Welcome to our first full “X Factor” USA rankings! Now that all of the contestants are in the top 12 together, the time is up to compare the singers solely against the people who are on the same team as them. Everyone is now competing against each other, and thus the structure of the competition changes. Some basic impressions here are that L.A. Reid’s Over-25s are in trouble, the teens need to step up the personality, and being controversial is at this point very much a good thing.
If you’re new to the rankings, we base them on a few things including performance quality, air time, judges’ preference, and also some voting patterns both of past “X Factor” seasons, both America and in Great Britain.
12. Jason Brock – When L.A. Reid forced this poor man to go out on stage and sing a ridiculous version of Jennifer Lopez’s “Dance Again,” it felt as though there was sand-bagging going on to keep him out of the top 12. However, a light went off for the music mogul during his stellar sing-off against David Correy, but it may be too late. There’s no doubting Jason’s vocal abilities, but he is just not the sort of current, edgy singer that we see young voters getting behind. (You can rinse and repeat the last part of this statement with most of Reid’s team.)
11. 1432 / LYLAS / whatever they will be called now – Simon Cowell has said already that he deliberately put this group into the bottom this week to give them exposure, and it’s a smart move to have America pick their new name so that the voting public is invested. The issue that is still present here is that groups are not really popular in America just yet, and this still does not seem like so much of a group as it is a bunch of solo artists performing together. There’s no unity yet.
10. Beatrice Miller – Out of three members of team Britney Spears, Beatrice is easily the most forgettable, and it’s really not that there is anything she is doing that is her fault. It’s just harder to get behind someone when you know so little about them, especially when this category has two very memorable singers in it already in Arin Ray and Carly Rose Sonenclair.
9. Vino Alan – In keeping Vino around, L.A. showed that he is really looking for talent on his team more so than airtime or a story. This man can sing his face off, but the real thing that is a worry here is that he needs to loosen up a little bit. When you are an older singer on a show like this, you probably think of it as your last big shot; and while this is a serious competition, you have to smile and have a little bit of fun, too. If Vino can open up, he could feasibly make it pretty deep in the competition.
8. Paige Thomas – Paige has a solid set of pipes on her, but even with substantial airtime and crazy hats she may still be the weakest member of Demi Lovato’s team. There’s just nothing that really stands out about her at the moment about her performance outside of the costumes, and even her name needs a little bit of retooling to be more memorable as a pop star.
7. Tate Stevens – Last week’s results show was actually the best thing that could have possibly happened for Tate. Why? With Sister C and Willie Jones gone, he’s now the sole representative of the country community, and should have their vote for a while. The two biggest issues are pretty simple here for Tate: L.A. Reid is not even remotely a country guy, and he’s the sort of old-school George Strait sort of country artist that will not get the young fanbases voting on a weekly basis.
6. Arin Ray – This is Arin’s second time to make it this far in the competition, and this alone should help him when it comes to being familiar. The only issue is that we struggle with what to write about him here. He’s a really good singer and a solid performer, but what is he bringing to this show and to the music community that is not already there? The artists in the top five are all there because there is something more present: a spark.
5. CeCe Frey – Just as Simon did with the artists formerly known as 1432, we wonder if Demi putting CeCe into the bottom was strategy. She was polarizing and at times off-putting during her audition rounds, so seeing her vulnerable was a good thing. Plus, she had the best sing-off during the results show by a mile. The leopard-print lover (otherwise known as Daenerys Targeryan as a pop singer) is the sort of artist that could go all the way to the end this season, or could be gone next week. She’s just that unpredictable.
We actually think that Britney Spears was wrong to say that Demi’s artist had an identity crisis this past week, since she does seemingly want to be this controversial pop artist that gets people talking. The show needs her to keep things interesting, and the only thing she needs to work on is shaking off the nerves and making sure that her vocals don’t suffer from all the movement she does on stage.
4. Lyric 145 – As with CeCe, Lyric 145 is an enormous risk. There hasn’t been a hip-hop act to even make it to the finale of a singing competition, let alone a winner. There’s no one in this competition who really has the same sort of energy that they do, and their performances have a sort of must-watch quality to them.
Simon had a point, though, when it came to what may be this group’s biggest stumbling block moving forward: finding the right song. Commercial hip-hop may not be hardcore enough for the group, while underground tracks are likely not going to make them appeal to a large voting block. Like with “Party in the U.S.A.,” he needs to find a way to get the group singing familiar songs that voters who are not necessarily fans of rap will still want to vote for.
3. Carly Rose Sonenclair – Regardless of whether or not she had enough fun this past week, and it actually seemed like she had more fun than any past performance despite the judges’ feedback, Carly Rose is about as close of a sure thing to go far this season as there is. It’s been proven that she can tackle ballads, and we now know that she can also speed it up and perform with backup dancers.
The only real piece of advice worth giving to Carly Rose is to loosen up some of the edges a little bit, and don’t be afraid to be a teenage girl rather than a seasoned performer. Being playful has been in part what has helped many other teen artists (even a young Demi Lovato) find a following. It’s almost like Miranda Cosgrove’s character in “School of Rock,” and how Jack Black got her to start having fun.
2. Emblem3 – There is a part of our heart telling us that this group’s performance of “One Day” earned them the top spot, but there is also a reminder from our head that as popular as these guys may be with young women (who are a huge voting block), the groups bombed on the show last year. Therefore, it’s better to exercise some caution.
The one thing we hope happens this week is that Simon sits down and teaches these three a few more pointers on vocals, since there were some blips during “One Day” that are more obvious upon multiple viewings. Their energy and charisma can cover some flaws, but they need to be pushed to be better every week. It’s easy to be drunk in positive feedback so that you never improve.
1. Jennel Garcia – It’s funny that Simon claimed that Demi is turning Jennel into her, mostly because there are some tangible similarities there. Both singers are around the same age, can sing a fusion of rock and pop, and even come from Latin backgrounds. The major difference is that Jennel has a bit more of a classic rock background, and would probably not end up recording with Timbaland at some point down the road.
When it comes to vocals and intensity, Jennel had the best performance hands-down Wednesday night. She’s also had a ton of airtime all season long, and thus she seems to be the perfect person to lead off our first full rankings of the season.
Who do you think is the top singer at this point in the competition?