'The X Factor' Recap: Double Dose Of Divas
December 5th, 2013 9:32am EST
It was a double dose of 'X Factor' last night as each contestant had two cracks to make an impression on the judges and the voting viewers at home.
First, the contestants took on divas. Second, it was time for an unplugged performance where they unfortunately didn't unplug Alex and Sierra's mics. Too bad.
So who was up to the times-two task? Read on to find out...
Restless Road's First Song: "Red" by Taylor Swift
Kelly Said: You guys really worked out your diva song. Your vocals were really tight.
Paulina Said: I love the song. That was amazing.
Demi Said: I really enjoyed watching you guys grow as artists and musicians.
Simon Said: You guys have to be in the final.
First off, it's important to note this is the best song off this album. Maybe Taylor Swift's best of all time. There. We're done.
Savvy pick from Simon here for his country trio. Super safe and super easy and they make it seem that way. As though they're not even trying. As though they're just singing along to the track together without any harmony or organization. Or musicality really.
At least the deep-throat kid got some screams when he did his solo. That was about the only part of this that wasn't a mundane disaster.
Restless Road's Second Song: "Wake Me Up" by Avicci
Kelly Said: You all meant every single word.
Paulina Said: I'm just proud to be here.
Demi Said: You're making me cry right now. That was so beautiful.
Simon Said: This is what I'd always hoped you'd end up being.
Just when you thought you found a way to avoid hearing this song, here it is on 'X Factor'. Yay?
This song choice actually makes sense for Restless Road because it has the right almost-country/almost-pop flavor to really fit what they're trying to do as a country boy band. Plus its structure lends itself to be sung by a group.
Restless Road makes it a complete no brainer by delivering their best vocal performance ever on this song. Harmonies are finally there and not just present but completely pure and tight, with just the right amount of solos.
Bonus - we finally can understand the words to this song!
Rion Paige's First Song: "See You Again" by Carrie Underwood
Kelly Said: You commanded presence like a diva would. It's always very genuine.
Paulina Said: I love the tone of your vocals Your voice is so unique.
Demi Said: Nobody has the fire like you do.
Simon Said: Not the best song choice.
Never heard this song. Didn't really care for it. Didn't really care. Rion's just so good.
Rion has to be the least likely little teeny-weeny-ager on this show ever. Her voice doesn't sound young. Nothing about her plays young. She's got a huge maturity about her and a voice with decades of season in its sound. It's really quite remarkable.
This is another vintage Rion performance where she lets voice do the singing and the performing. Solid all the way through.
Rion Paige's Second Song: "Glass" by Thompson Square
Kelly Said: Your vulnerability is what's so beautiful about watching you.
Paulina Said: You empower us.
Demi Said: Every word of that song is what you're about.
Simon Said: You just saved yourself on that second song.
Wow. Just wow. A perfect acoustic performance. An absolutely stellar vocal. This is just a masterpiece of a talent show performance. Rion shows us how good these kids can be on this show with an astoundingly lived-in performance that lets us feel every inch of every word.
How is she thirteen again?
Jeff Gutt's First Song: "Without You" by Nilsson
Kelly Said: That was absolutely amazing.
Paulina Said: You rock. You remind me of Axl Rose.
Demi Said: You just showed you have the X-Factor.
Simon Said: You are quite boring as a person, but when you come onstage you completely transform.
This supposedly counts as a diva song because Mariah Carey covered it. Even though it went to number one with Nilsson's version. Cheater!
Jeff does his Jeff thing by turning this into an industrial rocker with just enough hair metal thrown in to make it seem like he'll be in the touring company of 'Rock of Ages' next time around.
It's becoming a bit old hat and boring at this point to see him just do this over and over again. But when you got one move that works pretty well, you gotta keep going to it would seem.
Some variety would be much nicer though.
Jeff Gutt's Second Song: "Daniel" by Elton John
Kelly Said: You should stay here and be in the semi-finals.
Paulina Said: You have your own personality.
Demi Said: It was good ,but it was a bit stale.
Simon Said: Vocally it wasn't as good, but the sentiment was strong.
Here's the thing about this song. The original version is so horrifically bad, but the lyrics so great, that every subsequent version is much better than Elton John's. It's just math.
Jeff's certainly fits that mold and...wow! He actually breaks enough away from his alt-industrial-metal vocal stylings that we've finally got some range from Jeff.
And he can do it too. He can totally rock a nice acoustic ballad like this and sound totally authentic.
So he does have a bit more going for him.
Ellona Santiago's First Song: "Applause" by Lady Gaga
Kelly Said: This was incredible.
Paulina Said: You're Ellona (that's why she makes the big bucks, folks)
Demi Said: You have the ability to take this competition.
Simon Said: You've gone from being a mouse to a little tiger. You're in it to win it (woah, dawg!)
