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The X Factor: 2.13 – “Top 16 Perform Live”

It’s time for the first live show of the season! We’re introduced to the Top 16 again & the new hosts take the stage.

The introduction to the episode was a trainwreck. Mario Lopez & Khloe Kardashian come out and look extremely awkward and forced. Khloe was obviously was very nervous and shouted everything. Mario was also very forced. He’s way too smug for me and I didn’t like him in the first bit. The judges were completely scripted. When Mario & Khloe awkwardly asked the judges how they thought the night was going to go, all of the judges basically responded with put-downs saying that their categories were going to blow the others out of the water. But the night is still young and it’s the performers that matter the most.

Paige Thomas – Young Adults – “What Is Love?”
Paige had an extreme makeover in-between the Judges’ House and the Live shows. Demi asked if she would shave her head to give her a more unique look and Paige agreed. Paige always looked great and I don’t think it really changed her very much. Her performance was okay. She does remind me of Rihanna, but Rihanna has a more unique voice and better song choices. The judges were mostly very positive and noted that she was “outrageous”. Which I don’t really get at all.

Arin Ray – Teens – “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”
Arin Ray was one of my favorites from the auditions and other rounds, so I’m rooting for him so far. His performance was pretty solid but I was a little distracted by everything going on around him. His interactions with the dancers was weird and the weird smoke machines were way too loud and it drowned out some of his vocals. I’m still a fan. He’s much more interesting than a lot of the others that managed to make the Top 16. The judges were lukewarm towards him and I agreed with Simon’s take on too much on stage with him.

David Correy – Over 25s – “My Love Is Your Love”
The opening was really strong. The music was minimal and David’s vocals got to shine. But then the chorus kicked in and he faded in with the background singers. He really didn’t stand out when compared to the generic parts. He picked it back up with the next verse/bridge. The song choice was good, but I thought the arrangement should’ve been changed to better suit his voice. Simon said that his performance was manic bordering on desperate. I don’t agree with that at all.

Sister C – Groups – “Hell on Heels”
Simon has been saying that he’s been looking for an all female country group to support, and I just don’t think this is what he’s looking for. This performance was completely forgettable. Their vocals were just average and the song choice was extremely predictable. L.A., Britney & Demi weren’t huge fans of it either. Demi said that they seemed stiff and it was boring. Simon came back that they are singers, not dancers. While I agree that you don’t need to have a big spectacle to have a memorable performance, their vocals aren’t strong enough to justify that type of treatment. They are flat and maybe some dancers/effects could distract from their lack of talent.

Jennel Garcia – Young Adults – “Home Sweet Home”
So far, only Demi’s contestants have been shown getting makeovers with their hair and makeup. Jennel has been one of the standouts of the entire show so I was really looking forward to this. She didn’t disappoint at all. The song choice and arrangement was absolutely perfect for her. It gave her a chance to show off her vocals and it leaned more towards hard rock which is Jennel’s wheelhouse. I also really liked that the staging was stripped down. They weren’t any dancers or flames to take away from it. The judges loved it. L.A. gave it a 10, while Simon loved it but said that Demi was a narcissist for trying to make Jennel look more like her. I thought that was a funny moment and it really plays off the oddly perfect chemistry between Demi & Simon.

Diamond White – Teens – “Hey, Soul Sister”
This performance was really bizarre. Their costuming and set design looked like it belongs in the 80’s. This show is supposed to be looking for someone who can own a spot in the current music industry, and having an outdated look didn’t do her any favors. Diamond looked like she was having fun though and her vocals were decent. The judges went easy on her probably because of her age.

Vino Alan – Over 25s – “Gotta Be Somebody”
Once again during the pre-recorded footage, L.A. brings up his unhappiness with being given the old category but that he was really surprised by the level of talent. Vino is shown having lunch with his son to give him a more sympathetic narrative for the season. Vino’s performance was on the average side of things. I have to admit, after I found out this was a Nickelback song, my interest level really went down. The song was really cheesy and it didn’t fit Vino’s style or personality at all. I like Vino’s voice, but his diction was really off and the words were hard to understand during the majority of the song. The judges didn’t like it at all. Simon’s critique matched mine, saying the song choice and arrangement was completely wrong for him.

Lyric 145 – Groups – “Boom! Shake th Room”/”Gangnam Style”
This group was one of my favorite coming out of the Judges’ Houses. Lyric is an especially interesting performer and the two guys compliment her well. The performance tonight was a little bit of a mess. They were all over the place with the staging and all of the weird lighting effects made them blend into the background visually. The song wasn’t great because it didn’t have a good hook. L.A. really disliked the performance, but the other three were very positive and said that they were very entertaining and are ones to watch out for.

CeCe Frey – Young Adults – “Because the Night”
3 for 3 in terms of Demi’s contestants’ new look being the biggest spotlight of their b-roll package. Because CeCe was such a bitch in the beginning of the season, Demi gives her a new drastic look to give her a new start. They got rid of her weird black footprint makeup and bleached her hair blonde. The performance was well staged. CeCe’s vocals are very thing. The costumes, dancers and set really distracted from that and created an interesting atmosphere to watch her navigate. All of the judges basically agreed. They said that she has the look to be a pop star, but her vocals left a lot to be desired.

