Monday, October 31, 2011

Movie Review: In Time

Time IS Money. Literally.

In an era where most Hollywood movies are a sequel of an adaptation of a remake - it's silly, I know. Haha - it's pretty refreshing to know that there are still great minds in the industry that can give something new to look at, and yes, something else to hold my imagination.

The premise of In Time was VERY interesting and, honestly, wasn't too ridiculous for me to question it's believability. The social commentary was also very relevant, but somehow the story lost the nuances and complexities it had as the film seemed to be like one long car chase instead. It didn't delve much into the whole concept, which to me had so much potential.

But aside from that wasted potential of a premise - and probably some poorly written lines and occasional bad delivery from a few actors - this film was better than I initially thought it would be. The pacing worked well, the tone, though inconsistent, was pretty good, and there was tension the never died. Plus, the accompanying action to this movie was decent - nothing too impressive, but good enough.

The film also looked quite stunning. It was stylishly made and some of the set pieces were incredible. They were able to differentiate the look of the society of the "rich" and the "poor", which was quite nice.  The cinematography was also beautiful.

As for the actors, I thought everyone did a decent job. Justin Timberlake was an unlikely action hero, but he pulled it off looking earnest, dangerous and adorable. There was actually something effortlessly engaging about his portrayal. No, his take on the role was inconsistent and I wouldn't say he's exactly an amazing actor, but he worked it out. Amanda Seyfried was, as usual, quite stunning and I thought she was good. Again, not the best work I've seen of her, but she got the job done. The supporting actors were also quite good especially Cillian Murphy.

In Time was, arguably, a thoroughly engaging and an unexpectedly solid piece of entertainment. It's not the best movie I've seen EVER and obviously not a flawless film, but I'm shocked at just how much I enjoyed this. Go figure!

RATING: 7/10

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 3

The first film scared the hell out of me. The second movie, though still at par in terms of suspense and scares, was an underwhelming rehash of the original. To my surprise, Paranormal Activity 3 ended up being possibly my favorite of the franchise. Yes, it didn't have the freshness of the original, but this was easily the creepiest of the three.

Everything that made the first Paranormal Activity was still here, from the slow progression of the story to the horrifyingly subtle build up of tension. The scares were, once again, well planned and it got to me on many levels. Nothing was revealed too soon and that actually made this whole franchise a lot more effective than it's contemporaries.

Also, there were some pretty excellent and clever techniques used to build the suspense in this film - which I really thought wasn't possible. I mean, the idea of the rotating fan stand with the camera planted on top of it was PURE GENIUS! There were some seriously and genuinely frightening moments as I wait for the camera to slowly move back to its original frame. Hate to admit it, but these were the scenes that forced my hands to cover my eyes in utter suspense. Haha.

Oh, and the characters were incredibly likable and charming. They weren't as stiff as the other leads from previous films and the kids were actually quite impressive. I was waiting for them to screw up with the acting, but they didn't. The kids really gave some exceptionally believable acting that added to the whole creepiness of it all.

Now, as for the end, I would say that it was surprisingly well executed that it somehow lost the "rawness" of the film. There were no break in the tension during the last 15 minutes of the movie, which was great - and yes, everyone were literally screaming very loudly throughout this part - but somehow, those scenes suddenly gave way to a couple of plot holes in terms of continuity. It's somehow a nonsensical ending, but whatever.

In a year where I felt bombarded by remakes of old movies and unoriginal premises, I was genuinely impressed by Paranormal Activity 3. It's unpretentious goal was to be an entertaining, scary horror flick, and it succeeded with flying colors. It's not a well-rounded or an intelligent movie, but I had a blast watching it with a crowd of equally entertained moviegoers, and for this type of movie that's what really matters.

RATING: 9/10

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Sing-Off Season 3: Hip Hop (Episode 6)

Ok. So, I will be stepping in this week for The Sing-Off since AL, one of the blog's contributors, is kind of busy. Of course, I've been following the show even though I'm not really the one reviewing it. I still think this show is possibly one of the best in terms of talent, but I somehow think that a five episode series (just like Season 1 and 2) would've been better instead of this prolonged season.

