Just call it Amateur Hour.
As the second week of the Four Chair Challenge unfolded, where 10 contestants from a team compete for just four slots, it quickly became clear that, like last week, there was sabotage going on. There’s just no way that this many finalists can be consistently off-key. Are the producers vetting these songs at all? Are they tone-deaf? It was like watching an amateur talent show at the local high school. Perhaps it’s a dose of realism, but it’s one that’s not very enjoyable in a two-hour serving.
Paulina Rubio and the Boys
One after the other, the Boys got onstage and slaughtered songs. Some made it through temporarily – like 19-year-old birthday singer Al Calderon, 14-year-old One Direction-obsessed Stone Martin and 17-year-old redheaded rapper Chase Goehring – only to get cut later when someone Paulina liked better came along. Some got their pink slips on the spot, like 15-year-old bow tie-wearing Isaiah Alston and 23-year-old bouncer/football player Isaac Tauaefa.
So by the time 24-year-old bundle of nerves Tim Olstad stepped onstage and sang Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” in a halfway decent voice, the crowd went wild. It was certainly one of the least aurally offensive performances of the night. When he finished, Kelly Rowland said, “You have such a recording voice; you had a wonderful moment.” But Paulina seemed to disagree, saying, “At the auditions, you had something special, but tonight, I don’t know if it’s special enough.” Still, she told him to “take a sit” (translation: “seat”) in one of the four chairs.
But his moment of glory was short-lived when 13-year-old Timmy Thames came out and put the rest of the Boys to shame by singing “The New Girl in Town” from the musical Hairspray in a smooth, silky, perfect pitch. Calling him a “little Michael Jackson,” Paulina told him to “take a sit.” Only problem, all four seats were filled – and before he knew what hit him, Olstad was out on his ass. As his name rolled off her lips, the crowd erupted in boos as the rest of the judges’ panel freaked out on her.
It became such a groundswell of emotion and the booing got so loud that at one point Paulina was drowned out when talking – causing her to rethink her decision and call Olstad back onstage. “I made a mistake; I want you back,” she said to the visibly shaken contestant. And with that, Calderon was sent packing in order to open up a seat.
But while the show made a big deal of Olstad’s ouster – even providing the hashtag #bringhimback for viewers to sound off on Twitter – the real tragedy was that Paulina later tossed the best performer of the night, Thames. If the Boys had any shot at winning the competition, it was this kid, who Simon Cowell called “the one.” What the hell, Paulina?
The real rub was that she kept 16-year-old Carlos Guevara, who’s a good singer but who suffers from Tourette’s syndrome – something that will probably seriously hamper his chances of winning. (Sorry, it had to be said.)
In addition to Olstad and Guevara officially making it to the next round, 24-year-old Spanglish singer Carlito Olivero and 14-year-old Josh Levi (who was the one who took Thames’ spot at the last minute) also made the final cut.
Simon Cowell and the Groups
Only four of Simon’s groups performed on Wednesday night – and all four took a seat (or a bench, as it was, to fit ’em all). And, again, it was like watching Amateur Hour.
Two girl groups – the 20-something, scantily clad Girls United and the super-young Glamour, both threesomes – provided borderline vocals while doing cutesy, choreographed dance moves. Meanwhile, the manufactured all-country “man-band” Restless Road fared slightly better, mainly because their vocals weren’t terrible. “Simon is a genius for putting you guys together,” Demi Lovato admitted.
But the real entertainment of the night came in the form of the LMFAO-like duo Wild Thingz, who sang the apropos “Party Rock Anthem” while running around the stage chaotically. There was crawling, jumping, swearing, screaming – and somehow it totally worked. At first, the four judges looked mortified, then amused. In the end, they all loved it, and Simon went against his better judgment and offered them a seat despite saying, “I don’t even think this is music, I think it’s unintentional comedy.” But if he can harness their energy, it could be a genius move – and just the thing the show needs to avoid being irrelevant and boring.
Tonight, the rest of Simon’s Groups compete. Until then, go Wild Thingz!
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