The X Factor recap: Fright Night

Break out the scary lasers! The Top 16 acts take the live stage for the first time
Ep. 12 | Aired Oct 31, 2012

PORCUPINE ATTACK Mario Lopez asks Paige Thomas what it's like to be a spiky villain from Super Mario Bros.

FOX

Jennel Garcia totally dazzled with her powerhouse rendition of "Home Sweet Home" -- a performance heavy on vocals with not terribly much going on in the background to distract us. It was almost Idol-like, with her all alone on that elevated disc. (Or like one of Derek Hough's routines on Dancing With the Stars, if that's your thing. It's probably not.) No one expected such a confident, slithering-down-the-mic-stand romp from Jennel after her lackluster Judges' Homes performance. "You just defined the theme 'Made in America'," Simon cooed to Jennel, who by the way became a real rock star this week by having her hair slightly darkened. Simon accused Demi of trying to turn Jennel into a clone of her. "That is complete narcissism," he faux-complained. He would know!

CeCe Frey has abandoned her former "I'm better than all y'all bitches" attitude in favor of a wide-eyed ingenue (act) who can't believe she "kind of feels like a pop star." Whatever, Leopard Face! You're not fooling anyone. But I absolutely don't care because CeCe -- now a blonde Muppet (I'm sure Demi was going for Gaga, but it came out Ke$ha) -- was very entertaining on "Because the Night." Sure her vocal kind of sucked, but she's "fearless and interesting and that's what I like about pop stars," Simon said. Who cares if she can sing? Don't you know which show you're watching? God. Don't be weird. Really, though, for some reason I am finding this contestant amusing as hell.

Whaaaaat was Willie Jones thinking with a matte blue jacket over SHINY JEANS? Those pants may haunt me forever. Willie went with "Here for the Party" and stood high atop a pyramid of bar flies in Daisy Dukes to prove what a leading ladies man he is. He's really not, though, huh? His vocal did nothing for me (the super-low ending was pretty cringe-y) and I found myself concentrating on his backup dancers' wildly whipping hair. Simon thought it all felt a bit cheap and he and Demi engaged in a tiff about how old and irrelevant Simon is now so why doesn't he just shut up? Then Khloe Kardashian demanded that Simon name the song he would have chosen for Willie instead. Simon refused. Good one, Khlomeister!

TEENS

Demi complained that the screaming girls in the crowd made it impossible to hear Arin Ray's vocals on "You Keep Me Hanging On," but I was more thrown off by the faulty smokestacks that kept leaking, as if they were legitimate backup singers screeching the wrong lines in the wrong key. Go home, smokestacks! Those things were obnoxious and totally pointless, of course, but they might have actually made me like Arin's vocal more because I was so relieved when I could actually focus on it. He's much more commanding and has a better stage presence than I'd assumed he could be/have as a solo artist. Good for him.

I thought Diamond White stood out in that she looked very at ease and natural interacting mid-song with her backup dancers on a teen-ified, revved up rendition of "Hey Soul Sister." This was fun! I mean, it was totally ridiculous and a perfect example of what to expect from The X Factor, but whatever! Fun. L.A. thought Diamond seemed mechanical "until you went in the cage and started to own the song." Isn't that always the case? A cage can change everything.

NEXT: Promise me you will never crimp that hair again, young lady


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