It's Diva Night! Time for the top 11 acts to break out the sparkles and sob stories...
X Factor
Credit: Fox
Simon Cowell, American Idol

Lord knows, dreams are hard to follow. In time, you’ll either find a way to make ’em happen — or The X Factor will have a random “Divas” theme and you can live ’em out vicariously through tiny teens! It’s easier than trying. Let’s do it!

Demi’s “incredibly talented and very feisty” Jennel Garcia wanted to focus on working the entire stage. The dancer of 12 years video-chatted with students backstage and consulted with her fancy-western coach about what it takes to be a diva. (Lots and lots of midriff-baring fringe.) She lost a note or two at the top of “Proud Mary and I don’t know that the vocal ever became that strong. I was suddenly hungry for some long ‘n’ lean sausages after watching Jennel’s burnt sienna leggings scoot around the stage. L.A. Reid had apparently read my mind as he told Jennel, “That smoked.” Simon pretended Jennel had done anything different besides go with wavy hair this week, and pronounced her “back in the game.” She’s having more fun, he said. “It’s like a different person.” It’s really not. She’s the same. She’s solid. Good stuff. Let’s move on.

Mario Lopez pretended he cared about the X Factor app in the control room; then Khloe Kardashian sounded like she was saying “thong action” twice but it was really “thumb action.” They’re doing awesome. Glad we checked in.

Tate Stevens, the ultimate diva, aimed for the heartstrings with his cover of Shania Twain’s “From This Moment.” He might want to consider sticking to the love songs from this moment on because ladies love ’em, girls adore ’em, and Tate’s eyes look really sweet as they fill with tears. This was the performance of his with which I felt most connected, probably because it was his most blatantly emotional (plus duh, everyone knows this song). His wife Ashlie stood backstage, wondering again if he’d remember her face after leaving it for three minutes. I think he would! “Uggggghhhhh. You were so good,” said Demi. She would later say the exact same thing to Carly Rose Sonenclar, the other top-two scorer from last week. Dem’s fightin’ ughs, Demi!

Diamond White‘s vocals on Beyoncé’s “Halo” weren’t as shaky this week as they were on last week’s “I Have Nothing,” but I still wouldn’t call them great. I do agree with Simon though that at 13 — willing to work and seriously so likable, for realsies — Diamond does look and sound like someone who could be manufactured into a major star. Can you kind of see it? Like, the minute she turns old enough where it’s okay for her to be sexy, she’ll suddenly transform into Rihanna? Who knows. Anything is possible. You could peek outside your front door tomorrow morning and find yourself trapped forever by Khloe Kardashian’s “everything in the jewelry box, plus a roll of tacky wrapping paper all wadded up” dress. You just never know.

The judges generally approved of Diamond, but Simon warned her to never walk and sing at the same time. That really doesn’t bode well for any human, let alone a talent competition contestant….

Khloe interrupted Diamond’s good-natured explanation of her alter-ego to announce to zero interested parties that her own alter-ego was named Khlo-money. “You don’t wanna see Khlo-money,” she warned us. Nooooooooooo we don’t.

NEXT: Katy Perry Will Rock YouKhloe and Mario think a LOT of things about Pepsi are amazing. Chug! Chug! Chug!

Beatrice Miller is doing this because neither of her moms have jobs right now. Boo, the economy. But yay, they only outfitted Beatrice in about seven layers of trash this week instead of the usual dozens. The giant safety pin earrings alongside the “YOLO” cap were a nice touch — they let us know that the costumers wouldn’t be abandoning the “things we found in a dumpster” motif for Beatrice completely. The judges disagreed on whether Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” was a wise choice for Beatrice — Simon actually preferred her lower register and that she didn’t have to push the vocals, while L.A. thought the songs didn’t allow her to “peak.” But Simon admitted the song was “boring” and went “on and on and on and on and on,” prompting Britney to lash out, “She has more talent in her pinky than all of your contestants do combined.” Why am I merely amused by this comment, but whenever Demi Lovato sullenly complains that she’s bored, I want to yank off her fake high pony?