But I still love the show and the judges and yes, this theme is kind of brave for them to tackle - I think, this is the only singing competition out there who even dared to have this as a theme. So good job!

Group Performance: Nothin' On Me by B.O.B (ft. Bruno Mars)

Here we go!

Darthmouth Aires
Club Can't Handle Me
I always enjoy the enthusiasm of this group! I'm not sure if the tone of their lead singer works well with the tune especially at the beginning, but when the "rapper" went it - who's incredibly charming for a rapper - everything just flowed perfectly. The harmonies were on point and I didn't mind the vocals of the lead singer. It was fun. 7.5/10

Killing Me Softy
I actually didn't mind them going for the more jazzy version of the song because that's what they are as a group. I was pretty impressed that their version had a hip hop beat, but with a jazzy vocal stylings. Their lead singer's voice was sensational! The end part was a little cluttered, but that's a minor thing to even take notice. 9/10

The Collective
Give Me Everything
Whoa! The beginning was really rough. I wasn't sure if they could hear each other, but they sounded incredibly off. Yes, it got better after that, but I just didn't think they were able to recover completely. The arrangement was such a mess and there was a lack of cohesion within the group. Sorry. It just didn't work for me. 5.5/10

Vocal Point
I'll Be Missing You
Didn't they just cheat? Haha. I digress. Just like Afro-Blue, they didn't go totally hip hop and I respect that. I think their harmonies were lovely and although they had pitch issues through out, I appreciate the fact that they were fully connected with the song. It's emotional and real. 6.5/10

Urban Method
There was nothing spectacular with this performance, but I think it's one of the better renditions in this episode. I agree with Ben Folds that the girls were pretty solid and just got lost in the middle because of the background vocals. It could've been a little more dynamic and powerful, but I didn't mind. The rapping was good, but he's a rapper to begin with so I didn't expect anything less. 7/10

Love Lockdown
FANTASTIC! Pentatonix, to me, is in their own class. For being the smallest group in the competition, they sounded so much bigger and more impressive than everyone else. There were no gaps in the sound coming from them and they always sound rich and not sparse. Their beat and bass guys were the some of the best if not THE best in the competition and their lead vocalists were extremely strong. Plus, the creativity of this group has been unmatched on the show. 10/10

How To Love
I liked Delilah on their first two songs - Grenade and Whataya Want From Me - but haven't really liked them since. Here, their performance was actually pretty strong. The arrangement was awesome, the modulation was great, the lead singers were incredibly strong and I enjoyed the simplicity of it all. Oh, and their connection to the song was actually quite nice. Welcome back, Delilah! 8/10

The Show Goes On
This was a pleasant surprise. Their harmonies were really good, the energy was infectious and the whole performance sounded pretty rich and full. It did lack a bit of dynamics, but I didn't really mind. But yes, they were the weakest in this bracket, but I must say that they were not the weakest in the bunch. 7/10


I somehow prefer The Collective's version of Just A Dream just because it sounded more definite and solid than the muddled arrangement of YellowJackets, but I like the latter than the former, so whatever.

Glee Music 3: Pot O' Gold

Yes, after 3 episodes, Glee is already on it's first one month hiatus of the season. But if it's all about making the series a lot better than the disappointment that was Season 2, I'm all for it. Now, here are the songs to premiere in the next episode! Enjoy

ETA: These are iTunes version already.

To be fair, the harmonies are nicely done and yes, both Mercedes and Santana sound good on this. However, this doesn't seem to have the same energy as the original. Their duet River Deep, Mountain High was so much better, but I'm thinking the actual performance will make this a lot better no? 8/10

Last Friday Night
I have to say, for a real straight man, Darren sure can make every song gay. Haha. Very nice! I don't think this cover is anything spectacular, but the song in itself is catchy and serves it's purpose. Blaine + Katy Perry song = Glee back to the top of the iTunes chart! Haha. That said, 3 solos for Blaine in 4 episodes? Wow. This has to stop for the meantime, or I'll be bored with him fast. Just saying. 9/10

