Welcome to the live blog of The X Factor Top 10 performace show for November 21, 2102!
We’re on the eve of Thanksgiving, which means there’s a very good chance absolutely no one is reading this right now. But that’s never stopped me before, and I doubt it ever will in the future. Although Fox really should rethink scheduling their first-run programming on holidays when no one is watching. I’ll be genuinely floored if the results show scores above a 1.9 rating, since scheduling a results show on Thanksgiving night is the worst idea in the history of ever.
-We open with the finalists talking about who they’re thankful for. Tonight’s theme involves giving thanks, and each contestant will dedicate a song to a loved one tonight.
-We go over the rankings from last week, with Paige Thomas at #10 and Tate Stevens holding fast to the #1 spot. Which is fitting, since…
TATE STEVENS IS UP FIRST
-Tate is dedicating his performance to his father, and what follows is a pretty touching video that details Tate’s close relationship with his father, and how that relationship informed Tate’s eventual role as a husband and father.
-Tate is singing “I’m Already There” by Lonestar. It’s a solid vocal, although his voice breaks in parts, which I’m thinking is from the emotion of watching the pre-performance video moments before performing.
-Britney enjoyed it, while Demi didn’t think it was his best performance (although she says it was “still incredible.” What?). Simon loved the song, loved the video, and though he noticed Tate’s voice cracking in places, he doesn’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of his going home tomorrow night. LA piles on the positive critiques.
-We throw to Tate and the hosts, and Khloe somehow feels it necessary to stick up for Tate by telling Simon that she didn’t notice any voice cracks. She thinks Tate just sings with soul. Dude, no one asked you.
-We’re back from break, and the next act is one of Britney’s Teens.
DIAMOND WHITE IS UP NEXT
-Diamond is dedicating her performance to her mother. What follows is a video detailing how Diamond came to depend on her mother when her father proved to be a complete deadbeat, despite Diamond’s constant attempts to be the perfect daughter. The thought of 4 year-old Diamond telling her mother to call her dad to tell him that she’s being a good girl, with the hopes that it will get him to come see her, is so sad it belongs in a country song. Or a Lifetime movie. Lifetime still makes movies, right?
-She’s singing “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion, and although it’s a song I never need to hear again as long as I live, it’s easily her best vocal by a country mile, leading to a standing ovation from every judge but Simon.
-LA thinks we’re going to be hearing her name for years to come; Demi tears up and talks about how the performance affected her, since the song reminds her of her sisters; Simon thought Diamond, at thirteen (isn’t she fourteen?), sang better than many thirty year-olds they’ve worked with. He reiterates that the performance was amazing. Britney adds that Diamond’s story about her mother (which included Diamond’s mother dying briefly on the operating table during an operation for scoliosis) really broke her heart, and that she put all of that emotion into her performance.
-More pointless blathering from Khloe. Mario adds, in reference to the baby pictures in her pre-performance video, that Diamond was the cutest chubby little baby – a line that would be horrifying if it had been Dustin Diamond saying it. Thankfully, it was spoken by a Saved by the Bell cast member who’s still in possession of his sanity.
-Back from break with Khloe interviewing Beatrice backstage, who says that she doesn’t feel pressure because she always does her best when she’s onstage. It’s not an inherently smug line, but there’s something about Beatrice that comes across as vaguely entitled. It don’t dislike her for it or anything, but I imagine it could be a problem for her in winning over the public.
EMBLEM3 IS UP NEXT!
-They want to thank their Youth Counselors. The video goes a long way in dispelling the “douche” perception that’s plagued them since boot camp, if not earlier.
-They’re singing “Secrets” by OneRepublic. I’m sure this song seemed like a good idea on paper, but this performance just isn’t working. At all. They’re also grabbing their crotches like it’s the only thing anchoring them to the ground.
-LA didn’t feel the emotion, while Britney thought the boys did a good job. Demi agreed with Britney, saying that it showed a different side to the boys. Simon tells the boys not to listen to LA (“The Grinch”), and adds that the boys are a pleasure to work with.
-Khloe questions LA about his critiques. He says that he wants to feel goosebumps from them, and that he didn’t really feel that performance. Khloe, in what’s becoming a grating act, sticks up for Emblem3, arguing that America felt it. Mario steps in and filters Khloe’s babbling into a sensible point, arguing that this performance was more of a “slow jam” for Emblem3. LA responds that he still didn’t get it, although he’s a fan of the boys.
ARIN RAY IS UP NEXT!
