The X Factor continued Thursday night with the performances at the judges' homes. Picking up from where Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato left off, Britney Spears and L.A. Reid had their chance to mentor their six singers and watch them perform in order to pick which four in each category will advance to the live performances round.
Reid, who made it very clear that he did not care to be assigned the Over 25s, brought his boy Justin Bieber (and right-hand manager Scooter Braun) as his guest mentors. Let's see how his oldie oldsters performed:
Jason Brock: The tech support guy totally wowed us in the auditions with his Elton John-like presence and delivery, and he did a moving version of Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry."
David Correy: He brought his sweet voice and bad-boy tattoos to Jessie J's "Domino." Reid got "chill bumps," and Bieber dug the voice and the look, while Scooter saw "pure passion."
Daryl Black: He has a big voice, but Reid isn't feeling it, and neither are we.
Tate Stevens: Mr. Cowboy shouldn't have any problem in his country niche. His rendition of Brian McKnight's "Back at One" is solid, but Reid makes a point to ask if he's worth the $5 million prize. We say nope.
Vino Alan: He's had a rough past, seeing his mother beat up, and that translates to his raspy voice. It's a smart song choice to do Pink's emotional "Sober," and he gets a good reception despite his nervousness. He wants to win this badly.
Tara Simon: We're still scratching our heads why she advanced through any round, much less made it to judges' homes. The vocal coach is not only annoying personality-wise, but oversings everything. Sound down, please! She wants to be America's darling, but if America is like us, they won't vote her far. Her overblown take on Hoobastank's "The Reason" elicits the expected suppressed smiles and eye-rolling from her compeitors. Even Bieber agreed, acknowledging her big voice but lack of "sweet moments."
Next, Spears brought the wisdom of her Mickey Mouse Club experience to mentor the Teens, the category she personally wanted. As her guest, she brought the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am to intimidate/evaluate the young singers. How did they do?
Diamond White: Let's be clear here, the real competition is between Diamond and Carly Rose, yes? For 13-year-olds, they have huge voices and amazing stage presence. Diamond sang well as usual, but we didn't love her choice of Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You." She also seemed rather restrained.
Reed Deming: The WannaBieber was intimidated by Diamond and asks, "How do you compete against that?" Don't worry, girls will vote your baby face through. His immaturity and nervousness showed, but we're also thinking the song choice was too old for him. Nevertheless, will.i.am proclaimed Reed to be a "little emperor kid."
James Tanner: He may look like WannaBieber 2.0, but this fresh-faced teen is a rapper. And although he tried to "Party Like a Rock Star" like Shop Boyz, but even Spears wondered if he was strong enough to advance. No, Brit, he isn't.
Arin Ray: This soloist returned after being unceremoniously dumped into the groups category last season and then was eliminated. He's pretty and did a sweet rendition of Nicki Minaj's "Starships," but he's not quite there.
Beatrice Miller: She's the 13-year-old who ought to be a Disney protégé. She did an intriguing cover of David Guetta's "Titanium" and put warmth and emotion into her vocals, but they cannot compete against Diamond and Carly Rose's.
Carly Rose Soneclar: X Factor saved the best for last. The tiny teen did incredible things to Karmin's "Brokenhearted." Instead of her usual acrobatic, in-your-face vocals, Carly Rose's performance slayed us with its nuance, restraint and maturity. Take note, Tara Simon! Spears agreed with will.i.am that she was "possessed" and that the little caterpillar didn't become a butterfly, rather a "dragon, scorching up the town."
That's it for luxuriating at the judges' homes. Now the ax will fall on eight contestants. Who do you think should get cut? Who are your favorites to make it through to the live shows? Who is worth the $5 million prize?
The X Factor next airs Wednesday at 8/7c on Fox.