Bein' Green
Yes, Damian's voice is pretty impressive here. I like it's quirkiness, nice control and I think his bass is great. I somehow felt though that the tune's a little short for my taste. 7/10
Take Care of Yourself
Who knew Damian can even go that high? I know that his bass is his forte, but his falsetto actually sounds really good. It's pretty nice to hear him explore the other side of his range. As for the actual song, it's ok. Not totally into it, but we'll see on the actual episode. 7/10

Waiting For A Girl Like You
This is a very nice stripped down version of the song. It has a lullaby feel to it, which is really interesting and I love how Puck sounds in this tune - very vulnerable and smooth. I'm not so sure if his tone works well with the key he was singing it, but that's just me nitpicking already. 7/10


Thursday, October 27, 2011

IDOL Tournament: Semifinals - Adam Lambert VS David Cook

The last showdown was between a runner-up and a winner. Well, today's match up is surprisingly just like that. It's Season 8's Runner-up Adam Lambert versus Season 7's American Idol Winner David Cook. Who do you love? 

In this round, we will feature the Final Four's best selling albums. It's really nice to see each and everyone's achievements over the years. This actually gives the show, American Idol, a cred in discovering and creating viable artists.

Poll is open for 48 hours only. If anyone's interested in the matchups DAM NATION planned for the coming weeks, click here to check out the entire 64-player bracket (then click again for a zoomed in view).

Adam Lambert

For Your Entertainment is Adam Lambert's debut album, which was released November 23, 2009. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 selling 198,000 copies in it's first week and went on to be certified Gold. As of July 2011, it already sold 820,000 in the United States and over 1.2 million units worldwide. The album produced a Grammy nominated song Whataya Want From Me and a Top 30 hit If I Had You.

David Cook

This self-titled album his David Cook's first major-label record, which was released November 18, 2008. It debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 selling 280,000 copies just on it's first week. The record went to become a certified Platinum album for selling over 1 million copies in the United States and over 1.5 million copies worldwide. It has produced two certified Platinum singles, Light On and Time Of My Life, and also a Top 20 single with Come Back To Me. It also broke digital sales records for a debut artist, selling 59,000 electronic copies.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

X Factor US: Top 17

I wouldn't say that I was completely impressed with the talent in the first live show of the X Factor US, but I like the diversity of the contestants and of course, the production of the performances - in it's typical X Factor tradition - were insanely good.

But just like any other show, there were a couple of things that I didn't like. First was the fact that the judges were actually the STARS of the show. Remember how I hated how much American Idol focused so much on the judges? Well, X Factor just showed them how to REALLY do it. Haha. I mean, the judges were practically giving props to each other and not the contestants! One would think that the judges were responsible for EVERYTHING that happened on the stage. Crazy!

Also, Steve Jones was really struggling as a host. I know. I know. It's his first live show, but I hope he improves in the next coming episodes because his stiffness wasn't really appealing. And enough with the deer in the headlights look, Steve. That is all.

Just like my American Idol reviews, I'll rate each performance but will not rank them for now. So, here goes nothing..

DISCLAIMER: I am no expert, but this is my opinion - to each his own - and yours will be in the comments below! Haha.

Yes, I find this kid obnoxious, but there's no denying that he's insanely talented. I thought his performance wasn't boring, his rapping was surprisingly good - I don't really know how to critique rap in general, but whatever - and I actually saw the potential in him. I'm not sure if he's versatile enough for this type of competition as the whole "act" could get tiring after a couple of live shows, but we'll see. 7.5/10

Chris Rene
Love Don't Live Here Anymore
This was, to me, a weak performance from Chris. Sure, it was a tough song to sing and he's not exactly the best singer in the bunch, but he could've done something with his vocals. His notes were a little wonky, poor breathe control, I didn't think his pitch was consistent during the singing part, and there wasn't really anything special with the rapping (or the talking?) - especially NOT after Astro's performance. Now, the only thing that separates him from that kid is the fact that he actually sings - if not very well. Haha. So, yes, he should work on it because if the hype hasn't died down yet,  I'm pretty sure it will soon. Just saying. 6/10

