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Without further ado, the X Factor Girls!
Bree Randall: *
I usually try to give my ratings based purely on the vocals, but I must admit I lowered Bree’s score a half point just based on likeability. There’s just something about Bree that bugged, me from the smug attitude to the over-styled look and especially the fact that she already has her eventual fashion line (!) and perfume (!!) planned out in her mind. Slow down, girl! Perhaps I wouldn’t mind so much if her voice was anything special, but it was pitchy and dull on a (again horribly arranged) version of “Glad You Came.” Kelly wanted her to grow more and Simon criticized the song and only complimented her on her outfit. She’s pretty – think a mix of Sara Bareilles and Glee’s Dianna Agron – but both artists I just mentioned are 10 times more talented. After some groveling, Demi (the Girls coach) asked Bree to take a seat (which I guarantee will not be hers by the end of the round).
Khaya Cohen: * * * *
I have to admit, I love Khaya. She’s not the most trained or technically gifted singer (I noticed a few wobbly notes and runs), but she makes up for it with a smoky tone and great soul far beyond her 16 years. Singing a slowed down (and, thankfully, bowdlerized) “Locked Out Of Heaven,” Khaya was so natural and convincing it was hard not to be swept away by this throwback artist in the making. I know it's early in The X Factor , but mark my words: she’s one to watch. Demi asked Khaya to take a seat.
Jamie Pineda: * * *
Jamie’s Latin-tinged “Don’t Speak” didn’t really get going until she flipped into Spanish and then, suddenly, everything got better. I don’t know if she’s more comfortable in Español or what, but the whole performance instantly brightened when she left English behind. She tries a bit too hard and occasionally veers way too close to Karaoke-ville, but I can’t call the performance anything worse than mildly forgettable. Demi asked Jamie to take a seat.
Ashly Williams: * ½
I hate sob stories on shows like this. Sing and then get off the stage. But I must admit that knowing Ashly’s story did influence how I viewed her performance of “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.” Like the judges, the first time I watched her sing I was moved by the combination of the story and song. But listening to it a second time without the fog of sentimentality, I must say that Ashly was a bit of a train wreck. It was sloppy and off-key and over-reaching. She’s going for a soul angle, but is not nearly as talented as Lori or Lillie (or Khaya, for that matter). The judges say they love her strength, but most forget to mention her singing. Demi asked Ashly to take a seat. (Now the four seats are filled and all subsequent Take-A-Seaters will have to boot off someone).
Simone Torres: * * ½
OK, this is it. For, what feels like the hundredth time in this Four Chair Challenge, I’m going to complain about the arrangements. I promise it’ll be the last, though (at least for this recap). In Simone’s case, they took “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Sam Cooke’s gorgeous, timeless civil rights anthem, and turned it into a faux-Motown record with about as much soul and depth as a car commercial. They literally sucked everything good from the song and sterilized it so much it was almost unrecognizable. But I’m not sure that’s Simone’s fault. She sung it serviceably (although maybe not memorably). Let’s not blame the piss-poor musical direction on this 19-year-old Berkley student who probably had little to no bearing on the subject. Demi asked Simone to take a seat from Bree (seriously, at this point only Khaya deserves a place on the chairs).
Danielle Geimer: * * * *
Danielle/Danie is the epitome of an old soul. This nerdy chic teen’s voice has so much gritty passion and skill she could almost pull off that god-awful Sam Cooke number. This time, Danie sang “Georgia On My Mind” (actually arranged fairly well for a change) and sang the heck out of it, despite the somewhat safe song choice. Every note and every run was filled with emotion and tact. But more than that, Danie just seems like a sweet, unassuming girl who is refreshingly relatable. I just loved it and her! Right now she’s neck and neck with fellow soul sister Khaya. Not surprisingly, Demi asked Danielle to take a seat from Simone.
Rylie Brown: * * ½
To me, Rylie just seemed young up there. She’s 16 and an ex-pageant girl. Both those things showed in her rendition of Robbie Williams’ “Angels.” The vocals weren’t bad, just bland and very, very average. I didn’t remember Rylie from the auditions and I’ll have already forgotten about her by the time I submit this recap. Demi sent Rylie home.
Primrose Martin: 0 stars
Here’s the good news: Primrose will get her much desired fifteen minutes of fame after this performance. Here’s more good news: Perhaps after this gig fails, she can get a job as Kelly’s body double. What's the bad news, you ask? Every single thing else. Her whole performance of “Blame It On The Boogie” stunk of desperation. Between the outfit, the dancing and the truly painful, off-key singing, the whole thing just seemed like one big ploy from the 20-year-old, whose dad is a “Kool and the Gang” member. She was terrible, yes, but what irked me even more was her obnoxious attitude and (perhaps the most annoying audition tactic) the insistence on singing again and again and again a capella to show the judges wrong. Yuck. Demi sent Primrose home.
Rion Paige: * * * *
Firstly, I feel like I should take back that comment about Rylie’s age because Rion is 13 (yikes, 10 years younger than me!) and yet brings such a wealth of maturity and grace to the stage that age isn’t even a contender. To me, it doesn’t matter if Rion has some kind of musculoskeletal deformity or not. Rion is a born performer with an incredible, infectious spirit. I don’t even care that I found her song choice, Rascal Flatts’ “I Won’t Let Go,” bland or that her voice, when compared to some of the others in the competition, doesn’t quite stack up. I really don’t give a damn. This kid’s something very, very special whether X Factor is her platform or not. Demi asked Rion to take a seat from Ashly (bold and spot-on choice, Demi!).
Ellona Santiago: * * *
I don’t quite agree with Simon, who called Ellona one of the best vocalists of the competition so far. This 17-year-old Filipino’s take on “Clarity” had its moments, but was weakened by some pitch issues and a certain disconnect from the song (I feel like she was thinking more about how to sing it rather than how to convey its message). I could go either way with her, but she’s talented enough to be capable of great things. After a tough dissention, Demi asked Ellona to take a seat from Jamie.
That means that Danielle, Khaya, Ellona and Rion will be the top picks for the Girls and will join Jeff G., Rachel, James and Lillie in the next round.
That’s all until next week when we get to hear the Boys and the Groups!