It was hard to truly engage in a number of the performances on "The X Factor" Wednesday night, when questionable styling, poor song choices and judge Devi Lovato's eyebrows kept getting in the way.
But forget the performances, the highlights of "Diva Week" undoubtedly came from Britney Spears, who appeared to have awoken from her previous slumber long enough to snap at Simon Cowell following Beatrice Miller's rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," telling him that the soulful teen "has more talent in her pinky than you do in all of your contestants combined."
Still, despite the judges’ fair share of nasty quips at each other's expense, the top 12 contestants did their best to battle it out for America's votes, which are more important than ever on Thursday's live results show, as two contestants — not just one — will be sent packing.
Here's a breakdown of who performed what and, more importantly, who said what.
Jennel Garcia, "Proud Mary" by Tina Turner
Forgetting the production of dancers and backup singers behind her, Garcia skipped from one side of the stage to the other, working the audience and managing to keep her vocals in check. "You have just arrived back in this competition," said judge L.A. Reid, while coach Lovato gushed, "What a way to kick off the night ... Together we nailed it."
Paige Thomas, "Last Dance" by Donna Summer
The choreography behind Thomas was a tad distracting, but her singing brought the performance home. Reid seemed to agree: "OK, you get a pass. That was your best yet," he said.
"I'm actually with L.A. here,” Cowell said. “I think that was probably your best performance so far.”
CeCe Frey, "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen
Frey, who came in 12th place last week in the voting, ditched the leopard spots but probably didn't win any new fans with her pitchy version of the song, which was all over the vocal map. Her time has passed. It's just not working anymore.
"Sorry, I just don't get it," Spears said.
"I like you, but the song was awful, and I think you would have been better off singing it on your own without anyone else in the room,” Cowell said of Frey and coach Lovato's total miss. “It was very cabaret, the wind machine, the gimmicks. For whatever reason, you're not getting it right together, you two.”
Tate Stevens, "From This Moment" by Shania Twain
Obviously Stevens is no diva per se, but he commanded the stage like the best of them. He sang the track with passion and showcased more of his immense vocal range as well.
"Your performance was so heartfelt. Your vocals were amazing," Spears said.
"Tate, this is gonna be really, really annoying for me to say because Mr. Smug [Reid] on my right is suddenly happy,“ Cowell said. “That was better than last week. I'll tell you why, I think the direction you were given was really good. I think you've got confidence now knowing you were number one [in the voting]. The winner of this show is going to get $5 million; I would be happy to write you that check.”
"He can write that check, so I'm happy," said a giddy coach Reid.
Vino Alan, "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green
Alan's gritty wail complimented this soulful classic rather nicely. Lovato praised his voice, but said she got bored watching him. Huh? Her eyebrows must be distracting her.
"I was actually happy to see you so high up [in the voting] last week. Your voice is designed for what I call a moment," Cowell said.
"You put your soul into that. ... You sang it so strong,“ Reid said. “You have a classic-sounding voice. One of the very best voices I've ever heard on this stage, and that song was a great platform for it.”
Diamond White, "Halo" by Beyonce
Perfect song choice. White was brought back into the competition because she can belt it out. Her vocals were on point, and she might even have a little diva in her, too.
"This week is kind of perfect for you because you are a total diva in the best way possible. You really give the rest of the competition a run for their money," Lovato said.
"I think we're looking at a future star. I'm so happy you've come back in this show," Cowell said, while coach Spears gushed, “You just keep getting better and it amazes me every time.”
Beatrice Miller, "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper
Her clothes were a disaster, but since Miller was simply sitting down and singing tonight, her vocals were much stronger. Still, after coming in 10th place in the voting last week, she's walking a very tight rope.
"You are so freaking adorable. I liked the song choice because I think it really showcased a different side of you that we haven't seen,“ Lovato said. "I didn't know that you could sound so soulful, and your tone is incredible.”
"I like you in the lower register. Having said that, I thought the song was boring. For some reason, Britney isn't quite getting the right song choice for you," Cowell said.
Arin Ray, "Crazy For You" by Madonna
This was not Ray's best performance and it showed. He didn't seem into the song choice and the judges picked up on it. His days on the show may be numbered.
"This is a $5 million prize, and I didn't get a $5 million performance," Reid contended.
"I agree with L.A.; I was honestly really bored watching it,” Lovato said. “I feel like you have a tendency to not go the soulful route.”
"It looked like you hated it, as well," Cowell said. “I know we had that false intro, but you taking on that song is like asking a cat to eat a tiger. It's just not right for you. Wrong kinda song. And it did sound a bit boring, and I think you could be in trouble tonight."
Carly Rose Sonenclar, "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion
Move over, Celine! This 13-year-old songstress just gave you a run for your money. She nailed it. The finals might be weeks away, but Sonenclar is, without a doubt, a winner.
"Oh, you are so good and, honestly, it just doesn't make sense. I don't believe that that's your voice. I feel like Celine Dion is here and she's hiding," Lovato said.
"I don't believe you’re a human being,” Cowell said. “You can't do that at 13. Your control on that song, I thought I was gonna hate it, and that note at the end was absolutely incredible.”
"I have chills all over my body,” Spears added. “You're spectacular, sweetie.”
Lyric 145, mashup of "We Will Rock You" by Queen and "E.T." by Katy Perry
Cowell announced that the song selection was changed at midnight the night before, giving the trio only a few hours to prepare, but it didn't seem to matter much. They're performances are always tight, and the crowd can't get enough of them. The judges were another story.
"I feel like they're a pop group, and they should be doing hip-hop tracks," Spears said, while Lovato added, “I don't feel like 'E.T.' fit at all. I don't get it.”
"I did get it," Cowell said. “I think people at home will get it. You had literally hours to put this together and ... you never complain. You bring an energy that this show needs.”
Fifth Harmony, "Hero" by Mariah Carey
Cowell got this one right, having Fifth Harmony take on a diva classic. Their harmonies were impeccable. These powerhouse vocalists should be sticking around for a little while longer.
"There's something really lovable about all of you. You picked a really tough song and I think you struggled in the beginning, honestly, but somewhere in there it turned into a really great performance," Reid said.
"I was extremely impressed. I think Simon is doing amazing with you guys," Spears said.
"Maybe this isn't a one-horse race, maybe there's a chance that five girls with brilliant voices could actually win this show," Cowell said. “I want America to pick up the phone and vote for you because I think that you're absolutely brilliant, fun to work with, great vocals and you all love puppies.”
EMBLEM3, "No One" by Alicia Keys
They slowed the track down, turning it into a reggae-infused jam, which sounded fresh and unique. The group could still use some classing up in the performance department, but they stole the show, again. It's odd that EMBLEM3 only made it to number six in the voting.
"You guys have the perfect vocal blend," Reid said. “It is the perfect song. You are complete superstars in my opinion, and you're exactly what this show needs. I'm glad we have you.”
"I totally get why the girls are swooned by you, you guys are complete heartthrobs," Spears said.
“You guys are genuinely happy, and you have such a great energy. Definitely better than last week, definitely an improvement," Lovato said.
"I think this time on the back of that performance we're gonna see you back at the top because it was absolutely brilliant," Cowell said.