X Factor: The 25 Best Performances of Season 2

Congratulations! Season 2 of The X Factor has come to a close, and that means you can live a Kardashian-free lifestyle till at least September 2013.

But in the midst of what was admittedly a frustrating season — too-early exits for many of the best acts, perpetual ennui from the show’s highly paid mentors, and the Kardashian-Lopez hosting catastrophe — there were actually quite a few fine musical moments.

RELATED | The Voice: 25 Best Performances of Season 3

Check out my picks below, then hit the comments and tell me which ones I got right, which ones have you questioning my taste level, and which omissions had you crying “blasphemy!”

PHOTOS | The X Factor: The Inside Story on Season 2′s Wildest Production Numbers

Oh, and for all my reality TV recaps, news, and interviews, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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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55 Comments
  1. L3nDz says:

    how about the voice? :D

  2. Stacie says:

    I thought I was pumped last season for American Idol after the mess of X Factor, but given the huge mess of this season of X Factor I am so excited about American Idol. The new judges sound interesting, and the calmness of the quiet regular auditions and subsequent rounds, plus you can say a lot about him, but Ryan Seacrest runs that show flawlessly and proves how weak Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez were. I am sure by mid February or March I will start being cranky about certain aspects of the show, but after seeing this past season of X Factor and The Voice I am ready for American Idol to begin.

  3. Sam says:

    SO ready for Idol. When I compare my love for Skylar Laine, Colton Dixon, Elise Testone, Erika Van Pelt, etc. to my vague interest in Cassadee Pope, Carly Rose, Dez Duron, and Amanda Brown, the two don’t compare. I want to FEEL something when I watch a singing show again!

    ALSO, AMERICAN IDOL: GO BACK TO THE THREE-WEEK SEMI-FINALS SYSTEM. I am super sick of the Top 24 being cut down to 12 in one week.

    • B. says:

      I’m sorry but Amanda Brown is better than all those ladies you mentioned above. Skylar, really? And why on earth did you pick DEZ over the likes of people like Nicholas David and Terry McDermott, did you forget them? BTW people like Nicholas David will NEVER be found in the finale of American Idol no matter how good they are because they will be ousted EARLY on based solely on looks! And that is why The Voice > American Idol

      (Not to mention American Idol has all this lame ass “judges drama” going on between Nicki and Mariah… No thank-you!)

  4. Alienate says:

    I just couldn’t bear to be reminded about the season again, so I won’t page thru the list.
    But thanks for the thought.

  5. kavyn says:

    … These aren’t in order, are they?

  6. Nicole says:

    One of my favorite Carly rose songs was Bruno Mars it will rain. Also in her duet with tate Stevens she nailed her part Miley Cyrus the climb.
    Tate Stevens my favorite wasBon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or alive
    5th Harmony’s judges house performance of impossible

  7. sam says:

    everybody is so negitive if you didnt like the x factor this season thats your opinion no need to ruin this for actual fans who are here to remember the best moments!!

  8. Don’t need to read it. It’s probably gonna be Slezak’s-my-Top-25-favorite-diva’s-who-were-robbed-and-should-have-won performances.

  9. Panda Ross should have won!

  10. JT says:

    one thing missing – paige thomas’ Paradise as a survival song

  11. Will says:

    Carly’s judges house performance should be on here. I loved it the most. As well as CeCe’s cover of Noah (on youtube)’s version of Sexy and I know it.

  12. Timmah says:

    I can’t get “Anything could happen” out of my head. Great choice for #1.

  13. Maris says:

    Beatrice Miller’s version of Titanium and Jennel Garcia’s Paris are both tied at number 1 for me

  14. Thuy says:

    Completely agree with #1 “Anything could happen”. I had that song on rotation.

  15. Rachel says:

    carly’s first audition should be on here. Trumps everything on this list.

  16. Yi Hah says:

    With that sad old hick winning, this show is officially toast. Season 3 will be the last.

  17. P says:

    You only included 2 performances by Carly (and only 1 of those made it to the top 10)? Ridiculous.

    • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

      +1000 and same for Beatrice too. How do the two many considered among the very best on many blogs, even this one at times, only get top 10 once each and not even a single top three, and then only a single other perforance out of 25 with everyone complaining it was a weak season?

