[Ed. note: No running diary this time. I was judging a Battle of the Bands for WPOC in Hanover aka doing my best Simon Cowell impression, so I didn't get home until 8:40 p.m. I watched a DVR-ed version. The obvious good news of the night is the auditiions are over. The bad news is Boot Camp is next and that just sounds weird. On to the auditions (the good/interesting ones, at least):]
THE AUDITIONS THAT MATTERED:
The night's first audition is Brian Bradley, 14, and he does something unique. With a talk-to-the-hand attitude, he calls Simon out for "looking at his mom," before breaking out an original boom-bap rap ode to his mother. It has an old-school LL Cool J feel, and he wins over the crowd easily. He doesn't actually sing but the judges don't care. What show is this? Four yeses.
Cari Fletcher, 17, sings Heart's "Alone." Nicole Scherzinger points out Cari "beautiful," and it's true in the classic, American blonde way. She has a forceful delivery and her voice is strong enough to make it to boot camp. The potential is there (another thing Nicole points out — she's on tonight!), but Simon points out there's nothing distinctive about her, even calling her "boring." He has a point but compared to the other auditions we've had to sit through, her blandness was refreshing.
AusEm (aka 15-year-old students and friends Austin and Emily, but that just doesn't sound nearly as awesome as AusEm). We're subjected to one of the most awkward auditions ever, where L.A. Reid and Nicole point out Austin has star-quality but Emily does not. The look on Emily's face when she hears this is just heart-shattering. AusEm had the support of the crowd so the cheers push the duo through.
Need to get a crowd on your side? Perform Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." Tora Woloshin, 21, was hip to this and her natural charisma and striking look (platinum hair, tattoos, huge boots) carried her when her vocals lacked. You could practically see Simon falling in love. "You turned the place out, girl," L.A. says. Four yeses.
The five-piece, all-male group Stereo Hogzz wore black hats with white "X"s that recalled the '90s' Malcolm X hats and DeGeneration X. That was the most interesting thing about their song (the performance was typical loverboy R&B snoozefest). They get four yeses anyway.
Twenty-six-year-old Brennin Hunt's ultimate goal is to "rule the world" but first he'll try out for "X-Factor." He's looks like a buffer John Mayer and Simon says he has a "brilliant voice." L.A. asks the ladies in the audience if Brennin is hot and they go nuts. I'm assuming Brennin will make it to the main auditions in November.
Jazzlyn Little, 16, is so nervous it makes me shrink into my couch. She sings Mary J. Blige's "I'm Going Down," and surprisingly channels Mary's soulful delivery. It's the first time all night I get goosebumps, so that's enough for me. The judges agree and she gets four yeses. It's not easy to do a somber song like that, but she knocks it out of the park. She appeared so sheepish, so scared to even look Simon in the eyes when he was talking to her. And yet: "You've got four yeses, kid," Simon says with a wink.