'X Factor' Season 2, Episode 12: Emblem3 Set the Bar High on Top 16 Live Show

Emblem3 proved to be a stand-out on X Factor's first live show

On the first live show for The X Factor season 2, the theme was "Made in America". There were good things like new hosts Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez - she had a fine first night and he is charming as always - and of course the top 16 contestants with a stand-out performance by Emblem3. There were also bad things like the over-mentoring with bizarre makeovers, odd song choices and excessive staging selected by the judges. There was also a bit of annoying judge-on-judge sniping.

We learn that in addition to the 5 million dollar prize, the winner of The X Factor will also be the next Pepsi artist, meaning that the soft drink company will produce their music video and debut it on next year’s Grammy Awards.

Then it's time for the Top 16 competition to begin.

First we see Paige Thomas from Demi Lovato's Young Adult category; she looks like a gorgeous alien in a gunmetal spike wig and coordinating unitard as she sings “What is Love” by Haddaway. L.A. says she looks like a star, but he’s not sure about the song choice. Britney says, “I think you’re a true star”, Simon sees Paige as an artist who can work in the real world, Demi says she is “unbelievably proud.”

Next up is Arin Ray from Britney’s Spears' Teen category. He enters a smoke-filled stage and sings “You Keep Me Hanging On”, by The Supremes. L.A. says he nailed it but also thought the vocal could have been better, Demi says she couldn’t hear the vocals because girl were screaming so loud, but thought it was a little stiff, Simon thinks the vocals were off and that Arin was distracted by all the dancers, but says he has swag. Britney calls Arin “a little genius”.

The third performer is David Correy from L.A. Reid’s Over 25 team. He sings “My Love is Your Love” by Whitney Houston. Britney says she felt it, Demi says he got the crowd going, Simon thinks the performance had a manic, desperate quality and he wasn’t sure any artistic direction had been created, L.A. says “it felt right”.

Sister C from Simon Cowell’s Groups are next, and they sing “Hell on Heels” by Pistol Annies. L.A. says he was concerned they were repeating the song they sang in their first audition, Britney says they were very interesting and delivered a great performance, Demi says they were beautiful but seemed stiff, Simon thinks they were “fantastic” and really improved since the auditions.

(L to R) Demi Lovato and Jennel Garcia
Next we see Demi perform – oops – it's actually Jennel Garcia with a Demi makeover – straight hair with bangs, cliché fringe-y rock star ensemble... Jennel looked more rock-and-roll before the stylist got to her. After she sings “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue, L.A. says he was completely surprised, and that it was a ten, Britney says Jennel rocked it out, Simon says with that song she just defined the theme “Made in America”, but that Demi made Jennel into a clone of her and it was complete narcissism, Demi says she had chills the entire performance.

Diamond White from Britney’s Teen category is next. She sings “Hey Soul Sister” by Train dressed in a red Michael Jackson jacket, camouflage tights, black shorts, a baseball cap… No offense to Diamond, who is absolutely lovely and would look great in anything, but we preferred her audition outfits. L.A. thinks it felt a little mechanical, Demi says the performance was reserved, Simon says she came over as a relevant pop star, Britney tells her she was amazing.

The seventh to sing is Vino Alan from the Over 25’s with “Gotta be Somebody” by Nickleback. He didn’t get a silly makeover, thankfully, but he did get a song that didn’t do his soulful style justice. Britney says she was a little bored, Demi has a hard time seeing him as a pop star, Simon tells Vino “ I really like you”, but that the song and arrangement was completely wrong, L.A. tells him, “you’re going to be just fine.”

From Simon’s Group category we watch the fabulous Lyric 145 perform in front of cartoon graphics. They rap a medley of Boom Shake the Room by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and Gangnam Style by Psy. L.A. says he loves them but that it sounded like someone took all of the soul out of them. When L.A. skeptically asked Lyric if she really liked the song, she turned to the audience and said, "I made you like it" and the crowd cheered, because Lyric was born a rock star. Britney was “thoroughly entertained”, Demi says she’s a little worried about this group because they are so good, Simon tells them they were “absolutely sensational.”

