X Factor
Auditions #3

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M. Giant: B | Grade It Now!
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Simon Says

Over-dramatic previouslies claiming that last week, "STARS! WERE! BORN!" And some were horribly aborted. But we skip past those, and go right to the teaser for tonight's stars...and tonight's black holes.

Steve is back on the road, in one of the X Factor trucks en route to Chicago, the home for the next round of auditions. He reminds us that it's also the hometown of Kanye West, Jennifer Hudson and R. Kelly. Kind of surprised they mentioned her when they usually go out of their way to avoid any word of that other show. People have come from all over the Midwest, only to be greeted with some pretty shitty weather. Steve re-explains the basics of the competition: thousands of auditioners, hoping for a $5 million recording contract, for which they have to impress the judges -- Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid and, in Chicago, Cheryl Cole. There'll be categories of boys, girls, over 30s, and groups. I'm still not comfortable with people in their twenties being referred to as "boys" and "girls."

The first act to try out is Brock, 18, and McKenna, 22, a couple of blonds from Springfield, Missouri. They met doing a musical four years ago and became best friends, and they get a nice, long interview talking about their chemistry onstage. Backstage, a PA asks if they're dating, and McKenna says, "Just friends," studiously ignoring the heartbroken look Brock gives her. Brock solo-interviews, "I love her, but she doesn't know it. I think one day she'll know it." Yes, I think that day is the day this airs, Sparky.

They take the stage and explain to the judges that they're friends, and that their moms are watching backstage. When Brock gets a little schmoopy, Simon asks if they're dating, and then the whole auditorium gets to see Brock make that same face. Yeah, I think McKenna knows. Anyway, they sing "Colder Weather" by the Zac Brown Band, and do a pretty good job with the ballad. Simon calls a halt after the first chorus, but the audience loves them. L.A. does too, telling them they made his day. Cheryl compliments their harmonies and vocal control, and Paula agrees. Simon says he's not a fan, but says McKenna's voice is "sensational," although I actually thought she sounded like the weaker of the two. Damn, now Brock's going to beat me up. Cheryl and Paula say yes, Simon takes his sweet time saying yes, and L.A. makes it unanimous. So, starting on an up note tonight. Except for poor, lovelorn Brock, of course. And their long, awkward, Jim & Pam showmance is properly initiated from the White Box. Better be some kind of a payoff, that's all I can say.

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