One-hundred-and-twenty “acts,” of whom we’ve met maybe a third, have advanced to the Boot Camp round on “The X Factor,” where the toughest challenge is not a demanding drill sergeant or an intense bout of physical labor, but the discriminating face of Britney Spears.
Britney has so far proven on this show that she’s a great judge, giving thoughtful, measured commentary to the contestants, and not being afraid of criticizing them. But her one downfall is that she can’t hide what she’s thinking when she needs to. Her eyes roll, squint in confusion, widen in horror. Her face puckers and twists, and her mouth drops open when she’s captivated. And she flat out just says she hates the black country singer Willie Jones. Definitely sign us up for a poker game with this one.
Not a show to drag out processes the way some other music reality competitions do, “The X Factor”s three weeks of auditions flew by in six episodes and now we’re already at Boot Camp at a swank hotel in Miami, where last night we revisited some of the more memorable contestants about one-and-a-half seconds at a time. There’s that boy band! There’s that little girl who’s amazing! There’s that slutty girl! There’s that other boy band!
The creepy weird style of the reality-TV-esque backstage drama continued, with some contestants having “casual” conversations with family and friends before heading to Miami, some talking smack about each other behind the scenes, some commiserating about how hard and scary and exciting this all is, and the judges sharing with each other their feelings about the contestants’ nerves or what-have-you.
Then there was the family support group, played out in the form of Justin Garza, an adorable 12-year-old who bombed his second audition and just wanted his mommy. Then we got to watch Justin cry into his mommy’s bosom for the next several minutes. It was all very sad and Rachel Crow-like and clear that 12-year-olds have no place competing for a $5 million contract in front of millions of people.
The “rivalries” this show tries to pretend are happening last night pitted Paige Thomas, the beautiful young mom, against CeCe Frey, the diva with the leopard spots on her face. Both prepared “I Will Always Love You,” and so LA Reid dubbed it a “sing-off.” But it was no sing-off. Though CeCe was better, both girls made it to the next round.
Is it just me, or is “The X Factor” trying to make every woman on this show look like a horrible diva/slut/bitch? There was CeCe, whom they portray as no one liking until she outperforms Paige and then laughs about it right in front of her. There was Jennel Garcia, whom no one looked at until she rubbed her hands in her hair and all over her body and danced like a stripper. Even the adorable and precocious 13-year-old Diamond White came across as overconfident and unlikable, starting off the night singing Whitney and agreeing with the judges that her first audition was pretty stellar.
The weirdness of this show also extended to the format of the first day of Boot Camp, where each contestant had to sing solo, while the other contestants sat cross-legged on the floor of the stage around them. Their faces were mostly blurred out behind the singer—unless they were making some captivated, disgusted, emotional or crazy face. You know, like Britney.