The X Factor: Handicapping Season 2's Top 16

The X Factor may be getting a week off thanks to the World Series airing on Fox, but Simon Cowell’s reality singing competition will come roaring back next Thursday (Nov. 1, provided there’s no Game 7) with the Top 16 contestants taking the stage for a two-and-a-half-hour live performance telecast.

To fill the X-shaped hole in your life for the next seven days, we’ve put together a gallery of Season 2’s 16 finalists — four each from Britney Spears’ “Teens” (age 12-16), Demi Lovato’s “Young Adults” (age 17-24), L.A. Reid’s “Over 25s” and Simon Cowell’s “Groups” — pointing out their respectives strengths and weaknesses and suggesting some cool, offbeat songs for them to cover.

Check out the gallery below, then hit the comments with your own assessment of the field. And don’t forget to add a few of your picks to our Season 2 fantasy set list!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. L says:

    What the hell are with these pictures? Some of them are good (I think Jennel’s looks very much like she’s on a Kelly Clarkson album cover & that’s a good comparison), but some are horrendous. I’m rather ambivalent on Paige Thomas, but covering up one of her best assets (her face) in a promo picture seems like a ridiculous idea. And Cece as a blonde? Yuck.

  2. Clay says:

    Jillian Jensen should be here. Not Jennel or Paige. I feel like Demi didn’t choose her because possibly she couldn’t remain bias when trying to coach her. But I personally think that was a definite miss. The producers shouldn’t have let her done that.

    • Lois says:

      I think Jennel should be there (she’s probably the only act who’s music I’d listen to), but Jillian should’ve been there too. If they were going to make strong comparisons to Paige and CeCe during Boot camp, it should’ve been one or the other. Not both. And I think Paige should’ve gone.

      • Thea says:

        I absolutely agree! There is no reason Paige should still be on the show. One Rihanna is more than enough, thank you very much.

  3. Rob says:

    I’m actually loving blonde CeCe. Upgrade! #fierce

  4. Vivi says:

    I’m sorry, you’re reaching with some of your analysis. How does Diamond come off a ‘wee contrived’. Not once have I seen that from her. Just because she’s all smiles and all positive vibes does not mean she’s a ‘wee contrived’. Geez.

  5. Ste ven says:

    Wish they’d have a viewer wild card after one from each mentor is cut the first week..let viewers bring one back. Looks like Simon wants a group or young female Bieber to that old is now 26…so who will 14 year old girls Vote for?

  6. Glinda says:

    Michael: Your apostrophe is misplaced, I think. Shouldn’t it be Season 2’s not Season’s 2?

  7. Clau says:

    America’s next top model goes to…. Paige Thomas! Cece is the runner up

  8. niks says:

    Apparently, “Lylas” name is already taken by another girl group. These girls will have to change their name. I wish that Carly and Beatrice hadn’t chosen the shortcut of x-factor, and tried their luck the old-fashioned way. Develop some song-writing skills and find themselves musically, because that’s the only way for longevity, and they are too gifted to not even try.

  9. onlyakb says:

    why on earth you want Cece to sing Aimee Mann? let Aimee songs be sang by a nicer human being!
    anyway Im cheering for the teens, Jannel, girl group, Sisters C and Tate to stay around for a long time in the competition!!

  10. Rachel says:

    I forgot you really loved Sister C. I just find them a bit boring. I don’t really see any personality to them. They are really really good but even playback who was absolutely wretched in their audition had more personality and charisma with them. For the groups my money’s on Lylas and Lyric 145. Emblem3 are kind of obnoxious.

  11. ben says:

    Man of Constant Sorrow for Willie Jones. Win!
    Also, am I the only one who thinks that the Lylas are a hot mess? I know we haven’t seen much of them so far, but to me it feels like they have a couple of stars, a couple of people who could be really irritating, and no demonstrable chemistry as a group (yet). I’m not convinced they will be able to pull it together – if they keep trying to showcase each person individually, it won’t work for me.

    • kavyn says:

      They were only together for 4 days. The only group that had natural chemistry with each other (from the ones put together) was Lyric145 since they were so similar. But the other two groups all entered as individual singers and got put into a group where they were forced to be together.

      Where as LYLAS maybe didn’t show that much chemistry, they were at least talented and it takes time to get groups together. I’d recommend checking out Delilah on the Sing Off (got cancelled after last season so it’s not anymore). They were a group of 8 girls that were on different groups on the Sing Off and formed a group together. They sang very well together considering they didn’t know each other for that long.

      Playback on the other hang felt like they were faking chemistry. They were trying to rally Simon up when they themselves didn’t even look comfortable with what they were doing.

      I’d rather have a group that grows together to develop chemistry (which they seem to have a lot of based on their twitter), rather than a group that’s faking it just to seem like they care about each other.

      • ben says:

        Nah, playback felt like they had chemistry. Lylas feels like 5 girls who each want to be the star, and it simply isn’t going to happen. Perhaps it’s just because I find them fake? They appear to be popular for now, but I bet it falls apart quickly. In 4 days, you can create chemistry just fine. You just have to try to. They didn’t, they tried to be 5 solo artists.

        • kavyn says:

          We were definitely watching different shows, because all I saw Playback do was jump around like idiots.

          But it’s not fair to judge either of them for one performance that they had 4 days to not only prepare for but also get to know one another as a group. We’ll see in the live shows.

    • ejones says:

      And one of them is too tall, its surprisingly important in a girl group that all are of a similar height.

  12. I am enjoying how close the competition is this season. Last season I knew who was going home in the first show by now.

