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As the world excitedly gears up for the X Factor with a major facelift tonight, let’s segue into the new season by taking a look back at the standout performances of the premier season! Note: I was aiming for 25 performances and counted wrong to get 26 performances. Sorry!
26. A Song for Mama – Marcus Canty: My problem with Marcus was how corny he was (in addition to how overly in love with him Nicole was). For this touching tribute to his mother, though corniness was up full blast, Marcus hit home with a performance that went further than just a competition vocal.
25. We Found Love – Josh Krajcik: Though Simon wasn’t a fan of Josh taking the dance route, there was something compelling about a strong and rugged pop vocal. Josh stepped out of his comfort zone for one of the first times and delivered a really great performance.
24. World’s Greatest – Melanie Amaro: Melanie’s emotionally powerful performances were what pushed her all the way to the finale. World’s Greatest was an uplifting and powerful vocal performance that Melanie needed to ensure she stayed relevant and a strong competitor.
23. I’m Going Down – Jazzlyn Little: A lot of people were upset over Simon cutting Tora, Caitlin, and Jazzlyn for the likes of Tiah and Simone. Jazzlyn was no exception. Her transition from timid young girl to a strong and commanding presence on stage when she sang was breathtaking.
22. Just a Dream – Drew: Simon heavily invested in Drew during the beginning of the live shows. Drew changed up a hip-hop tune to fit into her folky-pop style which paid off big time and showed versatility.
21. Desperado – Melanie Amaro: Desperado is on the list due to Melanie’s awesome vocal performance. Dynamics, crescendos, vibrato, and pitch were all perfectly used to deliver one of the season’s standout performances.
20. Stop Crying Your Heart Out – Elaine Gibbs: The X Factor made sure to emphasize the similarities between Elaine Gibbs and Stacy Francis, two strong soul belters. Where Stacy’s presence may have been too dramatic, Elaine always seemed at ease and relaxed. Stop Crying Your Heart Out during the judge’s houses combined Elaine’s signature calmness with an unbelievably moving vocal.
19. Young Homie – Chris Rene: Young Homie was awesome because it showed exactly who Chris Rene was from the start. It went viral quickly, and the story of his sobriety struck home with viewers. However, Chris made it lose meaning by performing it 3-4 times during the course of the season. Repetition pushed it down this list (but still easily one of the best!)
18. Stop in the Name of Love – Caitlin Koch: Simon is all about changing up songs, so he was understandably ecstatic about Caitlin’s slowed/acoustic version of a classic. Caitlin combined charisma and a gorgeous look with a strong performance, which I think is one way to look at the X Factor we’re all looking for–a combination of star potential qualities.
17. I Have Nothing – Melanie Amaro: Rising up from being eliminated (ahem), Mel’s emotionally-charged I Have Nothing moved the frontrunner turned eliminated contestant back into the frontrunner and shoved out Tiah and Simone, which in itself should have a spot on this list (still not happy about Tora, Caitlin, and Jazzlyn).
16. At Last – Josh Krajcik: Josh’s audition song became his staple performance. His unique take on the classic song with his signature guitar made a last impression as the season went on.
15. Where Do We Go From Here – Chris Rene: I preferred Chris’ other original performance on the show over Young Homie. Though I will admit to being turned off to Chris’ lack of vocal prowess, Where Do We Go From Here made me forget all of his flaws as Chris shone in his own comfort and style.
14. Jar of Hearts – Josh Krajcik: Beautiful vocal. Emotional performance. Necessary to show a fresher side to Josh, who frequently aged himself.
13. Baby – Drew: So clearly a common theme is changing up songs. Drew’s Baby, whether you hate the song or not, was definitely different. Though many criticized Drew on her overall awkwardness, her voice and unique rendition were enough to totally eclipse her personal flaws, at least for me.
12. Wild Horses – Josh Krajcik: Another awesome performance by Josh. Easily the best performance of that night, and here Josh made his run towards the finale as a frontrunner. Funny that I never really liked Josh, but this list makes me realize how good he truly was.
11. Feeling Good – Melanie Amaro: Simon was right when he said “Feeling Good” has been done to death. However, Melanie brought it 110% and added a more soulful edge in addition to a jazzy aspect we hadn’t seen. She made the song fresh again, and that last note she hit was absolutely haunting.
10. I Want You Back – Tora Woloshin: Tora was my early favorite. Not only was she a strong presence on stage, but she also had an awesome attitude and a great voice. It’s hard not to watch her performance back and not want to smile and dance. Tora had the contagiousness that pop stars like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry possess, so I think Simon letting go such an ideal pop star was a major mistake. I Want You Back was so much fun.
9. What A Feeling (Flashdance) – Drew: By keeping the full song slow, Drew took a major risk. Hollie Cavanagh wasn’t able to deliver 100% when she performed the uptempo part of it, for example. Without bringing it uptempo, Drew had to keep our interests and eyes completely engulfed on her performance. That she did.
8. Lose Yourself – Astro: I’ll admit to not being Astro fan. Whereas Elaine and Tora had awesome attitudes, Astro simply did not. I can’t deny his talent, and the way he changed up the lyrics in Lose Yourself to tie into current music and its meaning to him was absolutely genius.
7. Must Have Been Love – Drew: Not too much to say here. It was a dream and a beautiful lullaby. Surreal.
6. Hallelujah – Josh Krajcik: Hallelujah has also been done to death. At this point, either I get goosebumps or it falls flat. Something about Josh’s rendition brought the goosebumps, so I’m not going to question how great it really was.
5. I’d Rather Be Blind – Rachel Crowe: The fact that Rachel could bring the soul at 13 years old was ridiculous. She sounded like a grown woman with a lifetime of struggles and a mature voice when she performed. Tears made her vulnerable, and when she brought it back for her sing-for-your-life, she brought even MORE emotion to the performance.
4. Summertime – Stacy Francis: After losing steam, Stacy needed to majorly up her game if she wanted to stay in the competition. Summertime did just that, and whether you love or hate her, Summertime was an unbelievably moving performance.
3. Natural Woman – Stacy Francis: Stacy’s performance was so good that it was the one X Factor really pushed in promos. Stacy not wanting the music to die within her and sobbing were the cherries on top. Don’t be biased here–at this point Stacy was not annoying and overly dramatic. Natural Woman was craziness.
2. Listen – Melanie Amaro: The other brilliant audition, besides Stacy and Chris, of X Factor USA. The power Melanie had behind her voice and her story delivered an unforgettable audition and a true performance worth $5 million in the finale.
1. If I Were a Boy – Rachel Crowe: My favorite favorite favorite performance of the X Factor. You need to watch this one back. Rachel could be immature at times, but her composure and strength were brilliant, in addition to wowing the entire audience and moving Nicole to tears. Rachel finally stepped it up here and delivered, in my opinion, the best performance of the night.
I’ve gotta run for now, but all the videos can be found on TheXFactorUSA’s YouTube channel! Watch to refresh if you would like, and add your own top performances in the comments if you would like! It was certainly a struggle to remember top performances from a year ago. I’ll see you all tonight when I live blog X Factor tonight!
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