You know how shows like "The X Factor" are supposed to be about giving every little girl who ever sang into her hairbrush in Smalltown, USA, and every little boy who ever moonwalked across his living room in Hard Luck City a shot at realizing his or her dream? Yeah, well, they're also apparently about giving the progeny of world famous celebrities a chance to grab the spotlight, too – at least until the judges' goodwill runs out.
Remember Jim Carrey's daughter on "American Idol" last season? She made it through auditions and was eliminated during Hollywood Week. I imagine a similar fate may await Sophie Tweed-Simmons, 19-year-old daughter of Kiss front-man Gene Simmons and model Shannon Tweed, whose "X Factor" audition we saw Wednesday night.
Tweed-Simmons arrived in a chauffeured car, but apparently waited in line with the common plebes because, as she told her irritated folks, who said they might have called ahead for better treatment or at least gotten her some security, that's how she wanted it. Of course, if she really wanted to keep a low profile, she might have come without her father, whose presence caused a bit of commotion among the auditioning throngs.
But it wouldn't have done much good anyway. As soon as Tweed-Simmons, who said she hoped to step out of her father's shadow and make a name for herself, stepped out onstage, but before she sang a note, it was clear she wasn't just one of the crowd.
Demi Lovato apparently knows Tweed-Simmons' older brother, Nick Simmons, and immediately ID'ed her as "Gene Simmons' kid."
Asked how her parents, huddled backstage, felt about her audition, the privileged progeny said she'd basically sprung the idea on them the day before, and they weren't very happy about it. Then she sang a so-so version of Adele's "Make You Feel My Love," which made three out of the four judges (L.A. Reid was not terribly impressed) feel the love.
With a little more control, Lovato said, Nick's kid sister could be "really, really great," adding that there was "something special" about her. Britney Spears said she had an "amazing" voice. And Simon Cowell praised the way Tweed-Simmons had put her own stamp on the song. Reid, however, complained he "didn't quite get the chill bumps" he wanted. He was her only no, though Cowell followed his yes with a paternal-sounding warning: "Sophie, a lot of practice for the next part."
Backstage, contestant Tara Simon -- who also made it through, despite dissing Christina Aguilera (which seemed to please L.A. Reid) and threatening to unseat either Spears or Lovato at the judging table (which seemed to please none of the judges, least of all Spears and Lovato) – was seen asking another contestant whether she thought she'd have made it through with that audition if she weren't Gene Simmons' daughter.
"Probably not," the other contender admitted it.
Oh, well. No one ever said the X factor wasn't genetic.
Other interesting auditions (among many successful contenders) included …
Dinah Jane Hanson: This 15-year-old student from Santa Ana, Calif., lives in a house with more than 20 family members and is hoping to do them all proud. She digs deep into "If I Were a Boy," imbuing it with an impressive grit and growl. "You took that thing to places even Beyonce didn't take it," Reid says. "That was unbelievable." Spears felt "a connection," and Lovato got chills, predicting she'd buy Hanson's music someday. Reid also looked into the future, saying, "I predict that you will be one of our finalists." Four yeses.
Arin Ray: This 16-year-old from Cincinnati auditioned as a solo artist last year, and was put into the quickly eliminated Disney-esque kid group Intensity. Now more grown up and more confident, he's returned to make another play as a solo contender, singing an original song that sounded sort of monotonous to me, but apparently not to the judges. "I liked you last year -- I like you even more this year," Reid enthused, adding, "You embody X factor all day and night." Spears said Ray was "a true star." Lovato found his confidence "really, really, really hot." And Cowell declared him to be "a different person." Four yeses.