'X Factor' Live Shows: How Did Khloe and Mario Do?

New hosts Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez made their X Factor debut as the Top 16 contestants performed live

New hosts! New haircuts for Britney and Demi! New conflicts between L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell! There were all kinds of fresh changes on display as The X Factor (Fox, Wed and Thurs at 8 p.m. ET) moved into the live rounds Wednesday night. 

And what a show! Any and all accoutrements of pop stardom were obviously made available to the contestants, from backup dancers to smoke to strobe lights. But while the performance were certainly entertaining, we were more focused on judging new hosts Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian's skill level.

Last year's host, Steve Jones, was replaced by the unexpected duo -- and guess what? The pair's tag-team strategy worked well. With 16 contestants to get through, Lopez (a seasoned emcee who's also hosted America's Best Dance Crew and Extra!) nimbly moved things along at a brisk pace. And Khloe, well, she did just what Simon Cowell wants: "She’s there to be the voice for the contestants,” he told wetpaint.com. "She should have fun. If you want to go off script, go off script."

Kardashian appeared to irritate Lovato when she hounded her to find out her favorite member of 1432 (formerly LYLAS). But the exchange did make for interesting TV, especially since Lovato eventually gave in and pointed to the chosen one. Kardashian also wore a sheer top that showed off one of her nipples for half the broadcast, which is something Jones could certainly never do. (Well, he could, but not to the same effect!)

This was also the home audience's first look at Spears and Lovato in a live, unedited situation, and they apparently both decided to change up their hair for the occasion. Now sporting straight brown hair and bangs (a la Jessica Biel), Lovato's hair makeover was bolder than Britney's same-color-but-a-little-shorter-with-bangs cut. 

And that was appropriate, because the live shows demonstrated that without editing, Lovato's feisty input was much bolder than Spears' mellow, one-sentence comments. Lovato called the gorgeous girls of Sister C "a little stiff," and she told Vino Allan, "I have a hard time seeing you as a pop star." When the precocious 13-year-old Carly Rose delivered strong vocals and high energy during her performance, Lovato quibbled with the distracting background dancers. "Seeing you with other kids up there is not believable," she said. "I don’t believe you’re having a fun.”

As for Spears, she continued to tell favorite contestants that they were "amazing." But when Paige Thomas danced and sang in a spiked metallic cap, Spears changed her adjective to "outrageous."

Next up: The judges will put eight contestants through, and the other eight will sing again for the four remaining spots. Who seems to be the frontrunner after the first live shows? Based on the judges' comments, it looks like those rascally surfer dudes, Emblem3, have an edge!

Watch Emblem3's performance here:

 

 

Who do you think will go home tomorrow night?

 

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