I spent most of Sunday at the X Factor auditions in Los Angeles. This was the very first day of auditions in front of the judges for X Factor in the US. As recently as 2 days ago, it still wasn't confirmed that Paula Abdul was going to be a judge. But I can tell you now that she IS a judge and it was so cool to see her reunited with Simon! The judges for X Factor are Simon, Paula, Cheryl Cole (a judge on the UK X Factor) and L.A. Reid (I can see why they chose him because he looks a hell of a lot like Randy).
We got there 3 hours early and it paid off because we had seats right up front in the center about 15 feet behind Simon Cowell. The taping took 3-1/2 hours and it will probably be heavily edited when it is aired in the fall. At the start of the show, hosts Nicole Scherzinger and Steve Jones went up on stage just to say hi and then disappeared. Since this was just auditions, there was nothing for them to host, it was just the judges and the contestants (and the 4,000 of us in the audience). My first thought on seeing Nicole Scherzinger was how tiny she is, she is about the same size as Paula.
The great thing about this taping was how long the judges spent with each contestant and how in-depth they got. They spent 15-25 minutes with each contestant. They would ask questions like, "what are the top 5 songs on your iPod right now?" and "where you do see your career in 5 years"? The judges also spent a huge amount of time critiquing them. Sometimes the judges would go around the table a second time to give even more critiques.
As for the contestants, it was a mixed bag. There were some standouts and some that were a joke. For me, the standout of the night was a 13-year old girl named Rachel Crow. This girl had an amazing personality - bubbly and outgoing, yet mature and articulate beyond her years. She sang Mercy by Duffy and was unbelievable! The applause during her standing ovation was deafening! Remember the name Rachel Crow! She's going to be a contender!
There was a group of 3 sisters called The Dalton Sisters who sang really well, but Simon homed in on the youngest and prettiest sister and said she had the best voice and that she should ditch the other two and go solo. He got a lot of boos, but the sisters agreed to it because the judges weren't going to send them through as a group. Simon asked the one sister to come back in 20 or 30 minutes to perform a song solo. The thing is, she never came back! I'm guessing they will have her perform at tomorrow's auditions and they will edit it to look like she came back 30 minutes later.
Some people I liked that made it through were Dani Knight, a very attractive blonde from South Africa who sang Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder and Lead," a 14-year old asian girl named Elona who sang a Miley Cyrus song and sounded like an adult, and a black girl whose name I didn't quite catch (I think it was something like "Nasia") who had an incredibly powerful voice that reminded me a bit of Syesha Mercado.
There were a lot of funny moments. Simon was at the top of his game and was very witty. There was this one guy that made it through who was like a Prince wannabe. After singing, he tried to kiss up to Paula and Cheryl by wishing them a happy Mother's Day. Simon, of course, was quick to point out that neither Paula or Cheryl is a mother. It was an awkward moment. The guy (whose name was "Siamese" - lol) tried to save it by saying "but they are both nurturers" - I was LMAO. There was another lady who came out and I thought she looked a little masculine, but when she opened her mouth, her voice was so low that it was obvious she was a transexual. Simon said, "is there something you would like to tell me?" She had no idea what Simon was hinting at, it was hilarious. I think Simon was trying to think of a way to bring it up tactfully in a non-offensive way, but he ended up just letting it go. She/he ended up getting cut. :) There were also two brothers who Simon didn't particularly like, and he said they reminded him of "Beavis and Butthead" - lol.
Another funny moment was when Cheryl Cole spilled Pepsi all over her pants (yes, the judges have Pepsi cups on the table like the Coke cups on American Idol). They had to stop the taping while poor Cheryl went offstage to get her pants cleaned.
I've been to a lot of reality show tapings - American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, Last Comic Standing, etc., but I don't think I've ever had as much fun as I did at this taping. It was a blast!