Oh X Factor, your double eliminations are merciless. How many hearts must you break? This was certainly one of the more surprising sing-offs we’ve had in a while. Mostly because CeCe Frey wasn’t performing. Somehow America warmed to her circa-2001 rendition of “Lady Marmalade,” cut-out dress, big hair, and all, and voted her safely into the Top 6. So much for L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell’s powers of prognostication, huh? Giving Frey a backhanded compliment on performance night, the Epic Records chairman said, “You’re going down. But you’re going down fighting.” And Cowell? Cowell simply said, “Pack your suitcase.” No, she didn’t go down nor pack her suitcase. CeCe was sent through automatically to the Top 6.
Miss Paige Thomas was not so lucky, however. Despite a lot of booing and the sight of Demi Lovato shaking her perfectly-coifed head at the news of America’s decision, Paige got sent home first. Part of me thinks that if she had again worn her sea urchin hat last night the nation might have been intimidated enough to vote her through. The truth, though, is that Thomas’ repertoire of all-karaoke songs had to come back to bite her at some point. In the past few weeks she’s sung Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away,” Haddaway’s “What is Love?” and Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” (What? No “Everybody Dance Now”?) That was an untenable pattern for her to continue if she really wanted to be taken seriously. The amazing thing is how much unqualified support she received from the judges. Simon said her rendition of “Never Gonna Give You Up” on Wednesday night was like her “making the record.”
Thomas passive-aggressively said she was happy about being voted off because this would allow her to move on to “bigger and better things.” I wonder if, after America’s rejection, she’ll remove “Faith” from her fingernails? Personally, I think fingernail messages are pretty useless unless, like Sideshow Bob, you have “Luv” printed on the indices of one hand, with “Hat” on the other.
After Paige’s departure, we were treated to a performance by last season’s runner-up Josh Krajcik, proof that a non-winner of X Factor will fade into obscurity as quickly as…the winner of X Factor. Boom! Krajcik now looks like a schlubbier, scruffier version of Javier Bardem’s Silva from Skyfall. All he’s missing is blond hair dye and an ascot.
Then it was time to figure out who’d be singing for their survival. In the Top 5 were the following: the aforementioned Frey; Simon’s girl-group Fifth Harmony, who I suspect got a sympathy vote for their performance of “Stronger” Wednesday night after group member Ally shared that her grandfather had just died and was dedicating the performance to him; the sleeve-challenged trio Emblem3, who paid tribute to boy-band history with their performance Wednesday of the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer”; Carly Rose Sonenclar sang “Rolling in the Deep,” so she was pretty much assured the No. 1 spot; and Tate Stevens is Tate Stevens, so he’ll always make the cut.
That meant that Vino Alan and the previously-saved Diamond White were in the Bottom Two and had to get ready for their sing-off. The only time they had to prepare was during Alicia Keys’ 13,782nd rendition of “Girl on Fire.” I’ve long held a crush on Mrs. Swizz Beatz, so this was a welcome sonic sorbet if you ask me. Keys had her girl-power tableau lit like a Cirque Du Soleil show, complete with Japanese taiko drummers. And she was wearing an American Apparel-style rig that showed off her perfectly sculpted and bronzed shoulders and arms. Oh, yeah, she sounded pretty great too. My Mom overheard her performance in the next room and, not knowing it was Keys, said, “Wow, this contestant sounds so much better than anyone else on this show.” Then she walked in and saw who was on the TV: “Oh, wait. It’s Alicia Keys.” So that’s why!
Diamond is so cute, sparkly, and Gabby Douglas peppy, that it’s easy to forget what a solid singer she is. She killed her sing-off rendition of Beyoncé’s “I Was Here,” looking like she’d just put herself through a major cardio workout by the time it was all over. And screw L.A. Her performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” last night was fun and energetic.
