BWW Recap THE X FACTOR Auditions - Episode 4
THE X FACTOR, FOX
It's the fourth episode of auditions on The X Factor. This episode starts off with some Charlestown, South Carolina auditions.
Andrew Scholz, an 18-year-old high school student, shows up in his huge truck. A football player and a pole vaulter with years of gymnastics experience, Andrew looks the athletic type and he knows it, but his dream is to be a singer. Kelly recognizes that he's a cute "corn-fed country boy." His voice is only passable in my opinion when he starts with Alex Clare's too close, but the girls in the audience clearly don't care. They already love him. Kelly agrees with me, telling him it was "a little bit karaoke." Demi senses his "appeal to the female audience" but tells him he's gonna "need more than that." Simon has a look on his face and I know he's not gonna let Andrew go because we all know Simon has a thing for exploiting good-looking teenage boys regardless of vocal talent. As predicted, Simon declares, "I disagree with all three of these girls" and is shocked that the girls would let someone with such appeal to teenage girls go this early in the game. He looks to his pal Demi for support, but she stands her ground and disagrees, earning her tons of boos form the audience. Simon insists that he try again, and Andrew sings A Little More You by one of my favorite groups, Little Big Town. His voice sounds much better, but I think it's still shaky. The female judges can tell that Simon isn't gonna let the boy go, and they all try a little harder to get into it. Simon absolutely loves him and afterwards Demi admits that "That totally changed everything." The judges let Andrew Sholz through and Simon gloats.
In New Orleans, we meet Blake Shankle, a 19-year-old from Mississipi with superstar looks. Apparently, this guy has people come up wanting pictures and autographs without even performing, because he looks like a self-proclaimed combination of Robin Thicke, Justin Bieber, and David Beckham with perfectly coiffed hair. Indeed. He wants to be a household name. Kelly is smitten immediately, but he delivers a weird vocal, trying Christina Perri's Jar of Hearts. He picks an awkward section of the song, and while he's not out of tune and has plenty of confidence (blowing a kiss to a relatively dead audience post-performance), the performance falls short. Demi calls it "theatrical", and he gets 4 "no"s. I almost feel bad for him, until he says incredulously afterward, "I would have never ever expected them to tell me no."
Then comes a series of awful auditions, including a girl who proudly states, "If Beyonce and Rihanna had a baby, it would be me" but delivers a terrible performance. Demi's response is, "I don't know if you could hear yourself, you probably won't want to," and Simon smirks, probably more than a little proud of his protégé's insult. A girl named Ashlyn emerges from a pink box that has to be rolled onstage, and another woman tries singing her audition in Piglatin. Right.
Back in Los Angeles, Paulina is sick, and she misses out on a sensational audition. Ellona Santiago seems shy and modest at first, but she completely pulls off a cover of one of my favorite songs, Wings by Little Mix! She has immediate command of the stage, getting Kelly's attention right away, powerfully strutting across the stage with ease. Simon is surprised, and he tells Ellona, "You are the girl I think I want to work most with now in this competition." It turns out, he kind of already has! Ellona had been part of a group in Season 1 that never made it to the live shows.
A montage of good, old-fashioned Simon Cowell sass comes next. Clip after clip, we see Simon insult everything, from auditioners' talent to auditioners' parents. But back in Charleston, we meet 14-year-old 8th grader, Stone Martin. He is totally adorable. Demi and Paulina are hilarious, imitating his Justin Bieber hairflip while he introduces himself. He sings One Direction's Little Things and sounds just as sweet as those British boys. Apparently the audience agrees, because although the biggest crowd Stone has played to before this was 6 people in his living room, several girls are already fangirling. I even saw some tears! The performance was good and you know Simon's gonna get in on this. He gets through, and he can't believe the praise he's getting from the judges, saying "oh my gosh" over and over again. Too cute.
Last but not least, we meet 24-year-old Ashly Williams in Los Angeles. She is sweet and confident, bringing her loud "posse" family with her. She dedicates her audition to her mother, who was murdered when she was a teenager. I like that when Simon asks her "What is interesting about you?" she replies with, "I'm working on it," and doesn't use it as an opportunity to use her mom for the sympathy vote. She sings Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. This stops me in my tracks. If a singer can pull this song off, she has me on her team. You can't get by singing this song based on good looks, charm, or likeability. You have to have a voice. And she killed it! I'm almost out of my chair, I'm loving her performance so much. Kelly feels me. Demi feels me. The audience feels me. Ashly starts crying, and I want to cry too! I love her humility and her dedication to the music. This is the kind of performer I root for. Ashley powers through to the end, no one cuts her off, and she sings the full song. Kelly's beaming, I'm beaming, Demi's crying, I'm crying. Needless to say, Ashly gets a standing ovation from the audience and the judges. Paulina was "captivated", Demi was "speechless," Simon sees Ashly as an affirmation of The X Factor as a whole, telling her, "This is why we brought the show to America, to find someone like you." Ashly's performance was by far my favorite audition of this season so far!