“The X Factor” aired its third episode on Wednesday night, and as Oasis once sang, “It’s Gettin’ Better (Man!!)”
The show is settling into a comfortable groove, and Wednesday’s episode was its best installment yet. The show found a good balance between gag singers (low) and actual, worthwhile auditions (high); wrestled some drama out of conflict between the judges; and featured some honest to goodness talent. Now is that so hard to do?
The most notable audition came from J. Mark Inman, a 31-year-old philosophy student who described his life as, deep breath, “an algorithm that is more in tune with, like, the algorithm for pi, where its irrational in certain respects.” Sure, we’re pretty sure Usher said the exact same thing at his first audition. Inman described his dream to “destroy” the Top 40, and then went ahead and presnted a crazy-creepy-electronic take on Radiohead’s “Creep” over a glitchy electronic track he produced himself. And did we mention he did it while basically doing the Robot? Somehow it all worked, and Inman seemed as shocked as anyone that he was being let through to the next round. Is he going to win “The X Factor?” No. But his endearingly dorky shtick was entertaining enough that it won you over by the time he was done.
Another big audition came from Josh Krajcik, a self-described “burrito slinger” with a grizzly beard and greasy hair, who wowed the judges with his version of Etta James’ “At Last.” Good audition, but I’m always wary of husky dudes who try to have too much soul. Drew Ryniewicz, a 14-year-old Justin Bieber fanatic, offered up a reinvented, downtempo version of Bieber’s “Baby,” but come on, she’s 14, she should be in middle school not chasing pop dreams. Settle down, Drew Ryniewicz. I did like Skyelor Anderson, a 16-year-old country singer with the best manners in the competition. If the X factor is manners, he wins! And then there was Tiah Tolliver, an OK-ish singer whom Simon Cowell believed in so strongly he was ready to fire Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger on the spot if they didn’t give her a pass. Scherzinger finally acquiesced (second Oasis reference of this post!), because who cares?, and at least it made for good drama. And more than finding America’s Next Big Thing, that’s really what this show is all about.