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'The X Factor' Recap: The Top 13 Underwhelm

November 8th, 2012 9:05am EST

 Arin Ray performs live on THE X FACTOR The post-election hangover was raging, so I made my own executive decision and removed any trace of having people tell me to vote from my viewing experience. The happy side effect of that was having no Khloe Kardashian in her Selina Kyle get-up ruining my night with ‘The X Factor’.

Hmmm…Maybe I could get used to this.

Anyway, on to the performances:

Arin Ray Sang “American Boy” by Estelle

LA Reid Said: You’re a different person than you were the first time I met you. I think you just found your own vocal identity.

Britney Said: You owned it. You rocked it. You’re definitely a true star.

Demi Said: I am a little speechless. You look like a star up there.

Simon Said: Britney, you’ve done a really really good job with this guy. You’re turning into a little pop star.

The Verdict:

Arin Ray continues to look like an Usher-in-training. He’s almost got the swag, he’s almost got the moves, he’s almost got the voice.

Yes. Almost on all counts. The training wheels are still on though, and they come out in the person of lapses in concentration, sour lyrics and flat notes.

He keeps getting closer though. This was his best yet, and I imagine we’ll see his best again next week.

Grade: B

Prediction: Always tough to overcome the leadoff spot, but he’s got all the ingredients necessary to make his placement irrelevant.

Paige Thomas Sang “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin

LA Reid Said: It was good, but I wasn’t blown away.

Britney Said: The beginning was the best part.

Demi Said: I think that you did so amazing. It was so beautiful.

Simon Said: The beginning was great, but I think it needed to go somewhere.

The Verdict:

I can’t tell if the theatrics in this were meant to be ironic, earnest or a commercial for some sort of moisturizer. Maybe it was just all three.

What I was sure about, was that Paige sounded markedly better than she has prior to this performance. Normally her voice is weak, flat, uninteresting as she tries to ascend to heights she cannot reach.

Here, she stayed in a milder zone and felt right at home in a nice simple R & B mode, even as some weird dude was kissing her neck for reasons of which I’m unaware.

Maybe because her new moisturizer just left her neck that soft.

Grade: B

Prediction: Forgettable is normally what dooms the early performances. I think the angel thing was enough to make people remember to vote for her.

Vino Alan Sang “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge

LA Reid Said: You nailed it.

Britney Said: Your performance showed just how special your voice is.

Demi Said: That was a phenomenal performance.

Simon Said: You went from zero-to-hero in one week.

The Verdict:

Such a better song choice than last week. No longer do we have to see the raw rage turn Vino’s eyes black like one of the aliens from ‘The X-Files’. Instead, we get to see that sweetly rough soul that made him seem like a contender before he started flagellating himself after each performance.

That’s not to say this was transcendent, or even that good. It was almost too passionate as he was laughing, or laugh-crying the whole time. Like the demons were trying to escape, but he needed his vocals to keep them down.

It got to be a bit distracting at times, and I think his voice can be strong enough that he doesn’t need to over emote. Once he learns to harness that rather than have it overtake him, he has a chance, but this was a bit too messy.

Grade: B-

Prediction: A good guy who I think is starting to gain some steam. That should carry him through to next week.

Emblem3 Sang “My Girl/California Girls” by The Temptations and Katy Perry

LA Reid Said: I really wanna be critical, but you guys are actually perfect so I don’t know what to say.

Britney Said: I was really blown away by the way you guys were able to make the song yours.

Demi Said: I thought you guys were great, but I wouldn’t have used a One Direction track.

Simon Said: Every time you come out, it’s energy and fun and everything you should be.

The Verdict:

This is a perfect song choice (or choices) for these little scamps. It played to all their strengths. That is, shouting, running around the stage, looking good, and not having to do math.

It wasn’t so much a performance as it was just a fun time. Vocally, meh. Rhythmically, meh. But in terms of appealing to that key voting demographic? Just about perfect.

Grade: B+

Prediction: My pre-season pick that a group will win continues to look very very safe with these three boys.

Beatrice Miller Sang “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls

LA Reid Said: The tone of your voice sounds like a hit record.