  18. Are you kidding? lol Carly’s audition is number 1, there is no way it’s 20 million views for nothing. For it to not even make the Top 25 is just astonishing. I don’t care if the song has been ‘overdone’ or ‘she’s too young to do an old song like that and FEEL the lyrics’. Noone can really know or feel the original intentions of the lyrics in my opinion unless you’re either the writer or singer of an original song written for you. As long as you can reinterpret it and deliver it in a technically great manner e.g. where the arrangement is different and suits the tone of your voice.

    • Rachel says:

      completely agree. Also Anything Can Happen didn’t give me chill bumps like Carly’s first time singing feeling good did. But then again Slezak, for some reason, hasn’t really been a fan of carly throughout the entire season.

      • Booya says:

        No “Brokenhearted”? “Over the Rainbow”? “It Will Rain”? Her audition? Has this guy ever had credibility?

        • Kevin says:

          It’s his opinion, and you are entitled to yours, but there’s no need for disrespect and rudeness -.- People get so offended when others have different opinions, it’s so frustrating

    • CherokeeRose says:

      @Bazzle, that is perhaps the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t need to be the writer or an original artist to connect with the song. Loads of artists have covered songs better than the original artists. Whitney Houston with ‘I Will Always Love You’ being the most famous example. KD Lang’s cover of Hallelujah has been praised by Leonard Cohen himself. Neither artist had any direct connection to the song but they connected with it nevertheless. Hell look at Jeffrey Gutt & Nicole Nelson’s (The Voice) same rendition of the same song. Technical ability means nothing if you leave your audience feeling cold.

      • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

        OTOH, you have to not get too caught up in being used to the sort of interpretation that you think is the song and automatically toss of anything else as unfeeling. It is all to easy to automatically hate on something if it goes in a very different way. (And for all the talk about Carly acting it out, listen to many of the LC recorded versions, you can like literally see the old stage production type calculated acting in the whole thing.) I will admit at times she did seem a little bit like she was calculating emotions, but more in the earlier parts of the seasons and even then in the end she still delivered so much and compared to what else others were doing, often not any more felt and far less interestingly arranged and delivered, even then she still tended to come across as near the top.

      • Are we even talking about the same thing here? That’s exactly what I mean. You can reinterpret the songs which implies that you can connect to them by doing this and also delivering it technically well. What I said was…no one really knows or understands the ‘original intentions’ of a song and that’s true unless you have talked to the songwriters or are the songwriter. E.g. I Will Always Love You is about Dolly Parton’s one-time partner and mentor Porter Wagoner from what I read. Knowing the lyrics this song could even be reinterpreted by a parent who has a scared relationship with a child and knows that they’d be better off out of their lives. This intention is obviously different from the original aren’t they? But they can still connect to the lyric in their own reinterpretation without knowing that the original was written for a lover. So I’m backing up Carly’s ‘Feeling Good’ performance as in the lyrics can be reinterpreted by a 13 year old kid to make it believable.

    • Booya says:

      This guy isn’t a music expert, he’s a karaoke expert. When someone doesn’t do a copycat performance, he gets confused and frazzled. He also has different rules for young actors compared to young singers. One is allowed to be an artist and interpret words, but not the other.

  19. 1. Feeling Good (Audition) – Carly
    2. Supercal*** – Lyric145
    3. Impossible (Judges Homes) – FH
    4. Sunset Boulevard (Audition) – E3
    5. Sober (Judges Homes) – Vino Alan
    6. As Long As You Love Me – Carly
    7. Rolling in the Deep – Carly
    8. Bonfire – Tate
    9. Anything Goes – Tate
    10. One Day – E3

    Honourable mentions: Paris Oooo LaLa – Jennel, Sweeter – Jennel, American Boy – Arin, Because You Loved Me -Diamond, Titanium – Beatrice, Give Your Heart A Break – FH, Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Carly.

    Sister C definitely had better group vocals than FH. Anything Could Happen isn’t up there because I am almost sure that alot of it was done by a Backing Track/ Background Vocalists. I also liked Arin Ray’s audition song ‘Count On Me’ but he needed better vocals on it.

  20. If you see this @Michael Slezak. You seem to be interested in Emblem3′s originals. Go check it out on their youtube channel. Some tunes like Sunset Boulevard on there and most of them even better than Sunset Boulevard. They have the potential to release a great album. Even if you didn’t really like them on the show. I didn’t either.

