'The X Factor' Recap: The Top 12 Takes On 80s Night
November 14th, 2013 9:17am EST
It was 80s night on 'X Factor' last night which apparently meant a lot of really cheesy costumes, day-glo sets and enough Demi Lovato Pat Benatar Blue Hair to star in its own Smurfs Sequel.
So who came out on top of this throwback fever dream? Read on to find out.
(Also, Carlos went home, as predicted. Also, predictably, nobody cared)
Lillie McCloud Sang "Ain't Nobody" by Chaka Khan
Demi Said: I don't know why you didn't take off in the 80s.
Paulina Said: You are a goddess.
Kelly Said: You worked so hard this week and I'm very proud of you.
Simon Said: You made an attempt to be current. You looked and sounded like a proper singer.
Lillie's rendered almost unrecognizable with a new hairstyle that makes her look about 15 years younger and less diva-tastic than did her giant fro.
It also seems to have had a Samson-like effect on her voice, as the best pure singer in the competition suddenly had trouble really belting out a song here. She just didn't have that awe-inspiring power and brilliance that we've seen in the past.
This was, however, a brand new Lillie and she was much more fun and vibrant than the stately diva of weeks before. So a little less voice, but a lot more performing power. A combination that actually works quite well for her.
Carlito Olivero Sang "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" by The Miami Sound Machine
Demi Said: I found myself paying more attention to the dancers than I did to you.
Paulina Said: I think we need to work on your face.
Kelly Said: I feel like you're not getting lost as a performer. You're straining too much.
Simon Said: You've gotta start making more control of what you're doing. You were a dancer who was singing. I think you're gonna go home.
What an astonishingly awful song choice. It's right there in the title. Nowhere does it say "The Vocals are gonna getcha" - it's just the rhythm. This is not a song for singers and not a song to choose for this competition. There's just no way to showcase yourself with it.
Carlito doesn't do himself any favors beyond the song choice with a pretty uninspired vocal that anybody who isn't just an intolerable listen could pull off without much effort.
At least the dancing was good.
Rion Page Sang "We Belong" by Pat Benatar
Demi Said: This song choice was great for you.
Paulina Said: I love how you feel the music and bring us up inside your story.
Kelly Said: You soared on the way home, momma.
Simon Said: I like that whatever song you're given that you give 110%, but I want you start progressing as an artist.
We go from the worst possible song choice to maybe the best a contestant can make. Pure singer's song that allows Rion to belt and show off her full vocal range.
So why didn't it work? Why did Rion struggle so much with this? The girl has a gigantic voice and couldn't reach back and knock it out in the chorus. She just sounded lost and incredibly pitchy when the song required her to go big.
It's a shame because her voice could not have been more beautiful or delicate in the verses. She built so nicely to what should have been a show-stopping moment, and couldn't quite get there for whatever reason.
She was definitely having fun though. More than you can say for most of the kids on this show.
Sweet Suspense Sang "Hey Mickey!" by Toni Basil
Demi Said: My favorite part of the whole thing was the fire.
Paulina Said: I feel like you're much much better. We feel you as a group.
Kelly Said: I felt like this week, you fell into a rhythm with each other, but it's just all right singing.
Simon Said: Your best performance of the competition so far.
Sneaky-good song choice here for Sweet Suspense. Simon has them right in their sugar-corn pop wheelhouse with a song that actually allowed them to showcase their individual strengths and improved ability to harmonize.
Fun performance, fun girls and fun song. It all worked into another sweetly mediocre Sweet Suspense performance. These girls certainly aren't vocal queens, but have the look of a pop star trio.
Tim Olmstad Sang "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins
Demi Said: You have a wonderful voice, but there's no X Factor.
Paulina Said: Do the song your own. You sang like Tim.
Kelly Said: That fell flat for me this week.
Simon Said: I was so distracted by the dancer. It was a bit like a horror movie.
Of course Tim Olmstad is going to sing "Against All Odds". Of course there's going to be some babe in half of a dress shirt dancing around the 'Phantom of the Opera' set in front of him while he sings for no apparent reason. Of course Tim Olmstad is going to kill the vocal while singing in a bunch of old TVs - this is exactly what we knew was going to happen.
The kid really is turning into a Josh Groban-lite. He doesn't quite have the Grobes' voice but he does have his borderline creepy earnestness that's got to play to some fan base. It certainly works for him on this performance as he makes the song feel totally current while staying true to the original. What is with this dude?
And hey, Sarah Hyland was digging it. That's got to count for something.
Khaya Cohen Sang "Borderline" by Madonna
Demi Said: Work! You killed it.
Paulina Said: You're singing better than ever.
Kelly Said: I'm getting the feeling like you're ready for this whole music thing.
Simon Said: I think we discovered somebody very special.
One of the best little pop tart songs of all time turned into a smoky-jazz-Adele funk tune by Khaya bringing it right into her wheelhouse. Even singing it right into Simon's face.
She's oozing with confidence at this point as she knows her voice is a weapon that just isn't going to fail her. That unreal tone never misses pitches and fits perfectly into whatever song she wants to sing with it.
Plus, she made this one her own. This was a true cover rather than a karaoke sing-a-long and she rocked it the whole way, finding gears throughout that just kept pushing the performance farther and farther up the quality scale.
To the borderline of great.
Restless Road Sang "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins
Demi Said: This could have been your song.
Paulina Said: I love the concept. I love it!