Lyric 145 decided just last night to take on a mashup of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and Katy Perry’s “E.T.” I’m not sure why L.A. Reid didn’t get how this fit under the “divas” theme. Doesn’t he remember how E.T. insisted on wearing a lady shawl and all those flowers, and kept demanding all those long-distance phone calls and bike basket rides? Really lame joke! Anyway, the trio sounded the same as they always do and I thought the two guys flanking Lyric Da Queen provided more theatricality than usual, pulling weight on the alternating verses. L.A. remarked that they’d “lost their way” in the competition even though let’s be honest, he barely knows who they are. I liked how after he buzzkilled, “This could be the last time we see you,” Da Queen BELLOWED with laughter. (Or will voters find that rude?) She continued to completely ignore Demi’s comments that “E.T.” didn’t fit at all — opting instead to scream back at audience members, “We love you, too!” To be fair, it’s hard to hear anything the judges are saying when the crowd is all excited. Meanwhile, Britney threw down a gauntlet, Britney-style: “They’re a hip-hop group; they should be doing hip-hop tracks.”

(Still, Britney Spears’ commercial for her new moneymaker Fantasy Twist — 2 fragrances in 1….somehow? — blows away anything she has done so far on The X Factor.)

Mario said “Lis-ten up, everyone,” with a hard t, and I wrote this sentence instead of obeying him. Worth it?

Yes! A showmance I actually buy for once! Arin Ray and Normani Hamilton are too cute with their grade-school flirtation and cutesy pool games inside the CONTESTANTS’ MANSION. I almost started crying when they admitted out loud that they would miss each other if one of them went home. Then Arin Ray started singing Madonna’s “Crazy For You” and I quickly got back on track with my emotionless ways. I wasn’t really feeling the heart in this one, and like Simon said, that could be because asking Arin to take on that song was “like asking a cat to eat a tiger.” Demi accused Arin of boring her and of lacking soul. Cat eating tiger sound!

NEXT: And you’ll fin’lly see the truth — L.A. is napping Paige Thomas is really just not a great singer, or “sing-ger” as L.A. Reid would say, but damn if her performances aren’t at least intriguing visually. This week she went with giant (GIANT) pointy shoulder pads and plumped-up lips, all encased in red glitter, and somewhat complicated choreography at the front of a healthy pack of backup dancers for Donna Summers’ “Last Dance.” I admired Paige’s commitment to the vibe and difficulty of the actual onstage production so much that I can kind of forgive the vocals. (Isn’t that the name of the game on this show anyway?) And I liked that we haven’t learned about Paige’s touching backstory — her mom/singing inspiration died on Christmas Eve when she was 6 — until hallway through the season. Oh, and I cried again when Paige voice-overed, “When I’m onstage — that’s how I can say I still have my mother.” Come on, how could you not?

“It’s Diva Week — you’ve got to do Mariah, right?” Simon rhetorically wondered, and so Fifth Harmony covered “Hero” in all-white outfits in pools of yellow spotlights. As a whole I thought the performance was less cohesive than others they’ve done, but there were some individual highlights — Lauren starting out the song instead of Camila, Dinah Jane grunting it out on “Llllllord knowwwwws…”, and Ally Brooke getting the enviable bridge-capper, “In time, you’ll find a way.” Demi had worried that she’d be bored, but it was just a false alarm! Whew. Simon seemed genuinely happy with their performance but, even more, the five girls’ love for puppies. I just hope no one got salmonella from that scene they must have shot at least a few times, during which the girls raved about having “so much chemistry” while slurping raw eggs off of wooden spoons. You gotta want it!

This week’s theme was tailor-made for Carly Rose Sonenclar, the old soul in a 13-year-old’s body who — despite her great talent — does seem unnatural when she’s performing current hit songs. Carly legitimately killed it on Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” and the stage crew was kind enough to recreate the chandelier effect within Titanic to help inspire her performance. We got a little more face-time with Carly’s parents, particularly her dad, Bob, who’s been so proud of her “not because of the results, but because of the work and effort you put into it.” I don’t care if this was an endlessly perfected PR pitch — it’s the right message! Yay, Bob. Did anyone else notice that after Carly’s performance, Bob’s “swelling with more pride” expression looked alarmingly like Jerry Seinfeld’s “impatient/over it” face?

