By Chuck Barney & Ardua Harris
Uh-oh, it's Diva Night on "The X Factor" and we're already terrified. This could be really interesting -- or really disastrous (Part of us is rooting for the latter).
"I think it's going to boil down, in this competition, to true talent," says the esteemed orator Britney Spears, apparently just now realizing that, yes, this IS a talent show. Good for her.
But if that's true, what in the world is Khloe Kardashian doing here? Well, she's looking extremely shiny in a very short gold dress that looks like something dreamed up by Scrooge McDuck.
She and co-host Mario Lopez remind us that last week, the show revealed for the first time, how our contestants ranked in the voting. But tonight, the slate is supposedly wiped clean.
Let's find out, as Lopez says, if they're diva-hot, or diva-not:
Jennel Garcia (Young Adults) -- "Proud Mary" by Tina Turner
OK, so Jennel, who ranked seventh last week, is no Tina Turner. Not even close. But she's got some of the manic dance moves down, if not the powerhouse vocals. Apparently, the judges don't care. "You just returned to the competition," L.A. says. "That smoked." Britney adds that, "Tina would be proud," (Isn't it nice to know Brit can read Tina's mind?). Even Simon loves it. "You look better. You sound better. You were having more fun. It's like a different person," Simon says.
Our No. 1 vote-getter emerges from the dry-ice fog and is on-point with his vocals once again, but this song is rather boring. Even so, the judges rave and Simon calls it even better than the performance that got all those votes last week, but we wouldn't go that far. Still, this dude has an everyman appeal and sings with heartfelt emotion, so it's easy to see why viewers have fallen in love with him.
Diamond White (Teens) -- "Halo" by Beyonce
Diamond continues to show that the decision to bring her back was a wise one (Gotta love those peace-sign earrings, too). She starts out a little shaky and flat, but then conquers the big notes at the end. L.A. says she capably filled Beyonce's big shoes, and Demi claims, "You are a total diva in the best way possible." Noting the shaky start, Simon offers some advice: Don't walk and sing at the same time. Still, he's convinced that "we're looking at a future star."
Beatrice Miller (Teens) -- "Time After Time" by Cindi Lauper
Adorable Beatrice admits that she was sad and stressed out after finishing 10th in the rankings last week. We feel for her, but we don't know if her status is going to improve much after this dirge-like cover. "That wasn't the greatest song choice," says L.A., "because it didn't allow you to peak." But Demi liked it because it showed another side of little B. Simon, however, agrees with L.A., calling it "boring," and he knocks Britney for picking the wrong songs for Beatrice. That wakens Brit from her nap to snarl, "Simon, she has more talent in her pinkie than all of your contestants put together." Oh, we love it when she's feisty.
Lyric 145 (Groups) -- "We Will Rock You" by Queen and "E.T." by Katy Perry
We once had such high hopes for this hip-hop trio, but we've become dismayed lately. There's more flash than substance on this strange mash-up. More noise than emotion. Could it be that Simon isn't serving them well? (He says they made a last-minute song change. Why?). L.A. thinks that this may be the last we see of them.
Arin Ray (Teens) -- "Crazy For You" by Madonna
Whoops! Someone cued the wrong music. Arin recovers (somewhat) to deliver a stripped-down version of Madonna's early hit, but we're not crazy for this performance. No goosebumps, says L.A. "Boring," claims Demi, who adds that he lacks soul. Simon even goes as far to say that it looked like Arin hated it, as well. Then, in one of the best lines of the night, our snarky Brit says that "you taking on that song was like asking a cat to eat a tiger." Looks like Arin may have to settle for rooting for Normani, one of the members of Fifth Harmony he has taken a shine to.
Paige Thomas (Young Adults) -- "Last Dance" by Donna Summer
Ugh. Didn't Demi learn anything from last week's rankings? Can't she ever just let Paige sit quietly on stage and sing by herself? Do we always need the big production extras? There's no swooping down from the ceiling tonight, but there are plenty of awful dancers and flashing disco lights and laser beams. (Paige even has glitter all over her lips). Why can't Demi just let her singers' voices shine on their own? L.A. and Simon both think it's a solid performance, but Simon, like us, is bothered by all the distractions. "You needed to be in the spotlight," he says.
Fifth Harmony (Groups) -- "Hero" by Mariah Carey
This thrown-together girl group seems to be blending well on and off the stage -- and, ironically, there doesn't seem to be a diva among them. They start off a little pitchy, but once all five began harmonizing, they sound pretty lovely. "I think Simon is doing amazing with you guys," Britney says. Still, we wonder if they might need to eventually to rally behind one main singer/leader like the most famous girl groups have done over the years. It might help to bolster their identity. But even composed as they are now, Simon thinks they have a real shot at winning.
Carly Rose Sonenclar (Teens) -- "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion
Good lord, we thought this song went down with the (movie) Titanic years ago. Unfortunately, it's been dredged back up and, what do you know, she pretty much kills it. Great tone. Amazing control. And nails the final big note. "It pains me to say it, but we could be looking at the winner," L.A. says. Adds Demi, "I feel like Celine Dion is here and she's hiding." Simon is stunned. "I don't believe you're a human being," he says. "You just can't do that at 13."
Vino Alan (Over 25s) -- "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green
Vino lends his gritty voice to this soulful classic and makes it work. Oh, but wait: Demi says she was a "little bored," even though he sounded "amazing." Huh? And Simon thinks the song choice didn't do him any big favors. Still, what has us most perplexed is the way Khloe is flubbing her lines while hanging all over Vino. She is pulling off the impossible and causing us to remember that Steve Jones guy with a modicum of fondness.
Emblem 3 (Groups) -- "No One" by Alicia Keys
Simon continues to have a man crush on these guys, but remians stunned that they were mired in sixth place last week. This time, they bring a little more harmony and a little less spastic energy to the performance and it might win them some new fans (although the young girls apparently will love them no matter what). L.A., too, is going nuts: "You have the perfect vocal blend. It was the perfect song. You are complete superstars in my opinion." Says Britney, "I totally get why the girls are swooned by you. You guys are complete heartthrobs."
CeCe Frey (Young Adults) -- "All By Myself" by Celine Dion
Last week's 12th-place finish (and sing-off) has drained a lot of cockiness from CeCe. The girl has had to learn humility and she seems a little broken. Tonight, she breaks out the prom hair (and gown), along with the wind machine, and mostly screeches her way through the song while trying not to get blown off stage. It's better than last week's "Eye of the Tiger" debacle, but she's still not convincing us that she belongs here. Nor is she having any fun. "Sorry, I just don't get it," says Britney, who doesn't get a lot of things. Simon, too, was dismayed. "For whatever reason, something isn't working," he insists.
Well, now it's time to vote. Not one, but two, singers will be going home during Thursday's elimination show. The singers most in trouble? CeCe, of course, along with Arin and Lyric 145.