Kelly Said: I'll be right there front row at the concerts.
Simon Said: I love that you love being here. I've got a real good feeling about you guys.
At what point do we just stop reviewing these guys? They're consistently quite good, turning whatever song they want into a bit of fun country that portends a string of top ten Billboard hits.
Simon's turning these guys into a country One Direction every week on this show and there's not much that's going to stand in their way of winning. Even if they continue to litter the stage with cowgirls on Pinball machines.
Wait. Please keep littering the stage with cowgirls on pinball machines.
Rachel Potter Sang "Alone" by Heart
Demi Said: You make me so proud every week even though you're not in my category.
Paulina Said: After this performance you can show everyone that you're an entertainer.
Kelly Said: There's nothing wrong with having edge.
Simon Said: Thank God you had a proper song to sing this time.
Somebody had to do it. Somebody had to go ahead and cork their bat by singing the queen of all X Factor/Idol/Voice song choices. You can't get through 80s night without 'Alone'. It would just be foolish not to have somebody pick it.
Since it's Rachel, we got a little country twang, but she didn't veer too much from the original. And since it's 'Alone' we knew before she even started singing that she was going to kill it. It's just impossible to do a bad version of this song if you can sing, and Rachel can definitely sing.
The surprise in all this is that Rachel came out dressed like a dominatrix complete with knee-high fright boots and enough leather to clothe all of Sturgis. Plus, she clung to the cage from Hell in a Cell like Vega in Street Fighter 2.
Sexy. Scary. And it rocked.
Ellona Santiago Sang "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston
Demi Said: You have such an incredible voice.
Paulina Said: I love how you're a perfectionist. That's why you're here.
Kelly Said: This voice is just bigger than your tiny tiny body.
Simon Said: I thought the first two-thirds of the song were literally mad, but the last 30 seconds were great.
If you're gonna do Whitney, it really helps if you can sing. Like really sing. It's kind of essential to take on a predecessor like the ultimate 80s diva.
Problem is that Ellona cannot sing at all. A fact that's been well-established in a string of atrociously flat performances that show the vocal range of a piano key. She just doesn't have the voice to do much of anything besides sing at children's birthday parties.
This was another terribly mundane and flat vocal that did more to show her limitations than demonstrate any of her vocal strengths.
Maybe because she just doesn't have any.
Josh Levi Sang "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul
Demi Said: You are amazing and so incredible.
Paulina Said: This is a great achievement.
Kelly Said: I think you have just arrived.
Simon Said: We're watching and listening to a future star.
It's weird that this song has become the "Let's make a crazy cover version of it" tune of the decade. Ever since Andrew Garcia killed it with his acoustic guitar, everybody wants to do their own take on Paula Abdul's semi-classic.
Josh Levi's definitely ranks among the best. He stripped it down to the rhythm track in an electro-R&B pop song that seemed ready for the radio right now. Plus, he found his voice again, making it two consecutive performances that he seems like a legitimate singer.
Guess it's time to revise the power rankings.
Jeff Gutt Sang "(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight" by Cutting Crew
Demi Said: I think you did so great. You're one of my favorites in this competition.
Paulina Said: I love it. I think every week you're giving us more.
Kelly Said: I love that you are not afraid to work hard.
Simon Said: You're a little bit like "I wanna be a rock star". It's all a tiny bit "Spinal Tap".
Jeff's initial problem here is that nobody will ever do this song better than Will Ferrell.
Now that that's out of the way, this was what has already become typical Jeff - he's a great rock singer. He could totally front a Van Halen tribute band that only plays tracks off Van Halen 3. And I swear that's a compliment.
His second problem, then, is that he just doesn't have much range. He's going to come out, put together a solid rock vocal and exit the stage. He's just very predictable and only really capable of staying safe on each performance.
Even if he gave a weird little jacket striptease last night.
Alex and Sierra Sang "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer
Demi Said: It looked uncomfortable and it was a little pitchy.
Paulina Said: I love that you're bohemian.
Kelly Said: It was a little weird at first, but then the whole performance changed.
Simon Said: This wasn't as good as it should have been.
It's impossible to quantify just how much I hate the faux-artistry of this coffee shop collection taking the teeth out of whatever song they sing and making it was overwrought and treacly as possible with their stylized voices and total lack of charisma.
At least they got over themselves long enough to let the rhythm pick up by the end of this performance and turn it into something that somebody might actually want to consider watching somewhere down the road.
Final Thoughts and Prediction:
As with most non-constrictive theme nights, last night was solid almost all the way through. Nobody stood out as too terrible, other than my insane hatred of the final act, and many contestants delivered their best performances. Particularly Josh Levi and Rachel Potter who surprised by taking their performances well beyond levels they showed previously to become real threats to win. Maybe every night should 80s night.
Predictions are both easy and hard this week, with two contestants going home and a lot of solid performances from which to cull those two choices.
The easy part is Carlito Olivero. He's very gone. Couldn't be more gone. Both bad and forgettable in the second slot on the show. There's just no way he sticks around.
The second one is a bit tougher. Nobody really stood out as bad among the remaining contestants. I hated Alex and Sierra and they actually got obliterated by their mentor, but I have a feeling they have enough appeal to stick around.
That's why I'm going with Lillie McCloud. Going first is almost always doom and she just wasn't memorable enough to inspire a lot of voters. Not deserved, but I think she joins Carlito in the losers' circle tomorrow.
Photo Credits: Michael Becker/ FOX