Britney Said: I feel like you have the best personality out of anyone in this whole competition.

Demi Said: The way you pour your soul into a song at your age is remarkable.

Simon Said: You’re like a great performer. A few vocal issues, but I can see you working.

The Verdict:

Beatrice just isn’t there yet. She’s got the tools. She’s got the passion. She’s got the ability to interpret a song. It just doesn’t all add up as she can’t maintain the consistency to make the song and the performance her own. So many flat notes. So many times where she just doesn’t fill out the vocals. It all just seems out-of-place from this pint-sized songstress. Especially when she starts attempting to rock out. All four-feet of her prancing around stage like she’s Lemmy, just doesn’t work.

She did have a pretty bad-ass jacket, though.

Grade: C-

Prediction: She’s bound to get lost in the shuffle with that performance. I already forgot what she sang. I think she’s in trouble.

Jennel Garcia Sang “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” by Joan Jett

LA Reid Said: It was just a Joan Jett parody.

Britney Said: Hot! Hot! Hot!

Demi Said: I think you look beautiful. I think you did amazing.

Simon Said: I don’t like what Demi has done to the way you look. It was just a straight cover.

The Verdict:

This song needs to go away. Seriously. Never play it again. If there was one song that I could just wipe of the planet it would be this one. It’s so un-Rock ‘N’ Roll, so mundane, so stupid and so overplayed. It’s just a nuisance at this point.

Jennel doesn’t do anything to tear it away from that reputation. Just yelling and attempted rock vocals over a boring attempted rock song. I think Demi took that rocker chick thing from last week a little too much to heart and gave Jennel just the worst song possible to sing and Jennel had nothing to do with it.

Granted, she could have and didn’t, but I don’t think this was all her fault. It’s just impossible not to do lame karaoke with a song like this.

Grade: D

Prediction: Another boring

Tate Stevens Sang “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi

LA Reid Said: I’m really proud of you.

Britney Said: You definitely are a true cowboy. You nailed it.

Demi Said: I really think you have what it takes.

Simon Said: Tonight you’ve arrived back in this competition.

The Verdict:

The pro from last week has suddenly morphed into just the good solid bar cover band rocker last night.

He seemed like he should be at a rodeo in a small town performing in between bull-riding events rather than on stage in front of millions. He galloped around the stage like an unbridled amateur and his vocals never rose above somebody you’d ignore while you were going to get a hot dog.

Just a boring and flat performance all around.

Grade: C-

Prediction: The country boy has his voting bloc and he’s going to ride it for awhile.

Lyric 145 Sang “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” by Julie Andrews

LA Reid Said: I hated it. I completely hated it. But I think I’m going crazy because it was really good.

Britney Said: I felt like your theatrics and everything you brought to the table was really intriguing.

Demi Said: You guys got me so hyped! You guys nailed it.

Simon Said: You were bloody fantastic.

The Verdict:

If Nikki Minaj and Li’l Jon were tasked with making a theme park ride that literally scared troubled children to death so they wouldn’t grow into future criminals, it would look exactly like this performance.

Why did this happen?

Grade: F

Prediction: I thought that was the end of the line for that freak show, but the judges seemed to bail them out.

Diamond White Sang “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston

LA Reid Said: When you went to the modulation, you brought it home.

Britney Said: Whitney would have been very proud.

Demi Said: That just tugged at my heart.

Simon Said: This proves dreams can come true.

The Verdict:

It’s sad that Diamond was brought back only to bomb in such spectacular fashion. She just doesn’t have the chops to take on Whitney Houston. Especially not her most emotionally charged song.

It wasn’t terrible. It was just competent with hints of awful. Those bad notes really stuck out when they were floating atop of a sea of boring and mundane.

She’s just a girl singing a woman’s song, and it certainly felt that way the entire time.

Grade: D+

Prediction: She’s so likable that I can’t see her being cast out right after coming back on the show.

Leopard Face Sang “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

LA Reid Said: The sum was less than its parts.

Britney Said: I thought you were a little rebel out there.