Philip Lomax
I'm A Believer
SABOTAGE! Really L.A. Reid? This song choice for a crooner like Philip? Wow. This just didn't suit his voice. AT ALL. His vocals sounded thin, his unique tone was gone and it became shouty towards the end. I could see that he was trying to make it work to his advantage, but the impact of the "bus" was just too great for him to survive. Congrats L.A Reid, you just got to drive your first bus! 6/10

Marcus Canty
Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
His performance didn't blow me away, but I can see HUGE potential just from this performance alone. Great stage presence, the liberties he took with the song were really good, and he proved to be very commercial and contemporary. He did hit some pretty sour notes in the song, but that's something I could completely ignore. Hopefully, he'll get better. 7.5/10


Stereo Hoggz
Try A Little Tenderness
Wow. Who knew? I had some reservations with this group - or the groups category in general - as I wasn't sure of their relevance in the music industry now. But I must say that this was actually very good. The arrangement was interesting, the lead singer did a fine job with it and the choreography was less cheesy than I expected. With everything else considered, I think they are Paula Abdul's strongest act. 7.5/10

The Brewer Boys
Rich Girl/Faith
While I found the whole performance pleasant, the arrangement of that mash-up was just horrible. I found their harmonies still very tight and they sounded good, but it just wasn't enough for me to actually root for them. Decent, and that's about it. 6/10

The Clapping Song/Footloose
Wholesome. Cute. Adorable. This was another shockingly fun number from one of the manufactured groups. I thought they all sounded good and Ellona's vocals (the girl in the red jacket) were fantastic. I'm still not convinced if they're a recording act though. Why not put them on Disney instead? Haha. It's silly, I know. 6.5/10

Lakoda Rayne
Come On Eileen
What was up with these song choices? Haha. Ok. While I didn't think the song suited them as a group, this was actually better than I expected. The pop country barbie dolls actually sounded really solid and I quite enjoyed that performance. The staging was great and they seriously looked like a legitimate girl group, which I didn't think was possible. 7/10

OVER 30s

Dexter Haygood
Womanizer/I Kissed A Girl
No. Words. For. Dexter. Nicole should be slapped for this mess. 3/10

Leroy Bell
Nobody Knows
This was one of the few stand out vocals of the night. I thought he'd be better, but for the first X Factor live show, this was good enough. His tone worked well with this lovely song, he emotional connection was palpable, and he seemed like an actual star. Enough said. 8/10

Stacy Francis
One More Try
Seriously. I tried, but I still can't stand her! Maybe American Idol cured me of any sympathy. Haha. I thought Stacy's performance was ok. She had moments of brilliance in there somewhere, but the song seemed a bit out of her range. Her transitions were a little rigid for my taste, her vocals were rough around the edges, and, yet again, she was screeching her notes at the end. Oh well. 7/10

Josh Krajcik
Forever Young
I loved that this performance was understated with minimum production and just his voice center stage - I actually didn't hear much of the backing track. Strong vocals with some nice phrasing and he connected with the song pretty well. That said, I still don't think he'll win the show. I don't know. 7.5/10


Simone Battle
Just Be Good To Me
Very interesting! This was Cher Lloyd's breakthrough performances in the UK version of the X Factor and I honestly didn't think Simone nailed this completely. Her phrasing was a little off, she had too many adlibs, and her vocals weren't as strong as her rendition of Help! With that being said, this actually convinced me more that she has the makings of a potential pop star. Amazing stage presence, she's incredibly gorgeous and she has rhythm. Not the best singer, but have you heard Katy Perry or even Rihanna live? Haha. Besides, it's not as if she was trying to be a belter a la Beyonce. Duh! Cut her some slack! 6.5/10

Rachel Crow
Where Did Our Love Go/Baby
Well, this one's a pretty successful mash-up no? Her vocals weren't as strong compared to the others - or was it the song choice? - but the overall performance had me smiling the entire time. She had a certain sparkle when she performed and she looked like she was genuinely having fun on stage. I'm actually quite intrigued with Simon's plan for Rachel. 7.5/10

What A Feeling
Incredible! This performance just landed her the front runner status in the competition. No contest. I thought her tone, yet again, worked well for an unexpected song choice, her musicality was impeccable and her phrasing blew me away. Her voice actually reminded me of a more assured Didi Benami and Diana Vickers with Brooke White's likability and happy vibe on that song. The challenge for her now is NOT to just slow down uptempo songs, but to be versatile. If she can do that, then this is her competition to lose. 8.5/10