  13. Aria says:

    If the judges make first cuts, I’m guessing we’ll say goodbye to Paige Thomas, Sister C, David Correy (Tate Stevens probably deserves it, but LA does not seem fond of this guy), and Beatrice Miller (it should be Arin, but Britney won’t get rid of her only guy).

    • Aria says:

      I only say David because Vino has one of the best voices this year, and Jason and Tate are different from anyone else this season, although Jason is pretty much a bloated Adam Lambert and Tate is dull but an experienced (more mature) country singer than either Willie or Sister C.

    • JM says:

      I think Britney’s smarter than people give her credit for on this show, I think if the judges make the cuts it will be Sister C, probably Cece Frey because Demi know’s people don’t really like her but it could be Paige (hopefully), I’m not sure about the Over’s but I think LA would absolutely keep Jason and for Britney I’m almost positive she’d keep all 3 girls and send Arin home.

  14. Samantha says:

    Count me in with those who wish Demi had chosen Lillian over Paige. It will be interesting to see if the toned down, more sincere Cece is just an act or if it will continue (or both, if she’s determined enough). At this point I’m liking Beatrice, Jennel, Vino, and, oddly, Lyric145(the reason I find that odd is because I have absolutely no love for or interest in rap music as a whole). On the subject of Willie Jones, he’s been ignoring his money notes in his last few auditions. The boy’s gotta start getting back into that lower register of his, that’s how he’s gonna end up sending his competition (Tate) packing.

    • kavyn says:

      I think in Cece’s case, it’s both. She’s kind of forced to play up the cheetah paint personality because that’s how she’s labelled, and she’s gained many fans due to her confidence. So I think she will continue to play the personality that she’s demonstrated during the auditions and boot camp, but more so to express her confidence.

      But the problem is if she isn’t mean, everyone watching her is going to think she’s faking being nice. So I mean, she’s kind of in a lose-lose situation.

      • Slatina Whorinova says:

        And whose fault is that? Nobody put a gun to her head and forced her to approach one of the other contestants during the audition rounds and mess with him. She only started her fake tears when Demi told her she came off unlikeable. And she is unlikeable. She’s trying to mask that mediocre voice of hers with that try-hard cheetah paint. It ain’t working. Well, except on Michael Slezak.

        • kavyn says:

          Actually… the producers did tell her to do that. They also told Tara to do it and probably that Southern girl from one of the first episodes too.

          Obviously they didn’t put a gun to your head, but if a producer came up to you and asked you to do something for national television, it’s highly unlikely you’d say no.

          And I think your view of Cece is just the generic “Oh Cece is so mean on tv, what a terrible person she is” view that a lot of people have posted. Face it, Cece is talented, beautiful and funny, and the only tick against her is the edit she got on television. I don’t think she was faking her sad moments whatsoever, as being on national television and having all that pressure on you takes your toll. I imagine you also think Paige, Jillian, and the rest that cried during auditions were also faking it?

          • Slatina Whorinova says:

            I couldn’t stand Jillian’s constant crying or her frog voice. I would be grateful never to hear another word about Paige’s struggles with being a young mom. I also can’t stand anything about Cece. Not her mediocre voice, the pretentious cheetah paint, the fake first “audition” of her singing “Unchained Melody” or some other ballad off-key, and especially not her facial expressions when singing, the typical smiling and peering over the mic as if to say: “I’m so cute and wait….wait….I’m about to hit a glory note or do something playful with the melody.” Yuck.

  15. Forwarddad says:

    Paige Thomas – stunning beauty ? Don’t see it. I think she looks like a cheap Beyonce. Voice is weak.
    Jason- his picture looks like he is Elton John. They are trying too hard on the gay vote. Voice is affected .
    Arin has my vote for being most commercially ready.

  16. Maris says:

    I like the fact that you talk about how Beatrice’s is different from the others in her category because that’s one of the things that make her my favorite, I think Carly and mostly Diamond seem too rehearsed and robotic for me to really root for them. Also, I do hope Jennel finds a nice balance of acting sexy but not too much, because I’m really rooting for her.

  17. Slatina Whorinova says:

    Emblem3 come off as such douchebags that I can’t help but wish they get booted in the first results show. On the other hand, I enjoy the blonde rapper’s naked torso and wish that he take his pants off next. Paige reminds me a lot of Rihanna. I am tired of her constantly mentioning her child. I’m glad Jillian is gone. I can’t stand her constant crying or her hoarse voice. She is the worst sounding of her category. Jennel’s whole shtick is to be slutty. I cannot stand her. Cece is a total plant, based on her first appearance in the auditions and now her redemption edit telling us she’s willing to work hard and wants to be likeable. Bottom line, she may have tons of confidence, but her voice is mediocre. She never would have made it to any American Idol live round. She is a joke and a wannabe.

  18. donna says:

    i love all the groups (including emblem 3, think they are funny and fun), and the country older guy seems like a nice guy to me in spite of demi’s accusations. i’m never wrong about personalities. also, still bitter about panda!

  19. teatime says:

    Do we know how many acts are going home next week?

  20. Dean says:

    Real simple…..LYLAS 1ST…..Beatrice 2nd Carly 3rd,…………luv luv luv the LYLAS

  21. Dean says:

    Almost forgot….Simon you rock…..L.A. goodluck u need will need it……Demi you did right thing.sending Jillian home, it’s business and your job, she was not that good and shouldn’t proceed b/c of sympathy …Britney, your alittle cuckoo but you got Beatrice, guide her to the top, help her with her nerves..she is absolutely great! !

  22. stella says:

    thanks for showing the pictures with the comments so i don’t have to look up who you’re talking about.