Issues, issues, pass the tissues – and the mic.
It was another weepy wonderland on The X Factor as the Top 10 contestants dedicated songs to people who have changed their lives during a Thanksgiving-themed performance episode. It's hard to believe they're not getting this family-oriented holiday week off, instead having to face another double elimination on Thanksgiving night. That's not traumatizing or anything.
It was pretty heavy fare, with several sob stories being downright depressing. Taking the cake was CeCe Frey's tale of her older sister who died at home on Christmas Eve after suffering from life-long, debilitating cerebral palsy. CeCe was just an infant at the time, so she views her sis as a "guardian angel."
Even if CeCe isn't your favorite (they've certainly stacked the deck against her), you can't deny that she had a breakthrough moment last night when she cried real tears for the first time. As Simon Cowell said, "I don't know how you managed to sing the song after watching that film. It breaks your heart." And indeed, she barely made it through her rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings" as her voice cracked and tears welled up toward the end. Afterwards, mentor Demi Lovato could barely even look at her without crying: "I know how hard it was. You really poured your heart and soul into it." So, unless a lot of heart- and soul-less bastards watch this show, it's probably safe to say that CeCe will avoid elimination once again.
Another show-stealer was Vino Alan, who'll most likely be jockeying for the top spot this week alongside front-runners Tate Stevens and Carly Rose Sonenclar, who did an unsurprisingly "amazing" rendition of "Over the Rainbow." Vino took the patriotic route, dedicating "God Bless the USA" to the troops, a move that usually gets viewers of these types of shows to vote early and often. The tatted up teddy bear is proving to be this season's dark horse, and one of the most unexpectedly consistent singers on the show. While his stage presence could use some tweaking – the creeping, crouching thing works for some songs but doesn't work for others, like this one – this particular performance had both Britney Spears and Demi eating crow. "I've been really hard on you," Demi admitted. "Obviously there's something that I haven't gotten, you've come in at No. 3 twice in a row, but I've been wrong. There is something special, and I see it tonight."
But not everyone had a good night. Bottom dwellers Arin Ray and Paige Thomas, who barely skirted elimination last week, struggled with their performances. Arin awkwardly dedicated a lackluster version of Enrique Iglesias' "Hero" to his brother, who Arin was quick to point out wasn't his "baby." At the end, L.A. offered harsh words to a clearly annoyed Arin: "The song was too big. It was a tough one for you. Once again, I don't think you gave a $5 million performance." While Arin will most likely be tossed this week, it's possible he'll squeak by once again, considering he's the only young, solo male in the competition.
Meanwhile, for the second week in a row, Paige talked about her mother who died in a car accident when she was six, dedicating Britney's "Everytime" to her adoptive mother who took her in after the tragedy. As always, her words were garbled and muffled, which was finally red flagged by Simon. (That only took how many weeks?) Unlike CeCe, who made it through most of her song despite welling tears, Paige's emotions got the best of her and she was a shaky, pitchy mess. Said L.A. bluntly, "I don't think it's good enough to get you out of the No. 10 spot." Even mentor Demi admitted it wasn't so great. So, unless her story really tugged on America's heartstrings – something it failed to do last week – she'll probably be in serious jeopardy again.
As the tears flowed all night, the onus fell on awkward hosting duo Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian to keep things light, like when the Klo monster sat on Simon's lap and asked if he was "excited." Why does this show need two hosts again? Oh, right, for this exact reason: being able to pan into the audience and see Khloe's sister Kim, Kanye West and the rest of the Kardashian clan cheer her on. That's worth a million-dollar paycheck, right?