The X Factor Season 2 Top 13 Performance Episode Recap: Songs from the Movies
Nov 08 2012 08:46 am CET

On Wednesday's The X Factor 12, no wait, 13 acts sing for America's votes for the first time with songs from the movies. Demi Lovato's Young Adults have a rough night, LA Reid's Over 25s have marketing issues, Simon Cowell's Groups make intriguing choices, and Britney Spears' Teens show everyone how it's done.

Last week on The X Factor: The Top 16 performed for the Judges one more time, but this time on the live stage. On Thursday's results show, each category had a Final Showdown between two acts, with four going home: David Correy from the Over 25s, Sister C from the Groups, and Diamond White from the Teens. Oh, and Willie Jones from the Young Adults, even though the show didn't include him in the previouslies. Now 12 acts remain to battle it out for a $5 million contract.

Actually, make that 13. After Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian Odom take the stage, they throw it to Simon Cowell to explain tonight's big twist. He says the panel agreed that there was one contestant they all felt deserved to be in the competition. The stage doors open to reveal the returning contestant is…Willie Jones Diamond White! Oh good, I like her. But seriously, what did Willie do to get supersnubbed?

First up tonight, representing Britney Spears and the Teens, is Arin Ray. When he's not working on his music, he plays basketball on his high school's team. He would like to avoid going out at this point in the show again. Arin sings "American Boy" from the soundtrack of every other movie three or four years ago. He's leaning up against a motocross bike while dancers in checker flag inspired outfits do their thing. He sounds fine and includes the rap portion as well. After working the crowd, Arin includes some dance moves in the final chorus of the song. All in all, a solid performance to begin tonight's program. LA Reid wondrs what happened to Arin since his brief stint in InTENsity since he is a completely different person at this point. LA loves that they found material "to match your vocal identity." Demi Lovato praises Arin for taking the panel's advice from last week because this performance had the smoothness she was looking for. Simon praises Britney Spears for her mentoring skills this week because Arin is turning into a pop star. Britney thinks Arin owned it and rocked it.

In the dreaded two-spot is Demi's Young Adult Paige Thomas. Paige had her daughter when she was a freshman in college and she wouldn't trade her for anything. Paige's daughter visited the results show last week and has been Paige's inspiration throughout the competition. Demi warns her protege she can live out her dreams on this show, but America will make the final call. Paige sings "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun. The performance begins with Paige suspended above the stage in a flowing dress. They've arranged the song to remove the oppressive synthesizer and make the track more of a Jordin Sparks anthem. The stage is decked out with Tomkat fuselage after a nuclear apocalypse. Is that how the movie ends? I only got up to the ridiculous volleyball scene before giving up out of sheer boredom. Yes I've turned in my dude card. Anyway, Paige goes a little bit off the rails with the melisma at the end, taking the performance from a B to a B-. LA praises the stage production and the song choice, but he thought the vocal performance was only good and not great. Britney says the beginning was the best part, then stops talking. Simon snarks on Demi's choices for the stage presentation, then brings up the valid criticism of the song not really going anywhere – which is true of the original version. Demi doesn't listen to his issues of the song production and instead snarks back about the stage production. There's a reason this was in the two-spot.

Vino Alan will perform first for LA's Over 25s. Vino grew up outside of a military base but wasn't allowed to enlist because of his tattoos. He has been allowed to perform for the troops, which has allowed him to travel to the point of not really having a place to call home. Vino will sing "When a Man Loves a Woman" from the movie of the same name. Although the soul path is a better choice than Nickelback and Vino is singing this song well, I'm left with a feeling of "so what?" We've seen performances like this dozens of times on American Idol – most of them passable but nothing special. The song ends and Vino says "Love will conquer hate. East coast. Much love." Okie dokie. Britney enjoyed the vocal showcase while Demi was impressed with the heart and soul of the performance. However, Demi still doesn't see Vino as a pop star. Simon disagrees, reminding Demi that Susan Boyle didn't look like a pop star and things worked out for her. Um, what demo are you going for Simon? LA says he is proud of his act and has tapped into his own identity. LA also thanks Simon for his notes last week, because they did factor into this week's performance.

