X Factor
Season 2, Top Finalists Perform

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Mario and Khloe introduce a whole long clip package that starts with the different audition methods employed by this year's finalists, and ends with a list of cities where the 2013 auditions will be held: Los Angeles, Charleston, New Orleans, Long Island, and Denver, with online auditions opening tomorrow. Yes, it's true: there's going to be a 2013 season. Anything can happen, like the song says.

Britney introduces Carly's second song, promising a whole different side of her. And then we see her telling Carly last week that she's chosen "Imagine" by John Lennon. Britney suggests having her play the piano while she sings, which she thinks will earn Carly a lot more respect in the music world. That is if she doesn't blow it because Britney piled too much on her. Her dad gives her encouragement while they stroll around Hollywood, and then Carly's second song is coming up...after the break. Are we going long tonight, or is it me?

Coming back, we go right into Carly's performance, and she is indeed playing the piano, at least for the first verse. You can feel the music world's respect really ratcheting up in those four lines. She seems relieved to get up and sing in front of the piano, and ambush us with a couple of gratuitous glory notes in the second chorus. She does an overblown final chorus, and then returns to the piano to finish up the last couple of lines. L.A. says she took it up "one notch," and says she always know how to find that note. Carly quickly thanks him before he can add that it got a little silly. Demi says the only predictable thing about it was how amazing it was, and Simon would have kept her at the piano if it were up to him. "It was like five things went on throughout that song," which he thinks rendered it "fussy." Overall, he didn't like the arrangement. Britney disagrees, of course, and says it's time for her to go beyond this stage. I think Carly would probably prefer that not happen this week, though.

Then there's Khloe doing some backstage banter with Tate, Carly, and a totally silent Fifth Harmony, as she remarks on Carly's first negative criticism ever. Simon introduces Emblem3 as slowly as he can, and their intro reel shows Simon literally phoning in their song assignment for this week, "Hey Jude," in which he's giving the least visible of the three the big solo at the end. He's a little nervous about it, but his brother gives him some encouragement for the cameras.

They start out singing while sitting on a fake brick wall covered with Emblem3 graffiti (Simon once again cleverly and subliminally helping us imagine a world in which Emblem3 are already pop stars), with Drew holding his guitar again. Then they jump off the wall all bro-like for the big finish, which is accompanied by a backing chorus of skate punks singing the na-na-na-na-na part. . L.A. says it was a ballsy move, comparing themselves to the Beatles, but they pulled it off. Britney calls it A-level and invites them to take a bow, which of course they do. Never need to ask them twice. Demi doesn't go as far as L.A., but says they have potential. Simon's just proud of them for nailing it both times.

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