Tate Stevens – Over 25s – “Tough
I’m not even going to spend a lot of time on this one. Tate is a boring old country singer and I have absolutely no interest in him as a performer. They showed him having dinner with his family in the b-roll package before the performance. His interactions with kids was the most entertaining I’ve seen him. He won’t be going far in the competition but he has a nice family to go back to when he’s eliminated.

Beatrice Miller – Teens – “I Won’t Give Up”
The pre-recorded portion was actually really interesting and essential to the rest of the show. Beatrice was very nervous about her song choice and she made that known to Britney. And Britney responded well, saying that it doesn’t matter what type of song it is, an artist can take it and make it their own. Beatrice ended up being one of the stronger performers at the Judges’ House and I thought her voice was very strong tonight. The biggest criticism was her hair and wardrobe. Her hair was crimped and that never looks good on anyone. There was also a weird graphic of her on the screen behind her where she was looking pensive and tough. But overall, it was one of the more memorable performances of the night. I think the elimination in the Teen category will be down to her or Diamond, but she could be competing with Carly Rose and that could be trouble.

Jason Brock – Over 25s – “Dance Again”
I actually really liked in the rehearsal footage the relationship between Jason & L.A. He’s been called “Mr. Entertainment” by L.A. and they seem to have a fun working relationship. They replayed the audition footage where Jason explained his dream concert with a “glitter explosion” ending. L.A. wants to make that happen for him. One thing I have to say about his performance, it was very entertaining and he owned the stage. They made it super gay though. There was glitter raining on the stage and men with weird shirts exposing their toned/buff bodies. I don’t really see Jason being successful in this business, but at least he’s going to be entertaining on this show and I want to see him perform much more than Vino or Tate. I hope L.A. decides to keep him around longer. The judges said it was entertaining but Britney, Demi & Simon criticized the song choice. Simon said it was “utterly horrendous”. Jason is interesting though and has the most unique personality. When Mario came out at the end, Jason asked to pinch his butt and Mario was uncomfortable and said “Keep it PG-13”. Get over yourself Mario.

1432 – Groups – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
The group has a new name because Bruno Mars’ background singers are also called the Lylas. So for legal reasons, the name had to change. The ladies came up with 1432 because it means ‘I Love You Too’. Absolutely no idea what that means and I hate the new name. Whatever. The performance was completely forgettable. The bonus points they get are doing one of the most popular songs of the moment. The vocals were bland and they didn’t really stand out among the rest of the performers tonight. L.A. was kind of an asshole in his critique. Britney liked it. Demi said that they need more practice together and only liked one of the girls, but she didn’t specify which of the girls did it for her. But that provided a great moment for Khloe as a host. Khloe asked her to clarify which of the girls it was. Demi refused to say, but Khloe pressed her and said that she should say who it was so that they can know what the girl did to make them better. Demi finally pointed at Camilla. Holy shit. Big ups to Khloe for doing her job as a host and putting Demi to task. Fantastic Khloe!

Willie Jones – Young Adults – “Here for the Party”
The Young Adult category is an absolute catastrophe. I’ll say it again, Demi should’ve put through Jillian Jensen & Nick Youngerman. She made a big mistake taking Willie to the live shows. I don’t get his style at all. He’s completely stuck between Country and R&B. Willie was not committed to the song or performance at all. He’s an awkward performer and the staging amplified that times one thousand. L.A. & Britney were positive towards him. Simon was the only one that told the truth and said that it was a silly performance. More bonus points for Khloe. She made Simon clarify his remarks and give more specific examples of what he could work on for the next performance.

Carly Rose Sonenclar – Teens – “Good Feeling”/”Something’s Got a Hold on Me”
Great moment in the rehearsal footage. Britney explained that “a long time ago” she wore a school girl outfit in her video for “Baby One More Time” and she wants to do a similar theme for Carly Rose. She wants her to appear younger and appeal to the teens watching at home. The performance was a little awkward. The staging and styling really didn’t fit with the song at all. I get what Britney was trying to do, but she should’ve picked more modern songs for Carly Rose to try to make her own. If you want her to be more contemporary then pick a modern song, make it her style, and then do this ridiculous staging. If you are going to do these older songs, make the staging better. L.A. & Demi were more critical. Demi basically said she was going home tomorrow. Simon liked it more, he complained about the staging, but her voice is special and it “would be criminal” if she left the competition.

Emblem3 – Groups – “One Day”
They were so poorly edited in the audition/boot camp/house rounds and they were such assholes that it makes it hard to root for them now. Simon really took them to task during the rehearsals though. He said that they needed to really rehearse and put in the work if they want to do well in this competition. Their performance was okay. I found them completely unlikable and smug. The biggest complement: I did want to check out the original song of what they performed. I never heard of it before but it makes me interested to find out more about the original artist Matisyahu. The judges absolutely loved it though. Demi was really unprofessional. She said she was too attracted to them to judge them fairly. WTF is wrong with her? I don’t know. They’ll probably do well. I just wish they wouldn’t.

I complained about Mario & Khloe at the beginning, but I am completely won over by Khloe now. She really did her job as host, taking Demi & Simon to task for some of their comments and making them clarify what they were saying. Mario was still a waste of space. He smiles and basically does nothing. I thought the performances were pretty solid. David Correy, Jennel Garcia & Beatrice Miller were the stand outs for me. The Teens is the strongest group too. The show will be back tomorrow to reveal the Top 12. The judges will be making one cut from each of their groups. I have no idea how they are going to spread that out over 2 hours. It’ll probably take 5 minutes to recap, so that makes it easier for me. 😀