Tiah Tolliver
Sweet Dreams
I must say, the staging for this performance was ridiculously good. I loved the dancers in red bags, the choreography was nice, the outfits were bizarre in a good way and the flames!! Heck, the song choice, I thought, was also pretty rad. Too bad, Tiah wasn't exactly a strong vocalist. Here voice got swallowed up byt the band. Yes, she showed here that she has the potential to be a recording artist, but how she interpreted the song scared the bejesus out of me. It should've been haunting NOT scary. 6.5/10

Melanie Amaro
I Have Nothing
Hated the song choice!! Why can't they retire this big old ballad from singing competitions? Ugh. Technically, the singing was good - though she, for the first time EVER, went a little screechy with the high notes - but the song choice just didn't do her any good. She needed a much more current song to not be labeled as a generic belter because if not, she could get stuck doing diva songs a la Pia Toscano - and we know how that ended right? 7.5/10

Philip Lomax
The Brewer Boys
Dexter Haygood
Simone Battle
Tiah Tolliver

Color me shocked - and pleasantly surprised - but I wasn't expecting to see a complete turn around with the judges' decisions. Most of them actually made the right call on who to eliminate, except for Philip Lomax or maybe even Simone Battle. But yeah, this was an entertaining first live show. Plus, a pretty strong Top 12. Who knew?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

IDOL Tournament: Semifinals - David Archuleta VS Kelly Clarkson

.. and they're down to just 4. This is insane! In a matter of days, we will finally have DAM Nation's First IDOL Tournament winner! But for us to find out who will battle it out in the Grand Finale, let's get it on with our first showdown. Season 7 Runner-up David Archuleta going up against the original American Idol Kelly Clarkson. This is going to be interesting!

In this round, we will feature the Final Four's best selling albums. It's really nice to see each and everyone's achievements over the years. This actually gives the show, American Idol, a cred in discovering and creating viable artists.

Poll is open for 48 hours only. If anyone's interested in the matchups DAM NATION planned for the coming weeks, click here to check out the entire 64-player bracket (then click again for a zoomed in view).

David Archuleta

His self-titled debut album was released on November 11, 2008 and was certified Gold in less than three months. It debuted at #2 in the Billboard 200 and has sold 764,000 copies as of January 2011 in the United States. The first single off this single was his hit song Crush, which went on to sell 2 million copies in the United States.

Kelly Clarkson

Breakaway, her sophomore album, was released on November 30, 2004 and went on to become a certified six times platinum in the United States alone. It's also the fourth album in history to stay in the Billboard 200 Top 20 for a consecutive year and with 12 million copies sold worldwide, this is the most successful album of an American Idol contestant. This album also gave her two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her single Since U Been Gone.


American Idol Season 11 Promo is out!!!

That fast? Wow. To be honest, this is NOT in any way the best promo of American Idol - I still prefer the epicness of last year with all the winners - but the happy vibe of this one makes me smile. It's a nice contrast to the dark and competitive vibe of the X Factor's promos a couple of months ago.

And yes, I'll be ranting about a couple of things about this show soon enough, but after sampling everything from The Voice, to the X Factor US and even to my beloved The Sing-Off, NOTHING beats American Idol. Screw them! Haha.

Monday, October 24, 2011

X Factor US: Ranking the Top 17

True, I haven't been reviewing the X Factor US (I've been super busy) for this blog and asked someone to cover the show for me. But of course, I got to see ALL episodes and just like what I did with American Idol last season, here I am again trying to size up X Factor's Top 17.

For the record, I usually suck at this whole prediction thing. In Season 9, I was pretty sure Didi Benami would end up winning American Idol and yes, she finished 9th. I was, however, a bit on point last season when I correctly predicted Lauren and Scotty to be Season 10's Final 2. Yes, I'm bragging! Haha.

One thing's for sure, my prediction will not be as accurate just because I have NO idea of the show's demo in general and the rules here are different: THE JUDGING PANEL WILL CHOOSE WHO GETS ELIMINATED FROM THE BOTTOM 2 BASED FROM AMERICA'S VOTES. So, favoritism from the judges' end will play a big role.