I don't know if I just got the wax out of my ears or everybody was right but me the first several weeks, but suddenly I'm totally onboard the Ellona bandwagon.
Her voice really is as big and diverse as the judges have been saying. She can flat blow and on this song she looks like a real diva on the faux-Red Carpet, but mostly in how she owns the song and the stage.
This is a star-making performance from somebody who is starting to look like the winner of this show.
Ellona Santiago's Second Song: "If I Were a Boy" by Beyonce
Kelly Said: I think you should explore those softer tones just a little bit more.
Paulina Said: I love how you deliver. I love how passionate you are.
Demi Said: lasjflasjf
Simon Said: This is what we've been waiting for from you for a long time.
Okay, so this song should be off limits for anybody on these shows. It's too good and the original vocal is too hot for anybody to really take on.
Ellona should have headed that advice that I just gave after it could have done her any good. She's just not good enough to sing this song. She can't put the original out of people's minds with an unplugged performance. It's too daunting.
She's fine here. She definitely exceeds karaoke. No real vocal issues other than that she isn't Beyonce. Sure, who is Beyonce other than Beyonce, but that doesn't mean you have to invite those comparisons - just an unwise song choice.
Saying that, she really did do about as well as she could have to shoot out of the hole in which she put herself. She just shouldn't have done it.
Alex & Sierra's First Song: "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child
Kelly Said: I was like, "Is this my song?"
Paulina Said: That spark of love. You have potential in the world to fill the space left by Sonny and Cher.
Demi Said: I felt like you were nervous.
Simon Said: I feel like I'm looking at winners here.
What is happening here? I don't hate this performance. For once, Alex and Sierra aren't impossibly pretentiously hip. They actually sound like they're singing and feeling the song for once.
Unfortunately, they're still the worst of the night so far. Scratch that, fortunately they are because they need to go home four weeks ago.
Even on their best of performances, they're disjointed, horrifically pitchy and struggle to come together harmonically. This is as good as it gets for them, and it's still not much.
At least it wasn't horribly annoying.
Alex and Sierra's Second Song: "Say Something" by A Great Big World feat. Christina Aguilera
Kelly Said: I feel like I was watching a performance on an awards show.
Paulina Said: You guys are edgy. You guys rock.
Demi Said: You guys playing instruments is magical.
Simon Said: This is my favorite performance of the entire season from anyone.
Yikes. More honesty from these two. More real singing in a sea of candles. Sure, the dude's still got his ridiculous hipster hat and the chick's still got her fake tone going, but finally they seem more like musicians rather than people pretending to be musicians because it will make them look good.
Okay, that may have broke the limit on backhanded compliments. This was actually really good. Not just for this hipster duo, but for the world. That's really saying something for these two.
Carlito Olivero's First Song: "Let's Get Loud" by Jennifer Lopez
Kelly Said: This fell flat for me, just a little bit.
Paulina Said: I am very proud for who you are.
Demi Said: You did a great job, but couldn't top last week.
Simon Said: I'd hate to lose you from this competition.
Finally. After weeks of regression, Carlito skates through, makes the final six and turns back into the Starlito we saw in those initial shows.
I'm not sure what Pitbull is, but I think this is what he's supposed to be, right? A super-entertainer who just owns the stage and starts a party wherever he goes? That's what Carlito's doing as the stage turns into a South Beach club with him the ultimate Master of Ceremonies.
Solid vocal and even better performance as he holds nothing back and lets it all loose onstage like he was born to do this.
Carlito Olivero's Second Song: "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King
Kelly Said: That was the best vocal I heard you do this whole competition.
Paulina Said: We're not going to lose you. That's not an option.
Demi Said: I wish there wasn't so much music in the background.
Simon Said: I'm really going to be upset if we lost you.
Wow. Goodbye, Carlito. So long.
This was the type of performance that a band plays at a resort hotel in the after-dinner "party portion" that is just fun enough to make you ignore how watered-down your drinks are.
Worse than that. This is the guy who comes in and sings to an old folks' home and watches the oldsters shake just enough as to not break their hips.
So much for Starlito.
Carlito's gone. That's for certain. He was the worst of the night and his begging for votes at the end and talking back to the judges isn't going to help at all. He's definitely out.
The second goner isn't so easy to determine. Restless Road is definitely safe because they are going to win. It's very hard to see them in sixth even after leading off and there's no way the judges would let them lose the save-me song. They're safe.
I want to say this is curtains for Alex and Sierra, but I've wanted to say that for weeks and Simon keeps helping them stick around. Rion was too good to go home, so the duo and little pixie should make the final four.
That leaves Jeff and Ellona. Neither has sniffed elimination, both seem very forgettable at times. Jeff pulled the military card last night while Ellona just rocked it. I'll take rocking over sympathy and say Jeff joins Carlito on the train home.
Though tomorrow seems ripe for a surprise.
Photo Credits: Michael Becker/ FOX