The X Factor returned on Wednesday night for the first live show as the Final 16 contestants raised their vocal games to new heights in competition.
In another X Factor first, Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez took over hosting duties from the departed Steve Jones in front of a screaming crowd. The headpieces were bigger, the costumes were flashier, and the glow sticks were out in full force! And to be perfectly honest, Khloe and Mario aren’t a bad co-hosting pair. It’ll take a bit of getting used to at first, but both did a great job!
For the Final 16, judges Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, and L.A. Reid were bitterly honest. Things even got a little tense between Reid and Cowell when the two traded verbal barbs about song choice, performance numbers, and the use of backup dancers.
So, with all squabbling aside, who nailed it and who didn’t?
Openers and supreme country
Team Demi’s Paige Thomas opened the show in a porcupine costume. Confused? So were we. But Paige finally regained her vocal form with her rendition of Haddaway’s “What Is Love?” It was the moment she needed. Thomas proved that she has both the voice and stage presence to win The X Factor.
Next up was Team Britney’s Arin Ray, who performed The Supremes hit “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”. Ray took the stage like a seasoned pro, backup dancers and all! Simon couldn’t help but notice and let Ray know that he had “swag”. Muy impresivo, Arin!
Team L.A.’s David Correy took a risk with Whitney Houston’s “My Love is Your Love”. We WANTED so much to love David this week. But despite brilliant vocals, Correy could have trouble winning the popular vote. He’s likeable but also forgettable, and that’s an X Factor no-no.
Team Simon’s first group was the country-cute sister trio, Sister C. After the girls blew away the competition at Simon’s house two weeks ago, their live performance of Miranda Lambert’s “Hell on Heels” should have been better. They have the vocals, charm, and looks. It was their chance to engage a live audience. But this time, it just wasn’t enough.
Rocking Diamonds and Nickelback
Jennel Garcia reverted back to her sexy inner rocker on Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home”. Team Demi’s pride and joy, Garcia again shed her quiet personality for a “kick-you-in-the-face” performance. It shocked everyone in the best way possible. The judges loved it, even the leather and chains!
Team Britney’s Diamond White gave fans her live version of Train’s “Soul Sister”. Despite good feedback from the judges, we agreed with Demi when she called for Diamond to “go crazy”. At 13, White has powerful pipes. They’re bigger than a Train song.
Team L.A.’s Vino Alan had a shaky start but finished strong on “Gotta Be Somebody” by Nickelback. The judges were split. Britney Spears called him “boring” while Reid told Vino that “he would be just fine”. However, Reid’s vote no longer matters. It’s in the voters hands now.
Groups, makeovers, and country tough
Team Simon’s combined group, Lyric 145, had the most energetic performance of the evening with their mash-up of “Boom! Shake the Room/Gangnam Style.” Like Simon Cowell said, hip hop acts have to be commercial. But Lyric 145′s explosive energy proved that they have major crossover appeal. The one problem with group this week was that Lyric Da Queen overshadowed the One4Five guys. She should have never been put in a group, her star power is too overwhelming.
Next up was Team Demi’s Cece Frey. During rehearsals, Demi encouraged Cece to become more likeable in order to connect with viewers. Could she pull it off? Armed with a complete makeover, Frey sang Patti Smith’s “Because the Night” in full pop-star form. However, the judges agreed that Cece’s commanding stage presence overshadowed her vocals.
Team L.A. Reid’s country darling, Tate Stevens, really took his mentor’s advice to heart when he gave a surprisingly entertaining performance of Craig Morgan’s “Tough.” Prior to going onstage, Reid encouraged Stevens to sing from his heart. It was Tate’s honest vulnerability that proved his potential as country music’s next viable star. However, Simon cautioned Stevens about song choice in order to avoid over-singing. In the end, the judges liked Stevens and told him he had a good shot at getting into the Top 12.
Beats, Brock, and numbers
Team Britney’s Beatrice Miller had the hardest challenge of the night with Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up”. Miller can belt big numbers but the song didn’t make the best use of her vocal ability. There were way too many low pitch moments that made for an unbalanced performance. But Miller is likeable, especially with her Avril Lavigne vibe. Hey, it worked for Avril and it could definitely work for Beatrice.
The final contestant from Team L.A. was Jason Brock, who hit the stage with Jennifer Lopez’s “Dance Again”. Despite a fun performance, Simon thought it was too campy. Although Brock is one of the strongest male vocalists in the competition, this week was underwhelming and below his potential. Jason should have made a better song choice.
Team Simon’s Lylas performed Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Sass? Check. Cute? Check. However, despite the cute checks, L.A. Reid and Demi Lovato weren’t impressed. Expectations were high for the girls, who renamed themselves 1432 due to legal reasons that weren’t explained. Khloe Kardashian even pressed Demi to reveal which girl performed the best. Demi finally admitted that it was Camila. Tough break girls.
Sexy, stars, criminal, and contender
Last up on Team Demi was Willie Jones who gave fans Gretchen Wilson’s “Here For the Party”. Jones delivered a sexy performance but it was an odd mish-mash of themes. Britney called him a “true star” but Simon didn’t take the bit seriously and thought it “felt cheap”.
Team Britney’s Carly Rose Sonenclar came out in a Spears-inspired school uniform to sing Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling”. Once again, it was song choice that got in the way. Vocals aside, Carly tried to look confident but instead came off nervous. Britney failed to realize that Carly isn’t a teen pop star. Her voice is much too powerful for that. Like season one’s Rachel Crowe, Carly could get axed sooner than she should. In the words of Simon, “that would be criminal.”
Emblem3 were the final act of the live X Factor show. Simon Cowell proved that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to boy bands. The trio was brilliant on Matisyahu’s “One Day”. After a few nervous performances over the past weeks, Emblem3 regained the necessary confidence that made them early contenders.
What did you think of the first live show of The X Factor?