RECAP: The Beginning of the X Factor Finale


Last nights episode of X Factor was about 45 minutes too long, filled with way too many unnecessary video packages, cuts to the contestants’ hometowns, Paulina Rubio… Couldn’t Alex and Sierra just have taken over the entire 2 hours and played some beautiful music?

The contestants all sang three songs, their song to win, a duet, and a song of the series. All three categories were basically pointless. I mean, shouldn’t they all be songs to win?

Carlito was up first, with an absurd video package about how he’s a fighter! This win will mean so much to his family because he came from nothing! He even proclaimed, “This is our one chance! There’s nothing else out there for me after this… I need this,” which is probably sadly true, as I can’t imagine him having a real career. I mean, he did fail with Menudo. But anyway, he sang Shontelle’s “Impossible.” The verses were a little too low for him, and he seemed to be straining. But the back track was nice, and was it just me, or did it seem as though he was lip syncing during the chorus? I don’t think I’ll ever understand Carlito’s appeal. He’s unoriginal, his voice is mediocre at best, and he’s really not that great of a performer. Kelly Rowland told him, “What I’ve come to love about you, is your heart.” Translation: You’re a nice guy, but you’re not all that great. Simon Cowell once again stated that he’s not the best singer, “but that’s not necessarily a problem.” Oh, right. Okay.

Video packages are almost always corny, but what I loved about Alex and Sierra’s was how genuine it felt. They don’t need a sob story, an I’m a fighter! story, or any gimmick. They’re just super talented cool people in love, and I want to be their third wheel and have them sing to me all the time. (Sorry, that was creepy). They sang Ed Sheeran’s “Give Me Love” for the second time (the first after the wrong phone number mistake during the Top 13), and the improvement was so evident. It was beautiful, it was touching, it was everything I’ve come to expect from the duo. Alex’s raspy “Love me! Give Me Love!” shout was so perfectly contrasted with Sierra’s soft tone. Was this song supposed to be a duet, because. Yeah. Perfect.

Jeff Gutt’s life is all about his son and how bad he wants this! He’s a genuinely nice guy! Got kelly a photo of the two of them. They cried. He couldn’t have done this without Kelly. Sob. He says, “I’ve been waiting for 37 years for this one chance.”  A+ for effort in trying to show more personality from Jeff wit that package. He took on Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” He sounded just fine, but something felt missing. The laser show was a bit much, and his energy level never seemed to reach a good spot. Props on that high note, even though it was cut a bit short. Demi Lovato said it was amazing, even though she couldn’t hear him. So that’s makes sense. And perhaps for the first time in the history of this show, Paulina Rubio said something smart. I think she was trying to say that Jeff needed a band behind him, and that is 100% true. Perhaps that would have made him more comfortable and energetic.

Before the contestants moved on to duet with special guests, Paulina Rubio “sang” an awful song called “Boys Will Be Boys.” Isn’t she a little old to be singing about boys? There’s a reason why Paulina hasn’t crossed over to America. And I’ll leave it at that.

Carlito sang “Stand by Me” with someone named Prince Royce. The arrangement was cheesy, the performance was dull, and I think a new rule to my X Factor drinking game is to shot gun a beer every time Carlito yells “Latino!” Oh, you’re Latino, Carlito? I had no idea. The judges threw undeserved praise at him, Demi slightly mentioning that at first the energy was low.

For the first time, Alex and Sierra did not have a good performance, but I don’t think it was their fault. They sang “Bleeding Love” with Leona Lewis, who for some reason, was given all the glory notes. Leona sounded a bit sharp, which maybe through off the duo? Perhaps having a third person in the equation just kind of threw off the Alex and Sierra-ness. But, their worst performance is still far superior than anything Carlito has done, so it’s okay. Demi admitted it wasn’t their best performance but, clearly was did not catch Leona’s mistakes as she said, “She out shined you a little bit.”

Jeff was up next with John Rzeznick of the Goo Goo Dolls. The two sang “Iris,” and Jeff more than held his own. John (can we talk about plastic surgery?) seemed only half interested in what was going on around him, which maybe tripped Jeff up a few times. Someone messed up the words into the last chorus, and I’m going to go ahead and blame it on John. (Note, John was the only one not asked about what it was like to work with the contestant.)

After a strange package for Covergirl with contestants I’d already forgotten about, the top 3 sang their Song of the Series, a song they’ve performed previously. Paulina introduced Carlito by announcing, “Carlito has been here for a few weeks,” (Oh has he?) before he sang an awful rendition of Santana’s “Maria Maria.” The vocals were sloppy, the dancers were cheesy, the jacket was horrendous. Kelly said all his performances last night were “nice.” Maybe I’m projecting, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that was shade.

Alex and Sierra memorized everyone with their beautiful, beautiful performance of “Say Something.” The duo somehow managed to have more haunting emotion in their voices the second time around, and I will admit, I finally bought the song on iTunes. They are perfect. I want their album. Now.

Jeff Gutt ended the night with Radiohead’s “Creep.” His vocals were on point, and the simplicity of the staging was a nice change from the lasers. The only thing I’ll say about Jeff is that each performance is kind of the same. Take away the weird stages and lights, and he performs the same way each time. Something different would have been nice, but he’s a talented guy. With this song choice, and the pimp spot, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff ends up winning the competition.

To be completely honest, I think Jeff really does need to win more than Carlito Olivero or Alex and Sierra. Alex and Sierra will succeed regardless of the outcome, and well, everyone knows how I feel about Carlito. I don’t really mind who wins tonight, as long as I still get an album from Alex and Sierra (and okay, as long as it’s not Carlito).

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