Top 12 (psych! 13) y’all! When they said the theme of the week was Songs From the Movies, I was like gro-oan. But ya know what? Tonight was a rather stunning improvement over last week pretty much across the board. There were far fewer truly groan-y songs than I expected, and even the worst of the song choices were more of less pulled off by the contestants. All in all, this was maybe my favorite installment of X Factor yet. I was pleasantly surprised by how very few contestants seemed to get eaten alive by The Production Monster, Britney only said “amazing” once by my count, and Khloe KO (get it? KO like Kardashian-Odom and also as in “associated with a sudden traumatic loss of consciousness caused by a physical blow. (via Wikipedia)” Oh jokes.) mercifully refrained from making suggestive comments to Simon, focusing her awkward flirting instead on Demi, who she amazingly referred to as “a crime-fighting sexy superhero.” Speaking of Demi, I must say that it’s pretty hilarious that Simon feels the need to pick fights with Demi to look like a big tough guy, and even more hilarious how often he’s so clearly in the wrong. I mean, comparing Vino to Susan Boyle is frankly ridiculous, and if Simon doesn’t see the difference between the two and why Demi is absolutely correct that despite having an undeniable vocal talent Vino Alan will never be a popstar… I give up.

But anyway, let’s do dis, ladaaays! With the “surprise” (Was anyone actually surprised? I was not.) reintroduction of Diamond into the competition (yaaay!), we’re only down one sista act from last week. Which is cool, except for the part where Sister C getting the boot was SO NOT COOL. Ugh, whatever. One day the X Factor team will release all those hours of unaired B footage they surely must have lying around of Sister C throwing temper tantrums and punching kittens in the face and stuff. Until then here’s the rundown from last night’s performances:

8: CeCe Frey

Seeing as how Demi has been having some trouble pronouncing Cece’s last name correctly, I thought I’d help her out by writing my thoughts on Cece in poem form:

Aiiiiaiiaii, Miss CeCe Frey

Your vocals are feeble, discordant and dry

We could’ve had Jillian Jensen, oh whyyyyy?

I hope that tonight we can wish you goodbye.

Does that help? No but really, I think Simon was completely wrong (again) in putting the blame for this performance on Demi. This song and the arrangement were so exactly who CeCe is and wants to be as an artist, so the fact that it was such a calamity is a clear reflection of CeCe’s own limitations as a vocalist. Like I’ve said before, I don’t like Cece’s whole vibe or the tone of her voice to begin with so it was going to be hard for her to win me over, but even objectively I thought that her performance was by far the worst of the night.

7: Paige Thomas

I had all but written Paige off, but I must say, she really impressed me last night! Even dressed as Xena the Ballerina, suspended in mid-air with a wind machine oh-so-flatteringly blowing her skirt over her head, she delivered a strong, clear vocal that proved to me for the first time in weeks that she’s worthy of her spot in the competition. That having been said, her vocals still leave a lot to be desired. Enunciation is a serious, serious problem she needs to work out with her coach, as is the break at the top of her voice. I didn’t feel a connection with the song and I did feel as usual that she was a bit too nasally for my taste. I do love the hair though!

6: LYLAS 1432 Fifth Harmony

Oh lord with the name! I actually laughed out loud when they announced this one, not just because it’s a stupid name, but y’all know the biggest problem I’ve had with these ladies is their harmonies, and for those who know a bit about music theory, the fifth is not an especially pleasant harmony. So I came into the performance pre-peeved, but then the impossible happened: they actually pulled it together! It was crazy, they sounded cohesive, the harmonies were intricate and on-point, they were like an entirely different group up there. I couldn’t quite ignore that they were being helped along considerably by a background vocal track, which does kind of seems like cheating, but it worked, so whatever I guess. Still not entirely sold on them as a complete package, but without a doubt they get this week’s Most Improved Award. Now that they’ve got a grasp on harmony I’d like like to see some artistry from them.