Vino Alan, on the other hand, might as well have pressed our collective “snooze button” with his take on Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble,” easily the most overperformed singing-competition (and pet-adoption commercial) ditty of the past eight years. This was basically Alan’s strategy all along. The previous night he performed “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” the most overperformed song of all time. Also, Alan, with his cranial tats, is the scariest-looking guy to appear on TV since Kim Richards’ boyfriend on the last season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. This is a guy who seems to have a fedora for every occasion. (However, I was particularly pleased to see that Britney was wearing her trademark fedora again this week. That, even more than her midriff-baring poptart ensemble a couple weeks back, proved that Britney really is back, bitch.) Was there any question about who the judges would vote through?
L.A. showed support for his man Vino by choosing to send Diamond home, but all the rest, starting with Britney, voted to give Vino the boot. Diamond is safe to sparkle another week!
And here, my friends, are the rankings of the Top 6.
1. Carly Rose Sonenclar (number 1 again!)
2. Tate Stevens
3. Emblem 3
4. Fifth Harmony
5. CeCe Frey
6. Diamond White
We know you’re upset about Frey, but are you happy with the rankings otherwise? I will be spending the next week trying to purge my cerebral cortex of Paige Thomas' karaoke playlist. See you then!
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX]
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What does it mean to be No. 1? For athletes, it could mean being the fastest runner; for scientists, it could mean having the brightest idea — and in the case of many reality singing competitions, it could mean being talented enough to sing at the level of the greats. Last night, The X Factor made sure to put this theory to the test by asking the Top 8 contestants to perform songs that have hit No. 1 on the billboard charts throughout the years — courtesy of some of the greatest artists in music history. (Rock, please meet Hard Place)
So while many of you are still riding your Boy Meets World reunion high (as you very well should be), these remaining acts have been hard at work trying to replicate a legendary singer’s work of art. No pressure, though!
Find out who came out on top and who's in danger of singing their swan song below!
Diamond White (Teens — Team Britney Spears): Diamond started the night off by singing Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” So far in this competition, Diamond has been at her strongest, vocally, with ballads, but she opted to go with an upbeat tempo this week and just have some fun on stage. Like always, her vocals were decent and she definitely seemed a lot more confident than she has in previous weeks. However, in my opinion, it felt like something you’d hear more in a karaoke bar than in an actual singing competition. Her voice just seems stronger with more serious songs that center more on vocals and less on theatrics… at least for the time being. L.A. gave her an A for effort, but a B for execution. Demi, of course, loved it because it’s Britney’s act and therefore should only be met with praise. Surprisingly, Simon also found the performance impressive and really couldn’t praise her enough. So hey, what do I know?
Vino Alan (Over 25s — Team L.A. Reid): Vino chose to sing “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers, which unfortunately led to less than righteous results. It’s not that he isn’t a decent singer because he certainly is. It’s just that he performs the same kind of songs week after week. There’s no risk involved and it’s leading to very little reward, at least from a listener’s perspective. He’s good… but not $5 million worthy. And the judges seemed to agree. Britney and Demi said he needs to freshen up his routine and do something a little different for a change. Simon remarked that he didn’t like the song choice and thought the performance, as a whole, just didn’t work. Agreed!
Paige Thomas (Young Adults — Team Demi Lovato): Paige opted to go against the grain (and against her mentor’s advice) this week and performed a mash-up combo of Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer” and Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Normally, I wouldn’t expect two songs such as these could go together in any way, shape, or form. Paige, however, seems to make it work, which goes to show why we should never judge a book by its cover… or in this case, song title. After all, you wouldn’t think such a deep voice could come out of Astley’s small frame, but it totally works — and the same goes for Paige’s performance. It’s a unique, bold choice, and something completely different from what she’s been doing recently. (But on a side note, is it cheating that she got to pick two No. 1 hit songs instead of just one? Who’s in charge of the rules with these things?) Anyway, the risk certainly seemed to pay off tenfold. L.A. called it her best performance by far, while Simon said she looked and sounded like a true pop star. He also remarked that Paige should be making a lot more decisions about her performances from now on. (That jab was meant for you, Demi.)
