Dec. 6, 2012 at 11:41 AM ET
Look out, Justin Bieber--Carly Rose Sonenclar kinda just showed you who's boss. The 13-year-old phenom did a show-stopping, stripped-down version of "As Long as You Love Me," part of Wednesday night's all-acoustic first round as "The X Factor's" top six were tasked with two songs apiece for the first time.
"I love it when I hear unplugged versions of songs that are better than the actual song," Demi Lovato praised Carly Rose. "You sang it better than Justin did."
Demi is proving herself to be as easily unimpressed as any contest judge out there, so she obviously wasn't just slinging praise right and left.
For instance, she called Simon Cowell's beloved Emblem3, who did a perfectly fine job with Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are," "a downgraded version of the Jonas Brothers five years ago."
"That was incredibly dumb, what you just said, honestly," Simon fired back, having already referred to Demi as "Cruella" before she shared her opinion.
Demi was also alone out on the ledge defending CeCe Frey, whom Simon advised to pack a suitcase last week. We agree with Demi, that the 20-year-old's acoustic performance of Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" was her best vocal yet.
Even L.A. Reid grudgingly admitted he was becoming a fan, but Simon flat-out told CeCe, "I don't think you are worth a $5 million recording contract."
However, L.A. still refused to hear any harmonies coming from Fifth Harmony, which, as Demi pointed out after they sang Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain," is made up of talented singers who maybe shouldn't be performing as a group.
When Simon insisted that the ladies of Fifth Harmony was the "nicest, most humble" group he's worked with, L.A. reminded him, "Simon, this isn't a competition of niceness."
No, it certainly is not.
Diamond White, on the chopping block last week, chose to pluck James Brown's "This Is a Man's World" out of her own personal "X Factor" archive, a choice that dismayed Simon, even though he agreed with the rest of the judges that her vocal was strong.
Demi managed to sit through five songs without getting bored, but, alas, Tate Stevens' good but uninspiring version of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" was a snoozer for her. Simon, in a diss at L.A., warned the country crooner that he needed to be in charge of picking his own material.
Well, maybe another time, because the songs in round two were all chosen by folks who voted on what the contestants should sing in the online Pepsi Challenge.
First up, CeCe did a serviceable Katy Perry on "Part of Me," but her Gaga was better. And we don't know whose idea it was to have her not sing some bars, giving the impression that she was out of breath. We do know, however, that the fans voted for her to wear color and spikes and to bring back the leopard spots, hence her everything-but-the-kitchen-sink get-up.
"What is the matter with you tonight?" Simon demanded of Demi when she questioned why Emblem3 didn't "work the stage" more doing the rejuvenated Alphaville classic "Forever Young."
Quizzed by Khloe Kardashian Odom, Demi joked that "of course" she has a crush on one of the three guys and that a restraining order was preventing her from offering more favorable criticism.
Carly Rose, meanwhile, sounded scarily mature on Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy," but that certainly didn't hurt anything--although Demi would like something "more up-tempo" to avoid becoming too predictable.
"Here's some advice: Don't listen to a single word this one has said," Simon told the teen, motioning toward Demi. When Simon questioned the "odd lyric," Demi reminded him that Beyonce sang those very words, adding, "You interrupt me every time I speak, so don't think I'm not going to interrupt you!"
So back into the lions' den went Fifth Harmony, singing, of all things, Demi's "Give Your Heart a Break."
"I think this song should have been your song," purred the lioness, and Simon praised America for picking a great song. (Well, what do you know?!)
Simon and L.A. weren't crazy about Diamond doing Rihanna's "Diamonds in the Sky" (couldn't resist, could you, America?), but Demi said the 13-year-old did it justice. But was that a dig at CeCe when Simon cracked that Diamond was "in a very competitive top six, or maybe top five, actually"?
Tate closed the show with Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes," a match made in country heaven, and was warmly welcomed back into the competition by Simon.
"I admit I got a little sleepy during that performance, but I'm also really tired, so it's probably me," apologized Demi, who also loved it.
But that explains a lot.
What did you think of Demi's comments and Simon's reaction -- constructive criticism or just more feud fodder? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
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