Thanksgiving is a complex holiday. You either gather with loved ones or dread the thought of making it look like your family situation is completely loving--or both, or neither. You might sit solemnly to give thanks, then rush off the next day (or wee hours!) to jostle other folks out of the department-store queues.

And on The X Factor, every segment is heartwarming (some successfully, some less), every judge's commentary is more like pecan pie, caramelized critiques only lightly dusted with real criticism--but then the show tells you to talk smack on Twitter with "oh snap," and everyone knows that disaster looms for not one but two acts. We're not sure whether to be thankful that this week, the cut's going to hurt. Every act but one did decently; one act brought us to tears.

For God and other people who are not God, click NEXT.

15.Drew's Mom: Quote: "[Drew]’s not a dancer and she’s not athletic. She did do basketball for one season and they were grateful she didn’t come back." No wonder Drew sought out her bestie for support. That said, it was among the episode’s few instances of actual criticism.


14.Head Adornments: 2 forward caps + 4 knit caps + 1 knit cap/forward cap combo + 1 backwards cap + 4 fedorii + 1 feather = 14 in total and in rank.
13.Nicole Scherzinger: Reacted to every performance the way you might react to a puppy or a kitten. At least it's sorta suited to...
12.The Theme: On the one hand, the theme was timely and responsible for some truly tender moments. On the other hand, it kept the judges from judging.
11.Tim, Chris's Rehab Counselor: On the one hand, he saved Chris’ life. On the other hand, he was sporting an odd cowboy hat/pork pie hat combo and a ponytail.
10. God: On the one hand, He is the inspiration for so much of the music community. On the other hand, He was the only dedicatee who didn’t give an appreciative interview.
9.Rachel Crow: No way we criticize Rachel Crow this week. We are not ogres. We are disarmed! (She was pretty good. But her voice sounded a little tired? Nope. Not criticizing. She did well.)
8.Key Changes: We feel like Goldilocks. Two weeks ago there were too many. Last week there were too few. This week was juuuuuuust right--specifically Melanie Amaro’s double-epic double key change. Now to escape the key change bears’ house before they come home.
7.Paula Abdul: This week was made for Paula, who is composed entirely of goodwill, cheer and pumpkin pie. Modern music knowledge is apparently also made more for Paula Abdul than L.A. Reid (whose job it is to know about modern music, compared to Paula, who only had to decades ago).
6.Melanie Amaro: If you’re a spiritual person, you’re going to sense the goodness of Melanie’s performance, which means that if you’re not a Melanie fan... you’re not spiritual enough? This is like the X Factor problem of evil! Apparently, we're just spiritual enough. While “The World’s Greatest” wasn’t Melanie’s greatest (and while the lyrics imply Melanie said she’s God), Melanie's incapable of a bad vocal performance, and R. Kelly is at least a tiny step closer to relevant music than her past songs. We're not going to comment on what else R. Kelly's a tiny step closer to (too easy) or Melanie's bit during the critiques (heartfelt, doesn't need snark).

For our top 4 performers and top judge, click NEXT.

5.Simon Cowell: He's British, so perhaps Thanksgiving doesn't have the hallowed hold on him that it does the others. Or perhaps he's too hammily narcissistic to give thanks (actual quote: "I am thankful for the talent I have been given." Either way, since L.A. abdicated the role of perceptive, honest judge, Simon has it by default.
4.Astro: What do you even say? Technically, this might've been his best week in a while. But his intro segment, probably slugged "Let's All Psychoanalyze Astro's Feelings for the Cameras," rang false, and if you were going to complain about Astro no matter what he did, you're already complaining that he never used the words "give thanks" and that he gave thanks to his fans as opposed to family, friends or God. All of the judges said things that could equally be construed as praise or exit comments. We still like Astro (as does Vote for the Worst, which... no, have you guys heard Chris Rene?); we're not those hating bloggers he mentioned. But this is probably his last week.

3.Drew (We Are Thankful For The Name "Ryniewicz"): "Skyscraper" was a fantastic song choice. It's inspirational. It's new enough to sound fresh but fits well enough into X Factor idioms. It's a song any teen can relate to, even more if you know its backstory; Drew's speech proved that she did, at least. And most importantly for Drew, it's a song that disguises any vocal weaknesses or cracks as vulnerability.

2.Josh Krajcik: "Wild Horses" is apparently a song Josh does a lot, which explains why it's so polished: near-flawless voice, L.A.--leaving aside the fact that completely killed his credibility earlier--said he has "everything it takes to win this competition." For the first time, we believe him.

1.Leroy Bell: Sarah McLachlan, one of the wispiest singers around, has more of a pedigree in sing-shows than you'd think; Javier Colon added melisma and panache to "Angel" last season on The Voice. What he didn't do is make me cry. Leroy did; singing "Angel" to his late mother, there was more phrasing in every note than most singers this season (or professionally!) manage in entire verses. Using the "glorious sadness" verse to churn the song into a gospel swell shouldn't work, but it did. There were tears; there were chills. They lasted too long. And no, I've never seen the dog commercials (my knowledge of them is seriously limited to "dog commercials" that supposedly make everyone cry automatically upon hearing this song. This was all Leroy; finally, his professionalism delivered more.