Demi Said: You’ve transformed into someone that you know that you want to be.

Simon Said: Anything recognizable about you from the beginning has just been thrown away, and this song choice was just horrible.

The Verdict:

Leopard Face certainly brings it in terms of her performance. I don’t think anybody in this competition commands the stage like her. She has so much confidence and poise out there. She was just meant to own it on a show like this.

Her vocals, however, are a mess once again. I don’t know why Demi continues to give her these rock songs with arrangements that play so fast and take away from LF’s ability to really belt. She’s just lost for 90% of the track and then shows a brief flourish every so often.

LF needs a soul song or a ballad like on her save-me song last week to show off her vocal range. Of course, that means she won’t be able to command the stage like she does so well.

The solution? “The Warrior” by the other Patty Smith. Let’s just hope she’s around to do that.

Grade: C-

Prediction: The unlikable Leopard Face just met her doom, I fear.

Carly Rose Sang “It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars

LA Reid Said: That was really heartfelt. It was honest. I loved it.

Britney Said: I feel like you should have closed the show because nobody can follow that.

Demi Said: This is you in your element. I would watch this over and over again.

Simon Said: It’s such a huge improvement. You would have a hit with a song like that.

The Verdict:

This little girl just creeps me out, and the long dress from the scary forest isn’t helping matters at all.

I didn’t even really hear her vocals, I was worried all the furniture in my apartment was going to start floating amidst her demon spell.

What I did hear, was decidedly just okay. Like a little girl singing. Because, again, that’s all these kiddie competitors are.

Grade: C-

Jason Brock Sang “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly

LA Reid Said: I think you did an excellent job.

Britney Said: It’s way better, but it still feels like a Vegas lounge act.

Demi Said: I feel like LA hasn’t guided you in a way you are as an artist. It’s very predictable and cabaret.

Simon Said: I like you, but I don’t believe you could fly. You look like a singer in an Italian restaurant who’s working there and just decided to sing “I Believe I Can Fly”.

The Verdict:

Jason is doing himself no favors with his wardrobe choices. After last week, he should have been trying to shed the lounge singer reputation and tonight he comes out dressed like Tony Clifton. Not exactly, the best way to buck that stigma.

His other big problem is just his overall performance. He’s just so wooden up there. Like his suit is too tight and he doesn’t have a full range of motion. Nothing looks natural for him when he’s on stage, which is weird for somebody who seems so comfortable in his own skin.

With all that going on, it was hard to judge the vocal. It seemed like everything was where it should be from a singing standpoint, but coming out of Donnie Vegas with a girdle on, it just doesn’t work.

Grade: D

Prediction: He’s likeable for sure, but he got ripped by the judges way worse than anybody else. I think that could be it for him.

Prediction:

The Artists Formerly Known as 1432 Sang “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri

LA Reid Said: I was impressed with your singing.

Britney Said: I was really impressed.

Demi Said: I’m so excited to see what you do next week.

Simon Said: I think there’s something incredibly exciting about your potential.

The Verdict:

Here’s their formula:

Sit on stools and sap all the energy off the stage.

Start with a god-awful solo sung by somebody who sounded like she was auditioning to be the female Bugs Bunny.

Sing a terrible harmony.

Have a second solo by a much stronger singer who clearly should have led off the song.

Go back to your terrible harmony.

Have somebody belt like a singer who’s trying to pull focus at an audition.

And end with bugs bunny girl.

Not exactly what I’d call a winning formula.

Grade: D

Final Thoughts:

With no real standout on either end of the spectrum, it’s a bit wide open.

Other than Emblem3, the certainly safe are probably Arin, Tate and Carly Rose. The praise was just too glowing from the judges and they did well enough by themselves to get through.

Then it becomes muddy with a whole lot of dreck mixed in with a lot of boring and forgettable. How is one to decide?

I think it’s going to come down to my two favorites: Jason and Leopard Face. Jason because the judges hate him and Leopard Face because America hates her.

In the end, I think the judges will have their way and Jason will go down.

That’s a very tenuous prediction, though. This is really anybody’s night to lose.


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