Fifth Harmony (Groups — Team Simon Cowell): Before their performance began, we learned (courtesy of the reel package) that one of the girls in the group, Ally, lost her grandfather this past week, leaving the group pretty emotionally drained. So in honor of this unfortunate tragedy, the girls appropriately chose to sing “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. It’s moving and powerful with equally strong vocals for all five of them. At the end, they all gathered around Ally in a huge group hug, which was absolutely sweet and adorable. The only thing that needed a little work was their dance moves. They stood in one place the entire time, even though it was an upbeat song and kinda requires some movement. Other than that, it was great. L.A., however, proved that he is truly heartless by saying that he was expecting something groundbreaking and it just… wasn’t. Terrible. Everyone else loved it, though Demi agreed that they need to move around more during upbeat tempos, claiming that they looked a little awkward just standing there.
Carly Rose Sonenclar (Teens — Team Britney Spears): It’s official, this girl can literally sing any song in the world. The 13-year-old contestant dared to attempt something that even the bravest adult singers cower away from: an Adele song. Carly busted out a beautiful rendition of the British songstress’s No. 1 hit song, “Rolling in the Deep,” leaving both the audience and the judges sufficiently wowed. Seriously, how is this girl able to sing about love and heartbreak so well? She’s too young to be dating let alone knowing the pains of breakups! Simply incredible. Everyone else might as well go home right now. When you conquer an Adele song, you deserve a $5 million recording contract. L.A. said it wasn’t her best performance in the competition (which is completely false), but he countered by saying that even her second best is better than everybody else’s first best (which is completely true). There’s no doubt in my mind that this week is going to find Miss Carly Rose rolling in some serious votes.
Tate Stevens (Over 25s — Team L.A. Reid): Next up, Tate opted to tackle Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You.” And even though his country crooner approach could be seen as highly predictable, that didn’t stop his performance from being just as enjoyable as ever. You can’t help but like this guy and his vocals make him a very solid contender for the title. I don’t even really like country music, per se, but I’ve enjoyed every single one of Tate’s performances. His stage energy is infectious and left the crowd in a fit of girlish screams. Britney said she’s sure we’ll see him accept a Country Music Award someday, while Demi praised his unyielding love for his wife (whom he dedicates every song to). Simon told him that he’s incredibly likeable, but that he shouldn’t try to dance on stage anymore because it "just didn’t work." Mean, old Simon… that guy could probably punch a teddy bear in the face and be okay with it. (But that’s why we love him, right?)
CeCe Frey (Young Adults — Team Demi Lovato): CeCe may be hanging on to this show by a thread, but I’ll give her this — she’s definitely going down swinging. Her performance of "Lady Marmalade" was impressive — those theatrics! Yes, the spectacle was both fun and entertaining to watch. However, an over-the-top performance may not be the best way to win the public’s heart and votes (we’re not that easy to impress). She’s definitely got some singing talent, but I’ve just never found her that likeable, which can play a huge part in a competition like this. L.A. referred to the routine as a “circus” and in true Simon-fashion, his advice was straight to the point: pack a suitcase. Looks like poor CeCe may be going home this week.
Emblem3 (Groups — Team Simon Cowell): Emblem3 closed out the night’s competition by singing the Monkees classic, “I’m a Believer,” which of course sent a majority of the female audience into a fit of hysterics. Their harmonizing was great and even gave Fifth Harmony a run for their money. L.A. said that if he were a chairman of a record company (which he is), then he’d definitely sign them. So rest easy, ladies — even if these guys don’t win the competition (and they probably won’t with singing sensations like Carly Rose still around), you can rest assured that you’ll still be able to cover your bedroom walls with posters of them in the near future. One way or another, these guys are getting signed — no doubt about it.
So what did you think of Wednesday night’s round of performances? Who proved to be No. 1 and who is in danger of being shown the door? Sound off in the comments below and be sure to tune in for Thursday night’s results show to find out which two contestants will be eliminated. And just in case you missed it, Britney Spears debuted her new music video of “Scream and Shout” with will.i.am. Check out the video below and see what you think. It’s Britney, bitch!
Follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyBean0415
[Photo credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX]
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