'X Factor' Recap: Emblem3 Ends Live Show on High Note (VIDEO)

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It may be the second season of FOX’s The X Factor, but Wednesday’s live show is very much a whole new ballgame. Not only is it Demi Lovato and Britney Spears first chance to show what they can bring to the artists, but new hosts Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez debuted.

Overall, there was a sense of a lack of preparation for this round of live shows. Strapped with a “Made in America” theme, there was no real feel that the songs performed were really chosen with the theme in mind. Maybe, I needed more explanation from the mentors about their song choices. Also, there was no audience vote this week. I do believe America does value its right to vote.

As for the new hosts, Mario definitely made it evident that he was used to the banter necessary for the job. Khloe seemed to have a harder time at it, but then she began browbeating the judges to explain their criticisms. If she continues to be an advocate for the performers – a very unique choice for a host -- she very well might survive to Season 3.

As for the judges, Britney seemed to have taken the bite out of some of her teens’ natural style. Demi was more interested in getting pop star production rather than superstar vocals (Paige Thomas, smoke and mirrors much?). L.A. Reid, too, seemed to miss what made each of his acts special. Simon Cowell may have been the best at keeping his groups unique and contemporary (aside from the very ridiculous hip-pop he forced Lyric145 into performing).

Overall, the mentor-judges did their teams very few favors. As does happen in the early rounds of talent competitions, the performers are naïve and may not have found their ability to fight for what they feel really fits their style.

Some acts are undeniably unique. Such as Emblem3, which got the final spot of the night – dubbed the “pimp” spot – as producers want to make sure the show ends on a memorable performance. It’s tough to make those rowdy boys from Northern California any less themselves.

But, you have youngsters like Diamond White and Beatrice Miller: Strong singers with music tastes that truly make age feel just like a number. Similar to first season’s Rachel Crow, they were strapped into a very young song and performance that didn’t really highlight their abilities. I see them wanting to break out of that if they survive several more live rounds.

Then, there’s also Vino Alan, who has a gruff exterior with a voice that was made to sing heartache soul. Instead, he was given a poppy song that didn’t highlight his style nor touch on the pain that came through during his audition performance. I can go on and on about how many of the acts weren’t allowed to live up to their potential (Carly Rose Sonenclar, Jason Brock, Willie Jones, etc).

It will be interesting to see who moves forward as the judges now look back on their mistakes and thank the TV gods for giving them this week to clean up their mess before America begins to decide who’s going home.

Who shined and who faltered during the first live show of Season 2? How did you think Khloe and Mario did? And if you had the vote, who would you have given it to? Sound off in the comments section below.

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