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The X Factor: 2.15 – “Top 13 Perform”

We’re back for another live show. Last week the Top 12 were chosen by their mentors. But at the top of the show, Mario Lopez had a “SHOCKING!” announcement to make. He threw it to Simon and Simon explained that they all agreed that they let one person slip through last week. They are bringing back one contestant and there will be a Top 13. The mystery contestant is…Diamond White. Now the Teens category has 4 contestants for Britney to mentor. Also, the theme is week is Songs from Movies.

Arin Ray – Teens – “American Boy”
Arin thought he was going home last week and the show uses footage from the audition rounds to develop his background some more. This week Arin performed a gender switched version of Estelle’s “American Boy”. I thought the vocals were really solid and I could see him doing well in this type of genre. A really smart song choice. The biggest complaint: the horrible background dancers with racing flags and corny racers jackets. I hate the staging on this show most of the time and this was an example of that not working. The judges really enjoyed it. Demi seemed to have a crush on him and said that “he was smooth, as I like to say” (What?). Also, what movie used the song “American Boy? The only IMDB has listed is the Beyonce film Obsessed. They stretched the theme for that choice.

Paige Thomas – Young Adults – “Take My Breath Away”
Personal narrative: Paige is crying about missing her child. Demi encourages her to keep fighting. The performance: Paige comes floating down from above for no reason at all. The vocals are really pitchy and she fails to hit the high notes at the end of the performance. There’s also a male dancer on stage that doesn’t really do anything. He didn’t interact with Paige at all and he just stood there in a weird position. This was a failure. L.A. liked it but wasn’t blown away. Britney really liked the beginning (Note so far: Britney seems less medicated this week and much more present.) Simon agreed with Britney and that it could’ve been a better performance had it gone somewhere if Demi had more imagination. Demi argued by saying that having her come down from the ceiling was enough imagination. Yeah, I’m back to hating Demi as a judge again.

Vino Alan – Over 25s – “When a Man Loves a Woman”
Vino’s narrative this week is that back in his hometown he sings for the troops and he has a lot of military supporters out there. I thought his performance this week was much better than last week. That’s not saying much but his voice was the showcase tonight and that’s his strongest asset. They didn’t have the distracting band behind him or crappy background dancers. Britney really liked it. Demi did too but said she can’t see him as #1 artist. Simon completely disagreed with that and said Demi’s comment was stupid (word!). Also randomly, during Simon’s critique Vino went over to some women in the audience and started giving high-fives. Awkward and inappropriate. Mario also asked Simon to introduce his next act and Simon was completely not paying attention.

Emblem3 – Groups – “My Girl”/”California Gurls”
Apparently the Katy Perry concert documentary is being considered here. I still hate this group and find their personalities insufferable. They’re huge douchebags and I can’t get behind them for that. I actually liked this mash-up though. The songs worked well together and the production combined them nicely. Their vocals were really anonymous though. They sounded a little too much like One Direction and lost some of their essence that made them unique last week, according to the judges. L.A. couldn’t critique anything about it he loved it so much, Britney really enjoyed them, and Demi continued her rivalry with Simon by saying it was tacky to promote One Direction. Their arguments went from mildly entertaining to really forced.

Beatrice Miller – Teens – “Iris”
Beatrice’s voice is really damaged. She claimed that her mouth gets dry and she has trouble singing. She didn’t even sing during the sound check. While that makes me slightly concerned about whether or not she takes care of her voice, Beatrice’s performance was actually really strong. Big selling point: she just had a mic stand and didn’t have corny interpretative dancers behind her. Her vocals were strong too. I think her styling is still off. She’s wore a weird trench coat with a lot of jewelry draped on her. The judges really enjoyed it. Demi said that she can always count on Beatrice for opening up emotionally on stage. Whatever.

Jennel Garcia – Young Adults – “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”
Weird moment at the beginning: she was talking about her home town to CeCe who seemed like she wasn’t even listening to her. Jennel performs “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”. I wonder if Demi is going to cite Crossroads* as the movie the song comes from. The performance is a little bit all over the place. Jennel is one of my favorites but this performance didn’t completely work for me. The song got a little repetitive towards the end and it felt like it went a lot long than 1 minute 30 seconds. L.A. didn’t like it and thought she was just copying Joan Jett. Britney thought it was “Hot! Hot! Hot!”. Simon thought Demi was pushing Jennel in the wrong direction. Demi had the strong comeback of “that’s why I’m her mentor and you’re not.”

Tate Stevens – Over 25s – “Wanted Dead or Alive”
Tate is so boring. I said this last week and I shouldn’t belabor the point, but I just have no interest in watching him. I have to mentally prepare myself for every performance. I groan when I hear his name and Khloe introducing him as the next performer. The song was uninspired, much like his performance. He tries to have the crowd join in on the song, but the audience is made up mostly of people under 18 who don’t even know Bon Jovi. I didn’t like this at all. Britney said he was a “slice of America” (What? Who wrote that for her?) Demi liked it and Simon thought he had finally arrived in the competition. I was going to comment that Demi & Simon didn’t argue during this critique, but that changed when Simon asked Demi if she thought Tate could be a #1 star at the age of 37.

