After meltdowns and smackdowns, baseball rain delays and an early World Series win, The X Factor is back Wednesday night at 8/7c on Fox with its first live show. The judges have made their decisions and a fortunate 16 acts will hit the stage in Hollywood to sing or rap their way into voters' hearts and a shot at the $5 million prize.
Which judge's team is the best? Who is a future star? Who will fade into obscurity? TVGuide.com breaks down the contenders:
Teens, Mentor Britney Spears:
The possible winner(s): Spears arguably has the strongest team across the board. Both Carly Rose Soneclar and Diamond White are 13-year-old divas with huge voices and uncanny control, with the latter possessing no small amount of charm. Speaking of, Arin Ray's young Michael Jackson vibe and killer smile has charmed Spears well enough to warrant a return to The X Factor finals after last year's disappointment. Finally, Beatrice Miller may not have the powerhouse chops of Carly Rose and Diamond, but she has a unique tone to her voice and sassy performance style that gives her pop star potential.
The weak link(s): Immaturity. Despite these kids' technical prowess, one should never underestimate the power of reality competition to break a competitor's spirit, especially in ones so young and inexperienced as these teens.
Young Adults, Mentor Demi Lovato:
The possible winner(s): Lovato made the mistake of dismissing her strongest contender, Jillian Jensen, in the Judges' Homes round. So that leaves CeCe Frey, she of the cheetah face art, and potentially Willie Jones, the baritone singer who charmed the judges with his country performances and flat-top Afro hairstyle. Frey's reputation might suffer from whatever drama her supposed "rivalry" with Paige Thomas will create, but it's likely Thomas won't stick around long enough for it to have too much of an impact.
The weak link(s): Thomas, who probably only made it through because of the watercooler moment potential stemming from her rivalry with Frey. She's a good vocalist, and her single mom status will tug at some fans' heartstrings, but her singing won't be enough to power her past some of the other contenders in the Top 16.
The others: Jennel Garcia is a strong contender, but her vocal style is similar to Frey's and Frey has more of a personality (read: cheetah face art) to make her stand out among voters.
Over 25s, Mentor L.A. Reid:
The possible winner(s): David Correy. With a heartwarming backstory (the adopted 26-year-old used his X Factor audition to reconnect with his birth mother, and she's now reportedly been located in Brazil) and a set of pipes to boot, Correy will easily be the fan favorite out of this group. Not to mention, in a group of mostly duds, his sleeve tattoos and unique style make him one of the more memorable contestants.
The weak link(s): Everyone else. This is the weakest group overall, and even Reid himself has said no one stands out to him here. But who knows? Maybe he'll be proven wrong.
The others: See above. Tate Stevens represents the country contingent, so it's a safe bet that he'll stick around for at least one round to give the competition some diversity. Jason Brock is entertaining and flamboyant, so he's probably safe as well — at least for this week. So our pick for the first person to go from the Olds is Vino Alan. A sweet guy, but he's basically Correy 2.0 in terms of personality and singing skills. Sorry, Vino!
Groups, Mentor Simon Cowell
The possible winner(s): We admit that Lyric 145's cheeky rendition of Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A." still makes us smile, and if they can continue to bring that humor and swagger, they could win over voters who are ready for something fresh. As for the put-together girl group Lylas, they have at least three impressive vocalists among the bunch, not to mention the looks to match. Spice Girls 2 they're not, but they at least have strong and vibrant personalities, which brings us to ...
The weak link(s): ... Sister C. We know that Simon is dying to be responsible for a country girl group, but until they learn to relax and smile more, voters will have a difficult time wanting to vote for such bland personalities. Can they sing? Sometimes, but their tone is in that high-to-annoying nasally range. Who needs singers who don't sound good?
The others: Emblem3 is reminiscent of ska punk band Sublime and even hail from a nearby beach city. Earlier in the competition we would have thrown Emblem3 in with the possible winners, but their most recent performances have been sketchy, they've exhibited a cocky immaturity and band member Drew Chadwick even came in late on a verse during the Judges' Homes round. Maybe he should spend less time taking off his shirt and more time putting on some professional polish.
Who do you think has the best shot at the $5 million prize?
The X Factor airs Wednesday and Thursday at 8/7c on Fox and will air a special performance show on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 8/7c.