X Factor
Auditions #2

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More of the Same

And then we come right back to a blurry repeat of the previous scene, like it's a flashback to ancient times. Simon repeats his challenge, and Dexter takes so long that Steve actually has time to interrupt with a bit of narration and an entire clip package. Suddenly we're in Dexter's hometown of Memphis, where he's homeless, with nothing but a car and the stage clothes on his back. And then back in the Dallas venue, Dexter launches right into "A Man's World," and does it no-shit-for-real, impressing the hell out of the audience. It's good enough that Simon gives him way more than 15 seconds, and when he's done, he also congratulates him on taking the moment. L.A. says he's going out on a limb saying yes. Nicole agrees, and Paula tells him to come back as himself next time, but she's saying yes as well. Simon lectures everyone about this being the reason they have an audience (so they can threaten to mob Simon when he gets too full of himself, of course), and says Dexter has soul after all, and four yeses. Dexter heads backstage and gives Steve the longest hug Steve's ever gotten before moving on to the White Box.

Oh, apparently it's called the "X Factor Pod," which Steve says has become a "happy place" for other people as well. Like 20-year-old hog farmer Kyle Corr; cutesy 31-year-old teacher Hannah Morgan, whose audition had Simon in full leer mode; a 12-year-old named Ma'at Bingham Shango; and 23-year-old hairdresser Austin Simmons. I still think the creepy white background makes them all look like they're dead.

Then we meet a 21-year-old rugby coach named Caitlin Koch (pronounced "Cook"). Simon wants to hear all about the rugby playing, and then she sings a slow, soulful version of "Stop in the Name of Love" that impresses everyone, even me. Even she can't believe the audience's reaction. The judges all love her, so four yeses, even though Simon has started doing this annoying thing where he makes everyone wait for his at the end, after they've already gotten enough yeses to move on to the next stage. Got two hours to fill, after all.

More Dallas dream-porn when we get back, which is capped off by some guy shrugging, "Five million's a lot, but I'm like, when you're worth a hundred million? You know? I don't what them restricting my career." Probably little danger of that. This would be Xander Alexander, 27, who clearly thinks he's the shit. His idols are Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey before they "lost it," and he's a big diva to "the crew" about getting his name right. He wants to be "the next Donald Trump meets Martha Stewart without the jail time meets Beyonce without the ugly husband." So he's not asking for much. He talks about how people compare him to Bruno Mars because of his ethnicity, "Only my hair's not nappy and I'm not chubby." He's certainly the best at making people hate him, that's for sure. Which, from what I've seen all my life, is a vital quality for a lot of pop stars. When he hits the stage like he's already the star he thinks he is, he bickers with Simon about his name and his age, and flirts with Nicole, who wonders how Xander keeps his sunglasses balanced on the bill of his cap. "You'll keep wondering, too," Xander snots. He acts bratty some more and asks, "Am I gonna sing or what?" like someone's forcing him to waste time act like an asshole. He plans to sing "I Am" by Edwin McCain, which surprises Paula, because that's such a white-guy song, I guess. That just gives him a chance to be vainglorious some more. Simon asks if he's ever performed in public before. "Have you ever worn a shirt that isn't gray?" Xander shoots back. "No I haven't." Simon calls him Alexander again, and Xander calls Simon "Simone" and offers to take it outside. Simon calls him Alexander on purpose this time, giving him one more chance. "Shut it and start singing," he snaps. Xander keeps stalling, asking for a mic stand and whining about being nervous until even Paula is starting to lose it. Finally he starts singing the song, and I think he actually sounds great, as much as I hate him, but Simon stops him on the second line and says it's not working. Too much of a white-guy song, I guess. Paula asks him to sing another song, and after some more dithering, he comes up with something else that he manages to sing through his nerves. L.A. is on the fence about him, and Simon interrupts, suddenly calling him Xander and saying he likes him and wants to see what he can do. Xander's crying by now. Paula gushes about how great he is for sassing Simon. Nicole tells him to drop the attitude. L.A. says no, Nicole yes, and Paula no. Xander starts begging Simon, who says it's too late; he needs three yeses. Simon lectures him, "Where you blew this, actually, was that you got the audience to hate you by the end of the audition." He calls him a "bitchy, nasty diva" and sends him on his bitchy, nasty way. Looks like that's it for him and Dallas. See, people? This is what happens when you act like a dick. Okay, yes, you've been watching me act like a dick for seven pages, but the difference is I haven't been doing it to people who can make decisions about my life. I mean, as far as I know.

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