  21. CherokeeRose says:

    How is Impossible by 5H not on this list? Yet you’ve got entries from CeCe & Arin Ray. Seriously Michael. Aside from Anything Could Happen it was their most popular performance.

  22. RD says:

    It’s quite obvious that there needed to be some scraping of the barrel to get a top 25 performances out of this load of dreck if CeCe Frey made the list!

  23. Princess Adora says:

    My tastes are in line with your picks Michael. Maybe not the complete order, but definitely the #1 spot! It made me giggle that you had to look all the way back to the auditions to fill out the 25 spots though :) This show is terrible!

  24. CzarekM says:

    Ok, after reading this total rubbish I am officially stopping following Mr. Slezak! :)

  25. Shazza says:

    I would’ve added “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Jason Brock and “Sober” by Vino…

  26. HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

    Hmm…. not sure I can even begin with this list. But “CeCe Frey, “Lady Marmalade” (Top 8 Week)
    A triumph of ridiculata over pitch — but how could I not put this on the Season 2 countdown?”
    .
    OK, it was kind crazy and maybe that is worth something but at least put it #25 then??? But to have this as performance of the season more than all but one of Beatrice, I think?? And, I think, all but two of Carly?? Or any of many, many other names, even including her own where her Hollywood and judge’s house performances alone were a lot better….
    .
    And then Tate’s star finale song was one that even many Tate and country fans seemed to kind of laugh off as not his best ever and then that goes above so much other stuff he did never mind almost anything from Carly/Beatrice/etc.?
    .
    How can, for a show where people say it would be hard to find 25 to list, then have only two each from Beatrice and Carly???
    .
    Marmalade was better than Carly’s audition/finale which couldn’t even find a spot?? Her rainbow, hallelujah, etc. etc. only two spots below rolling in the deep, sure you can like ridiculata and it Marmalade was sort of that and it was, at least more interesting a way than some other stuff going on, but all the same to put that above virtually the entire season’s work of Beatrice and Carly, and I haven’t been a huge Tate fan, but to put that above most of what he did too? (And I never hated on CeCe either, I actually wanted her to make live shows.)
    .
    Loco loco loco :)

  27. Mari says:

    You are absolutely right. ‘Anything Could Happen’ was the performance of the season. Although I’d put Beatrice’s Titanium higher.

  28. HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

    Anyway something seems crazy wrong to me to have so little Carly and Beatrice (among others) on there and so largely not even way up near the top. I think Carly must’ve been hurt some are too stuck on older version older people did of certain songs and automatically mark down two marks or something. Even when was a bit less connecting earlier in the season many people still were putting her near the top each week, I thought even this blog, so how that translates so low on the top 25 scale seems odd.
    .
    American Boy was far and away Arin’s best and he did do a very solid job, but #6 seems a bit crazy high for that considering so many other gems.
    .
    OTOH I with Anything Could Happen, Party in the USA, ASAYLM, Titanium being all way up at the top (maybe not quite like that or that exact order, but all way up at the very top). I’d mix in a lot more Carly and Beatrice right up there too though (still can’t figure how most of Carly, even some of her most raved about performances, didn’t even make the cut at ALL). Can’t argue Diamond White’s Because you love me being up there either.

  29. HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

    Anyway I might put Titanium first, then some from Carly, then Anything Can Happen (and this song is damn catchy, it really does get stuck in your brain, I like it better than the original version actually and it’s really a shame that it can’t be their launch single) then Party in the USA.
    .
    Exact orderings or grades are always tricky though. I never even agree with my own exact orderings or grades from moment to moment hah, I think it’s a hopeless cause to exactly rank performances (or movies). Too many different ways to rate things and weigh things and apples to oranges etc. It never seems to make sense whatever you to with grades and rankings. I won’t even bother since I’m sure I’ll hate my own list and call myself nuts as soon as I look it over again….

    • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

      And some more from Beatrice mixed into that top bunch I listed there, here stuff always was so felt and emoted and she had an interesting tone.