Anyway, just like with my American Idol prediction, these possible rankings are not just about singing skills or how they did since the audition right until the judges homes performance - though those things definitely count. But, I can tell you that I also take into consideration the performances we have seen of them, the buzz about the contestant, how a contestant relates to the audience, the audience perception of the contestant, the judges’ critiques, the show's pimping, the contestant’s overall X Factor-worthiness and of course, personal preference. Haha. Sure, it's not scientific, but whatever.

Well, here is my PERSONAL ranking of the Top 17:

17. Dexter Haygood

I was able to follow the X Factor UK for a couple of seasons now and I must say that there's ALWAYS a joke contestant every year. Sadly, that's what Dexter is to me - someone who made it to the live shows not because of his talent, but because of the entertainment value he will bring to the show. Dexter is, arguably, entertaining, but he has nothing to offer outside of a thin impersonations of James Brown and the likes. Heck, I'm not even sure if he can actually sing! To be honest, the decision of Nicole Scherzinger to pick him over say, James Kenney - who's rendition of Rihanna's Russian Roulette was incredible - or even Elaine Gibbs was dumb. Sorry.

16. The Brewer Boys

I admit, The Brewer Boys' rendition of Rihanna's Only Girl (In The World) was pleasant, their harmonies were pretty tight and of course, their voices blend well together. Plus, the older brother has some real potential. However, I just don't care much about them or their singing as a whole. I think they're a decent act, but decent just wouldn't cut it in X Factor.

15. Tiah Tolliver

I seriously want to like Tiah, but she's just mediocre at best. Her performance of No Diggity was underwhelming. Not a fan of her phrasing, her pitch was all over the place and her vocal tone wasn't even THAT unique for her to stand out in the real music world. Yes, she can carry a tune but so was Jazzlyn Little and Caitlin Koch. I still don't get what Simon Cowell sees in her. The attitude? Well, one can't win a competition like this if you're not likable. To some degree, America votes for the winner! But I'm pretty sure Tiah will stick around for a while just because Simon is SO determined to make her a star. Sad.

14. Lakoda Rayne

I found their version of Lady Gaga's Born This Way quite interesting if a bit messy in terms of their harmonies. But I seriously think that they look like a legitimate manufactured popstars. Think of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore in their prime years creating a girl group. Haha. That said, I'm not so sure if America is into the whole girl group nowadays.We'll see.

13. Stacy Francis

Stacy, tell me! What have I done to you to deserve all the screaming? Ugh. True, she can definitely sing, but all of her performances seemed to be so desperate to make an impression with all the high notes that weren't really even necessary. Her version of Purple Rain was mostly self-indulgent and I just didn't get that. Hooray! You can hit those high notes. Now what? Oh, and I don't want to sound a little insensitive, but I'm TIRED of her being so overly emotional and weepy. Get it together, Stacy! Anyway, can't wait for her to scream in our faces in the live shows.

12. Josh Krajcik

He reminds me of Nakia of The Voice, but with a little more grit to his voice. I like his singing and his tone is wonderful, but his grubby look is a little off putting to me. I know. I know. It's Josh's "identity", but can someone at the very least tame his look? Too superficial? Well, that's how it works in the real world. Deal with it.

11. The Stereo Hogzz

I'm not really a fan of groups as I don't think they're as relevant as before. However, I can appreciate talent and this group certainly has it. I think their lead singer is fantastic and has that really cool, very modern vibe to his voice. But don't get me started with their choreography! Haha. It's cheesy as hell.

10. Brian "Astro" Bradley

While this kid annoys the crap out of me - he can be an arrogant little snot at times - he brings something different and it will be interesting to see how he progresses in the live shows. His remix during the judges homes was fantastic and for a kid to rap like that as such a young age is insane! I just wish he'll cut back a little with his arrogance because he will wear thin with the audience very quickly. Just saying.

