Last night on “The X Factor USA” the Top 16 acts take the live stage for the first time. It was Fright Night with some truly creepy costumes but there were plenty of treats and only a few tricks as the competition is serious. On tonight’s results show, four (yes, four) of these acts will be sent home. No one is messing around.
Wednesday’s two-hour live show also saw the debut of new season 2 hosts Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez. That has to be the most superfluous job is showbiz, doesn’t it? How fitting that it should go to a Kardashian.
OK, I’ll put my claws back in, because I really did enjoy “The X Factor” Top 16 performances.
Let’s take them category by Category as we are going to shed some from each category tonight.
Demi Lovato told Paige Thomas “It would be amazing if we could shave your head,” so she did. Then she topped her dome with crazy, crazy porcupine headgear that was just as over the top as her performance of “What Is Love.” I thought her singing was weak but Simon Cowell said she “nailed” it as a real world artist. The other judges were very nice about her too. Shows what I know! I will be interested to see if the judges keep her Thursday night as there’s no public vote on this.
Jennel Garcia was stunning on “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue. LA Reid “was completely surpassed.” Britney Spears “loved everything about it” this “really amazing” performance. Only Simon Cowell had a slight criticism that “Demi has tried to make you a clone of her.”
CeCe Frey seems to have ditched her arrogance attitude, swapping it for wide-eyed excitement and disbelief she’s on the live shows. I quite liked her performance of “Because the Night.” Both Simon and LA Reid commented on how her vocals were off. But she is interesting to watch and I (sort of) hope she gets through tonight.
Willie Jones impressed Britney with his performance of “Here for the Party” by Gretchen Wilson. It obviously doesn’t take much to impress her. LA Reid called the performance “adequate” and that is probably closer to the truth. Simon thought the performance was “silly” and scolded Willie for not taking himself seriously. He didn’t even like the matt jacket and shiny jeans combo. Join the club! “It all felt a bit cheap” he said.
On to the teens and Demi complained that the screaming girls in the crowd made it impossible to hear Arin Ray’s vocals on “You Keep Me Hanging On.” Perhaps that’s OK, because from what I could hear, they weren’t that great. LA Reid praise it as “a really creative an inventive song choice,” though. And he can’t dance well, according to Demi Lovato. Only Simon seemed really impressed, telling Arin, “You have that kind of swag. That self confidence. And that’s what you need in a pop star.” Yes but you need to be able to sing, and probably dance too…maybe.
Diamond White made “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train her own. LA Reid was impressed with the song choice. And she may be named after a rather nasty cider but I like Diamond White too. Demi Lovato told her “you have one of the most powerful voices in this competition.” Her performance, Demi found, was a little reserved, maybe because it was the first live show. Simon Cowell picked out some tuning issues, too, but he praised her as a “relevant” artist, which seems to be Simon’s crusade.
Beatrice Miller had no trouble making an audience believe and feel her rendition of “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz but there were “some real tuning issues” that Simon pointed out. Still, she was lovable, as LA Reid pointed out. And if she gets put through by the judges tonight that will be very important for the voting public. Britney called Beatrice “the best,” twice. This girl could so well!
Carly Rose Sonenclar gave my favorite vocal performance of the night with “Something’s Got a Hold On Me.” But she just seemed to confuse the judges. LA Reid found it “amazing,” but “didn’t buy into the fun.” Demi Lovato told her, “You have one of the best voices in this competition. At your age it can be a blessing and a curse.” She also didn’t think it was a fun performance. Simon Cowell said “That didn’t actually make any sense at all … my issue was that you felt uncomfortable with the song … but it would be criminal if you were to leave the competition tomorrow.” Yes, yes it would. So what didn’t make any sense at all: Carly’s performance? The staging with left her looking uncomfortable? Or the totally contradictory comments from the judges?Demi Lovato was harshest, saying “It’s not your time right now, but no doubt you will have a future in the music industry.”
