It’s back! Season three of the X Factor USA premiered last night (September 11) and a lot was different from the previous season. Gone were judges L.A. Reid and Britney Spears and in their places were Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio.
Also gone is the $5 million recording contract. Instead, this year’s winner will receive a $1 million prize and a record deal with Sony–much more reasonable when you think of the track record of previous X Factor winners (season one winner Melanie Amaro has yet to release her debut album).
While there’s a lot that’s different, there are some things that remain the same. Demi Lovato and Simon Cowell return to their judges seats and Mario Lopez comes back as host.
Hopefuls will audition for their chance to make it into four categories: boys, girls, groups and the over 25s. Now that we’re all up to speed, here’s a rundown of the season three premiere auditions:
Carlito Olivero: Carlito wants to be the Latino Chris Brown and to show the judges this, he decided to sing a song by Rihanna. He belts out RiRi’s “Stay” and gets the girls swooning. Honestly, it was just decent but he’s sort of cute and has a commercial look. Can you say pop star?! Simon thinks he looks like a real star and Demi thinks he’s Frankie J mixed with Trey Songz. He gets four big yeses to the next round.
Sally Hessnice: 55-year-old Sally says her singing makes people happy. In the words of Tamar Braxton: Lies you tell! Sally totally butchered Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.” Kelly wasn’t crazy about the vocals and Demi tried to be nice and said it just isn’t for the X Factor. All nos for Sally.
Lillie McCloud: Lillie’s a 54-year-old grandmother who doesn’t look a day over 35. And her voice? That thing does not suck! She sang “Alabaster Box” and tore the roof off of the place. When she was done singing, all four judges gave her a standing ovation. “Where you been?! Where you been hiding,” an emotional Kelly said. “Ripped my heart right out of my chest,” Demi added. This one’s easy: four big yeses.
Alex and Sierra: This dating duo performed an odd, slightly obnoxious folk version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Oddness and obnoxiousness aside, it was pretty awesome. Demi got chills and Paulina said they inspired her. They soar to the next round.
Rion Paige: How freaking adorable is Rion?! She’s sassy and strong despite a physical disability and partial blindness and she’s got a killer little voice. She performed Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” and completely moved the judges. Simon predicted that like Carrie, Rion would do great things in her life and career. She gets yeses across the board and moves on to the next round.