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The 'X Factor' Recap: A Slugfest On The Finale

December 20th, 2012 9:14am EST

Finalist Carly Rpse Sonenclar, Tate Stevens and Fifth Harmony on No intro tonight, Donate to the Sandy Hook Relief Fund.

And now…Let’s get to the recap!

Carly Rose’s First Song: “Feelin’ Good” by Michael Buble

LA Reid Said: You topped everything you did so far.

Britney Said: It’s shocking how bright your star is.

Demi Said: You’re going to inspire so many young girls to follow their dreams.

Simon Said: You sang it better tonight than you did the first time.

The Verdict:

I can barely watch this.

Ever since they started putting the sub-18s on these talent shows I just can’t stand it: Little kids doing moves and attempting to have swagger like they’re in their late 20s.

It’s awkward. It’s weird. It’s creepy to watch them strut their stuff out there and try to sell an adult song like a pro. Kids should be singing kids songs on the Disney channel, not trying to kill a big number like this – it just seems out of context.

The other issue here is that the usually flawless Carly had so many flat notes on her vocal. It never reached where she was trying to get it to go and it all just sort of fell out in a bit of a mess.

It wasn’t a bad vocal; it just wasn’t up to her soaring standards. When you couple that with such an awkward performance, this is a dud to start to the show.

Grade: C-

Carly Rose’s Second Song: “How Do I Live” by Leann Rimes

The Verdict:

Ugh. Who knew Carly could deliver such a horrible vocal.

Airless, lilting, no power whatsoever. She missed almost every note and with a power ballad couldn’t even belt – her signature move.

At least she was better than Leann Rimes. I’m not sure what that was. She clearly didn’t know the lyrics and sounded like a drunk yodeler yelling at her boyfriend at the end of a long night of karaoke.

Then they sang together and it sounded like two singers got into a car crash with a broken cassette tape skipping as their backing music.

Just three solid minutes of terrible.

Grade: F

Carly Rose Sang “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

LA Reid Said: Was it a $5 Million winning performance? Not up to me. (Thanks)

Britney Said: Get out your checkbook, Simon.

Demi Said: You not only looked like an angel, but you sang like a ridiculously talented angel.

Simon Said: You looked great. Sounded great. Love that song. Beautiful Version.

The Verdict:

Carly had two choices here to bring the hammer: “Alone” by Heart or this song. She chose the drearier of the two and the results were…boring.

Carly’s voice failed her tonight. She just didn’t hit the normal Carly notes and she chose songs too big for her britches. She shouldn’t be singing one of the most adult songs ever written about the failings of romance – how could she possibly be able to connect with something as mature as this?

She doesn’t. It just seems out of place. Like why is this little kid singing this song? That’s all I could think.

Even as her voice soared at the end to finally flash the Carly magic we’d seen all season, all I could think is that she has absolutely no idea what she’s singing about right now.

And I have no idea why she chose this song.

Grade: C+

Tate Stevens’ First Song: “Anything Goes” by Randy Houser

LA Reid Said: I thought it was good, but I wanted groundbreaking.

Britney Said: When you do right down-the-middle country, you are right on.

Demi Said: You turned that performance into a stadium performance. I’m obsessed with you.

Simon Said: You sang it brilliantly. You are Made in America.

The Verdict:

Every time I say Tate is a pro, and this time was no different, except that it was.

Tate was actually better than he’d ever been on this performance. He seemed more connected to the song than ever. His voice sounded purer and more solid than it ever has. He just nailed it on every level – a total country superstar without even trying.

I’ve never seen him this in the zone. It definitely wasn’t a competition entry – it was a concert performance, and one that I’m sure most country fans want to see.

Grade: A

Tate Stevens’ Second Song: “Pontoon” by Little Big Town

The Verdict:

When Tate introduced Little Big Town as his friends, didn’t you just assume they’d just gotten off nine months on the road, where they opened for him?

Country pros with a country pro – this was a collaboration on the CMA Awards, not a contestant singing with a major recording artist – they definitely seemed like equals

Grade: B+

Tate Stevens Third Song: “Tomorrow” by Chris Young

LA Reid Said: You’ve consistently come out and delivered.

Britney Said: That was great. I always enjoy what you do.

Demi Said: I’m gonna miss seeing you perform on this stage.

Simon Said: In a year’s time, we’re going to hearing about your record sales.

The Verdict:

I’ve said it all year. Pretty much every single performance. Tate does not need this show. He’s done already. He’s a finished product. He’s an absolute country star. He looks like one. He sounds like one. He performs like one.

He’s ready to record a top 10 country record every year for the next twenty and he proved it every single time he picked up the microphone on this show.

This was just the superlative on top of all the superlatives.

Grade: B+

Fifth Harmony’s First Song: “Anything Can Happen” by Ellie Goulding

LA Reid Said: I’m looking at it and it’s magical. I’m completely shocked. You were the underdogs and now you are the one to beat.

Britney Said: It’s like magic happens when you guys perform.

Demi Said: You worked so hard and I’m so impressed.

Simon Said: You’ve made me so proud tonight.

The Verdict:

It’s kind of odd to go back-to-back with the exact same performance as last week, but I actually liked the rearrangement on this track better than last week and I thought the vocals were better as well. They were just having a ton of fun – they’re happy just to be here and it showed through in their exuberance.

I mean they had a Pegasus for crissakes! What’s not to love?

Grade: A-

Fifth Harmony’s Second Song: “Give Your Heart a Break” by Demi Lovato

The Verdict:

It’s a Fifth Harmony’s Greatest Hits of the Last Two Weeks Theme Show tonight! And I can’t think of a better strategy – these two songs they sang to this point were the songs that took them from the group I called First Out to making the finals.

They killed it again tonight. Flashing real harmonies and coming together perfectly as a group. They actually manage to outdo the records. And these are two great records they sang tonight.

And how about my girl Demi killing the vocal and the performance after killing it as a judge all season – more on the latter in tomorrow’s year-end awards.

But as for this performance? This was Fifth Heaven.

Grade: A

Fifth Harmony’s Third Song: “Let it Be” by the Beatles

LA Reid Said: You did it justice.

Britney Said: You’ve truly blossomed as a group.

Demi Said: It just hit me how much you’ve evolved and grown.

Simon Said: You’ve made me so proud tonight.

The Verdict:

What a capper to the show!

They just killed a Beatles song. Killed it! What a gorgeous and spare performance. Great individual vocals from everybody. Solid harmonies. How in the world did this happen in so short a span? They should have been gone long ago and now they look like champions?

Could they be? If there’s ever been killing it in the pimp spot, that was it.

Grade: A-

Final Thoughts:

This was a slugfest between Tate and Fifth Harmony with Carly Rose looking like a spectator the entire time. She came out in the first part of each round, fell flat and then the heavy hitters engaged in a vocal melee, fighting to what was essentially a split decision.

The sad part? Carly Rose is going to get more votes than Fifth Harmony. Probably lap them. I have no idea why.

But she’s not going to win. Tate will come out on top and it had nothing to do with his performances, as good as they were.

It’s been a brilliant manipulative game by Tate for the last few weeks. He’s basically painted himself as a destitute singing for his life on this show. He did all but plea into the camera and say, “My family is going to be on the streets dying of starvation and the plague if I don’t win this competition.”

After that, who are you going to vote for? The five lovely late bloomers? Nah. The 13-year-old with the Broadway and acting career? No way! You’re going to save Tate’s family!

That’s exactly what America will do.

Related: Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens, The X Factor, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Reality (Talent)

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Photo Credits: Ray Mickshaw / FOX

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