‘The X Factor’ Recap: Top 12 Contestants Perform

the x factorS1E11: Tonight The X Factor’s top 12 contestants took the stage to sing for your votes. That’s right America, we’ve finally hit the interactive part of the show where you can help determine which contestants stay and which ones are sent home. Tomorrow night will be the first round of audience-chosen eliminations, but it’s not going to be an easy decision. These final contestants are really putting the X in X Factor (at least that’s what it feels like) because the performances were insanely professional and well executed from all four groups. Personally, I’ve never felt so torn about who I want to see end up winning this competition because they all have so much potential.

The judges of course favored their assigned categories, but you can tell they’re just as nervous to see any of these superstars go (I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Paula’s waterworks). So the pressure was really on tonight for the judges since their reputations are on the line as well. The results no longer lie in their hands, which makes our votes extremely crucial. So in case you missed last’s night show, here’s a look at what the contestants had to offer:

The Stereo Hogzz were the first to perform and kicked off the night with their own rendition of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation. These guys have definitely got some great vocal skills and thanks to Paula’s grueling rehearsals, they had the dance routine down flat. L.A. Reid said that they definitely have what it takes to be a star and Simon went as far to say that there isn’t a band in the world as good as them. He even gave Paula praise in calling the performance a “master class of choreography.”

Next up was Chris Rene who sang Long Ago and Oh So Far Away by The Carpenters. This week he seemed a lot more comfortable on the big stage and more emotionally connected to the lyrics (plus he lost the hat, which I thought was a huge improvement). The judges gave him nothing but praise. Paula told him that he owned the song and Simon thought it was a big improvement from last week, so hopefully it will be enough to put him through to the next round.

Then Leroy Bell sang a beautiful version of I’m Already There by Lonestar that was so touching it moved audience members to tears and only further won over America’s heart, but not necessarily the judges. L.A. wasn’t thrilled with the song choice, but thought he did a good job with it. Paula told him that she admires how he wraps his life experiences around every song he sings and thinks he’s a great talent. Simon, however, thought he was lacking in the confidence department and felt like he needed to be more connected with the song. The crowd seemed to disagree and gave him an encouraging applause.

Up next was Rachel Crow in an upbeat rendition of Walking On Sunshine. It was a really esthetically pleasing performance, but all the backup dancing and flashy backgrounds seemed to drown out her natural talent. It almost felt like Simon was trying to overwhelm us with the “wow” factor just in case her vocals did cut it. But her talent is more than enough to get her through, so she really doesn’t need any flashy distractions to help her out. L.A. commented that she’s just so lovable, while Nicole called her “America’s sunshine. Paula was very pleased as well and wisely (yep, I said wisely) suggested that Simon give her a song that shows more of her vocal range because she’s just got so much talent (I agree). Basically they love her, we love her. She should just win the whole show.

Then came Lakoda Rayne (aka three blondes and one brunette) who sang Fleetwood Mac’s song, Landslide. During the performance, each girl was supposed to represent a different season, which I didn’t really understand, but vocally they did a pretty good. L.A. said he thought they finally blended together really well. Nicole thought they sounded like one voice and commented that if she was a season, she’d want to look just like them. Simon loved the song, but hated the seasonal theme, which wasn’t’ all that shocking. Paula retaliated by saying that Simon just doesn’t understand because England only gets one season (sorry Paula, but they get all four seasons as well). It’s good to have the old Paula back.

Josh Krajcik was next to take the stage and sang Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts, which I wouldn’t normally consider to be his type of song, but man did he knock it out of the park (or the theater) yet again. Seriously, is there any song this guy can’t sing? Paula told him that he nailed it and Simon thought it was so good that it felt like he actually wrote the song. Nicole commented that she felt his music in her veins, which sounds creepy, but she just meant that he has an uncanny ability to making any song moving. And for that, I cannot argue.

Next was Melanie Amaro who sang Desperado by The Eagles, which was predictably amazing. This performance only further proved what a big mistake Simon made about initially sending her home because she belongs in this competition. The audience loves her and the judges concur. L.A. said that one thing Simon did right was bringing her back onto this show, while Paula compared her voice to “fine China,” (whatever that means). Simon was even surprised as just how good she was and stated that she’s the one to beat.

Brian Bradley belted out his own his compilation of raps which included Naughty By Nature’s Hip Hop Horray, Missy Elliot’s Get Your Freak On and some of his own personal lyrics that he created himself. This kid really knows how to work a crowd and never fails to get the audience out of their seats and swaying to his music. Simon said “I think you’re a real, little star,” while L.A. remarked that every week he just keeps getting better and better. No show has ever had a hip hop contestant come this far on a singing competition before, but does America like him enough to put him through? We’ll have to wait and see!

The biggest group in the competition, InTENsity, did a song mix-up of Kids in America and LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem. The judges labeled the group as fun, fun, fun. Simon said that he shouldn’t like them, but he really does and he likes how they’re changing up their musical styles with each performance to fit everyone’s personality. They did a decent job and I can see them getting popularity votes since they are similar to the Glee group, but there’s just so many of them that I don’t really see them going all the way. It just doesn’t seem like they’re strong enough to get the votes.

Up next was Drew who sang a unique rendition of Nelly’s song, Just A Dream. She seems to just have a natural talent of making original songs sound like a completely new and different song entirely. If I didn’t like her version more than Nelly’s, then I definitely liked it just as much. She’s an incredible artist and the fact that she’s only 14-years-old makes her even more unbelievable. L.A. said she has the “spirit of a superstar” but jokingly added that she has the wrong mentor since he should be the one working with her. Nicole commented on how she loves how relevant Drew is and Simon added that he’s no longer her mentor, she’s his. I believe that’s called the cheese factor.

Marcus Canty was next to perform and sang Bobby Brown’s song, Every Little Step. It was definitely entertaining, but I didn’t think it featured his talented vocal range. Like Rachel’s performance, I felt like there was just too much going on around him to really be able to focus on how much he can bring to the show. What I did hear, of course, was incredible, but I just wish I could’ve heard more of it. His performance swept the board with the judges though. Nicole said she felt like she was at a concert rather than a singing competition, while Simon said Marcus has come alive and thinks that he’s on his way to reaching his full potential.

The last performance of the night went to Stacy Francis who sang Up To The Mountain by Patty Griffin. I know she doesn’t want to be considered a gospel singer, but Simon’s right when he said it’s the best way to showcase her talent because man did she have a set of pipes during her performance. It was moving, it was classy, it was impressive! L.A. said that her singing “stirs their souls” and Paula added that she was the “shining moment tonight.” Simon didn’t disappoint and was very smug about being right about what kinds of songs she should be singing. He labeled it one of the best performances of the night.

So who will be the first to be voted of The X Factor and lose their shot at a $5 million recording contract? Find out Thursday night at 8 p.m. on Fox!