CeCe Frey is blonde now
Then a nearly unrecognizable CeCe Frey takes the stage. Removing the leopard spots would have been enough, but in this Demi-orchestrated makeover, pretty CeCe’s chestnut hair was bleached blonde, and she was dressed in 80’s mall clothes. CeCe did not need to be re-made, neither did the song she sang, “Because the Night” by Patti Smith. L.A. said it was strong but it left a little to be desired vocally, Britney says she loved the performance but the vocals were a little weak. Simon praises CeCe as fearless and interesting, and says it wasn’t her best vocal but that she’s “someone we need in this competition.” Demi agrees with the others saying “you could do much better vocally”.

Over 25 country crooner Tate Stevens performs next with "Tough" by Craig Morgan. He does his thing and it’s a solid performance. Britney says “You wow me every time”, Demi says, “You stood on your own”, Simon thinks Tate is "an honest man who needs a break.” L.A. calls him “a keeper”, and then uses the rest of his critique time to talk smack about Simon.

Beatrice Miller from the Teen category sports a crimped do and sings “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz in from of a field of stars. L.A. says key ingredients are believability and lovability and that he believes and loves her. Demi was really impressed, Simon wants her to sort out her vocals better, Britney calls her a true star.

Jason Brock, from L.A.’s Over 25s makes his entrance in a zebra blazer and sings “Dance Again” by Jennifer Lopez. It doesn’t truly showcase his amazing pipes, but he does a good job with it. Britney says he could have chosen a better song, Demi agrees it wasn’t the right song choice, Simon thinks it was horrendous and that L.A. woke up and tossed this song at him, L.A. says he enjoyed it and that Simon is a hater. Jason is one of our favorites - we hope this song choice doesn't hurt him.

There is already a band called Lylas, so Simon’s X Factor Lylas changed their name to 1432, because apparently, they have never heard of Lyric 145 either. Anyway, 1432 is supposed to mean “I Love You Too”. They sing “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift. L.A. says it’s “very Karaoke” and that their mentor failed them (if L.A. is going to use every on-camera opportunity to slam Simon, it’s going to get tired the was Xtina carping on Adam Levine did on The Voice. In fact, it’s already tired). Britney was “pleasantly surprised”, Demi says that only one person in the group shined, Simon says “I’ve had a lot of success over the years with groups let me tell you, you are you are fantastic.”

Next we see another Demi Lovato makeover, as she sends her Teen contestant Willie Jones out on stage in a suit with shiny pants. He looks great, but every singer does not need a dance troupe behind them. L.A. says the performance was adequate, but that there’s more there, Britney says he’s a true star, Simon thinks the staging was silly, Demi tells Simon didn’t get it because things have changed since “100 years ago when you were good at this.”

Moving on, Britney Spears makes over Carly Rose Sonenclar, dressing her in a schoolgirl outfit and surrounding her with dancers to portray taking over a school lunchroom. (Note to all of the judges: sometimes people who buy records just want to hear a singer sing.) Carly Rose does “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida, and L.A.says she has a beautiful voice but didn’t look like she was having fun. Demi says seeing her with other kids doesn’t seem believable. Simon offers that it felt uncomfortable but that it would be “criminal” if she was cut from the competition. Britney says it was amazing and that Carly Rose did a great job.

For this episode of The X Factor, the best was saved for last with Emblem3 from Simon’s Groups performing “One Day” by Matisyahu. No makeover, no corny staging, just Emblem3 bringing it. Even Simon was singing along. L.A. (referring to Simon) says even a broken clock is right twice a day, Demi gushes that they make her swoon and she can’t look at them, Britney calls them they are amazing and adorable, and Simon says, “For anyone watching this band for the first time remember this night you are seeing a future superstar here.” We picked them as a finalist the first time we saw them, and with this live performance they showed they have what it takes to be a top contender.

On November 2, 2012 at 8 PM, twelve contestants will be safe, four will go home. No public voting for this round, the judges will be making the decision.

The X Factor airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on FOX.

To read more of our X Factor coverage click here.

Photos ©Talkback Thames, FremantleMedia, SYCOtv

Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2012 3:15 PM