Lyric 145 – Groups – “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”
The two guys from the group come from Queens. They were poor growing up and they are worried about their loved ones after the hurricane last week. The song choice was actually inspired this week. It could’ve been completely ridiculous, but it worked for them and the arrangement of the song suited them perfectly. There was a really great moment where the song stopped and Lyric had a spoken word part that she spoke directly to L.A. Reid while staring him in the eyes. It was interesting to say the least. The staging was actually good too. I think they reused the set from Mia Michael’s Alice in Wonderland* routine from SYTYCD a few years ago. L.A. didn’t think it was his cup of tea but he still liked it, Britney thought it was entertaining and enjoyed the theatricality, and Demi actually complimented Simon’s song choice. But Simon revealed that Lyric actually chose the song herself and thought it was “bloody fantastic”.

Diamond White – Teens – “I Have Nothing”
Diamond is getting a second chance by the show allowing her to come back and make a Top 13. Last week, Diamond was asked to do an “exit” interview for the show. While the crew was there she got the call from Britney to come back to the show. My favorite moment of that: her mother doubled over in the corner sobbing uncontrollably. I’m glad she’s back because I thought she was one of the best contestants on the show and better than the entire Over 25s category. This performance wasn’t her best though. This song has been done so often that it’s overused at this point. Plus no one can ever match Whitney’s vocals on it. She looked great though and I definitely prefer her over some of the other contestants despite this mediocre performance. L.A. liked it, Demi tried to hold back some forced tears and contrived emotion, Simon was happy to see come back fighting.

CeCe Frey – Young Adults – “Eye of the Tiger”
More information about CeCe growing up in rural Illinois and wanting to do well for her family. Blah blah. From the opening moments, this performance was an absolute disaster. She was completely off pitch and never recovered. She looked completely lost too. She might’ve had trouble remembering the lyrics and that would make sense, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Her choreography didn’t even match the background dancers and she looked awkward with a lot of her movements. A train wreck. L.A. liked elements of the performance but the entire package, Britney thought she was courageous, and Simon called it like it was. He said the song choice was horrible and it was unimaginative. Simon gave her the advice to pick her own songs and not let Demi do it for her. Demi kind of thew CeCe under the bus by saying that she did actually pick the song herself. I think Demi should’ve taken one for her team member by taking responsibility for the choice and not making CeCe look worse.

Carly Rose Sonenclar – Teens – “It Will Rain”
Carly Rose misses her brother because he’s at college and wishes that she could spend more time with him. Probably the shortest pre-recorded segment and I appreciate that. I thought this was one of the strongest performances of the night. The production was really well done. It started off really slow with minimal music and an emphasis on Carly Rose’s vocals. It was a smart choice. Then it kicked it up a notch and she really blew it away. L.A. and Demi both loved it and Simon said that he thought she was a star in the making. Britney said that Carly Rose should’ve closed the show because the remaining acts will not be able to top that (good observation Britney’s comment writer).

Jason Brock – Over 25s – “I Believe I Can Fly”
Brock followed Carly Rose’s boring/safe pre-recorded package. He had a nice family upbringing and considered himself Mr. Entertainment from a young age. Not much to say about the performance. This wasn’t nearly as entertaining as it was last week. His vocals were stronger and it was a more serious song selection, but I don’t find him as interesting with these types of performances. Britney thought it was an improvement over last week but he’s more of a Vegas lounge act, Demi said that Britney took the words out of her mouth (Britney had that comment written ages before Demi thought about it) and Simon also criticized Jason’s wardrobe choice. This wasn’t good and I don’t think Jason deserved a spot in the Top 13, especially over David Correy. Khloe steps in again and asks Britney what she would like Jason to sing instead. Britney suggested something more urban like Usher’s “Scream”. Her earpiece helped her out on that one, I think.

Fifth Harmony – Groups – “A Thousand Years”
The all-girl group is now on its third name change. After some suggestions from America, they decided on Fifth Harmony and will be sticking with that unless another group already claimed it years ago (it wouldn’t surprise me). I thought this was actually a great performance. They were also-rans for me last week, but they nailed it this week. They worked well together and their voices worked perfect together on this song. I don’t really like the song itself, but they made the performance really watchable and entertaining. The judges really enjoyed it and said they had improved each week. Simon said he’s excited about their potential and he feels something special is happening with him. He couldn’t be more proud of them. I agree.

It was a much better show than last week. With a few less performances, the show got to breath a little bit and it wasn’t so rushed. Mario Lopez was harmless this week & Khloe continues to impress me. She must’ve gotten a note from the producers not to question the judges, but I loved her for doing that and think she should do that every week. Demi Lovato continues to annoy me, L.A. Reid is pointless, Britney seemed much more aware and less sedated, and Simon is still the only telling the truth.

I’m not sure how the eliminations are going to work this season. The show has been really hazy about revealing that stuff to the audience. Last year the bottom two acts were revealed, they each had to sing for their lives, then the judges decided who would go home. I thought that was one of the things that worked last year and hopefully they stick with it again. If I had to make predictions (and you know I will), I think Jason Brock & Vino Alan will be in the bottom two. I wish CeCe would join them but I don’t think that’ll happen.