After getting ranked for the first time in order of votes last week, the top 12 duked it out with some soaring power ballads as they fought to avoid Thursday night's (November 15) double elimination. While early front-runners like Carly Rose Sonenclar and Emblem3 cemented their status, CeCe Frey and Lyric 145 stumbled hard.
First up was Jennel Garcia's take on Tina Turner's rock chestnut "Proud Mary." The high-energy, country-tinged cover did the trick, with head diva Simon Cowell telling the seventh-place vote-getter that it might have put her back into the race. Spears said Turner would have been proud and L.A. Reid said it simply, "smoked."
The man in the #1 slot, burly country crooner Tate Stevens went big with Shania Twain's "From This Moment On." He had the chops, but the string-swelling arrangement felt weepy and a bit overcooked. "Your performance was so heartfelt, I loved it and your vocals were amazing," Spears gushed. Both Lovato and Cowell were annoyed at how good it was. "The winner of this show is going to get $5 million and I would be happy to write you that check," Cowell said.
After getting back in the game last week, #4 singer Diamond White wasn't joking either with Beyoncé's "Halo." The opening was shaky, but White soared into the middle section, showing amazing swagger and poise for a 13-year-old. The shoes were big, but even after the rough open, Reid said she filled them capably. Lovato deemed her a true diva (in a good way) and Cowell's only complaint was that the "future star" should not try to sing and walk at the same time.
Beatrice Miller landed in the 10 position last week and tried to climb out with Cyndi Lauper's indelible "Time After Time." The vocals were emotionally rich and nuanced, but the YOLO wool cap and oversized diaper pin earrings were distracting. Reid couldn't figure out how someone so young could have such a great voice, but he said the song didn't allow her to shine, with Cowell deeming it "boring." Coach Britney countered that, "she has more talent in her pinky than you do in all of your contestants together."
After getting a new song less than 24 hours before show time, 9th placers Lyric 145 mashed up Katy Perry's "E.T." with Queen's "We Will Rock You." Regardless of how much time they spent on it, the performance was just kind of a shouty mess. Britney wondered why the three rappers weren't doing hip-hop tracks, Lovato thought the two songs didn't fit together and Reid predicted it was the end of the line for the trio he lamented had lost their way. "You bring an energy this show needs," said mentor Cowell, who praised the group for their tenacity and energy.
Arin Ray pulled "Crazy for You" by Madonna and was psyched to sing it to his could-be sweetie in Fifth Harmony, Normanie. Accompanied only by a piano and a spotlight, the 11th place Cincinnati Kid turned the song into a slow grind Maxwell-like R&B plea, eliciting squeals from the girls in the audience. Lovato and L.A. said it lacked soul and was just boring. "It looked like you hated it as well," Cowell said. "You taking on that song is like asking a cat to eat a tiger." Britney disagreed, saying she loves the tune and thought her team member nailed it.
If this year's show has a diva, Paige Thomas is it. Lovato gave the Rihanna-be Donna Summer's "Last Dance" and Thomas gave the dub-stepped version of the disco classic her best, even if her vocals sometimes came up a bit thin. "It was like a disco ball exploded on stage," enthused Spears, with Reid and Cowell calling it Thomas' best performance yet. Cowell thought the busy choreography was too much, and even Demi admitted that wasn't exactly what she had in mind, though Thomas made it work.
Cowell knows any diva week needs a bit of Mariah Carey, so fifth placers Fifth Harmony stepped up to the mega-ballad "Hero." Wearing all white, the girls did the "American Idol" judge proud, falling into harmonic lock step while showing off each member's unique vocal abilities and soulful strengths. "There's something really lovable about all of you," Reid said, lauding their great performance. The other three judges agreed, with Cowell humbly suggesting that his protégés could just win it all.
Carly Rose Sonenclar more than earned the #2 slot last week and then the teen drew Celine Dion's titanic "My Heart Will Go On." Sonenclar came out tentative, but soared into the mid-section, delivering the giant slayer song with conviction. "Ugh, you are so good! Honestly it just doesn't make sense," Lovato groaned, perplexed at how a 13-year-old could have such an old soul. "I feel like Celine Dion is here and she's hiding." It pained him to say it, but Reid told Spears that he could be looking at the winner. "I have chills all over my body," Britney concurred.
The night's second Turner track belonged to inked-up over 25er and #3 performer Vino Alan, who took on the Turner version of the Al Green classic, "Let's Stay Together." The danced-up take of the soul standard was right in Alan's gritty pocket and he powered through it like a veteran. Lovato and Spears praised his soulful voice, but Demi found it a bit snoozy. Cowell said Alan's voice is in search of a "moment" and this wasn't it.
Sixth place trio Emblem 3 tackled Alicia Keys' "No One." Their voices in perfect harmony, they Jason Mraz-ed the tune to bro-fection, edging ever closer to SoCal One Direction status. "You guys have the perfect vocal blend it was the perfect song, you are complete super stars ... you're exactly what this show needs," Reid raved. The ladies loved it too and get why the girls in the audience couldn't stop screaming and Cowell predicted they'd land at the top on Thursday.
The final spot belonged to polarizing, bottom-dweller CeCe Frey, who tried to win back the voting audience with Dion's version of the weeper "All By Myself." The vocals were all over the place and a mid-song voice crack may have sealed her fate. Reid hated the glittery dress, but said the vocals were on point. "Sorry, I just don't get it," Spears admitted, while Cowell said despite liking her tenacity, the performance was, yes, cabaret and the swirling wind machines were too much. Lovato said this was Frey's best performance and she knows that CeCe wants it more than anyone.
Thursday night's elimination show will feature a performance fromTaylor Swift.
What was your favorite performance on Wednesday night's "X Factor"? Leave your comments below!