  30. Mikko Makitalo says:

    Here is my list
    1) 5th Harmony: Anything… 2) Bea Miller: that Snow Patrol song 3) Jason Brock: New York State of Mind 4) Lauren Jaurouqui: Keys audition song 5) pick one from Carly (her voice, sound, tune bring tears to my eyes)

    6) Bea: Titanium 7) Jennel: Oh la la 8) pick a Vino performance 9) Ally Brooke: On My Knees 10) Diamond: Because You Love Me

    11) Tate and Little Big Town: Pontoon 12) Lyric145: Party in the Usa 13) pick another Carly song 14) Jillian Jensen: Top24 song 15) Daryl Black: audition song

    16) Tate: Anything Goes 17) Normani Hamilton and Arin Ray: Bootcamp duo 18) Panda Ross: audition song 19) Jennel: bootcamp song Sugar 20) pick here another 5th Harmony song

    21) SisterC: Judges houses song 22) Jennel: On My Way Home 23) Bea: top16 song 24) Willie: pick one song 25) Tara: Judges houses song

    26) Vino: pick another song 27) Enblem3: Sunset blvd

  31. Don Viajero says:

    I have trouble believing that you left out several of Carly’s best performances, including her audition and “It Will Rain”. Also missing are what I thought were the two best purely vocal performances of the season not by Carly: Fifth Harmony’s “Impossible” (judge’s house version) and “A Thousand Years”. Maybe you left these last two out because they just sat on stools the entire time. But those were the two songs where all 5 girls sang their parts perfectly, and they also got in some nice harmonies without the help of backup singers.

    • Mikko Makitalo says:

      Thank you for your comment. I wrote this list of mine being fully aware, that it is impossible to make a perfect list, where all the performances would be objectively exactly in their earned places.

      What I did was, that I just subjectively listened my heart, which song I would die to hear first, then 2nd and so on…

      Beatrice was to me nr 1 in the competion, so not putting her performance the 1st, because it was to me so heartfelt, was difficult, but I’ve got to admit that “Anything…” by 5th Harmony has magical hit potential.

      Carly and 5th Harmony could easily also have like 3 songs each in top27, but I collected the list in that way, that if I listened 27 songs, I would like to hear variety of singers, who really had great performances also. With Carly, you could in fact put a lot of her songs there, because she was so miraculous. And on the different day, you could put her even first. Her voice is so beautiful. (I have listened her audition countless times, I did not leave that out, but wrote “pick Carly song”) But somehow I am still not so struck by her, like I am struck by Beatrice, although she is such a gem, so I put only 2 of her songs to list.

      The girls really sang well “Impossible”, but I just do not like the song.

      Now, after the competion, my overall rating list for the contestants would be: 1) Beatrice 2) 5th Harmony 3) Jennel (if she could have kept her audition fire on) 4) Carly (sorry!) 5) Vino 6) Tate 7) Diamond. If Lyric145 could have got the potential out, one could have instinct about, they would be somewhere behind Beatrice, but before Tate.

      • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

        Hard to say I might go (top 3 my clear favorites and add in lyric 145 too if going only by their best song):
        1. Beatrice (although we never got see enough and Carly got even stronger at the end)
        .
        2. Carly
        .
        3. 5th Harmony
        .
        4. Lyric 145 if it had been Party in the USA and Supercal-like (lower if not)
        .
        5. Diamond White
        .
        6. Vino
        .
        And then maybe:
        7. Jennel (to me, her voice was clearly not the equal of Carly and she didn’t have the tone or ultra deep emotion of Beatrice and sometimes she seemed a touch karaoke when she tried to rock it out, certainly promise at times though)
        .
        8. E3 (although by standards maybe it is not fair to put them ahead of Tate, so I’m sure you can argue against this, but I did like them more even if perhaps they were very possibly not better and maybe it is not fair to put them ahead)
        .
        9. Tate (I thought CeCe was much better than Tate at her best, but she was barely ever at her best past judge’s house, even when off she was still more interesting in a way to me, but to be fair, Tate was a LOT more together and consistent with his live stuff, etc. so I simply have to put him ahead, overall he did end up doing a much better job, although I sort of feel somewhere inside of CeCe there might be something better and more interesting than him, but it wouldn’t be fair to not place him above her by any means, he did have a lot more a lot more put together performances in the end so it’s clear he has to go ahead of her, he was quite solid even if regular seeming by far most of the time and she went off the rails a lot)
        .
        10. CeCe (until live performances I’d have had her way over Tate certainly)
        .
        11. Paige (at times her vocals were pretty amazing but more and more they ended up being rather a wreck; at times she showed signs of star stage presence but not enough to carry her, if she could have always done it the way she did the few times it worked really well I’d also have her well above Tate, but in the end it was kind of a wreck and Tate was just a lot more consistently better)
        .
        12. Arin (if he had had more American Boy performances he could’ve been higher, that one was good, but everything else seemed mostly kinda of whatever, so even despite some of the train wrecks at times from Paige and CeCe, they also had some that were a lot less whatever than all but one song he did the entire way)
        .
        13. Jason (he had a couple things he did really well but he was kind of inconsistent and mostly often way over the top with everything. Yeah a couple times quite good with some strong vocals, there was a voice there although a few times vocals seemed only so-so)
        .
        Of the ones we really, really never got to see much of I wonder what Jeff and Jillian would have done.

