Night two of ye olde "X Factor" brought us back to the fertile realms of San Francisco and Providence, where much Pepsi was drink'd and much talent was absent. Luckily, since the new season of "Glee" was premiering immediately after the episode, there was only enough time for an hour of mortifying attempts at singing from those deserving of restraining orders, which makes this the first occasion I'll ever feel grateful for the existence of "Glee."
A slimmer timeslot cut down on much of the obnoxious backstage drama and tedious contestant sob stories from the premiere, but it also, predictably, had an adverse effect on the amount of performances we actually got to see. And of the four, yes, four contestants who were given more than a minute of airtime, only two were actually good. Time well spent, right?
Once again, I've composed a run-down of the good, the bad and the ugly from "X Factor's" second episode, wasting time so you don't have to.
Jason Brock: "New York State of Mind"
One thing can be said for these talent competitions -- when folks are good, they're very good. And when good things come in unassuming packages, it's even better. Jason Brock was a 34-year-old tech support worker who dressed like a chubbier Adam Lambert, but blessedly, he had the voice to match. The coaches impatiently put up with him as he showboated on stage, describing the stage show he's already planned out for the day he makes it big, but it was clear that all four had already dismissed him until he opened his mouth. Though he overdid the vibrato as so many self-styled divas are wont to do, his voice was clear and pure and delicious, with a raspy depth that instantly had the coaches paying attention.
Coaches' verdict: A resounding yes x 4, with L.A., Britney and Demi giving him a standing ovation. Simon admitted that the audition was like being at Jason's concert, while Britney called it "magnificent." L.A. was in full-on gush mode, insisting, "You are completely flawless ... Your voice is a song's best friend, every songwriter wants a guy like you to sing their song." Demi said his singing made her fall in love with him.
Carly Rose Sonenclar: "Feeling Good"
This 13-year-old was cute as a button and precocious as hell, so as soon as she stepped out on stage and announced her song choice, Simon and L.A. began condescending to her about whether she'd practiced and chosen the song herself. Luckily, as soon as she started singing, there was no disputing her talent. It was possibly the best audition I've ever heard, certainly the best in recent memory from the latest rounds of "Idol" and "The Voice," since Carly had a depth and maturity to her tone that most adults couldn't replicate. Her control was impeccable and her runs were astounding, bringing all four coaches to their feet by the time she was done.
Coaches' verdict: Yes x 4, plus 4833 additional yeses from Simon. "Miss thang, you are a little diva," Britney swooned. "You may be 13, your soul is OLD. Remember this day: A star is born," L.A. insisted. Simon double-checked that someone older wasn't hiding behind the curtain and singing for her, but declared that she was a star. Demi said, "I want to buy your music right now."
Lexa Berman: "Too Close"
Tonight's resident bitch was a 22-year-old dancer with enough attitude to fill an arena. She was seen trying to intimidate her competition (a shy blonde called Paige Stroobach who we bizarrely never saw perform) in the check-in line, then strutted on stage like she was god's gift to music. Naturally, the edit had already clued us in to the fact that she was all-around awful, but it was nice to have confirmation when she opened her mouth. Her attempt at the overplayed Alex Clare number was flat and surprisingly lacking in personality, and Simon cut her off after the first verse.
Coaches' verdict: Yes x 1 from Simon, who inexplicably wanted to give her a second chance, 3 x no from the rest. Britney told her, "It was one tone the whole time you were singing, it was really boring." Demi called her unlikable. Simon compared her to "Jersey Shore" meets the Kardashians, and meant it as a compliment, but his vote wasn't enough to sway the others.
Patrick Ford: "Circus"
Yet another acolyte in the cult of Britney, this unnerving 20-year-old spent most of his time in the holding area creeping people out with his excessive Britney love, even going so far as to bring roses on stage for the singer. Britney, naturally, looked terrified throughout his audition, and even more so when he launched into a screeching rendition of "Circus" that lacked any modicum of timing, rhythm, tune or talent.
Coaches' verdict: No x 4. "I won't even bother you," L.A. said to Britney upon witnessing her traumatized expression, instead asking what the other coaches thought. "It was like you had an argument with Britney Spears, got drunk and decided to scream the song at her. That's how it came over," Simon said succinctly. Britney said nothing except for "no," which offended Patrick greatly, prompting him to challenge her, "Is that all you got for me, Britney? No?" He refused to get off the stage, staring at her with twitching intensity until Simon went and retrieved the flowers and Patrick made his pouting exit. She sure attracts the crazies, our Brit-Brit.
"X Factor" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
What did you think of the second episode? Who has been your favorite performer so far?
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