Next up let’s take a look at the Over-25s. LA Reid may say he’s made peace with having to mentor the decrepit care home waiting list (or so he makes them seem) but he still doesn’t look very happy about it, if you ask me.
David Correy sang “My Love Is Your Love.” Britney Spears said “You were amazing” and Demi Lovato praised him for getting the crowd going but Simon Cowell found it “a bit manic.” I sort of liked the performance and I hope his back story of finding his birth mother doesn’t get in the way. He gave a shout out to his Dad too, so who knows if he will be next to be found!
Vino Alan is named after one of my favourite things in the world but still his hard rock performance of “Gotta Be Somebody” had me reaching for the wine. I’m with Demi, having “a hard time seeing [him] as a pop star” but I’m sort of with Simon Cowell too, really liking him but feeling rock really isn’t his genre. “You completely and utterly c— blocked him,” Simon comlained to L.A. I wasn’t “bored” like Demi said she was, but it just didn’t seem right either.
Tate Stevens gave some really strong vocals on “I Thought I Was Tough.” Britney thought he was “amazing” and he gave Demi “chills.” His magic didn’t work so well on the male judges, although Simon commented, “You’re just a good honest man who needs a break. The soul, if I’m being honest with you, wasn’t one of my favorites. I think you are better when you don’t push your vocals too hard.” Hey, laid back Tait would work for me. But then I’m a girl.
Did anyone else except me and Simon Cowell find Jason Brock super annoying? I don’t often side with the Cowell but I did this time. “I like you, but that was utterly horrendous,” he said. Definitely the wrong song choice, as the girls pointed out. I’m all for Jason embracing his gayness (and I wish Simon Cowel would too) but Jason asking if he could pinch Mario Lopez’s bottom was just cheap. I don’t know why we have two (any?) presenters on “The X Factor” but it’s not for that.
On to the groups (traditionally my least favourite category but I’ll play fair here.)
Sister C probably “really are nice people,” as Simon implored the audience but that doesn’t mean we have to vote for them. They actually made a really good job of “Hell On Heels” though. They are still just too in to each other and not performing out to an audience. “It was good” said LA Reid, which really isn’t doing anything to help them not appear to be the most boring group in the history of TV talent shows. But perhaps Britney went a little too far with “You really delivered. You had a great performance. I think you were stunning.” They were “really stiff” as Demi pointed out, but there’s no denying these girls can sing.
Lyric 145 did what I hate most about groups on these TV talent shows: a medley. It entertained Britney Spears, who probably hasn’t got the attention span for sticking to one song for the whole act, but L.A. called out Simon’s song choice saying “it sounded like somebody put you in a washer, dumped in bleach, and took all the soul out of you.” I sort of see Simon’s dilemma in that “To make rappers work in a competition like this, it has to be commercial.” But this was sanitized beyond all recognition of what this group can do. I hope Simon is loyal and keeps them in on Thursday night because I genuinely think he let them down here.
1432 (formerly LYLAS which was a much better name, if you ask me) had a pretty bad night. LA Reid said they sang “the greatest song in the world.” What was it, you may ask excitedly. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift. I know. Sigh. Anyway, he wasn’t impressed with what they did with it. Khloe Kardashian made Demi name the group member she thought stood out: Camila. “I thought the others should know,” insisted Khloe. “The energy just drew us in,” said Britney but I agree with Demi that they need to practice more to gel as a group.
Emblem3 really surprised me with their version of “One Day” by Matisyahu. “That was unbelievable. I think we are witnessing America’s next pop sensation,” gushed LA Reid. “You’re absolutely adorable” squealed Britney and the boys made Demi swoon. “I can’t look you in the eye when you sing to me, because I’m supposed to be a judge, and not flirting with you while you sing.” No flirting from Simon Cowell but he could not end without mentioning the huge improvement in this group. “The difference in you over the last three or four weeks is unbelievable … anyone watching this band for the first time, remember this night, because you are seeing a future superstar here.” High praise indeed from Mr Cowell.
“X Factor” returns on Thursday to send four finalists home. Who do you think deserves to stay and who should leave right now?