Season 2 Live Shows, The X Factor

Song by song grades for the Top 10 on The X Factor

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In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, The X Factor plans to present us a night filled with songs of gratitude and inspiration.

Translation: Lots of ballads.

This might be good news for the likes of Cece Frey, Paige Thomas and Arin Ray.

Because strutting through big productions, dancing and singing at the same time hasn’t worked out so well for them.

But before the night is over, I guarantee all you fans who failed to vote for Lyric 145 will miss the freshness they’d bring to something … anything.

A week ago, I had Lyric 145 at number two in my X Factor rankings, a decision I don’t regret one bit.

Now they’re gone. For the latest rankings, head here.

Meanwhile, it’s time to grade some performances, and perhaps reflect on some things I’m not grateful for about this show.

Not grateful for #1: The overly melodramatic background music they play throughout this show. Can’t they just let the show’s natural drama stand on its own?

Tate Stevens: The guy who’s been number one on the leader board two straight weeks will sing first tonight, dedicating his performance to his father. Like Tate, his dad gave up music to fulfill family obligations. He’s singing Lonestar’s “I’m Already There.” A really nice song choice. And one thing you can count on from The X Factor every week — a solid performance from Tate. He’s doing it again tonight. And look how emotional he got near the end. I think that might have been his best yet. And my guess is that Tate will beat the curse of going first. Grade: B+

Diamond White: She’ll dedicate her performance to her mom, singing “Because You Love Me.” Wow, listen to Diamond. She’s doing a really nice job, too. And, honestly, she had not been very good the last two weeks. Perhaps it’s the theme that’s bringing out the best in her. Last week, she just didn’t sound up to “Halo.” This week, a totally different story. She hit some amazing notes, seemed totally invested in the performance. Simon said it best: He “believed every single word of that lyric.” Grade: A-

Emblem 3: They’ll thank their youth counselors. They’re singing One Republic’s “Secrets.” The vocals are still just so-so. And after two really heartfelt performances, this just isn’t measuring up. But the girls are screaming. And I’m sure they’ll be hailed as superstars again. But that was my least favorite performance of the night so far. Grade: C+

Not grateful for #2: How over-rated Emblem 3 is on this show. Unlike Simon, not all of us have visions of boy bands dancing in our heads.

Arin Ray: He’s singing “Hero” for his brother. Britney says she selected the song for him. Liked that part where Arin told his brother not to take the lyrics too lyrically. Then sings: “Would you dance if I asked you to dance.” That seemed heartfelt. But I’m not sure Arin was up to pulling that song off, and I think he’s likely one of the artists in trouble this week. It wasn’t bad. But L.A. pretty much nailed it: Nothing Arin has done to this point has stood out, and that includes when he’s gone upbeat, as he seems to want to do next week. If he survives. Grade: C

Not grateful for #3: The massive choirs that join these singers on stage. How are we supposed to judge the contestants when we’re hearing the choir? Emblem 3 was getting a big vocal boost, too. Again.

Cece Frey: She’s dedicating her song to her sister, who died of cerebral palsy at age 7. Hey, this is a really touching segment. The most touching of the night. She’s going to sing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” And I was really hoping this would be a great vocal performance. Perhaps it’s the emotion, but Cece isn’t coming close to pulling this off. It might very well have been the emotion, because she can’t even get out the final lyrics. If I were grading the lyric alone … well, I won’t. Let’s just be generous on Thanksgiving. Grade: C+

Fifth Harmony: They’re thanking God for the blessings in their lives. They’re singing “I’ll Stand By You.” I don’t know how it happened, but X Factor got lucky in grouping these five girls together. They just sound so good when they harmonize. I’d really prefer to hear more of that and less of the individual parts. But they sounded very good individually tonight, too. I truly think they’re more talented that the more highly touted Emblem 3. Tonight, they got great reviews from everyone. Grade: B

Beatrice Miller: She’s singing “Chasing Cars” and dedicating the performance to her younger sisters. It’s hard to believe this girl is only 13. She sings with so much emotion every week. And she has such a special tone to her voice. Her voice absolutely soared on that song. That was my favorite Beatrice Miller performance since the live shows began and my favorite performance so far tonight. Absolutely great job, Beatrice. She hasn’t been very high in the fan voting either week since X Factor starting revealing results. But if she goes anywhere but to the Top 8 after that … well, it will be a crime. Grade: A

Not grateful for #4: Demi Lovato’s annoying speaking voice. The most annoying of any judge on any singing show. It doesn’t help when she provides annoying critiques like the one she just gave Beatrice.

Vino Alan: He’s going to thank the members of the military. He’ll sing “God Bless the USA.” OK, this is all a little too much. The choir joined in way too soon. I would have far preferred to let Vino carry that number. That said, he delivered another solid vocal. He performed with sincerity. And he’s getting rave reviews from the judges. My biggest complaint wasn’t Vino. It was the early emergence of the choir. Grade: B+

Paige Thomas: She’s dedicating her performance to the woman who took her in after her own mother died. It’s really tough to judge critically when the singers are so clearly moved by what they’re singing. Paige, like Cece, had trouble getting through that song. Paige sounded great on the intro. But when she hit the chorus and tried to make her voice soar … well, it went off key and sounded way too sharp instead. Shame. Because Paige sounded great on her save-me song last week Grade: C-

Carly Rose Sonenclar: She’s singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and is dedicating it to her older brother. She’ll begin the song a cappella. And she sounds fabulous, of course. Not sure I’m thrilled with the arrangement in the middle of that performance. It came off as a little overblown. But Carly’s vocal is pretty much impeccable. And check out those last two notes. Another really, really nice performance on tonight’s show. I still think this 13-year-old will win this show. And, like Simon, I’ll be surprised it she isn’t number one this week. Grade: A-

Grateful for #1: A very, very good episode of The X Factor. Perhaps the best ever. Proof the X Factor doesn’t need all the flash, all the screams, all the fabricated drama to put on a good show. Let the artists’ stories and their voices carry the show. Tonight, they proved more than capable.

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  1. claire nail November 22, 2012 at 7:54 am -  Reply

    I agree with most of what you wrote. I’m surprised you didn’t notice that Beatrice Miller, though adorable and interesting, consistently has been having problems with pitchiness. I

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