‘X Factor’ Season 3 Premiere Part 1 Recap: Alex & Sierra Feel the Love

Alex & Sierra gave an impressive audition on The X Factor season 3 premiere

This week, The X Factor singing competition launched its third season with a two-part premiere (September 11 and 12) hosted by Mario Lopez. Show creator Simon Cowell and pop singer/actress Demi Lovato returned as judges, and were joined on the panel by singers Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio. During the televised auditions phase, singers are judged solely by the panel and need three “yes” votes to progress, but eventually each judge will be assigned a category to mentor (Girls, Boys, Over 25s and Groups), and the public will vote. Ultimately, one contestant will win a recording contract with Syco/Sony Music. Last night’s show (season 3, episode 1) featured strong auditions from Lillie McCloud, Carlito Olivero, Rion Paige, and duo Alex & Sierra.

This year aspiring contestants ages 12 and over auditioned in five cities: Los Angeles, CA; Charleston, SC; New Orleans, LA; Long Island, NY; and Denver, CO. Before we hear any of them, Mario Lopez introduces the judges. Simon Cowell states, “This year I would say I’m back in control”; Demi Lovato wants to find someone with that sparkle behind their eyes; Kelly Rowland is hoping to find someone with passion; Paulina Rubio is looking for someone unique, a superstar. Then, the first round of auditions begins, and we meet four serious contenders…

Carlito Olivero, 23, is a coffee shop worker from Chicago, IL. Carlito sings “Stay” by Rihanna, and his unique, expressive voice gives me goosebumps. Carlito gets so into performing for the audience that he moves closer to them, and winds up behind the judges table. Simon says, “I like everything about you, your voice, your charisma, I think you’re really good and there’s no-one around like you at the moment. I was looking at you and thinking, 'This kid looks like a real star.'” For Simon, it’s “a very, very easy yes.” Carlito’s voice reminds Demi of “a cross between Frankie J and Trey Songz.” Paulina tells Carlito, “I adore you.” Kelly says, “We are witnessing a star, Carlito, it’s an absolute yes.”
SCORE: Yes x 4

Lillie McCloud, 54, from Rochester, NY, has 3 children and 7 grandchildren. Lillie says she has always wanted to be a singer, but chose to raise a family instead. Lillie offers, “Even though I’m still searching the same dream, I would still do it the same way.” Lillie auditions with “Alabaster Box” by CeCe Winans, and she is phenomenal. Just a few bars into her moving performance and I’m cryng; at the end she receives a standing ovation from the crowd and judges. Paula enthuses, “That was unbelievable, lady!” Kelly asks, “Where you been? Where you been hiding? You touched with your voice and blessed us all, thank you.” Simon compliments Lillie with, “I think you have honestly, an incredible voice.” Demi says, “Oh my God, ripped my heart out of my chest… maybe your time wasn’t supposed to happen until now.” It appears though, that Lillie is a bit more seasoned than was revealed last night: today the internet is abuzz with the news that Lillie McCloud is actually Nicole McCloud, a successful recording artist with a string of hits in the 80s and 90s. We’re interested to see how that plays out.
SCORE: Yes x 4

Alex Kinsey 21, and Sierra Deaton, 22, are from Orlando, Florida, and perform as Alex & Sierra. They’ve been dating for two years, and decided to audition together because of their “special chemistry.” When Alex & Sierra arrive on stage, Simon immediately asks of they’re brother and sister, and Alex answers, “No, we kiss, so that would be weird.” They sing “Toxic” by Britney Spears, and they are fantastic: both have wide ranges, and they both sing cool, jazzy, spot-on harmonies. They get a standing ovation. Demi tells them, “I have the chills all up and down my legs.” She calls them talented, down to earth and cute, and says, “There’s magic.” Kelly says, “It’s beautiful what you two have.” Paulina gushes, “I love both of you, your vocals together inspired me. I believe in you guys, I believe in love.” Simon admits he thought it was going to be corny, but that they are “cool and quirky.” After they exit the stage he says, “I love them.” I’m with Simon, I love them too.
SCORE: Yes x 4

Rion Paige, 13, is from Jacksonville, FLA. Rion is a pretty teenager with rock star hair. She was born with a condition that makes her hands curve, and she is blind in her right eye. She performs “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood, and instantly draws the crowd in with her natural ability; she gets a standing ovation. Simon compliments Rion with, “I think you are, literally, extraordinary.” Demi says, “I'm so impressed right now and I cannot believe the struggles that you've had and how positive you are.” Paulina tells Rion, “Music heals everything; I’m honored to live this with you.” Kelly’s critique is, “I just witnessed passion, everything about you is so incredible.” Simon goes on to compare Rion’s audition to the first time he heard Carrie Underwood sing; he knew she’d do something special.
SCORE: Yes x 4

The X Factor premiere also has the obligatory parade of off-key singers, and what I call “Simon-isms,” like when he tells a not-so-great singer, “8000 dogs have tried to get into the venue.” In the midst of it, we get a new catchphrase from Paulina Rubio: with her accent, “pitchy” sounds like “peachy,” and all of the judges were saying it.

The X Factor airs Part 2 of its Season 3 Premiere tonight (September 12) at 8/7c on FOX

To read all of our X Factor recaps and coverage click here.

Photo © FOX/Syco

Posted on Thursday, September 12, 2013