‘The X Factor’ USA review: CeCe Frey, Carly Rose Sonenclar, Vino Alan give thanks

“The X Factor” USA went with their theme of Thanksgiving this week, and the contestants surely had plenty to be thankful for considering that they are all contestants on a popular reality show.

However, who could have predicted that there would have been so many tears during the show? If there was a criticism for this show, it’s that there were so many people who chose sad, emotional ballads rather than a celebration of what was positive in their lives. It was almost like an overload of emotion, and after seeing one teary-eyed contestant after another, it almost made you start to feel a little bit numb to it all. (If you’ll excuse us after this episode, we’re going to go watch the “Duck Dynasty” cast on “The Soup” so that we can have a smile on our face again.)

The performances

Tate Stevens – There is something about Tate that is almost cathartic to listen to; he’s just a nice guy singing from the soul, and there is probably no better example of a cure country singer out there. However, is this really enough to win the competition? As much as we like him, the issue he faces here is that when it comes to everything from his vocal tricks to his stage presence, this take on “I’m Already There” was pretty much a mirror image of everything else he has done on the show.

Diamond White – While we are still not the biggest fan of Diamond being spontaneously being brought back in the competition just because Simon Cowell wanted it to happen (especially since we now have to endure another double-elimination), there is still no denying the fact that she has a pretty great voice. Was this performance a little overpraised by the judges? Probably, but this, like Britney’s five-word critiques, has become a staple of this season.

Emblem3 – “Secrets” from OneRepublic was probably the perfect song for these three to sing: it’s a pretty fun song, but at the same time it is something that is sincere and heartfelt. What’s nice about these guys is that they can rock it out to a song regardless of its tempo; and while they may not be the best in the world at showing emotion, do you really want to see three surfer dudes trying to tear up on stage? It’s just not the kind of guys (and the kind of artists) that they are.

Arin Ray – When it comes to really uncomfortable moments on “The X Factor,” we can think of nothing worse than Arin singing a song dedicated to his brother with such lyrics as “I kiss away the pain” and “you can take my breath away.” This isn’t this season of “Dexter.” (Zing!) The only thing worse than this awkward and almost soul-crushing performance was the way in which he dismissed Demi Lovato during her critique like she was someone shooting spitballs at him during history class.

CeCe Frey – For the first time really all season long, CeCe actually got positive feedback from all of the judges! Granted, they would have looked like the most awful people alive had they hated on her after hearing the story about her sister who died when she was still a child. The one thing you have to give this girl credit for is complete image rehabilitation: remember her edit from the audition rounds?

Fifth Harmony – This week, Fifth Harmony gave thanks to … Jesus? Let’s just be happy that everyone has the same faith within this group, otherwise this could have been rather awkward. This, from our standpoint, was the best performance that the girl group has done since they first emerged on the show’s stage. “I’ll Stand By You” is an emotional song; and while it would be nice for someone to come out here and have some fun, it’s hard to be mad about a performance like this.

Beatrice Miller – Here comes the Thanksgiving Grinch! (You’ve been warned.) Beatrice was out of tune for a good chunk of this performance of “Chasing Cars,” even if we did see the emotion building up in her face throughout just about the entire song. We’re sure someone is making a gif image out of one Beatrice’s sisters bawling in the audience right now.

Vino Alan – By far, this was the best performance of Vino’s on the entire season. You know why? His story wasn’t something that he wanted to tear up about, but it was something that was obviously deep within his heart: his love for the troops. “God Bless the USA” is the sort of song that can really come across as cheesy, but this actually felt more genuine and heartfelt than the original.

Paige Thomas – Congratulations to Paige first of all for listening to our advice, and cutting out most of the frills, the costumes, and the dozens of dancers. Unfortunately, this is probably the only good think there is to say about this performance of Britney Spears’ “Everytime.” While it was a great choice of music, this was a case of someone getting far too emotional for their own good, and there were so many vocal breaks and bad notes within the song that it became a garbled mess by the end.

Carly Rose Sonenclar – Carly Rose, for whatever reason, keeps getting opportunities to perform late in the show. Good for her! Also good news for her is that she is continuing to prove that she is really head and shoulders above most of the rest of the competition. She’s just so polished of a performer, and while she at times feels too polished for her own good, the tiny break at the end of the song was worlds better than watching other singers sniffle and struggle through the night.

Who do you think shined the brightest this week on “The X Factor” USA, and do you think that we did have a case of too many sad stories for a holiday meant to be so joyous?

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