The act to beat after last week's show is up next: Emblem 3. We learn the names of the boys: brothers Wesley and Keaton and honorary brother Drew. The trio have performed since middle school, but they know that they can't rest on their laurels if they want to survive this competition. Truth. Their song is a mashup of "My Girl" and "California Gurls" with the backing track from "What Makes You Beautiful." The boys have lots of energy to the point where they are a little sloppy in their stage movements and are more shouty than they should be in their singing. All of that is irrelevant because arms. Also, the mashup is incredibly crafted. LA says he wants to be critical but the trio is perfect. Britney was blown away. Demi thought the guys were great, but she thinks including the One Direction plug was maybe overkill. Simon shares that this song choice was a last-minute change and the boys only had about a day to work through everything. It shows, but Emblem 3 will be fine.

Britney's favorite act takes the stage: Beatrice Miller. Beatrice has two moms and two sisters, all of whom are out of work (though the sister are younger, so I guess it's not due to tough times). Beatrice has been having some dry mouth and vocal cord issues which sidelined her during rehearsals. Yikes, and she's doing one of the toughest songs out there: "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls. The arrangement has taken the song one step back from being a ballad and making it…conversational? Beatrice's rasp matches the song perfectly and I think I'm starting to see the magic Britney sees in her. LA says Beatrice's voice sounds like a hit record and this was a good song choice. Demi loves how someone so young can put so much soul into a song. "I connect to you," Demi adds. Simon double-checks how old Beatrice is (13), and thinks she is unbelievable. Although there were some vocal issues here and there, Simon knows Beatrice will work for this. Britney closes out the praisefest telling her protege she has the best personality in the entire competition.

Jennel Garcia is just a small-town girl living in a lonely world. If not for The X Factor, she'd be taking a midnight train to bartending school or something equally unambitious. Unfortunately, her song choice this week falls into the "unambitious" category: "I Love Rock & Roll" featured in that one movie that one time. Jennel works the stage well and looks the part, but there's nothing particularly unique about this performance. LA agrees, saying the performance was good but basically a "Joan Jett parody." Britney thought it was "hot hot hot," but Simon agrees with LA. Simon adds he dislikes what Demi has done to Jennel and thinks she is unrecognizable from the girl who auditioned and they fell in love with several months ago. Demi believes all the girls in the audience would but a ticket to a Jennel Garcia show. I probably would too, but don't ignore Simon's advice.

Up next is Tate Stevens. Tate decided to pursue a career in music rather than go to college, a risk that was helped by his wife being the breadwinner until she had their first kid. Tate decided to give up music when his toddler son started noticing dad wasn't around much. Now that the kids are teens, it's time for dad to pursue his dream. To hammer this narrative home, Tate sings "Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi. He works the crowd like a pro, including holding out the microphone for the parts where the crowd should be singing along. The most striking part of this performance: it doesn't end with a power note. I mean, the original song doesn't either, but I don't recall a song ending with instrumentation on a singing competition. Britney and Demi loved the performance. Simon says it feels like Tate is back in the competition. LA hopes the public votes for Tate.

Simon tells us the next song will be from Mary Poppins, courtesy of Lyric145. What? First, we learn 145 are two brothers from Queens. They had good parents but grew up in a rough neighborhood. Lyric da Queen is from Flint, MI, a place she describes as "people don't make it out of here." Simon wasn't joking about the source material: the trio are doing "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Ha, the spellcheck hasn't red squiggly'd the word. Anyway, the staging and costumes seem to be a Frankenstein's monster of Black Eyed Peas, Nicki Minaj, The Oogieloves and the "Don't Come Around Here No More" video. This performance will be polarizing, which is not what you want to do in the first week of the public vote. LA says he hated the song, but the performance was inventive and perfect. Britney calls the theatrics intriguing while Demi says the trio nailed it. Simon mentions that Lyric made the song choice and says the performance was "bloody fantastic."