        • Mikko Makitalo says:

          Thank you, it was nice to read your views.

          You may be right about Jennel. Also putting Diamond more up could be fair, because she IS so fabulous.

          To me, overall thinking, E3, CeCe, Arin, Paige and Jason were “the rest” that “did not matter”, but I’ll say something about them.

          I remember Bea having admired, how well Drew of E3 played guitar. I, unlike many others, liked the guys ok as persons, they just had weak singing voices and wern doing predictable things. But I think they could as a band become the one, that has a real swagger and popular.

          I have heard from very contestants, that CeCe was as person ultra nice and golden. I am also convinced, she has a fantastic voice. So my conclusion is, that everything kind of went 100% wrong with her, when viewers saw her as nasty and nearly all of her singing just did not succeed at all and kind of went down the drain.

          I am also kind of sorry for Arin, because he is a nice guy, but was kind of lame, which also may be because of some mistakes.

          I think it was a big mistake to kick Jillian out (she had quite a unique voice), and I never even from the 1st audition could now understand, what they saw in Paige.

          Tara is actually guite a wonderful person, who received the bitch edit (she did not some clips from Jennel being some witch to her, but Jennel was only very uncertain of her identity) and she also had wonderful singing ingredients and potential and that JH performance really quite delicate, so instead of Jason it would have been interesting to see, how she would have done.

          Nice to see that you put Bea also nr 1. (Sigh…) isn’t she great!?!!…(sigh), like some Jean D’Arc. In YouTube and other video sites there are lot of her interviews etc during and after the competion, so if you have not watch them, I think you would really enjoy them.

          • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

            Part of me could imagine CeCe being a bit insecure and doing a few minor things that she meant to come across as more minor or just like the game that had to be played and then the producers were like yes, yes, this working so well, that is perfect, exactly what everyone is doing on the show, keep doing that and we’ll put you all over TV heh (or at the least, not pointing out that it’s not coming across quite so well until it was already too late and more looking for ratings rather than out for the contestants). I’m not quite sure why she went from being able to hit notes and pitch and then not being able to hit some notes and missing pitch and sounding wavery all the time, it sounded like her throat was getting tight all the time, maybe could never put it behind her in her head and maybe she never recovered after reading how the first part of the season was taken. Or maybe she just has really bad skills at being able to sing with earpiece in, band blaring, fans screaming, maybe with training she could overcome that, maybe never? Or she was getting junk fed into her earpiece.
            .
            Anyway yeah it’s hard to rank contestants or songs, although I feel pretty confident in my top four, at least in some order or another.
            .
            As I said as much as I got on some of Michael’s list, heck, I’d probably get on my own song list, if I made one, after a few days hah. (although I do think I’d stand by one thing for sure, that it’s very odd to have only 4 songs out of 25 from Beatrice and Carly, come on…. otherwise it’s always a tough call)

  32. Danny says:

    My top moments all came early. I didn’t think anything later on was spectacular. There were some solid perfomances, but nothing that had me going “wow.”

    My top 3
    1) Jenne’s audition-
    2) Lyric145 at Simon’s house
    3) Panda’s audition- though I didn’t see it live, because I didn’t watch any audition shows after the first one. I got it online a few weeks later after I saw someone else talk about it.

  33. Craig Hansen says:

    Well, I see my post in support of Jillian Jensen was deleted by the uber-sensitive mods. One dare not differ from the “consensus” opinion and suggest that X-Factor was the better show this fall, I see. #bias

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