‘The X Factor’ USA review: Paige Thomas, CeCe Frey, and Emblem3 take risks

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The X Factor LogoWas “The X Factor” USA great this week? Well, it was at least better than the worst Thanksgiving Day gift ever that we saw last week. There were few depressing ballads, and the show was far better because of it. With that being said, there were still plenty of other problems this week … including some absolutely dreadful song choices, Simon Cowell treated Demi Lovato like a five-year old child, overhyping an annoying music video that was only a minute long, and general bad vibes everywhere. In other words, this show is a nice reminder of how warm and fuzzy “The Voice” really is.

Diamond White – First things first, someone needs to roll their eyes for Diamond saying that she is changing it up by doing another Whitney Houston song? We understand that she was an iconic part of the industry, but it’s really just getting to be too much at this point. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is a good song, but this performance was more along the lines of just okay. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t surprise us if we were subjected to another depressing breakdown from a 13-year old girl during Thursday’s results show.

Vino Alan – This was dramatic, but not for the right reasons. Instead, the entirety of this performance we sat there realizing that Vino more or less hated the song, and hated the fact that L.A. Reid didn’t like his original choice. We don’t think he is going to be sent home for this by any means, but don’t be shocked if Vino falls a few spots in the leaderboard this week.

Paige Thomas – It’s pretty easy to hate on Paige these days given her bounty of work, but we actually believe that this was her best performance on the show by a smile. She actually somehow made Rick Astley relevant! While she didn’t do that horrible dance from his music video, she did do quite a bit right in between changing up the styling of the song and progressing it forward into the 21st century.

Fifth Harmony – What doesn’t make you … sleepier? We genuinely thought that this was going to be the girl group’s big moment to shine this week, as they had a song in Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” that should have been fun, but instead was actually boring. They were no harmonies at all, the staging was horrendous, and as nice as their voices sounded through most of the song, the goal here is not to make an exciting song instead something middling. A total wasted opportunity.

Carly Rose Sonenclar – Carly is wasting a few opportunities here, mostly in that she chose probably the most overdone Adele song ever in “Rolling in the Deep.” Yes, she did absolutely sing it perfectly, but here is our argument here: she’s obviously the best singer in the competition. Why not pick at least an Adele song in “Turning Tables” or “Chasing Pavements” that is a little less obvious? Why not give yourself an iconic performance to be remembered by?

Tate Stevens – We were torn on Tate’s performance in one way. If you ignore some of the staging issues, it was an incredible slice of country music that would have worked at any awards show out there. The problem is that his presence is a little too much like your uncle who is trying way too hard to be liked. He should have just played the guitar all the way through and forgot about some of the obvious country music moves. They just don’t suit him. We do hope he keeps doing some uptempo songs, but that he simply presents them differently.

CeCe Frey – CeCe’s biggest problem during “Lady Marmalade” was her dress. Seriously. It was impossible to take her seriously while she was wearing some that completely took away what the purpose of a dress is supposed to be. As for her vocals, it was a noticeable improvement over last week, but it still feels like she needs to work a little bit with a coach on the difference between singing and shouting. We’ll end with a positive: CeCe clearly does want to be a star, but for whatever reason she hasn’t once done what made her so successful during the judges’ houses round: playful, yet also subtle. Give a tease, and don’t go over the top with it.

Emblem3 – Simon Cowell speaks all the time about being current, and he gives this group a song from the Monkees? The only good part was a rap interlude in the middle of the song? The whole ordeal just felt too dated and cheesy, and once again Mr. Cowell is forgetting something very important here: that people other than teenage girls need to vote for them. The guy is sabotaging their audiences by making them just heartthrobs.

Who is your favorite this week? Be sure to share some of your thoughts below, and you can also view our pre-show contestant rankings over at the link here.

Photo: Fox

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