki Minaj and some Ke$ha“; a grinding couple, Darlene and Sherone; and the over-rehearsed Stereo Hogzz, a Boyz II Men-meets-NSYNC quintet who spoke, sang and danced in unison. But they did it well, so they made it to the next round.
The episode’s next star was 26-year-old Jared Leto-lookalike Brennin Hunt, who was anything but humble. “I have the look and the voice — I’m the total package,” he said just before taking the stage, where he blew the skeptical judges away with an original song. Simon told Hunt: “I could work with you and I think I could make you into a great artist.”
Video: Brennin Hunt’s “X Factor” Audition
Leroy Bell, 59, moved on after singing “Lean On Me,” as did Nick Dean, a blonde teen destined to be the next adolescent superstar. The last laughs of the night were courtesy of Devon Talley — the contestant that wouldn’t stop — who kept singing “Seasons of Love” from “Rent” even after the judges had stopped the music, cut him off, and all voted “no.”
Video: Devon Talley’s Never-Ending “X Factor” Performance
The final “X Factor” audition was 16-year-old Jazzlyn Little, a self-conscious high school sophomore with no confidence and shaky hands. The judges weren’t expecting much, but she stunned everyone with the most powerful set of pipes heard all night, on Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Going Down.” All four judges loved her, and Simon told Little: “I’d like to see what you’re like when you’ve got confidence. You I believe could be a world star. You’re the one to watch, young lady, let me tell you.”
Video: Jazzlyn Little’s “X Factor” Audition
And with that one unbelievable performance, the auditions wrapped. Next week, the successful contestants will return for the “Bootcamp” level of the show, where contestants will be separated into four groups: boys, girls, over 30s and groups. Each judge will be assigned to mentor one of the groups. “X Factor” Bootcamp returns Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m.