9:26pm PT by Michele Amabile Angermiller
'X Factor' Recap: Gene Simmons' Daughter Sophie Auditions (Video)
It took The X Factor over an hour to get to the most hyped moments of the San Francisco auditions, but if you wanted the best, you got the best as Sophie Tweed Simmons, daughter of KISS founder Gene Simmons broke the Adele curse and unwittingly began a rivalry sure to be highlighted in the upcoming Boot Camp episodes.
Simmons, 19, already showed off her vocal chops on the Simmons family reality show, Family Jewels, singing “At Last” by Etta James at her parent’s wedding, but could she cut it in front of Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, L.A. Reid and a competitive Atlanta, Ga. vocal teacher?
You had to give 27-year old Tara Simon props. The vocal instructor, who called herself the “Simon Cowell of my studio,” echoed what many were thinking: would the progeny of the KISS bass player be given special treatment? In the reality show world, celebrity kids have an edge in auditions (see American Idol Season 11 for evidence when Jane Carrey, daughter of comedian Jim Carrey, made it to Hollywood Week).
Simmons earnestly stated her cause to producers, stating "I really just want to step out from being in the shadows, of being the daughter of 'the guy from KISS.’” That may be tough to do, since the second she walked on stage, Lovato called her out for being the sister of Nick Simmons (the look on Sophie’s face was one of pure deflation).
When Cowell asked how her father felt about the audition, she answered, “I didn’t want my dad's help...My parents didn't know I was doing this until yesterday, and they're pretty upset with me."
So the big question remained-what kind of performer is Sophie? She’s not a rocker, that’s for sure. She even called Spears, “Ma’am.” Yikes. She performed Adele’s cover of the Bob Dylan song, “To Make You Feel My Love,” with a sweet tone that recalled Norah Jones, but didn’t exactly blow Reid away, who cast the lone “no” vote. Lovato needed more convincing, but was kind in her critique.
“I think if you just got a little bit more control, you could be really, really great,” she said.
What will be most interesting is what will happen if Simmons comes face to face with Simon, a woman who already believes she is a “star.” Simon is on a mission to take out Christina Aguilera on the charts, and had no lack of confidence in her theatrical audition of the David Guetta hit, “Without You.” Reid and Cowell believe Simon will bring the drama later, and it will be fun to see if she mixes it up with Simmons later on in Boot Camp.
Ah, Boot Camp. It feels like it is taking forever to get to that place, but the judges have already sent many good people there, mostly from Providence, R.I. Wednesday night’s episode began with Cowell arriving to work in that very city on a scooter, while Spears and her slightly sadistic manager, Larry Rudolph, tortured the poor judge’s assistant, Wade, with requests for straw hats and tiaras. That silliness aside, the show added more to the Boot Camp tally, including a 15-year old who may have just outshined Beyonce on her own song, a rejected singer from last year’s manufactured teen group, InTENsity, a young Frank Sinatra type (Nick Perelli) and a rap duo, One4Five, with a penchant for crazy eyewear.
The Greensboro, N.C. and San Francisco auditions were just as fruitful, unearthing Daryl Black, a 37-year old neo-jazzy father-of-five whose reinterpretation of the Gym Class Heroes/Adam Levine collaboration, “Stereo Hearts” drew two comparisons from Cowell to Nat King Cole and Michael Buble.
The show ended on a cliffhanger, with poor 13-year-old Trevor Moran awaiting medical help as he seemed to become very ill waiting for his audition while his mother held him in her arms. Hopefully things will turn out all right for Moran as the final rounds of auditions wrap up tomorrow night.
Dinah Jane Hansen, 15, Santa Anna, Calif., retold Rachel Crow’s Season One story of living in a crowded house with a twist--she lives with 23 people. Her audition of Beyonce’s “If I Were A Boy,” sang from the gut, impressed all four judges, particularly Reid, who said “it’s so tough to take a song from Beyonce and do it justice, but you took it to places Beyonce didn’t take it ... and you didn’t copy her.” He even predicted she would make the finals. Spears said “It felt like I made a connection with you the moment you started singing." Lovato said Hansen gave her “chills.”
