The X Factor pulled out all the stops as far as sappiness goes Wednesday evening, with each of the Top 10 finalists performing a song dedicated to someone they're thankful for. Awww. (Hey, you know what they probably aren't grateful about? Having to spend Thanksgiving evening on the X Factor stage tomorrow, when two additional contestants will get the boot.)
Most of the contestants chose to honor someone in their family, and in keeping with that theme, Kim Kardashian and her beau Kanye West were in the audience to support co-host Khloe Kardashian (who, as an aside, has done nothing to curb her nauseating flirting with Simon Cowell — something we're definitely not thankful for).
Anyway, to the singing! Here's a breakdown of Wednesday's performances.
The Over 25s, mentored by L.A. Reid
Tate Stevens: Stevens, the show's frontrunner for two weeks running, kicked off the evening with Lonestar's "I'm Already There," which he dedicated to his father. It's obvious that Stevens' No. 1 ranking has given him an extra boost of confidence, since he didn't look the least bit uncomfortable on stage. But both Cowell and Demi Lovato said they noticed his voice breaking in parts. "Maybe it's the emotion, maybe it's the nerves," Cowell speculated, but added that Stevens didn't have "a cat in hell's chance" of getting sent home this week. Still, will he be able to remain in the top spot?
Vino Alan: Alan fittingly dedicated an impassioned performance of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" to the US military, and earned a standing ovation from all the judges (even Simon!). Lovato, who admitted that she's been "really hard" on Alan throughout the competition, reversed her earlier criticisms. "I think that I've been wrong," she admitted. "There is something special in you, and I see it tonight."Spears also called Alan's performance "spot-on." But the highest praise came from Simon himself: "We could be seeing you at No. 1 tomorrow."
The Teens, mentored by Britney Spears
Diamond White: White dedicated Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" to her mother and took full advantage of the wow moments in the power ballad, earning a standing ovation from all of the judges (except for Simon) at the end of her performance. But Cowell's holdout was due to laziness rather than lack of enthusiasm. He told the 13-year-old White that she was "both fearless and incredible," and a better vocalist than many of the adults that have been or are currently on the show.
Arin Ray: Ray's spot-on, if slightly snoozy, rendition of Enrique Iglesias' "Hero" was dedicated to his older brother. The feedback he got from the judges was tepid at best, with Lovato not mincing any words as she told him flat out she was "so bored" and wouldn't sign him to a record label based on the performance. Reid and Cowell agreed, though Cowell said he'd blame Britney's mentorship over Arin's ability. "It's almost like you're being trapped in a cage with these songs," Cowell told him. Ray agreed, saying he'd like to go back to doing more upbeat, dance songs. His next conversation with Britney might be slightly awkward!
Beatrice Miller: Miller dedicated Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" to her younger sisters, twins who were adopted as babies from Vietnam. It was a strong showing, one that Miller's mentor Spears called her "best vocal performance so far." Lovato was the only dissenter, telling Miller she needed to show more progress. "I feel like it's kind of the same song every week," Lovato told her.
Carly Rose Sonenclar: After a slight misstep when Spears initially introduced her as Arin Ray (no, Brit! He already sang!), the 13-year-old Sonenclar once again proved that she's the best singer in this competition with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," dedicated to her older brother. The judges agreed, giving her the second four-person standing ovation of the night. Reid called her "an absolute force of nature" and Simon recanted his earlier statement that Vino Alan would finish the night at the top of the standings. "I think you've just blown this competition wide open," Cowell told her.
The Groups, mentored by Simon Cowell
Emblem 3: The surfer dude trio showed their softer side Wednesday, using their performance of "Secrets" by OneRepublic to thank their youth leaders. The group's harmonies have become tighter throughout their time on the show, and though Reid said their performance "lacked emotion," Lovato, Spears and Cowell (who referred to Reid as "the Grinch on my right") agreed that the slower song was a nice change of pace from some of their previous outings.
Fifth Harmony: The quintet's harmonies once again shone during The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You," but even with the personalized intro (dedicating it to each other and everyone who's supported them along the way), it's still impossible to distinguish any of these girls as individuals. Do we even know any of their names yet? Maybe the judges do (or at least Demi should), because they all had nothing but good things to say about the group's performance.
The Young Adults, mentored by Demi Lovato
CeCe Frey: Frey dedicated Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" to her sister, who was born with cerebral palsy and died at age 7, and whom Frey now thinks of as her guardian angel. Unfortunately, the truly touching story did nothing for Frey's performance, which started out off-key and didn't get much better. But it apparently had an effect on the judges, who were all too nice to tell a sobbing Frey (she was too overcome with emotion to even properly finish the song) as much. Reid praised her "genuine emotion," Spears said it was "hard to critique someone when they're pouring their heart out like that," and Cowell told Frey little more than, "I like you." That's all well and good, and we've got nothing against Frey personally, but last we checked ... wasn't this a singing competition?
Paige Thomas: Thomas' take on Spears' "Everytime" was in honor of her adoptive mother, who took Thomas in after her mother was killed in a car accident. It was another genuinely moving story, but like Frey, Thomas also let her emotions get the best of her — and the judges told her so. Thomas had to sing to stay in the competition last week, and Reid told her the performance probably wasn't "good enough to get you out of the 10 spot." Spears said Thomas sang the song "beautifully," but even Lovato told her protégé the singing was "pitchy" and that she had done better in rehearsal. Thomas herself recognized her shortcomings. "I don't think this week was about what I can deliver vocally," she told Khloe. It isn't?
So, which contestants do you think will find themselves playing the role of turkey on the Thanksgiving Day chopping block? Sound off below!
The X Factor returns Thursday at 8/7c on Fox.
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