-Arin dedicates his performance to his older brother, saying that while there’s a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, there isn’t really a Brother’s Day. Arin feels his brother is his best friend and his hero. The video is charming in its own way, with Arin introducing Normani from Fifth Harmony as his “friend-thing,” and then warning his brother not to look too deeply into the lyrics of his song choice for the night (“Hero” by Enrique Iglesias), telling him “I’m not your ‘baby’.” I feel like Arin is more relatable like this than he is as a dour, overly-serious teen like last week.
-He sings “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias, and while the vocal is good, it feels as though, between his performance last week and tonight, Arin’s swagger has been eroded almost completely. The quicker he gets back to uptempo songs, the better off he’ll be. Of course, with a double elimination coming tomorrow, I sincerely doubt he’ll get the chance, unless the reviews he gets inspires sympathy votes.
-He gets eviscerated by the judges. LA feels the song was too big for him, and that the performance wasn’t worthy of a $5 million dollar contract. Demi says that if she were a record exec, she wouldn’t have signed him after that boring performance. Simon asks Arin how he felt about that performance. He felt he did what he could with it, and he later says that he wants to get back to the kind of performance he gave in Week 2. He wants to dance and perform for the people, implying that the Arin he’s been the last two weeks isn’t the real Arin. Simon agrees, saying that Arin feels caged in by the song choices. Britney thinks Arin is a pro for how he nailed his performance, and agrees that maybe they should be getting back to the uptempo numbers. Her agreement with Arin seemed to imply, to me, that the song wasn’t assigned to Arin by her, but by the producers. That could be a huge leap on my part, but there’s evidence from last week’s kerfluffle (a great word everyone should use more often) over Beatrice’s issue with the song she was given. Seriously, Arin couldn’t have sang “Thank You” by Boyz II Men? There are uptempo songs of thanks, you know.
-Khloe announces that Cher Lloyd will be performing on tomorrow night’s results show, hilariously misreading her name as “Cheryl Lloyd.”
CECE FREY IS UP NEXT!
-CeCe is dedicating her performance to her sister/guardian angel, Kelsey, who passed away from cerebral palsy on Christmas Eve 1991, at the age of 7. The story of her death, at home in her parents’ arms, is heartbreaking, as is the story that they decorate the Christmas tree in purple (her favorite color) every year in her honor.
-She sings “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and I just can’t with these song choices. I don’t even know how she was let out the door with that song. I will say that she hit all the big notes though, although the verses are as pitchy and uneven as they’ve always been. She struggles with her emotions, and is unable to finish the last line of the song.
-The judges are uncommonly warm with her: LA praises her emotion and calls her “a champion.” Britney, tip-toeing around the issue, says that it’s hard to critique someone who’s pouring her heart out. But she felt CeCe did a good job. Simon says he doesn’t know how she even sang the song after watching that video. He gives her all the credit in the world for being a “trier”, and adds that he likes her and hopes she makes it through to next week.
-If she does make it through to next week, I hope we can get away from “dreary ballad/ballroom gown” CeCe, even though I’m not certain that “discount Kesha” is the route to go with her either. There has to be some kind of happy medium though.
-Apropos of nothing, I want to punch this Wal-Mart commercial in the mouth.
FIFTH HARMONY IS UP NEXT!
-The girls thank God for the blessings he’s visited upon them in their lives. Ally in particular, as she reveals that she was a premature baby, and her survival was nothing short of miraculous.
-The girls sing “I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders. Love this song. And their harmonies actually sound back on-point. Although that might be the backing choir.
-I’m really digging this. It’s the first performance tonight where the artists are communicating their emotion without actually being overcome by it.
-LA thinks they were great, Britney thought the performance was touching, and though Demi wasn’t too crazy about the song choice, she thought the girls did a tremendous job with the song. Simon, however, was crazy about the song choice, and he felt they really clicked as a group. He adds that he hopes America picks up the phone and votes, since the competition wouldn’t be the same without them.
-Khloe chats backstage with Paige Thomas and Carly Rose. Nothing of consequence transpires.
BEATRICE MILLER IS UP NEXT!
-Beatrice dedicates her song to her little sisters, and she tells a touching story of how little they were when they first came home from Vietnam, and cries over not being able to see them. In a really cool little moment, cameras catch the moment when Beatrice’s sisters surprise her with a visit.
-Kudos to commenter @realphill, who perfectly summed up Beatrice’s fashion choices by questioning why the style department constantly feels the need to dress her “like a homeless rainbow.”
-She sings “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. It’s a pretty solid vocal, although I think this might be the first week, for me, where she actually sounds like a little kid. She always had a voice that sounded slightly older than thirteen. Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. She hits every note and does a solid job, overall, although the emotions take over at the end (a bit of a theme tonight).
