You know you’ve got problems when you get upstaged by your own headpiece. If Paige can’t improve on the screech-whisper combo she delivered on “What Is Love,” she’ll be singing “baby don’t hurt me no more” when America unceremoniously dumps her Thursday night.
11. Vino Alan
Simon was right that Nickleback’s “Gotta Be Somebody” was totally wrong for the tattooed, talented soul man. Vino needs to figure out what kind of material suits him best — and pronto! The fact that he skulks the stage like a prison-yard extra from Oz isn’t helping his cause, either.
10. Arin Ray
Somehow got saved after a cover of “I Look to You” that crumbled like a cracker in a toddler’s fist during the latter half. Demi keeps pointing out that Arin makes the teenage girls in the audience scream, but that only makes it harder for the voting public to hear the kid’s vocals.
9. Jason Brock
His “Dance Again” cover was a crazy-gaudy spectacle — but decently sung, and fairly entertaining. His followup on “One Moment in Time” proved he’s got legitimate chops, but his fate depends on whether mentor L.A. Reid harnesses Jason’s campy energy into a commercially viable package, or merely lets him be dismissed as a joke.
8. CeCe Frey
She’s definitely not Season 2’s best singer, but CeCe is a classic trier, and at least her Ke$ha-ized “Because the Night” wasn’t boring. As Simon astutely noted, the competition is better for having her in it.
The trio’s “One Day” was like watching a Top Chef contestant make a bologna sandwich on Sunbeam and having the judges declare him the next Eric Ripert. Just because they went last on Top 16 night doesn’t mean they went best, but the hype machine — and X Factor script writers — are clearly on their side.
6. Tate Stevens
Last country act standing has an appealing everyman vibe and rock-solid vocals going for him. But whether or not he has the star power to carry him all the way to victory is as questionable as Britney Spears’ grasp on the English language.
5. Carly Rose Sonenclar
Quite possibly the season’s most powerful vocalist, but her classic vocal stylings seem at odds with mentor Britney’s pop-tart vision. Here’s hoping the Lady Spears doesn’t force her 13-year-old team member to reenact her “I’m a Slave 4U” or “Gimme More” videos as the season progresses.
4. Lyric 145
Their absurd mashup for “Boom! Shake the Room” and “Gangnam Style” featured outfits that looked like they’d been vomited up from the liner notes of 1992’s Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, but as Lyric Da Queen sassed back to L.A., they kinda made us like the whole mess.
3. Lylas/1432/Those 4 Girls and That Other Girl
If they don’t learn to blend their voices and harmonize in the next week or two, they’ll wind up collecting dust in the pantries of our minds like so much unused cranberry jelly. (How’s that for an overwrought holiday-themed simile?) But while the whole of this quintet may not equal the sum of its talented members’ parts, if Simon really puts his mentoring muscle behind ’em, it’s not hard to envision them finding a place atop the charts right next to One Direction. And hey, at least their individual parts on “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” sounded good, no?
2. Beatrice Miller
There’s just something about this moppet — and her willingness to question Britney’s choice of a romantic Jason Mraz ballad — that transcends the usual “child star” syrupiness and makes us kind of love her. Her Top 16 vocal wasn’t flawless, but there was beauty in the nooks and crannies of her world-weary sound.
1. Jennel Garcia
It’s way too early to call the Season 2 race for any particular candidate, but no Season 2 finalist looked or sounded more comfortable and confident in the first live show than Jennel did on “Home Sweet Home.” If she can separate her personal style a bit from Ms. Lovato’s, she could last a very long time in the competition.
Who’s your favorite from Season 2 of X Factor? How would you rank the Top 12? Sound off in the comments!