'X Factor' S2, Ep22 Recap: Top 6 Contestants Perform ‘Unplugged’ and Viewer Song Selections

Country singer Tate Stevens backstage at The X Factor USA Top Six show

On The X Factor USA singers compete for a 5 million dollar recording contract. Each week contestants perform in front of judges Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, and at this point in the cycle the public votes on who to move forward. Now on season 2, episode 22, the show is down to the Top 6 contestants, who will each do two songs: the first one is an “unplugged” number, meaning no big productions, the second is chosen by the public via a Pepsi Challenge promotion. This week two acts will be eliminated.

Presenters Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian enter center stage; Khloe congratulates Mario on his recent marriage. The judges are introduced while the Will.i.am and Britney collaboration “Scream & Shout” plays in the background.

The first to take the stage is CeCe Frey from Demi's Young Adults. She sings Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” while sitting on a piano. She’s pitchy on the low notes, but powerful on the high notes. L.A. says he’s starting to become a fan. Britney says it wasn’t great, just good. Simon thinks she’s done well to get to this point, but the performance wasn’t worth a 5 million dollar contract. Demi disagrees.

As Simon is announcing Emblem3 from his Groups, Demi grabs the mic and says they are going to do a “very predictable” song chosen by Simon. The back-and-forth between Simon and Demi is tired. Emblem3 does Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” with Drew on guitar. L.A. is impressed that “at least one of Simon’s groups can sing harmony.” Oooh, burn! Britney says it was their best performance. Demi calls them “a downgraded version of The Jonas Brothers five years ago.” Ouch! Simon says that what Demi said was incredibly dumb.

Carly Rose Sonenclar from Britney's Teens does a stripped down version of Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me”, and her voice gives me chills. The crowd cheers long and loud, and there’s a moment when Carly Rose sort of shrugs her shoulders a tiny bit and it’s like you can see her feeling a big hug from the audience. L.A. says it was her best performance, Demi thinks that it was better than the actual song, Simon says it was one of his favorite performances, and adds, “A lot of girls your age can be annoying as singers. You are actually very cool.” Britney says each week Carly Rose makes the songs her own. (See a video of Carly Rose's performance at the end of this recap)

Fifth Harmony from Simon’s Groups is next. They practice without member Ally because sadly, she is back home attending her Grandfather’s funeral. They sing Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”. It’s pretty, but I would have like to have heard more solo parts from Camila. L.A. complains that Fifth Harmony doesn’t harmonize and that they should be called “Fifth Unison”. Britney says it was a nice rendition but wonders, “What separates you from the other girl groups?” Demi thinks a couple of them should just be solo artists. Simon gripes, “It’s pick on Fifth Harmony week again.”

Diamond White from Britney’s Teens does “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’sWorld”. We see her talking with Carly Rose about how shocking it was to see Vino go home since he was in third place in recent weeks. L.A. thinks Diamond brought attitude and sang her butt off, Demi thought it was risky doing a song she’s already done but that she pulled it off, Simon says it was a little bit screechy in parts but she made up for it at the end. Britney says the song is incredibly hard to pull off and that Diamond not only nailed it, she destroyed it.

Tate Stevens from L.A.'s Over 25s does Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”. I’ve been hoping for Tate to do another performance like his excellent cover of Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive”, but I didn’t expect L.A. to actually assign him another Bon Jovi song - it makes it seem like he’s auditioning for a tribute band. Tate is going to have a huge career though, no doubt about that. Britney feels like Tate is getting away from what he does best, Demi thinks it was a little boring, and she calls him out for not hitting the high notes in the chorus. Then we get a Simon-ism: “You doing that song on unplugged week is like taking a goldfish for a walk, you can’t”. L.A. disagrees and says he stands behind Tate.

For the second half of the competition the contestants do songs picked by the voting public through the Pepsi Challenge. The viewers also had input on the contestant's styling and staging.

CeCe Frey does Katy Perry’s “Part of Me”. Her face-painted leopard spots are back and she wears Daisy Dukes, and a midriff-baring top. I think a lot of guys must have voted. It was off key. L.A. says he loved her first performance, but not this one and called it Karaoke. Britney finds it entertaining, Simon likes how she was defiant through the performance and says, “If you do go I’m going to miss you”. Demi thinks she did a good job.

Emblem3 is next with Alphaville's “Forever Young” . L.A. thinks they nailed it, Britney says it was a superstar performance. Demi says she wants to see them command the stage more, but it was much better than the first performance. Simon asks her, “What is the matter with you tonight. That again is just a silly criticism.” Demi has been so hard on Emblem3 it seems she has an axe to grind. Host Khloe asks Demi if she’s being so feisty because she has a crush on one of the boys in the band.

Carly Rose Sonenclar sings Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy”. Her vocals are perfect; when she’s done the crowd chants her name. L.A. says, “As a judge and as a mentor every time you step onstage I get very nervous because I know you're going to be very, very good. As a fan I get excited…” Demi thinks it was phenomenal, but wants to see Carly Rose do something up-tempo. Simon’s advice for Carly Rose is to not listen to Demi. Britney tells her the performance was stunning.

Fifth Harmony does Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart a Break”. It’s a cool tune, and Fifth Harmony sounds fantastic singing it. L.A.’s critique is, “Unbelievable, I actually heard harmony" and says it was their very, very best performance.” Britney agrees and thinks it was very good. Demi says it was better than the original, and that Simon did a good job this week. Simon responds, “Thank you, Cruella.”

Diamond White performs Rihanna’s “Diamonds”, and is lowered to the stage in a diamond-shaped cage. L.A. likes Diamond, but doesn't like her rendition of the song. Demi says her friend wrote it and that Diamond did it justice. Simon says he liked the second half better than first half. Britney feels like the song was made for Diamond.

Tate Stevens closes the show with Garth Brooks’ “If Tomorrow Never Comes”. For this number, “Tate Stevens, country music superstar” is back behind the mic. Britney says, “Now that felt like a Tate Stevens performance.” Demi thinks Tate has a bright future; Simon welcomes him back to to the competition. L.A. is proud.

The X Factor airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on FOX. On the results show (Thurs. 12/6) we’ll find out who moves on to the Top 4, and well see performances by season one X Factor USA winner Melanie Amaro, and singer Kesha.

To read more of our X Factor coverage click here.

Photos and video ©Talkback Thames, FremantleMedia, SYCOtv

Posted on Thursday, December 6, 2012 2:30 PM