‘The X Factor’ USA rankings: Tate Stevens, Carly Rose Sonenclar in dead heat

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Carly Rose SonenclairWhen you talk about the contestants currently a part of “The X Factor” USA, it’s almost like playing a broken record when it comes to trying to figure out who are the favorites. Two contestants have firmly established themselves as the ones to watch out for in the weeks ahead, and everyone else is just playing catch-up. However, is there really enough time for any of them to find their footing, and make this competition into something stellar? It would take a show-stopping moment to do so, and thus far the only true producers of those are in our (and America’s) top two.

Our rankings are not solely based on where the public is voting, though: we also consider everything from performance quality to judges’ feedback to even such things as edit and momentum in the competition.

6. CeCe Frey (last week: 8) – How is CeCe still here? We know there are many out there asking the question, and we have a simple answer: like her or not, she is controversial. Sometimes, a show needs to have someone to stir the pot for a little while, and she is getting votes because she keeps things interesting. No one who has left over CeCe was someone who would have won the competition, not even the high-scoring Vino Alan.

With all of this being said, CeCe’s days are numbered. Diamond White and Fifth Harmony are the only two other acts who could be vulnerable this coming week, and the former of the two will likely get an excess of votes after being in the bottom two. If she has to sing in front of the judges again, CeCe’s toast.

5. Fifth Harmony (5) – The girl group may have bounced back in the voting this past week, but some of the early luster of this group is starting to wear off. Their initial promise is somewhat wasted when the five ladies cannot fully execute something in the very name of their group: it still feels like we are watching five solo artists take turns singing, and then take on the chorus in unison.

The girls were smart to take on a faster song this past week, but it backfired due to their lack of energy, stage presence, and their aforementioned lack of harmonizing. They are all great singers, though, so there is potential to turn things around.

4. Diamond White (6) – As we said, Diamond may shine for at least one more week thanks in part to the “final two bump,” but we almost may have to eventually just accept the reality of this situation: she has a great personality and a great voice, but she is probably a few years away from getting the most out of either of them. This is why Simon Cowell has to seriously consider bumping up the age range for the show (and we know we’re being a tad hypocritical here considering our #1 choice for the week): had Diamond been on in 2015 when she will be 16, she could win the whole enchilada.

Emblem33. Emblem3 (4) – There’s something slightly off-putting about Simon shoving the crazy teenage girls down our throats along with the band member’s muscles. There was something also off-putting last week about him taking the originality out of the group minus a brief rap interlude in “I’m a Believer.” With that being said, the guys did notch their top placement of the competition after getting to close the show.

We’ve said this before, but we’ll keep saying it: if these guys want to win, they need to either bring out the instruments or something new and prove that they can appeal to all sorts of demographics. They can have a successful music career without it (see One Direction), but it will probably not include the massive recording contract at the end of this (see Union J on the British show this season).

2. Tate Stevens (2) – When neither Tate nor Carly Rose were closing the show, we genuinely believed that the country star and everyman hero was going to rise back to #1 in the voting … but it didn’t happen. Was it the dance moves? We don’t think so, since they almost added to the guy’s grassroots appeal in a way.

Rather, we think the tipping of votes to Carly (close as it was) is largely due to something we suggested weeks ago: Tate already has a devoted country audience, but as non-country acts are eliminated, their fans are likely to throw their support to an artist like Carly or Emblem3. Country music is traditionally polarizing, and Tate may not be mainstream enough to bring in pop music fans like a Taylor Swift does in real life.

1. Carly Rose Sonenclar – The worry we have for Carly at the moment is that she is venturing into the Drew Ryniewicz school of ballad overload. The first live show was the last time she took on anything upbeat at all, and her song choice of “If I Were a Boy” for Wednesday’s Pepsi Challenge is surely not going to help with that. If you become too one-note, people can forget about you.

For now, though, we’re willing still to support the teen (who also could have won this competition in 2015) long enough to keep her at #1, largely on the immense talent that she possesses. She has yet to hit a bum note all season long, and her personality is starting to slowly shine through. All of this suggests that so long as she keeps it fresh, she will be a multimillionaire soon.

Who do you think is currently the top “X Factor” USA performer? Be sure as always to vote in our poll below, and you can check out the rest of the Pepsi Challenge picks here.

Photo: Fox

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