'X Factor' Top 8 Recap: CeCe Frey Serves Up 'Lady Marmalade'

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Thanksgiving is behind us and the sad songs are over on Fox’s The X Factor. This week, the competition focused on fun and strategy. Yes, strategy. There seemed to be a lot more game-playing this week as we’re down to eight performers.

The show has been promising the full-length version of Will.I.Am and Britney Spears’ new single, "Scream and Shout." Instead, it gave us what basically amounted to about 15 seconds shy of two minutes. I call shenanigans! She looked great, though I could have used a bit more dancing… Moving on to the performances.

Note: Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen Wednesday's episode.

Diamond White: Diamond got the memo on going more upbeat this week, but she made us wait by starting emotionally on Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Apparently, this is only the second time she has performed a Whitney song in the competition. Judge L.A Reid gave her an “A” for effort and a “B” for execution. Demi Lovato was happy to see her do something more youthful, but felt she lacked something on the upbeat song. Simon Cowell came to her defense and said there was nothing else she could have done. He felt it was a breakthrough performance. I’m a definite Diamond fan, but I noticed she went a bit flat in the transition to the faster parts of the song but picked back up.

Vino Alan: After a last minute song change by mentor L.A., Vino was feeling the pressure. He had a rough start and the arrangement wasn’t quite working for him. I’m told that he’s doing the Hall & Oates version of the song by The X Factor folks backstage. Britney feels Vino’s delivering the same thing over and over again, which Demi agreed with. Simon basically told him that the song change didn’t work and felt it was uncomfortable. L.A. defended his decision to change the song and claimed the judges are playing the game. I think if Vino had more time with the song, then he could’ve figured his way into it. But, alas, this risk didn’t work out for him on this timeline.

Paige Thomas: Paige wanted to simplify things this week. And the look was very successful here backstage. How did you like it out there? She does a much more soulful version of Rick Astley’s 1987 pop hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” L.A. gave props to Demi for going with the stripped down look. Britney also celebrated the risk. And Simon felt she looked like a pop star. I think she was giving me Toni Braxton realness and I’m very OK with that.

Fifth Harmony: The group is hoping to do something that’s more current. And then one of the members, Ally, is hit with bad news: Her grandfather had died. That seemed to bond the girls as they rallied for their friend. Appropriately for her (and Normani – who’s missing love interest, the newly eliminated Arin Ray), the group sang “Stronger.” It was fitting for them and showcased their voices well. L.A. thought it was “good,” but not “groundbreaking.” I have to agree with him that the group doesn’t always work their harmonies enough. Britney was pleased and liked the “girl power” of the performance. Demi agreed, but felt they should have moved more.

Carly Rose Sonenclar: The current No. 1 placeholder was tasked with Adele’s“Rolling In The Deep.” And within the first few notes, you could tell that she was going to kill it. But, who could’ve seen all the changes she’d make to the arrangement? And the sass? L.A. didn’t think it was her best performance, but that it was still better than everyone else. Demi was pleased and Simon thought she was “sensational.”

Tate Stevens: They’re calling this week’s theme, “fun.” L.A. apparently worried he was coming off a bit one-note. So, he went uptempo and unleashed the guitar on Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You.” And people here were loving the “Garth Brooks” quality Tate was giving as he really moved across that stage. Britney predicts we’ll be watching him winning awards in a few years. Starting with a stern “Tate, don’t dance,” Simon added that he enjoyed the performance.

CeCe Frey: After climbing out of the bottom two and into fifth place, then back to bottom two, Demi and CeCe are trying to figure out what’s wrong. Demi wants her to focus on her vocals and that is really important if you’re going to do something like “Lady Marmalade.” L.A. told her she’s going down, but she’s going down fighting. But, he admitted he’s enjoying “that circus.” Britney says she definitely stepped it up. And Simon felt there was just too much going on. “Pack a suitcase,” Simon says.

Emblem3: The Huntington Beach guys have the “pimp slot” this week. And the guys seem a bit bothered that they haven’t moved out of the No. 4 spot. Simon advises them to focus on the vocals. And… they do The Monkees “I’m A Believer.” Clearly, Simon’s gesture to their hearttrob status (by the way, fans running after the guys? Staged or what?). Again, Emblem3 seemed to do what they do. But, it felt like this should be the week to break them out. L.A. says he would sign them after that performance. “I’m a believer in you, guys, but I just didn’t like your song.” Boom. Britney! Demi said she doesn’t quite understand what Simon is doing with the guys. He, of course, reminded her that he has sold a ka-million hundred records. And the boys used that as their chance to remind viewers that they play instruments and have an original record. They’ll definitely get to next week, but will Simon let them loose?

Who do you think will rise in the rankings? Will Carly hold her top spot? Sound off below!

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