What did I learn last week from The X Factor?
That themes are mere suggestions, not restrictions.
I mean, it was Diva Week, which in my mind meant songs from Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Beyonce.
I really didn’t expect Shania Twain, Cyndi Lauper or music from Queen.
My mistake. I should have remembered back to last year when themes were stretched to ridiculous limits.
This week’s theme: Giving thanks, i.e. songs that show gratitude or inspiration.
Bottom line: Expect lots of ballads. Oh, boy.
This week’s rankings, with last week’s in parenthesis.
1. Carly Rose Sonenclar (1): The X Factor’s new co-hosts told us the divide between the top four finishers was narrow last week, and that the divide between the top two even more so. Carly Rose didn’t finish on top, but I still think she’s the most special talent Simon and Co. have uncovered in Season 2. She’s promising “another big song, but it will be happy.”
2. Vino Alan (3): My #2 from last week (Lyric 145) vanished because of judge/voter stupidity. So I’m sliding Vino up one notch and into this spot. The guy just sings with incredible rawness and emotion. He performed Tina Turner’s “Let’s Stay Together” on Diva Week and pulled it off, so this week should be a snap.
3. Tate Stevens (4): Two weeks and two weeks as the top vote-getter for Tate, who’s going to step on stage and turn in a solid performance week after week after week. Simon Cowell, not a fan of country music, says he’d gladly write out the $5 million winning check to Tate. Hold on, Simon. The early favorite seldom wins on these shows.
4. Beatrice Miller (8): I’m putting her here solely on vocal talent, not because I think she’ll finish this high. Last week, she apparently wasn’t thrilled with the song she was forced to sing or the outfit she was told to take the stage in. Yet, in my mind, she turned Cyndi’s “Time After Time” into one of the top four performances of the night.
5. Fifth Harmony (7): Now how do you pick a song of gratitude when you’re part of a group of five and all five of you probably have someone different you’d like to thank? Well, the gals who say they’ve grown to be like sisters, will perform another ballad, though they vow to do something more upbeat soon if they survive. Considering how well they sound together, they should survive.
6. Emblem 3 (5): Apparently, Emblem 3 is this year’s Chris Rene, an X Factor performer of modest talent, but nevertheless proclaimed to be a superstar by X Factor judges, probably partly because the show is so short on real superstars. I doubt a performance as mediocre as last week’s would have spun a single chair on The Voice.
7. Paige Thomas: She could benefit from this theme. Dancing around and singing during last week’s performance show clearly didn’t work; Paige’s vocal was all over the place. She sounded much better — perhaps the best she’s sounded all season — on her slower save-me song a night later. She might also draw some motivation from coach Demi’s post show comments; she called ousted Jennel Garcia “more talented.”
8. Cece Frey (11): The formerly sensational sounding Cece has lost her way and needs to rediscover it quickly. Unless my hearing or the audio on my TV was off last week, the fact that she finished fifth in fan voting was more a testament to where she performed (last), than how well she sang “All By Myself.” And if she performed last last week, does that means she goes first this time around? If so, danger zone.
9. Diamond White: The 13-year-old has yet to turn in a performance to justify why the judges were so determined to bring her back to create a Top 13 instead of a Top 12 two weeks ago. She was not up to the challenge of tackling Beyonce’s “Halo” and saw her stock drop from fourth to seventh in fan voting. We need to see young and fun Diamond. Instead we get a week where the theme almost demands something slow and dignified.
10. Arin Ray (10): I’ve written it before, I’ll write it again. There is nothing about Arin that makes him stand out in this competition. Not his look, not his sound and certainly not his performances to date. If he sings early in Wednesday’s show and doesn’t deliver a knockout performance, his run on The X Factor is over.