Arin Ray, 16, from Cincinatti, Ohio is returning to The X Factor after the elimination of his group, InTENsity, last season. He said he felt “better, stronger than I was last year,” opting to perform an original song, “Count on Me” for the judges. Reid loved him last year, and the feeling was the same in Providence. Spears said Ray embodies The X Factor, Lovato said his “confidence is hot” and Cowell said, “you’re a different person ... great audition.”
Austin Corini from California is a cutie pie with spiky blonde hair. His mom is a worship leader (shades of American Idol Season 11 true believer Colton Dixon?), and he already attracts girls asking for autographs on their body parts. His performance of “Wanted" by Hunter Hayes was tepid, but the screaming crowd suggested a future star may be in the making. Spears loved his hair, and thought he was “adorable..the whole package.” Lovato wasn’t jumping out of her seat, but thought Corini was cute. Reid was spot-on when he said he felt like he had “seen a kid like this 25 times” and Cowell said he wanted more, remarking that the teen didn't give his all. “That was 18%,” said the caustic judge, who suggested Corini should take “more vocal lessons ... you want to be remembered not for your hair but your voice.” Nevertheless, he was put through.
David Correy, 26, is from Baltimore but adopted from Brazil. In a touching moment, the tattooed softee revealed a hope that his experience on the show “reconnects me with my birth mom.” His take on Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” revealed a lovely upper register, but Reid wants to help him with his lower register. It will be interesting to see how Correy and his “amazing stage presence,” as Spears called it, does in Boot Camp. He is definitely a guy worth rooting for.
Adonis and John, a diner owner and waiter from Connecticut whose idea of rapping “Hello” by Lionel Richie consisted of John mumbling, “uh” throughout the entire song. Was that his idea of a P Diddy imitation? It was unclear, but from the second the 33-year-old, self proclaimed “Greek God” Adonis hit the stage (sorry, honey, you are no Constantine Maroulis), The X Factor magically transformed into an episode of Showtime at the Apollo with plenty booing going on in the audience. Spears could hardly contain her laughter, and Reid hissed “the good news is you have a day job.”Lovato said she had “ever heard that song so good.” In the funniest line of the night, John stated “Eminem got booed off stage before he got famous.” Where was Scatman Crothers when we needed him to sweep these guys out the door?
Changyi Li, a 52-year old from China via Baltimore County. She spoke English, but we needed subtitles, just to be sure. She said she wanted to be a superstar like Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Michael Jackson, and came to the audition dressed like a USO nurse, or something, while she warbled the theme song from Titanic, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” in a way that would make Olive Oyl proud. This was not exactly a Susan Boyle moment, yet she kept singing long after the music ended. “If they ever remade the film, you could replace the iceburg,” said Cowell, as Spears grimaced “singing is not for you, start dancing.” Yeah, dancing. There’s an idea. Paging Paula Abdul.
Jaime. They’re so in love! They’re the new Sonny and Cher! People will feel their passion as they sing their original High School Musical -influenced gem, “Will You Be My Baby?” Ugh. Cowell called it “corny and cabaret,” and “if I was auditioning for a cruise line that would work.” As usual, he was on the mark.
To Sophia Harlow, who massacred the Black Eyed Peas, then blamed it on something that “came out of me.” Cowell: “It happened once before, in The Exorcist,’”
To Caitlin Dorgan “That was like a musical sleeping tablet.”
When Megan Stratton asked if her performance had “too much movement,” Cowell shot back there was “too much singing.”
“You sing like an 8 year old,” Cowell.
“You just destroyed it,” said Reid to one singer. Not to be outdone, Cowell continued, “It wasn’t a manslaughter, that was first degree.”
Watch Sophie Simmons below.