For the second audition episode we were suddenly back in San Francisco (despite having gone to Providence at the end of the previous show). My best friend pointed out while watching the show last night that he likes "X Factor" because it really isn't about finding the best singer. It's about finding the next pop star. And if you turn on the radio right now, you know that pop stardom has absolutely nothing to do with singing ability. People like Rihanna and Katy Perry dominate the charts, but have you ever heard them sing without AutoTune? Yikes. And yet, they are undeniably stars.
Johnny Maxwell, 16, is potentially similar in nature. He did an original song called "All These People." Johnny's got a whole lot of confidence, I'll give him that. As for the vocal, I wasn't impressed -- he was seriously flat. He was a decent rapper, though, and he had the crowd and even L.A. Reid into his banal song, which was admittedly extremely commercial. L.A. said that Johnny is exactly what this show is about. Demi Lovato talked about the swagger that Johnny has in spades. Thankfully Simon Cowell brought up the fact that his singing was weak, but he appreciated the "steel in [Johnny's] eye." Four yesses, and Simon told him that this is "his time." He is very of-the-moment, that's for sure.
Lexa Berman, 22, is a dancer, and surely heartbroken that "Rock of Love Bus" is no longer on the air. Lexa needs a hug, and for someone to tell her to calm down and stop trying so hard. She is a walking poster for low self-esteem. Simon called her "Jersey Shore" meets the Kardashians, and Lexa took that as a compliment. I sure wouldn't. The vocal wasn't terrible, but it was very nasal and the song was d-u-l-l. Britney Spears said that it was all in one tone, and boring. Demi called her on the overconfidence and the fact that she is basically unlikable. Simon wanted to give her a second chance. The others said no. Demi and Simon had another good father/daughter moment when Simon commented on Lexa's luscious booty, and Demi rolled her eyes at the old pervert sitting next to her.
There was a whole montage of attractive people singing poorly, which brought the best moment of the night: some little twink coming out to sing Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing," Britney raising her hand to stop him, and saying, "You can't destroy that song, sweetie."
Jason Brock, 34, is a flaming tech support guy who dresses like Liberace going to a funeral. Britney and Jason had a cute rapport, but Simon was clearly not having it at first. Jason regaled the crowd with his fever dream of what a Jason Brock concert would be like. I'm sure you will be shocked to hear that it ended with a glitter explosion. The good news is that Jason can actually sing, and like many of the gay men who try out for these shows, becomes possessed by the spirit of a large black woman when he performs. He's totally over the top - it's beyond cabaret. It's like cabaret at a New York City bathhouse in the 1970's. And his breath support is terrible. But that guy can sing. Demi loved him. Simon admitted to initially thinking he was delusional (jury's still out, Cowell), but then suddenly they were all "at his concert," and Simon loved it. L.A. called Jason a songwriter's best friend. The girls were all about him. Four yesses for Jason. He should be fun to watch.
Then we returned to Providence so that Pat Ford could terrorize poor Britney. Pat is a hardcore Britney Spears fan - he said meeting her was tantamount to meeting God (God: "That was actually me in the video for 'Toxic'") -- who seems...confused about what he's looking for in life. Britney looked deeply uncomfortable with Pat's entire spectacle, which involved coming out with a bouquet of flowers, being a weirdo, and then absolutely destroying "Circus." Pat was getting actually booed by the crowd. Pat needs better friends, because those girls who were waiting for him backstage really should have stopped him from humiliating himself on national television. That was vicious. Simon graciously took the flowers Pat brought for Britney, because Britney herself was obviously creeped out by the entire scene. This show is giving me a better sense of what it must like to be famous, and how shit like that would drive anybody to shave off their hair and attack cars with umbrellas.
Carly Rose Sonenclar is 13, and she has really sweet-seeming parents. Britney has an obvious affinity for children and pre-teens, which she showed again in her interactions with Carly. Carly did "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone, and she was effing incredible. Not only can she really sing, but she was telling the story and emoting believably. It was astonishing. Best vocalist of the season thus far. She's 13, and she had surprisingly strong stage presence, given the nerves she exhibited before going on set. Standing ovation from the judges, and rightly so. Britney called her a "little diva." L.A. said that her soul was much older than 13. Simon couldn't believe that Carly was actually the one singing that. Demi said she wanted to buy Carly's music right now. Not just four yesses, but according to Simon, "4,833 yesses," referring to the crowd.