The “fight” for the number-one spot on the leaderboard was the focus of last night’s Number 1 Songs installment of “The X Factor.” After last week’s upset at the top, with second-placer Carly Rose Sonenclar stealing first from country guy Tate Stevens, this week everyone acted like they had a shot to top the list, which is so incredibly far from the truth, since Carly and Tate are clearly in a league above everyone else.
Yet it was all anyone could talk about in their intro videos—that, and shopping at some outdoor mall in Orange County. Groups Emblem3 and Fifth Harmony both had shopping days to help them connect with each other or at least make a lot of people take cell phone pics of a group of guys that have a wall of cameras around them. Whether the girls at the mall actually recognized the guys of Emblem3 is still up for debate. They just recognized that something having to do with TV was going on in front of them and got all excited. Smart girls.
Back to the number-one talk: it was so strained, so forced, among the better acts. People like CeCe Frey and Paige Thomas—people who are delusional that they deserve to be famous—it makes sense when they talk that way. But a guy like Vino Alan obviously doesn’t care what place he comes in, which pissed off his mentor LA Reid. (LA got back at Vino by making him change his song last minute. THAT’ll teach Vino a lesson about the fear of losing.)
To hear Tate Stevens talk about beating little Carly Rose is just incongruous with his nature. He’s an unassuming, courteous, old-fashioned country man, who would have a hard time running over a 13-year-old girl in his quest for fame—at least that’s what I tell myself. And Carly Rose is such a seasoned showbiz pro at this point, it’s hard to believe she would be so crazed about number-one, too. Instead they just feed the sensationalist lines to her brother during a cupcake snack. He tells her, “You have a target on your back.” PLEASE! There are actual people in this world with very real targets on their backs. Let’s have some perspective.
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In other news, songs were much longer last night, now that we’re down to single digits but still have two hours of show to fill. That’s good for people who aren’t bad singers or boring or trite, so like, two people. But Diamond White, for instance, doesn’t have the charisma to carry a Whitney song for two minutes. CeCe Frey is usually gasping for air after 30 seconds, so imagine what this does to her already low stamina. Fifth Harmony’s dance move of just standing there in a row next to each other and not interacting gets more and more painful the longer it goes on. Paige Thomas has more time to be overwhelmed by dancers far more talented than she is.
Khloe Kardashian spent some time in that circle of children tonight, asking them about their voting habits. One girl managed to say, through the hindrance of her braces, that she voted for Tate Stevens 157 times last week. And that video will exist on the Internet for the rest of this girl’s life.
Britney Spears, let’s talk for a moment about why she seems to be on a different show from everybody else? Britney does not interact with the other judges at all. No annoying “my act is better than your act” garbage, no quips with Simon about anything, nada. She just sits there, about 10 feet from the mic, and hunches over to speak into it whenever it’s her turn. What happened to Mean Britney of the auditions? Detached Britney says things like “Girl power!” Bring back Mean Britney, Bitch!
Best: Carly Rose Sonenclar actually made “Rolling in the Deep” sound original, and this girl’s voice is just crazy. Tate Stevens sang a song non-country folk won’t know, which made it sound like an original song, which could be good for him.
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Meh: Emblem3 did the Smash Mouth version of “I’m a Believer” and it sounded like an off-night at a karaoke bar. They were so much better when they auditioned with their own music. Paige Thomas kind of did an interesting hip-hop take on “Never Gonna Give You Up,” but she was seriously lacking in energy to pull it off. Diamond White, too, had an energy problem, singing a balladized version of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” even while a dance track was playing. And Vino Alan was just having an off night on “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling.”
Worst: Fifth Harmony’s Ally lost her grandpa, which is super sad, but shouldn’t be fodder for a show this soulless—suddenly their performance of “Stronger” was all about her persevering through grief, which is not something people do a day after they lose someone. And the group just stood there swaying for a really long time. And there was no harmony—isn’t that supposed to be guaranteed by their name?
Despicable: CeCe Frey. Come on, just send this girl back to Illinois already. “Lady Marmalade”? Really? THAT’s how you’re going to work really hard to prove to us you can sing? A song with no melody? And I’m so tired of Demi describing this contestant as the one who “wants it” the most. As if that was a reason to give someone $5 million—cause they wanted it. Right, and I wanted to win the Powerball last night, so you can imagine what “wanting it” gets you.
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