News Column

Lovato Says Bieber Taken Down by 13-year-old Girl

Dec. 7, 2012

Chuck Barney, Contra Costa Times

Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato

Oh no, Justin Bieber, you just got schooled by a 13-year-old girl.

Or so says Demi Lovato, who so cherished Carly Rose Sonenclar's stripped-down cover of Bieber's "As Long as You Love Me" on "The X Factor" Wednesay night that she dared to claim it eclipsed the Bieb's version.

"I love it when I hear unplugged versions of songs that are better than the actual song," Demi gushed. "You sang it better than Justin did."

Ah, yes, that's the way it's been going for Carly Rose these days. Every song the eigth-grader touches seems to turn to gold. But there are four other acts remaining in this competition (five, if you count CeCe Frey), so let's not hand her the $5 million crown just yet.

Wednesday night, "The X Factor" shook things up a bit, having the contestants sing two songs apiece for the first time -- one an "acoustical" choice and the other picked by the fans. But some things never change: Demi and Simon Cowell continued their verbal sparring, with the latter even referring to the former as "Cruella" at one point.

Let's take a look at how it all went down:

CeCe Frey (Young adults); "Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga

CeCe, who should have been gone ages ago, admits that the unplugged approach won't allow her to "mask" her vocal deficiencies. Even so, she doesn't sound half bad on this version of Gaga's hit, accompanied by only a piano. Of course, "not half bad" is not good enough at this

point in the competition. Britney Spears calls it "just good, not great," and Simon says it was a "little too cabaret" for him. But coach Demi, of course, called it one of CeCe's best performances.

Emblem 3 (Groups); "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars

The SoCal skater boys want to prove to Demi that they're not "predictable," so they sit together under some soft lighting and croon away as one of them strums a guitar. Little girls in the audience squeal in delight. L.A. Reid likes it and Britney calls it, "hands down" their best performance so far. But the hater Demi calls it a "downgraded version of the Jonas Brothers five years ago." Ouch! As the little girls boo Demi heartily, Simon tells her that was an "incredibly dumb thing to say."

Carly Rose Sonenclar (Teens); "As Long As You Love Me" by Justin Bieber

Ranked No. 1 for two straight weeks, the teen dynamo, as we mentioned, tackles Bieber. Of course, she rises to the challenge again with not a sour note in the entire performance. This Carly girl is starting to look unstoppable. L.A. calls it her best performance "for my taste" and even Simon and Demi can agree on this one: She's a star in the making.

Fifth Harmony (Groups) "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele

L.A. may be right about the lack of harmony from Fifth Harmony. Here, they're just basically trading off lead vocals and coming across rather drowsy. Clearly, they don't do Adele as well as Carly did Adele last week. L.A., predictably gripes about the lack of harmony and says the group's name should be "Fifth Unison." Britney thinks it was "nice," but wonders what separates them from other girl groups. And Demi doesn't get the whole group thing at all, believing a couple of them should be solo artists. Simon just whines that they're being treated unfairly.

Diamond White (Teens); "This Is a Man's World" by James Brown

Um, we thought this was supposed to be accoustic. We see violins back there, and drums and an organist. That aside, little Diamond shines on this classic, with power and charisma. L.A. loves it because Dimond brought "attitude and show biz" to it. Demi and Simon like it, too, but point out that she's done this song before. Says coach Britney, "You not only nailed it, you destroyed it."

Tate Stevens (Over-25s); "Living On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi

Our country boy continues to be reliable and liakble, but we're starting to wonder if he's falling into a rut. This rendition is solid, but a little sluggish. Britney thinks he's getting away from his strength -- down-the-middle country. Demi says she remains a fan, but this performance was a "little boring" and Simon says it was a bad song choice -- like "taking a goldfish for a walk."

The second half of the show was devoted to the "Pepsi Challenge," in which viewers choose songs for each act via online voting and even weigh in on wardrobe and performance decisions.

CeCe Frey; "Part of Me" by Katy Perry

Apparently, the fans wanted the leopard spots back and they (the guys?) wanted CeCe in really short shorts. But did they they also want her to shout her way through the song? That's pretty much what she did. L.A. Reid calls it "karaoke." Britney, however, loves the whole crazy outfit and spectacle. Simon grudgingly calls her a "trier," whatever that means.

Emblem 3; "Forever Young" by Alphaville

There's a bit of a droning quality to this one, but L.A. says they nailed it, so what do we know? Britney, too raves, that it's a "superstar performance." On to Demi, who likes it better than their first performance, but wants to see them command the stage more. Simon just looks at her and says, "What is the matter with you tonight?"

Carly Rose Sonenclar; "If I Were a Boy" by Beyonce

We're beginning to think that Simon might be right: This girl is an alien. ... Or an audioanimatronic robot. She sounds so mature, so smooth and strong. (and thank you, voters for giving her this song to sing). As L.A. says, she just never lets us down. Demi agrees, calling it a "phenomenal vocal," and Simon can't disagree, even though he's been threatening to send Demi to the "naughty chair."

Fifth Harmony; "Give Your Heart a Break" by Demi Lovato

Simon can't stand the fact that America gave his girls a Demi song to do. Still, it's a substantial improvement over their first performance. More power. More charisma. And, yes, even a little bit of harmonizing. L.A. says it's their best effort yet. Brit Brit likes it, and so does Demi, who graciously says, "This song should have been your song" -- and that they sang it better than the originator.

Diamond White; "Diamonds" by Rihanna

Oh, America, you're so clever. You ask a girl named Diamond to sing a song called "Diamonds." We get it. And we like it for the most part. But L.A. says he didn't really like it. Demi thinks she did it justice -- "really, really great." Simon doesn't seem blown away by any means, but says, "overall, I think you've had a good night."

Tate Stevens; "If Tomorrow Never Comes" by Garth Brooks

For some reason, they've got Tate up on an elevated platform. Why? Not because he goes for the high notes, because he doesn't. In fact this is another contained and drowsy performance. What happened to this guy's spark? Still, Britney calls it "brilliant," but Demi agrees with us and deems it a "little sleepy." Simons says, "Welcome back to the competition. This is what you should be singing."



Source: (c)2012 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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