Strengths: Preternaturally poised 13-year-old killed it with her audition to “Feeling Good” and hasn’t hit a single sour note in her subsequent appearances; Broadway vet seems like a genuinely nice kid.
Weaknesses:Judges have occasionally questioned whether Carly Rose seems overly mature for her age. If she comes across as too stoic, viewers might label her robotic, but if she’s too emotional, folks might say she’s not old enough for the pressure of the competition — a tough line to walk for someone still in junior high.
Strengths: Simon Cowell’s merger of soloist Lyric Da Queen and Queens-based duo One4Five yielded immediate results with a stunningly great rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA.” Their infectious energy and good-times vibe should play well in a field loaded with earnest balladeers.
Weaknesses: A rap artist has never won a major U.S. singing competition. Plus, Lyric 145 will need to prove their Judges’ House performance wasn’t just a one-time deal.
Strengths: His soulful, smokey vocal tone may be the most distinctive — and one of the most powerful — in the competition.
Weaknesses: Replacing one’s hair with flame tattoos is always a dubious idea, but especially when you’re trying to win over the voting public. Occasional nerves and stand-offish body language don’t scream “superstar,” either.
Strengths: Has arguably the most potent pipes — and definitely the strongest internal drive for fame — in Demi Lovato’s “Young Adults” category. Her brashness and good looks — combined with her outré personality — juxtapose interestingly with her Postal Service clerk backstory.
Weaknesses: Her own mentor admitted that CeCe is not the most likable person in the competition. And while her upbeat audition to “Ain’t No Other Man” was solid, the ballad that came before it (“Unchained Melody”) was a hot, buttered wreck.
Strengths: This pre-fab quintet put together by Simon Cowell from the crushed dreams of solo artists Dinah Jane Hansen, Lauren Jauregui, Ally Brooke, Normani Hamilton and Camila Cabello has enough combined vocal power to withstand an attack from a Christina Aguilera glory note. The individual members are as gorgeous as they are talented, and seeing how America is overdue for a girl-group resurgence, you know mentor Simon Cowell won’t easily give up on them.
Weaknesses: We’ve only heard one number to date from Lylas — a rendition of Shontelle’s “Impossible” that was surprisingly light on harmonies. If these chicas want to win the Season 2 crown, they’ll have to do more than pass solo lines to each other like batons in a foot race.
Strengths: Her Judges’ House performance of “Titanium” was revelatory — powerful, controlled and packed with emotion that belied her tender age. Plus, Beatrice’s slightly dark personality is a nice contrast to the other constantly chipper girls in Britney Spears’ “Teens” group.
Weaknesses: Hasn’t scored as much screentime as category competitors Diamond White or Carly Rose Sonenclar. Dissolved into tears before her Judges’ House performance, so nerves could be a problem, too.
Strengths: His audition to Randy Houser’s “Anything Goes” proved he’s got the likeable everyman quality — and quality chops — to make it in the country market.
Weaknesses: Subsequent Boot Camp performances haven’t quite lived up to his early potential, and he got a weird edit — with Demi questioning his integrity — after picking a song duet partner Willie Jones didn’t know.
Strengths:The Shreveport, La., native has a deep voice, genuine southern charm, and a necessary resiliency — as evidenced by his decision to cover “Nobody Knows,” the song that almost led to his Boot Camp exit, during the subsequent Judges’ House rounds.
Weaknesses: The aforementioned blanking on lyrics at Boot Camp — and the sense that he needs a good three or four years before his voice is truly ready for prime time — make him one of the season’s more vulnerable players.
Strengths:The stunning beauty isn’t afraid to remind viewers she’s doing it for herself — and her adorable daughter. Decent pop vocal on par with half the ladies on the Billboard charts today.
Weaknesses: For starters, she cries way too much for primetime. And more importantly, her occasional nervousness has prevented her from delivering the kind of stellar vocal it takes to go all the way in a deep, well-matched field such as she’s facing.
Strengths: Their audition to the original track “Sunset Boulevard” proved they’ve got actual songwriting talent and possible real-world viability.
Weaknesses: Obnoxious attitude, ridiculous obsession with shirtlessness and several substandard Boot Camp performances have called into question whether they can (or should) capture the public’s imagination.
Strengths: Flamboyant persona and killer twist on “New York State of Mind” made him an instant standout from the Season 2 auditions.
Weaknesses: His “Big Girls Don’t Cry” at the Judges’ House round was robust and emotional, but didn’t garner him the buzz of his live audition. Will need to claw his way out from under the ominous, L.A. Reid-generated cloud hanging over the “Over 25s.”
Strengths: Despite a somewhat questionable edit from producers, mentor Simon Cowell has already tabbed them as a “real-world” threat — which isn’t a surprised given their tight harmonies and solid song choices to date.
Weaknesses: Britney and Demi have labeled the girls “annoying” — although no corroborating footage has been provided to back up the damning charges. Simon, too, has questioned Sister C’s likability. Does he think people will be turned off by their good looks, talent or lack of heightened/ridiculous weeping/theatrics?
Strengths: As a member of Season 1 group InTENsity, he has experience on the X Factor stage. Solid voice and the kind of looks that’ll put him inside a lot of girls’ middle-school lockers won’t hurt his cause when the voting lines open, either.
Weaknesses: Has yet to deliver a vocal that matches the jaw-dropping heights of the three girls in Britney’s “Teens” division — and he enters the live rounds with a little something to prove.
Strengths: His R&B vocal stylings sound absolutely radio-ready, and if he’s hit a bad note in the competition thus far, it’s wound up on the editing-room floor.
Weaknesses: Constant chatter about singing to find his birth mother has been overdone to the point where the pot boileth over. Doesn’t help to have a mentor that considers David over the hill in his mid-20s.