|Panda Ross on The X Factor. (Screen grab)
Things are always so promising in the beginning.
A panel of hopeful judges — in this case, Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato — scours the country for the Next Big Thing, handpicking a whackload of contestants and leading them to believe The X Factor will grant all of their celebrity hopes and dreams.
It's so sweet, isn't it?
For now, anyway.
We're only into Week 2, and already The X Factor judges are gushing over more contestants than we can count. Only one of them is actually going to win the $5 million — and perhaps even become famous out of this whole ordeal. But allow me to humour you anyway and run down the batch of hopefuls that came out of Wednesday's auditions episode:
- Rizzloe Jones is the blondest rapper since Vanilla ice. He steps up and freestyles a ridiculous track, but since he manages to include Britney's name in the lyrics, he's, like, totally, soooo in.
- CeCe Fry has black leopard spots tattooed on the side of her face. Oh, wait — that's just paint! Whew. I'm still not sure about that, or the fact that she is completely tone deaf while singing Unchained Melody. But wait — there's more! A rather fierce rendition of Christina Aguilera's Ain't No Other Man follows, and she's in.
- Vino Alan also has a tattoo on his face. Except this time it's real. And his soulful biker-blues sound is dug by all. He gets bonus relatability points for spending his spare time playing shows for the military. That is, when he's not raising his 15-year-old son. This year's Chris Rene? In!
- Tate Stevens is a countryman, through and through. He's from Missouri. He loves his family. And he's wearing an authentic hat. Underdog alert?
Perhaps, but Louis — the judge who's subbing in for an ill Cowell for part of the show — says he's going to be a star. And Britney gives him a “Holy cow, yes!” So he's — you guessed it — in.
- Diamond White is 13 — and she's this year's answer to Rachel Crow. Simon, of course, is all over it. “It's ironic that you sang this song It's a Man's World but you clearly proved that it isn't,” Cowell gushed. In.
- Ally Brooke looks like a mini Paula Abdul and sounds like a castmember from Glee. Her version of Jaci Velasquez’s On My Knees was ridiculously indulgent, and went on and on and on and ... etc. Apparently, that didn't matter, because she's ... in.
- Panda Ross, 42, is the contestant everyone will be talking/tweeting about, if only because she was named after the actual animal by her imprisoned mother, who gave birth to her while sharing a cell with a white woman. She's in love with Simon, and, after her soulful rendition of Sam Cooke's Bring it on Home, the feeling is mutual. She's in — but not before a quick trip to the hospital to get her breathing back on track. “Don't let Simon see this,”
Ross cries from the stretcher. He's seen enough already, Panda!
- Jessica Espinoza is from the wrong side of San Antonio. But lucky for her, there's nothing wrong with her version of Pink's Nobody Knows. “You have a sparkle in your eye that you only see in people that have The X Factor,” Lovato says.
Cowell adds: “I didn't like it ... I loved it.” Umm, in!
Up next: Auditions in North Carolina. And so the honeymoon period continues ...