I’m not sure if tonight’s performances would change anybody’s minds on last week’s rankings. The top acts are coming into sharper focus.
My favorite three were Carly Rose Sonenclar, Vino Alan and Emblem3, three acts who will be around awhile.
The acts in trouble? It’s hard to say exactly. The bottom could include any of these acts: Arin Ray, Paige Taylor, Lyric145, Beatrice Miller and CeCe Frey. My bet is Lyric 145 and Paige Taylor will go home, given that it will be a double elimination. I think CeCe’s pimp spot and all the negative judge commentary will help her weather this week.
1- Jennel Garcia (”Proud Mary” Ike & Tina Turner/ Demi’s team) – From a technical standpoint, she is fine. She stays in key and sings with some level of enthusiasm. But while she has a bit of Diana DeGarmo in her, I just don’t get any “star power” in her. It’s a good karaoke performance is best I can say. Grade: B
2- Tate Stevens (”From This Moment On” Shania Twain/ L.A.’s team) – He ranked a surprising No. 1 last week but given that he is the only country guy in the competition, perhaps that’s not a surprise after all. He has to unfortunately cover a really boring Shania song. Vocally, he hit the big note and while I’m still not sold on him, he certainly pleased his fans. “So heartfelt,” Britney said. “Vocals were amazing.” Simon said it’s annoying to please “Mr. Smug,” saying it was “better than last week.” Grade: B/B-plus
3- Diamond White (”Halo” Beyonce/ Britney’s team) – She sounds shaky in the opening verse but once she hits the chorus, she sounds strong and confident. As Simon says, she does have the makings of a star. She’s not quite there but she has the potential. Grade: B-plus/A-minus
4- Beatrice Miller (”Time After Time” Cyndi Lauper/ Britney’s team) – A significantly slowed-down, stripped down version of this 1984 classic feels too languid in the verses but she certainly sounds pretty in the chorus. A good performance, not a great one. “So cute,” L.A. Reid. “Not the greatest song choice because you didn’t get to peak.” Grade: B/B-plus
5- Lyric 145 (Mashup of “E.T.” Katy Perry & “We Will Rock You” Queen/ Simon’s team) – This felt sloppy, loud and vaguely annoying. The lead singer felt forced. “I think you’ve lost your way,” L.A. Reid. “They should be doing hip-hop tracks,” Britney said. “I don’t get it,” Demi said. Grade: C-plus
6- Arin Ray (”Crazy For You? Madonna/ Britney’s team) – It’s another simple performance with no back-up dancers or smoke, though there are back-up singers during the chorus. I actually like the purity of his feelings and his vocals, though I’m not convinced he is really a star. “I was really bored watching it,” Demi said. Simon said it was the wrong song. Grade: B-plus
7- Paige Taylor (”Last Dance” Donna Summer/ Demi’s team) – She starts strong but once she gets into the dance portion, it’s a bit shaky. Her voice simply doesn’t hold up in the lower registers. And what’s up with that hideous outfit with the oversized shoulder pads? I have yet to be overly impressed with her. Grade: B/B-minus
8- Fifth Harmony (”Hero” Mariah Carey/ Simon’s team) – This “Franken-group” created by Simon is getting better. This was their most coherent, best harmonized performance to date. That’s not to say they have any real shot at winning. Grade: B-plus
9- Carly Rose Sonenclar (”My Heart Will Go On/Celine Dion/ Britney’s team) – She has an interesting voice, with enough grace notes and depth that she could be a great recording audience. Even when she doesn’t quite hit the right note, it’s oddly not a turn off. She has star potential in a way that most of the others don’t. She pulls off a Celine Dion song with aplomb. “You could be looking at the winner,” L.A. said. “You can’t do that at 13,” Simon says. “That last note was incredible.” Grade: A-minus
10- Vino Alan (”Let’s Stay Together” Al Green/ L.A.’s team) – I am warming up to Vino. He blends rock and soul nicely. It’s a good sign when I wanted to hear more than 90 seconds. “I was a little bored,” Demi said. (Side note: is Al Green a diva?) Grade: A-minus/A
11- Emblem3 (”No One” Alicia Keys/ Simon’s team) – Arrogance aside, this trio is talented. I admire their panache and they can sing, too. I expect they’ll do better in the rankings this week for sure after finishing a surprisingly low 6th last week. “You have the perfect vocal blend,” L.A. said. Grade: A/-A minus
12- CeCe Frey (”All By Myself” Celine Dion’s version/ Demi’s team) – The pimp spot? Really? The producers try to instill sympathy for her because her family can’t afford to come to Los Angeles. (”All by myself!” Get it?) But this is about performance, not back story. She is given yet another image makeover– big blond hair, wind machine. She hits the big note but is shaky in between. It still isn’t good enough for her to deserve votes in my mind. “She will be at the bottom again,” L.A. said. “I don’t get it,” Britney said. “It was very cabaret,” Simon said. “They’re way too hard on you,” Demi said. Grade: B-minus