5: Carly Rose

The voice, as previously established, is sick. The song choice this week was way more in her wheelhouse. And yet. There’s something about Carly that’s not quite clicking for me, and I don’t know that I know what it is. Bandzilla was certainly fighting her a bit, the arrangement had her singing just a bit too low for just a bit too long at the beginning, but that’s all silly nitpicky stuff. I guess mostly there’s just a put-on, pageant-y quality to her performance that I find off-putting. Even the tear at the end seemed practiced. Maybe that wasn’t the case and it was entirely genuine, but it certainly didn’t feel that way to me. I don’t know if there’s anything this kid can do to win me over at this point, I think she’s clearly gifted and deserves to stay in the competition for the long hall, she’s just not my cup o tea.

4: Diamond White

Oh Diamond, you lovely, sparkly little thing. I was sadder about Diamond than anyone else that got sent home last week, especially after she vocally kicked the crap out of the already vastly inferior Arin Ray. But then as soon as the judges gave their comments upon her departure, I knew they were setting the stage to bring her back. I have to say I much preferred the direction Britney took with her last week, and I Have Nothing is maybe THE most done-to-death song on the reality singing show circuit, but damn if she didn’t slay that sucker, and damn if she didn’t look classy as fuck doing so in that white suit. I hope next week she’ll find her way back to something a little more relevant to her as an artist, but it sure is good to have her back

3: Jennel Garcia

Remember last week when I said that Jennel was close, but hadn’t quite found her exact right niche? Well, when this song started I audibly squee-ed, because this is exactly what she should be doing. Sass, swagger and grit with a side of grrrl power. There’s something about this girl that just draws me in – she’s got that fire in her eyes, and I can’t help but root for her! Actually a lot of what I probably love about her is that she has very similar mannerisms, tone (especially in her speaking voice) and stage presence to Katharine McPhee in her early Idol days. And maybe that comparison is why I’ve been consistently so excited and so underwhelmed by her. Again this week I found myself kind of frustrated with the limited range of the arrangement, and I got to wondering if maybe she’s staying low because she doesn’t have that power in her upper-register, and gosh, that would be such a let-down. The upper-register is what makes a rock star a rock star! I mean Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Debbie Harry, Grace Potter, all these women she’s emulating, and even the modern pop-rock royalty like Demi, Kelly and P!nk, they make their living belting crazy-ass high notes! I don’t know what kind of career she’s going to have if she doesn’t find that power and fast.

2: Beatrice Miller

Gawd. We learned this week that Bea has two mommies, so at least now we know HOW she got to be so fucking awesome. The minute they said Beatrice and Goo Goo Dolls in the same sentence I about died, on account of how much Beatrice is everything I wanted to be when I was a wee angsty adolescent, and on account of how many hours and days and weeks of my angsty adolescence I spent wearing out my Dizzy Up The Girl CD and wailing “I DON’T WANT THE WORLD TO SEE ME! I DON’T THINK THAT THEY’D UNDERSTAND! EVERYTHING’S MADE TO BE BROKEN! I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM!” So watching her work that stage like a baller while rockin’ my jam felt like a little bit of wish fulfillment for my inner child. Bea’s vocals were clearly strained last night – competitions like this can be so strenuous for any voice, but especially for the youngins. I really hope they’re taking good care of her otherwise it’s only going to get worse! – but it didn’t even matter, because she OWNED every inch of that stage. She was dragging the mic stand around and flipping her hair and working the crowd – it was fucking adorable. Ma girl’s got the tone, the power, the control, the soul, the passion, the grit, the swag… she’s just so stupid cool!

1: Lyric 145

Last night, right smack dab in the middle of the evening’s X-Factor festivities, Lyric Da Queen of Hearts and her boys The Cheshire Cat and The Mad Swagger Hatter threw a very merry unbirthday party and rapped the Mary Poppins Classic “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” It was one of those things you might not believe was real unless you saw it with your own eyes. and there’s just no logical reason why it should’ve been anything but a calamitous clusterfuck, but of course this is Lyric and so of course it was the best thing that’s ever happened. Lyric 145 is totally fucking crazy, and I love it. #1 for all eternity. I love everything about you. Keep on doing what you do. Never change. That is all.

Predictions for tonight: Jason v Paige/CeCe. The judges will give Jason the boot. I’ll be sad about it.

Til next time!