09. InTENsity

I love myself some wholesome clean talents! Haha. This group is a walking money machine for Simon Cowell and company. I mean, they're like a Glee version of the X Factor. I have a funny feeling that if they don't fall flat and perform consistently with some fun choreography and harmonies in the next coming weeks, they'll be crowd pleasers and can seriously go deep into the competition. Their performance of That's Not My Name was shockingly good for a group that was just manufactured for the show. I'm really curious to see what Paula Abdul does with this one.

08. Rachel Crow

No doubt, this little kid has talent. Her performances, though inconsistent, were all solid. I thought her rendition of Backstreet Boy's I Want It That Way was incredibly strong with great restraint in the verses and power towards the chorus. I actually like her, but I don't know what type of music she wants to do after this just because she's so freakin' young! Haha.

07. Simone Battle

I know people would strongly disagree with me on this, but Simone Battle to me is possibly one of the most relevant contestants in this competition. She has MASSIVE star quality, she's very attractive and while I hated her other performances, her version of Help! seriously blew me away. She sang it beautifully with great connection to the song, she was on key, her pitch was almost flawless and her tone was perfect for the song. Given the right material, I could see her as a potential Urban or R&B artist like Rihanna, Ciara or Keri Hilson - something American Idol NEVER got to provide it's viewers. She may not be the best singer in the bunch, but she has the X FACTOR! And yes, we may agree to disagree on this. Thank you very much. Haha.

06. Philip Lomax

I'm not particularly a fan of his genre but his tone is fantastic and it reminds me of Michael Buble. I specifically like Buble's pop-jazz style of singing, which Philip seems to have. He has star quality and his rendition of Rihanna's Please Don't Stop The Music while not perfect - his upper register was a little thin for my taste - was very interesting and he pulled it off quite nicely. I hope L.A. Reid knows how to handle an artist like him.

05. Chris Rene

Chris impressed me during his audition and suddenly went downhill from there. But there's something about him that draws me into his performances. He can't belt out and compete with the other great singers, but he sure has a good smooth voice. He actually reminds me of Mike Posner. He's got good presence and I can see why people would want to root for him. It'll be interesting to see whether he keeps the positive momentum going for him.

04. Leroy Bell

He's 60? Seriously? What I find interesting about Leroy is the fact that even if he's 60, he still seems more current and relevant than many of the much younger contestants. His tone is gorgeous, his cool vibe is current and adaptable and he's the one middle aged women are swooning for. I wouldn't be surprised if he'll be the last one standing in Nicole Scherzinger's group. Unless they shove into our throats Stacy Francis. Haha.

03. Marcus Canty

If the last few seasons of American Idol weren't enough proof that a current R&B/Urban artist will never make it on the show, then I don't know what is. Haha. I've given up hope on that EVER happening. So yes, it's refreshing to see a talent as great as Marcus be part of the X Factor US. He's just terrific. He has confidence, which isn't annoying, his tone is rich, and the liberties he took with some of his songs were appropriate and not over the top. Oh, and he's very likable.

02. Melanie Amaro

How Melanie was cut and saved by Simon Cowell was annoyingly staged, but there's some UNBELIEVABLE potential in her. She may not be a pop star in my eyes - at least, not yet - but she, to me, has the most control of her sound. Rich tone. Outstanding vocal nuances. Impressive range. Pitch perfect notes. Plus, she has an incredible powerful voice that's not too overbearing (Please take note of this, Stacy Francis!). Now, if she can find a way to sound more emotional and less technical a la Pia Toscano, she could seriously go far or even win the competition. But the raw talent is definitely there. It's Simon's job now to harness that talent to something more relevant and contemporary without losing herself in the process.

01. Drew Ryniewicz

Drew is the clear standout in my eyes. I mean, to make me like Justin Bieber's Baby during her audition was CRAZY and she's what, 14? For someone so young, everything she performed on the show were excellent and effortless. She seriously has great musicality, her phrasing is sensational and her connection with her songs are pretty incredible. Her version of It Must've Been Love was possibly the strongest performance on Judges Homes and dare I say, my favorite version of that song EVER. She actually sounded like a young Alanis Morrisette. I wouldn't be surprised if she'll eventually win X Factor US, but we'll see.

So, how do you think this season will turn out? Any specific rankings? I want your opinions on this. Let's discuss!!
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