‘The X Factor’ USA review: Emblem3, David Correy, and Lyric 145 rule live show

“The X Factor” is back … and it is polarizing! When it comes to the positive, most of these artists were far and away better than anything we have seen on “The Voice” this season, and they also put most of the “American Idol” stars to shame. The problem here is just that we had a few major kinks in the system. For one, Britney Spears was completely absent on this live-show stage, and she refused to give more than a one-sentence critique for her massive salary. Meanwhile, the two-host format didn’t really work since neither Khloe Kardashian nor Mario Lopez had enough time to really shine. (Khloe also tried too hard to upstage.)

Paige Thomas – Paige moved around the stage in an angry cactus, and in between the dancers and the lights, it was all just too much. We know we are being a tad ironic about a show with Britney Spears on the panel, but you do have to focus on vocals at some point in here … right?

Arin Ray – L.A. Reid is already emerging as a tough judge in the competition right now, as he criticized what we actually thought was a good first performance from Arin. It wasn’t a stellar vocal, but he had enough energy to tear down the roof. We basically liked this more than a good bit of what Marcus Canty put out there last year.

David Correy – We’ve made our love of David’s voice no secret over the competition, and when it comes to tone and stage presence, it’s hard to really criticize anything that the guy did here. We completely don’t agree with anything Simon said here: David was the best out of the opining acts, and we were totally feeling every part of this performance.

Sister C. – Finally, someone recognizes the fact that sob stories are not necessarily the only competitors on a show. We still don’t really connect to any of these girls, but it really was a pretty good performance. It’s funny watching this show four acts in that we already see how much better the talent is here than “The Voice.”

Jennel Garcia – This was a mistake from the get-to to have Jennel sing something a little bit mid-tempo for her first live number, mostly because she was best known leading up to this as a firecracker who would go completely insane on the stage. This almost felt a little bit sleepy, even if she did bring as much energy to the performance as possible. Plus, the vocals were a little bit amazing.

Diamond White – It’s almost like Britney Spears took a diamond here and then put her in a stainless steel ring. We know that she is a stellar singer, but for some reason she was saddled with a song not meant for her at all in “Hey, Soul Sister,” a wardrobe from before she was even born, and just too many orchestrations about it. The judges don’t really agree … but this is why we’re sitting here.

Vino Alan– This is one of those performances that we really, really wanted to like. Vino seems to be such a cool dude, and his voice actually remains us a little bit of an R&B version of Chris Daughtry. The issue with this performance was that Reid forced him into singing Nickleback’s “Gotta Be Somebody” … and no one should be forced into singing Nickelback.

Lyric 145 – Going into this show, this hip-hop group was really one of our self-admitted favorites. We were ready to actually see something that changed things up. It was supremely energetic, and that was the real highlight of it. Was the whole performance a little dated? Sure, but it was still so much fun, and this is a group that is worth watching.

CeCe Frey – Like with Lyric 145, we’ve been an admitted CeCe fan ever since the beginning thanks largely to her style, but we will be honest here and say that her vocals were a little bit messy. With that in mind, we think she was a little bit messy with this performance, mostly because she was so focused on the dance moves and the nerves that her notes suffered.

Tate Stevens – This is the debate we have with Tate, and we will probably will continue to have this debate the rest of the competition. Is it okay to be a great singer, if you’re not that much of a star? There’s not a problem with this guy’s voice, but we still don’t feel him working the stage enough.

Beatrice Miller – The problem with this show sometimes is that we feel bad for criticizing the young singers, since we are not entirely sure that they can handle what is coming their way. But now, the truth: Beatrice sounded nervous the entire performance, and she also looked on the verge of tears for most of it. We’re sorry, but this felt like a talent show performance versus a major pop vocal.

Jason Brock – We can understand camp, but our real prediction here is that L.A. sandbagged this guy with a cheesy song, too much cheese, and then sent him on stage so that he has an easy elimination Thursday night.

1432 – First, this group has an absolutely atrocious new name. This sounds just like Lyric 145, and it’s probably going to get people confused. Then, you add to it a trainwreck performance that really put to shame their awesome judges’ houses performance earlier this season. How could we really root for this? That’s what we are still trying to figure out.

Willie Jones – Our biggest concern all season has been Willie becoming a joke, mostly because it was on the edge of that almost the entire auditions rounds. Sadly, he crossed over into complete and total cheese. This “Here for the Party” was almost like the awkward party that someone invited you to come to, and you’re not really happy about it.

Carly Rose Sonenclair – Now, we come to a time to disagree about this performance compared to the judges. Carly was a little stiff, but we thought this was exactly what she needed when it comes to an upbeat arrangement that was fun, and her voice never faltered during it.

Emblem3 – The boy band closed the show with an interesting song choice: “One Day” by Matisyahu. They are not necessarily the best season, but they are great performers. You may as well call it now: these three guys are going to be in a competition a long time, regardless of whether or not you like them.

Who was your favorite act during this show?

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