Taking the stage now is this week's surprise entrant Diamond White. She says last Thursday was the worst day of her life. Even though she took her elimination in stride during the live show, we see footage from her exit interview after the news sunk in and there were tears. At the end of the interview, Diamond gets the call from Britney with the good news. In short, this show has no shame in exercising psychological warfare on the contestants. Diamond sings this week's song from the Whitney Houston catalog: "I Have Nothing." Her styling reminds me of Janelle Monae, wearing what looks like a white tuxedo and a squared off up-doo. The performance is fine, but I'm getting really tired of all the Whitney on this season and we're only three live shows deep. LA calls the song choice ambitious but says both he and Diamond know "you brought it home girl." Demi says Diamond tugged at her heart. Simon says he's happy she's back in the competition. Britney tells her act she channeled Whitney in the performance.

CeCe Frey did not get off to a great start last week. She doesn't want to go back to Decatur, Illinois: stamp sales capital of the world. To underscore this desperation, CeCe performs "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor. She's brought back the leopardface and she seems to be trying to channel Pink to the point where the choreography and staging reminds me of the "Most Girls" video (minus the shirtlessness). CeCe seems to be trying too hard, which is screwing up her tone. Despite this mish-mash of problems, this performance is significantly better than last week's experiment. LA tells CeCe she ended the song strong, which she did, but despite checking all the boxes for a good performance, the total performance didn't work. Britney says CeCe was a rebel, but Simon says CeCe is completely unrecognizable. He tells her to make her own song choices because Demi is not helping. Demi disagrees, saying CeCe is becoming the artist she wants to be. But we already have Pink?

Britney's final act of the night is Carly Rose Sonenclar. If should come as no surprise she has been singing since she was 2 and there's lots of home video of her. She also tries to make Westchester, NY sound like some quaint town Upstate, even though it is the only non-NYC part of the state that is not considered "Upstate." Anyway, Carly Rose says she felt uncomfortable with all the production of last week's performance, so this week will be more of a vocal showcase. She sings "It Will Rain" by Bruno Mars, which showed up on one of the Twilight soundtracks. This is the first performance of hers where I feel like she could actually be a contemporary artist. She appears to cry at the end of the song, but there are no tears or redness to the face. Hmm. LA says the performance was heartfelt and honest. Demi and Simon both say this week was a huge improvement over last week and her rendition could be a hit song. Britney says Carly Rose should have closed the show because she can't imagine anyone following that performance. Oh, hello Britney, welcome to the game. It's about time.

Jason Brock will be the final representative of the Over 25s. A native of Texas, Jason had always been "Mr. Entertainment" even though his dad really wanted him to take up football. Jason seems happier in San Francisco. LA picked the song "I Believe I Can Fly" because it can stir the soul. Eh. The performance begins and the first problem involves Jason's wardrobe: a red sport coat, red shirt and a black bowtie. He looks like he's about to park your car. Jason sings the song fine, but it's the same issue Vino had: so what? The Melanie Amaro choir makes a cameo for the second half of the song because that's what's supposed to happen with this song and performance. Britney says this was an improvement over last week, but Jason is coming across as a Vegas lounge act. Demi says Britney took the words out of her mouth and warns LA he has completely misguided Jason. Simon says he didn't believe the song and Jason looks like a singing waiter at an Italian restaurant. LA reminds everyone America gets to decide and Jason did an excellent job. My first suggestion: drop the "Mr. Entertainment" moniker and the Vegas-y feel will drop by at least 75%. Khloe asks Britney what song she would suggest for Jason. Britney thinks for a moment and mentions "Scream" by Usher, which causes Jason to say "ooo." Listen to her, LA.

The final act of the night is LYLAS 1432 Fifth Harmony. Well, they tried. I'm disappointed that my suggestions of InFIVEsity and Womenudo did not gain any traction. The quintet offers "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri. They have brought back the stools and group singing from Judges' Houses, which is a smart move given last week's disaster of a performance. I don't particularly care for the song, but it's nice to see the women back on their A-game. LA is all "Fifth Harmony, huh? I can't complain since America picked it. Wah wah." HA! He was impressed with the singing, as were Britney and Demi. Simon praises his act for the leaps and bounds of improvement they have made week-to-week so far.

And that's it. 13 acts performed but only 11 will be guaranteed safety Thursday. The bottom two acts will have to Sing for Survival in the Final Showdown. Also, One Direction will perform twice to demonstrate that The X Factor does generate stars. We will have live coverage starting at 8pm Eastern. See you there!

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