‘The X Factor’ USA: Fifth Harmony debuts, Diamond White returns, Lyric 145 shines

“The X Factor” USA tried hard to up its game in its second week … but did it really? After hearing Khloe Kardashian say “yes” at the start of every teleprompter line, we’re not so sure. The show is still far too bright, the sound mix in the crowd is far too loud, and the vocals for a few people this week were disappointing. Dare we say it, but “The Voice” is starting to catch up to the talent here.

Before we move forward, let’s comment on the incredibly “shocking” twist that saw Diamond White coming back into the top 12 … which really just felt desperate. Diamond is a great singer, but in what world is this fair to the other singers to give her another shot when they don’t get such a thing? It also felt like a ploy to prop her up over some of the other singers.

Arin Ray – For one, Arin does look comfortable on stage with his massive throng of dancers dressed as race car pit crew members. It was a decent performance of “American Boy,” but the vocals were not nearly as great as the judges made them out to be; but then again, if you ever listen to a pop star actually perform live, then it really sounds something like this in between all of the dancing.

Paige Thomas – After watching a three-minute commercial for Verizon right smack in the middle of the show (barf), we finally got to the latest attempt by the show to make Paige happen. It’s not that her performance of “Take My Breath Away” was bad, but it did actually feel like she was out of breath for about half of it.

Vino Alan – This is why L.A. Reid kept this guy around! For the first time quite possibly in this whole competition, “When a Man Loves a Woman” really allowed us to see just how talented Mr. Head Tattoo really is. Does he need to work a little bit more on keeping his eyes open during a performance? Definitely, but there is a serious recording voice here. Serious as in, we would buy this song today if we could. Vino, congratulations: that was stellar.

Emblem3 – Simon Cowell is a smart man. He used the backing track of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” the versus of “My Girl,” and then added Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” in the chorus, and this felt almost like a performance from people who are going to be in the competition a long time. Are they they best performers? Probably not, but they more than make up for it with their charisma and their swagger.

Beatrice Miller – Ugh. Enough of “Iris” from the Goo Goo Dolls. It was cool to learn that Beatrice comes from a different background, as this was the first time that we really have had any sort of background into who she is. Hopefully, this can make up for a bland song choice … especially since the only real memory that we’re probably going to have of it is all of the swaybots swinging their hands around in the front row. As for a sympathy angle, you could just tell that her voice was shot.

Jennel Garcia – First off, congrats to Jennel for toning down her habit of constantly playing with her hair! This was really one of her only weaknesses on a regular basis, and she was firmly in her comfort zone here with “I Love Rock n’ Roll.” It was a little bit of a surprise to hear her vocals occasionally strained, but it was so bad of an issue to actually worry over her. As for the talk about her style being a little too “meh,” we sort of agree with Simon. What happened to some of the Latin flair?

Tate Stevens – When it comes to smart choices by L.A. Reid, this takes the cake so far this season. In picking Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” he opened himself up to more than just country music fans. If he had just come out and sang something by Garth Brooks or Alan Jackson, he would have no one new rooting for him at all.

Lyric 145 – In some ways, we agree with L.A. Reid in that this is not the sort of rap that we expected to hear from them on the show. With that being said, Simon is being smart in that he’s helping to steer them in a mainstream direction so that they can go far in this competition. This was the single coolest rendition of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” ever.

Diamond White – As much as this “twist” is frustrating, the thing that is most upsetting is that producers put Diamond in a white suit that aged her dramatically, and then forced her to sing the most overdone song in reality TV history in Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Seriously, can we just have one season of a show without hearing someone cover this?

CeCe Frey – When it was first revealed that CeCe was going to be singing “Eye of the Tiger,” the first thought that entered our head was “no.” Why do this? It’s not the sort of song that she should be doing. Then, she totally rocked it. Is Demi making some wrong moves here? Probably, but we’d rather have another week of CeCe than someone who is just boring.

Carly Rose Sonenclar – What was with the tears this week? We’re still trying to figure it out, but this may be a result that comes with just being 13 years old and on a singing competition where there is so much pressure. Personally, we actually didn’t love this rendition of “It Will Rain” since so much of the original melody was gone.

Jason Brock – Ugh. “I Believe I Can Fly.” This is just too cheesy, and the outfits for Jason just aren’t helping. Is L.A. just trying to sandbag this guy straight out of the competition? Britney Spears is right that he does need to do something more urban and less cabaret, but we’re not sure even this would help the competition’s worst overall act right now.

Fifth Harmony – The new name is better, but still not amazing. However, this performance was special. This was the first time all season long that these ladies really used harmonies, and it totally worked to show us that these are girls that we can care for, and really want to root for. It was a nice way to end a show that was seriously sagging near the end.

Who was your favorite from the show this week?

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