X FACTOR RECAP: The Top 16 Perform Live!
Tonight on The X Factor, it's our first episode with the new hosts: Mario Lopez, Mario Lopez's dimples and Khloe Kardashian. Whether you missed the episode or just want to see all of the performances, read on for a full recap!
The theme is a super vague "Made in America" and first up is Paige Thomas, wearing a cringeworthy sci-fi outfit. I get it, Paige wanted to go for the edgy glamour. But she's a pretty girl normally - you'd think someone along the way would have told her sticking a robot porcupine on her head wasn't the way to go. She works it on "What is Love" by Haddaway, though, and gets praise from all four judges for her confidence and flash. "You know what, Paige, the whole point of this show is to find an artist who could work in the real world," Simon says. "You nailed it."
From the teens, Arin Ray is up next with a shaky vocal on "You Keep Me Hanging On" (originally by the Supremes) and it's kind of like he's trying to perform the way he saw Chris Brown in concert do once. It's not horrible or anything, but it never really seems to be a genuine star performance - it's a good imitation, I think, at best. He gets underwhelming judges' comments except from his mentor Britney, who obviously tells him he was "a little genius."
David Correy, from LA's Over 25s, follows with "My Love Is Your Love" by Whitney Houston. I personally really like it - he gets the crowd involved and while the crowd on The X Factor is undoubtedly the easiest group of people on the planet to get to cheer (do those teenage girls ever take a breath?) he's able to fill up the stage with personality and his vocal isn't half bad.
Sister C's segment leads off with footage of Simon telling them they're not likable to the audience. I don't think about them one way or another, but something tells me that's Simon's passive-aggressive way of telling them he doesn't like them. Either way, they do fine on "Hell on Heels" - the lead singer keeps having to look at the floor because she's wearing shoes she's clearly not used to, so that's kind of amusing, but other than that I'm just a little bored by it.
Jennell Garcia chooses "Home Sweet Home" (the Carrie Underwood version, I'm assuming). Jennel hasn't really made an impression up until this point, but this performance is really solid and although she let Demi's stylists turn her hair into what ends up looking a bit like a costume wig, I'm really impressed and she definitely nailed it and Demi tells her that she feels like crying.
Diamond White is up next, and she's chosen Train's "Hey, Soul Sister." I don't hate it, but it's not a song that really showcases Diamond's voice as well as she probably could have on something else. Still, for a 13-year-old she comes across as a real natural on the stage. I think LA calls her "Diana," but whatever. He likes it and so do the other three judges.
Vino Alan takes the stage. He gets a rough start on "Gotta Be Somebody" by Nickelback (seriously). The judges give him a less than warm reception, but Vino takes their criticisms well, especially Simon, who says that Vino is more of a soul singer than a rock singer. I like Vino, but that performance was just kind of there. Also, the folks from Nickelback are Canadian and the theme is "Made in America" so...there's that.
I've made no secret of the fact that I'm not very knowledgable about rap - still, Lyric 145 delivers a performance that's really entertaining on DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith)'s "Boom! Shake the Room" with a bit of "Gangnam Style" thrown in for good measure. Okay, so it's "not hip hop," LA Reid says over and over, but it was fun.
Cece Frey has ditched her leopard print face paint for bleach blonde and highlighter-yellow war paint. She declares that her mission is to become likable - I don't know if that's a thing you can make happen by putting it on your to do list, but I'm all for her giving it a try. She sings Patti Smith's "Because the Night" and she gives a very concert-like performance complete with rolling around on the ground, but vocally I just don't think it was there. "It left a little to be desired, but overall it was strong," LA says, and Britney and Simon agree (though Simon adds he doesn't think it matters that the vocal was weak).
Tate Stevens gets off to a shaky start on Craig Morgan's "Tough," but as usual he kicks into high gear when he gets to hit those big, soaring country notes. "You're just a good, honest man who needs a break," Simon says. "For me, you're a keeper."
Beatrice Miller's hair has been crimped all the way back to 2002, but what's even weirder is her outfit, which looks plucked straight from the set of Broadway's short-lived Brooklyn the musical. She chooses Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up," a song which I love this year, and it's kind of rough, which stinks mainly because I really hate to see these kids dejected. Beatrice handles herself well, though, joking that she hopes it's not her last performance and keeping her smile even though she's getting a little teary.
Remember Jason Brock's "vision" that he described in painstaking detail during his audition? With Vegas showgirls, smoke and the complete lights show, this is pretty close and he's clearly enthralled with the whole experience, which is a nice change of pace. His song choice is "Dance Again" by Jennifer Lopez...and it's a really poor choice, something that all the judges highlight. "Mario Lopez, can I pinch your butt?" Jason asks, and then goes ahead, causing Mario to laugh nervously through the rest of the segment.
LYLAS is now 1432 and they take on Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." I think a large part of this song's success has to do with the fact that Taylor Swift pretty much constantly exudes charm way more than the song itself, so it's kind of a hit-or-miss situation and for me, this one's a miss. I have to hand it to Khloe Kardashian, though - Demi gives a vague "Only one of you impressed me" and Khloe gets her to point out which one, which is something that never happens on these shows.
Willie Jones is up next with Gretchen Wilson's "Here for the Party," a choice that's kind of odd but winds up being a decent performance. "I feel like you're a true star," Britney says, but Simon disagrees. "I thought it was silly," he says. I think they're both right, in a way - Willie's definitely unique and that works in his favor (in addition to his voice) - but the whole thing was kind of hokey.
Britney's vision for Carly Rose Sonenclar is a school cafeteria, to emphasize how young she is (obligatory reminder: Carly and her voice are thirteen). As per her usual, Carly delivers a strong vocal on Flo Rida's "Good Feeling," but the whole setup is just kind of strange. LA tells her she didn't look like she was having fun, and I don't think Carly's the greatest at taking criticism because she shifts between sad and confused as each judge critiques her. I've said it a hundred times but it's still true: young kids are not cut out for this show. That being said, I still think Carly's really awesome and I'm still rooting for her.
Emblem3 will close out the show with Matisyahu's "One Day." It's actually not bad, but their moves are so cheesy. Vocally, it's pretty solid, and just listening to it I can totally get into it, but then I look at these pretty good-looking guys "dancing" and it kind of falls flat. Demi's totally into it, though - she insists that she can't look at them for fear of flirting with them.
Tomorrow, the two contestants are eliminated - tune in to find out who! How did your favorites do tonight? Did anyone win you over?