It’s a return to form for The X Factor’s Jennel Garcia…
During Wednesday night’s episode of Fox’s hit singing competition, the top 16 acts took to the stage for the first live show of the season – with Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian appearing for the first time as the show’s new hosts.
But it was Garcia who wowed the judges with an awe-inspiring showcase of her talent, much like she did at her very first audition.
Bouncing back from a disappointing performance for young adults mentor Demi Lovato in the Judges’ Homes round, the 18-year-old half-Puerto Rican singer performed an inspired rendition of Mötley Crüe’s power ballad “Home Sweet Home.”
“It feels awesome to be in the final 16,” said Garcia in her pre-taped interview before taking the stage, channeling her idol Pat Benatar in a black-fringed jumpsuit, black leather vest and sleek new hairstyle. “I am so thankful to be here.”
Following Lovato’s advice to step up the confidence, Garcia owned the stage and gave one of the best-reviewed performances of the night.
“I’m completely surprised; I did not expect that,” said judge L.A. Reid. “That was a 10. It was a great song choice… And you just convinced me that you could win.”
Britney Spears called it “completely amazing,” while Simon Cowell declared his love for Garcia.
“With that song you just defined the theme, ‘Made in America,’” declared Cowell. “I absolutely love you. I always have, from day one.”
Garcia’s performance had her mentor felling “unbelievable proud.”
“Like I feel like crying; I had chills the entire performance,” said Lovator. “You took everything that I said and you just worked with it. You just killed it.!”
But Garcia wasn’t the only Hispanic artist to get positive reviews…
David Correy, the 26-year-old Brazilian-born singer competing in the Reid-mentored Over 25s category, performed a soulful rendition of Whitney Houston’s “My Love is Your Love.”
“You were amazing, you completely surprised me,” said Spears. “I was not expecting that and I felt you a lot. It was amazing.”
Cowell called Correy’s performance “a bit manic” and said everything needed to be toned down a bit, while Reid said, “It felt right.”
But the reviews weren’t as positive for Ally Brooke Hernandez and Camila Cabello, members of the Cowell-created, all-girl group 1432 (which means I love you too in text message speak).
Formerly known as the LYLAS, a name that was changed post-Judges’ Homes round for legal reasons, the ladies performed Taylor Swift’s latest single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
Following their performance, Reid slammed them, declaring the girl group’s name as “wrong” and calling the song “very karaoke.” But he did say there was hope for them. Lovato said the group didn’t “click,” but pointed out Cabello for her strong performance.
But Cowell showed his support for his super-group, reminding the judges the ladies had only been working together for three weeks.
“Girls, I’ve had a lot of success over the years with groups. I have. For a long, long time. And let me tell you, you are fantastic,” professed Cowell. “There is work to do, yes it was more of a pop song. But hopefully if you survive and the weeks go on, you’re gonna prove what great vocalists you are.”
So who will stay, and who will go? During this Thursday’s show, eight of the top 16 acts will sing for their lives and four will be sent home.