-LA thinks Beatrice is so cute and he wants to hear her sing all the time. He compliments Britney on her good taste. Demi agrees that Beatrice is adorable, although she says that the performances are getting kind of samey from week-to-week. Simon disagrees, saying that he could feel the emotion, and that he preferred this performance to last week’s, saying that he felt she came across as current and cool.
-Beatrice is in tears with love for her sisters, who are similarly crying buckets in the audience. I like Beatrice, so I find myself hoping that tears = votes, although I’m not entirely sure who’s even voting for this thing when someone like Jennel Garcia lands in the bottom 2 on the second week.
VINO ALAN IS UP NEXT!
-Vino is giving thanks to the military. Vino restates his story from week 2, revealing that he tried to serve in the military after 9/11, but they refused to take him due to the tattoos covering his head. However, he wound up getting a contract to perform for the military. Vino explains to Tate, backstage, his feelings about his sense of loyalty to these men, and he thanks the US military for their sacrifice.
-He’s singing “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. REALLY? Bendito sea Dios, these song choices…I don’t even think Hollywood Week of Idol’s first season had choices this dated.
-He sings the American hell out of the song though, and both Simon and LA give him a standing ovation for it.
-Britney feels this is the first performance where Vino has been spot-on. Demi admits she’s been really hard on Vino the last few weeks, suggesting that there’s something she hasn’t understood about him before tonight, saying she was wrong in doubting him; Simon states that you can’t judge a book by its cover, as his rough exterior belied a softer heart. He credited Vino for his sincerity, and argues that we might see him at #1 tomorrow. LA continues the lovefest, and I think Simon might be right about Vino’s future ranking.
-Mario informs us that we can download “all of tonight’s heartfelt songs” on iTunes. I’ll be floored if any of these songs chart.
PAIGE THOMAS IS UP NEXT!
-Paige thanks Colleen, her adopted mother, who took her in during a rough time in her life. Paige relates the story of how her mother was killed in a car accident on Christmas Eve when she was a little girl, sharing a tragic parallel with CeCe (as if they haven’t been compared enough this season). Paige feels that her mother sent Colleen to be her guardian angel.
-She’s singing “Everytime” by (who else?) Britney Spears. The first half of the song is gorgeous…but everything goes pear-shaped in the second half, with her voice getting uncharacteristically nasally. Making matters worse, she becomes the latest in the long line of contestants who’ve succumbed to their emotions during their performance, with Paige having a really hard time finishing the song.
-LA comically asks “That was a Britney Spears song, right?” And I think he might be serious. (As a point of comparison, he had no idea, last season, that “Skyscraper” was a song from this century). LA feels that it’s only right to defer to Britney first for her opinion, so Britney offers the opinion that Paige sang the song beautifully. Given how the rest of the judges went, I’m guessing Britney would have appreciated LA going first so she could get a feel for the room.
-LA felt that she did a decent enough job, but didn’t feel it was enough to get her out of the ten spot (so expect her to rank #4 tomorrow). Simon thinks Paige may be in trouble tomorrow. Demi agrees that it was pitchy in places, and better in rehearsals, but that she loves Paige (we’re just going to ignore last week’s vote then).
-Britney, in a comical little misstep, starts to announce that Arin Ray is up next, before catching herself.
CARLY ROSE SONENCLAR CLOSES OUT THE SHOW!
-Carly Rose dedicates her performance to her brother. She relates how her brother has been there for her, particularly after her mother’s stroke when she was ten. She misses him dreadfully, since he’s away at college. Much like with Beatrice, Carly gets a surprise visit from Russ, who pretends to be a fan asking for her autograph. Cute.
-She sings “Over the Rainbow” and I should probably hate that this song rivals “Hallelujah” as the preeminent “Frontrunner’s song” on every singing competition ever, but I can never hate on either song in a million years. she’s giving Kat McPhee a run for her money.
-All four judges give her a standing ovation. LA calls her “a force of nature.” Demi needs to see ID because she really doesn’t believe Carly is only 13, and adds that she’s going to be in the music business for the rest of her life. Simon says that was one of the best versions of the song he’s ever heard, and retracts his earlier prediction that Vino would be number one, saying that Carly has just blown the competition wide open. Britney concludes, stating that Carly is simply unreal.
-Lines are open! Time for the recap. In short clips, it doesn’t seem like it was as rough a night as it actually was.
And that’s our show for tonight! I’ll be back tomorrow, live-blogging the double elimination results show, even though I’ll likely either a) be afflicted with a severe case of The Itis from all the good-eatin’ or b) not have eaten yet since I’m Puerto Rican and we don’t eat dinner until a quarter to 9 out of some biological impulse that prevents us from doing things in a timely fashion. Either way, I’ll be here. I can only hope you will be too.
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