Khloe and Mario tried to determine which one of them was the “winner” at something (having more energy?) and everyone was just like NEITHER OF YOU.

NEXT: Vino Alan wins MVP of Front Row FondlingMore family bonding time! Someone flew Vino Alan‘s mom and son Sky out to Hollywood (too bad they couldn’t spring for CeCe Frey, huh? not really) and it was really cute seeing Sky tell his dad, “I always trusted you, believed in you.” It’s clear they’re on good terms and Vino simply can’t provide for someone he loves right now. Reconnecting with family allowed him to “sing through love, not pain” (L.A. Reid’s MVP moment of the episode for sure, not that there was any competition) on his Diva Week rendition of Tina Turner’s “Let’s Stay Together.” The whole segment was sappy, but whatever, I was buyin’ what they were sellin’. It’s hard not to root for someone on this show who has a really strong voice. It just is. I also liked the choice to have Vino sing the first third or so of the song all by himself with just a light synth behind him. And his zest for the act of touching front-row-cheerers’ hands — usually so awkward to watch! — is oddly convincing. I’ve started to see Vino Alan as a slightly less cheesy, shorter version of Joey Fatone. It’s not the worst way to be.

Simon wanted Vino to only sing “bigger kinds of songs” because Vino has “a voice designed for what I call a ‘moment'” — but L.A. disagreed, calling “Let’s Stay Together” a great platform for a classic voice. “Like, what is pop?” Vino wondered aloud to close out the segment. There’s something to ponder. (THE ANSWER IS PEPSI.)

“I JUST STUMBLED,” slurred Khloe. We knew that!

Learning more about the contestants’ past/real lives can really only be a good thing in terms of how well we can tolerate them today. Emblem3‘s pre-performance package spotlighted Drew, the member of the trio who’s not related to the two brothers (and that dad who’s always around). Drew struggled with “finding his identity” and dropped out of high school and basically got a new lease on life when they started this band. “Finishing life — that’s what you can do,” suggested this random beach bum in his early 20s with frosted tips, directly toward the camera. AND I BOUGHT IT! For a few seconds, anyway. I don’t know, that whole package was just endearing. The mind control is working!!! I didn’t notice any glaring problems with their cover of Alicia Keys’ “No One” (save for the eye-rolly close-up of the “heart hand” at the beginning, but that’s not their fault) and the judges were all on board. I could have done without all those “popular kids” from central casting “woh-woh”-ing in the background, but hey, popular kids like Emblem3! You gotta give the popular kids what they want.

“I genuinely believe that I saved the best for last,” began Demi, and I can genuinely say that CeCe Frey‘s blisteringly foul cover of “All By Myself” was the worst performance of the night. She hit that one note — the strongest in the song, the one where it’s legit to just shout — and it all looked very pretty for a few seconds, wind machine on full blast, CeCe’s fried locks fluttering from the shock. But the rest was just a disaster. “Oh my God,” said L.A., so right away you knew he was lying. “I’m just at a loss for words. You sang the song really well. But you always sing really well, so I don’t know what to say.” Well at least that last sentence was true. “Sorry, I just don’t get it,” monotoned Britney, and hilariously no one asked her to please expand on that. Simon said she’d have been better off singing that song all by herself in an empty room.

Womp-womp. No California trip for CeCe’s loved ones after all. The post office needs her. It’s the holidays, don’tcha know?

Will anyone vote for CeCe or will she land at the bottom again? What’s more boring — The X Factor performances or Demi Lovato’s commentary? Who’d you like the best tonight? Discuss. I’ll see you back here tonight after the results. And remember — the hero lies in you.

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Episode Recaps

Simon Cowell, American Idol
The X Factor
Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, and Paulina Rubio judge Season 3.
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