Which is where we should have been last week before the show brought back Diamond White in one of those twists Simon loves so much.
Anyway, now that we’re down to an even 12, I’ll rank the contestants, based partly on where I think they should finish and partly on where I think they will finish.
1. Carly Rose Sonenclar: The key is Britney. She needs to remember that Carly Rose is just 13 (so don’t make her sing adult songs like “Satisfaction”). And she needs to remember that Carly Rose’s voice is so good, big stage productions aren’t necessary.
2. Lyric 145: This is personal preference totally out of touch with reality, and I’m not even a big fan of hip-hop music. But Lyric Da Queen is a star, I wind up smiling every time they take the stage. And that Mary Poppins number was out of this world.
3. Vino Alan: He’s got a great voice and sings with incredible passion. Oh, and Demi, I doubt he wants to be a “pop star.” But I also fear he’ll suffer the same fate as Josh Krajcik – good enough to go deep into the competition but not popular enough to win.
4. Tate Stevens: Surprise! He finished first in the voting last week. But as pop acts start getting knocked off, those votes will be redistributed. And I don’t think Tate’s appeal as an older country singer is as broad as some of the other singers.
5. Emblem 3: I put them here grudgingly, because I think they’re still vastly over-rated. Someone doesn’t become a superstar from one performance, and certainly not on a show with ratings as low as The X Factor. But they have been solid two straight weeks.
6. Jenell Garcia: She got totally unfounded grief from Simon last week after a fun performance of “I Love Rock and Roll.” He called it a karaoke cover that covered no new ground, then praised Tate Stevens for doing the same thing with a country song.
7. Fifth Harmony: History lesson – before they were 1432, before they were The Lylas, they were five individual soloists, each with her own fan base. That and those brilliant harmonies just might translate into a bit of staying power.
8. Beatrice Miller: If Carly Rose wasn’t around, she might be the darling of the competition. Her voice is actually a little more distinct, if not quite as precise. She’s also incredibly poised on stage for a 13-year-old. Oh, and she needs no Britney covers either.
9. Paige Thomas: I have a feeling we’re going to find out how far bizarre outfits and bizarre productions can take a performer on The X Factor. But I keep thinking back to the pre-Top 16 segment where Demi said vocals are not Paige’s strong point.
10. Arin Ray: There’s nothing that really stands out against the young singer, and that would include his vocals. I’ve graded his three live performances so far as a C-, a D and a C. And he was one voting spot away from having to sing for his X Factor life last week.
11. Cece Frey: What happened to the Cece who sang so well at the judges mansion that I didn’t care who else advanced from the young adults, as long as she did? Cece sang twice last week and was off both times. She’s running out of second chances.
12. Diamond White: Speaking of second chances, Diamond got one last week, went out and tried to sing Whitney Houston, and promptly proved that Britney had made the correct decision the week before when she was cut. She’s the weakest vocally of Britney’s three 13s.