Viewers saw the promos all week leading up to the fifth episode of “X Factor” where there was a guy that was a dead ringer for KISS bassist and reality show star Gene Simmons standing in the Season 2 auditions line. And it turned out to be the famous Demon from the theatrical hard rock band. But he wasn’t there to audition for the “Over 30s” category (one of the four divisions the acts were sorted into during Season 1). He — and his beautiful wife, Shannon Tweed — were there to support their daughter, Sophie.
Sophie said it was difficult growing up in the shadow of fame, especially someone like her father, a famous musician and singer in his own right. But she said she didn’t want to use her father’s connections and had decided to see if she could follow her own path in the music industry. Her answer? Audition for Season 2 of “X Factor.”
Still, if her idea was to go low profile, showing up with the most recognizable stars of “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” (not to mention being dropped off from a chauffeured vehicle) was not the way to go about it. Within seconds of getting in line, murmurs ran through the crowd and people began asking each other if that was Gene Simmons or not. And as he acknowledged that he was, Sophie had to deal with fans swirling about to get a picture, autograph, talk with or shake hands with Gene Simmons — and his wife.
Sophie was kind of a third wheel — which was the point of her being there in the first place.
Her dad wanted to go the VIP route, get security, go inside. Wife Shannon nixed the idea, noting that that decision was Sophie’s to make.
Hours later, Sophie went on stage. Going the regular route made no difference, though, because when she stepped on stage and gave her name, Sophie Tweed-Simmons, Judge Demi Lovate squealed that she recognized her. When prompted, Demi said she was “Nick’s sister, Gene Simmons’ daughter.”
With her identity blown, Judge Simon Cowell asked why she wanted to audition for “X Factor.” She said she wanted to try and make it in music on her own, which impressed Simon. He followed up, asking what her parents thought of her auditioning. Sophie admitted she had sprung the idea only the day before and they weren’t entirely pleased by her sudden career decision.
She said she would be singing Adele’s “To Make You Feel My Love.”
But could she sing? She admitted to viewers that she had just recently decided to try to make it as a singer. And as great a showman as her father might be, he’s not known for his vocal talent. As the lead singer on such KISS classics as “Calling Dr. Love” and “Christine Sixteen,” most of the band’s lead vocals were left to his co-frontman Paul Stanley.
Was it a great performance? Not exactly, but it wasn’t a bad one, either. There was something hesitant in her vocals, perhaps a missing confidence factor. She seemed to have a nice tone and there were shades of Norah Jones or perhaps Liza Minelli in her sound, but her voice appeared a bit erratic (what Randy Jackson on “American Idol” would call “pitchy”). Judge L. A. Reid didn’t care for her performance, but the other three judges offered encouragement. Judge Britney Spears said she thought her voice was “amazing.” Demi Lovato said with a little control, she would have a “great, great voice.” Simon said he like her take on the Adele song.
When the judges voted, the votes fell the way of the critiques, with L. A. giving Sophie a “no.” Still, three-to-one, she was headed to boot camp.
Sophie told the “X Factor” cameras and her parents that she didn’t think she had wanted to get through so badly until she actually got on stage. She later said that it felt good to try and step out on her own and do something without relying on her father’s influence. She said that she might just introduce herself a “Sophie” from then on.
It might be a little too late for the low profile, slightly incognito approach now, though…
But should Sophie Tweed-Simmons have gotten the pass? It appeared that there were others who were, like L. A. Reid, unimpressed by Sophie’s performance among the contestants. Tara Simon, a very competitive vocal coach and singer from Atlanta, said as much and asked another young contestant what she thought of Sophie’s singing. When the girl said she thought it was “good,” Simon asked if she thought she would have made it through had she been anyone other than Gene Simmons’ daughter. The girl said, “Probably not.” Simon looked at her knowingly. (Simon would later make it through to boot camp as well.)
Was L. A. Reid and Tara Simon right? Should Sophie have been declined a chance at boot camp? Or were the other judges correct in giving her a chance to work on her confidence and projection?
There’s only one way to find out. “X Factor” begins airing its boot camp shows starting October 3.