'The X Factor' Recap: Final 4 Semi-Finals Is Best Show Of Year

December 12th, 2013 9:43am EST

ALEX & SIERRA performs on THE X FACTOR 'The X Factor' is down to its final four contestants, and you know what that means: There's a lot of extra time to fill!
Last night, Simon Cowell's creation introduced us to something called the face-off round. Where two contestants competitively sang the same song at each other. Like a duet, but a competition. Like something out of West Side Story.
It didn't really add much to the show other than time and didn't really help determine who was the best contestant either. Pointless? Almost. At least it kept Alex and Sierra from singing "Falling Slowly" during a round that actually matters. Not sure how Simon let them not use that surefire trump card later down the line, but thankfully it's already been wasted.
So maybe the face-off wasn't all bad.
As for the parts that matter:
Carlito Olivero Sang "Boyfriend" by Justin Bieber
Kelly Said: Carlito, I am so incredibly proud of you. I have been waiting on that all season.
Paulina Said: All of the girls. We received the message.
Demi Said: That performance has star quality to it.
Simon Said: You're not the best singer, but you're a great performer.
The Verdict:
Carlito decides that it's time to rap. Not only rap, but Bieber rap. Saying swag. Saying swag more than once.
It's not much of a stretch for Carlito to fall into this type of song. He's definitely that sort of all-confidence pop star and that leather vest just seems to suit him right.

Issue is that this performance is just completely and utterly dull. Find the interesting moment here. You can't. Outside of him saying swag this is like a pop star final exam that put the judges to sleep.
Certainly this recapper.
Grade: C-
Restless Road Sang "That's My Kind of Night" by Luke Bryan
Kelly Said: That's exactly what y'all need to be doing.
Paulina Said: I need Zach and Andrew to be as good as Colton.
Demi Said: It didn't do it for me. It was fun but it was awkward.
Simon Said: This final would not be the same without you.
The Verdict:
This performance is just cheating. Restless Road singing country? Too easy! It's unfair. C'mon, America, pick a tougher song.
As expected, this is a solid performance. Nothing much to it. They trade off stanzas, sing the chorus in solid harmony, and look cute in the process. It's just a country boy band performance plain and simple.
Exactly what they invented.
Grade: B
Alex and Sierra Sang "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men
Kelly Said: Y'all just killed that, I can't even say.
Paulina Said: You come stronger each week.
Demi Said: I think I'm looking at the winners.
Simon Said: You're not performing songs, you're making records.
The Verdict:
Normally they're annoying, this time they're just boring.
Sierra's actually all right. She's got her hipster faux-jazz tone down solid here and the song actually makes sense for her. Alex in his backwards orange vinyl hat is another tale. He's got no voice whatsoever on this song. Super flat and just nowhere in Sierra's league. He's holding her back with his moustache.

Together though. They somehow really work. Once they started to sing together after the opening verse, some sort of magic took place. And it must be a spell, because I kind of wanted to hear more of it. I was kind of digging Alex and Sierra.
Good thing that's over.
Grade: B+
Jeff Gutt Sang "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen
Kelly Said: One word: iTunes.
Paulina Said: I love this version. I think you did amazing.
Demi Said: I think it's going to be you and Alex and Sierra.
Simon Said: That was one of the best versions I've ever heard of that song.
The Verdict:
Jeff goes for the hammer here. The Jeff Buckley version of "Hallelujah". It's become a cliché on these shows to have the rock guy do this song and Jeff picked the perfect time to go to the old standard as he's a bit out of his depth at this point on the show.
He does something a little different with it than normal as he brings his hair metal rock god into the arrangement. And it works. Surprisingly the Leonard Cohen poem isn't bad being sung by the winner of Making the Band: Quiet Riot, whenever they bring that show back.
Jeff succeeds in turning this song into an anthem and looks like he gets the whole audience behind him in the process.
Maybe more than just a wannabe rock star?
Grade: A-

Carlito Olivero Sang "I Need to Know" by Mark Anthony
Kelly Said: Where you been hidin'?
Paulina Said: alskjflajf
Demi Said: Ay, Dios Mio. Muy Caliente!
Simon Said: It was kind of like a singing magic act.
The Verdict:
Why can't Carlito just sing a little bit better? Why can't his voice match is bravado? Why does he have to be so frustratingly close to greatness?
It's almost unfair. Carlito is a pop star. His look, his moves, his poise - everything is set for him to be a legitimate pop star. It's just his voice. It's not where it needs to be. It's so apparent on this song as it's the body of a pop star with the voice of a half-decent karaoke singer.
That's probably why he needs to come on 'The X Factor' to make it.
Grade: C+
Restless Road Sang "Wanted" by Hunter Hayes
Kelly Said: I just love y'all.
Paulina Said: Such an amazing improvement.
Demi Said: This is what you need to continue to do. This is incredible.
Simon Said: You saved the best til last.
The Verdict:
More country from the country boy band. No sense messing around at this point.
The kids can all sing this country tune, that's for sure. Not only that, they've learned to harmonize. They're turning into a legitimate act beyond just Cowell's Country Creation. As the competition is getting tougher, they're hitting their stride at the perfect time. This is one of their best performances. Their first that could really be a record on its own.

And the screams. The screams are still permeating the theater as they sing. These country folks got it goin' on.
Grade: B+
Alex and Sierra Sang "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles
Kelly Said: You're such a flower and I love watching women grow.
Paulina Said: You have the X Factor. I can see it from far far far away.
Demi Said: You sang it flawless. That was so beautiful and captivating.
Simon Said: I would like to just bottle the last ten seconds of that song and have it for the rest of my life. It was absolute perfection.
The Verdict:
Just when you want to like them they turn into some sort of hipster yacht rock parody. This was like The Carpenters in Echo Park on a Wednesday night drowning in PBR. Such weird elevator music from the depths of DUMBO as they try sound relevant and classic all the same.
And their vocals are just awful. Even the usually solid Sierra struggles to hit most of her notes. Meanwhile, Alex sounds like Seals and Crofts swallowed a cat. Not sure what he was trying to do but it was as annoying as it was creepily sweet.
This one just fell right to earth.
Grade: D
Jeff Gutt Sang "Demons" by Imagine Dragon
Kelly Said: lsdakjflasdjf
Paulina Said: What a great opportunity to express everything.
Demi Said: It's your time now.
Simon Said: An incredible song. An incredible performance.
The Verdict:
I think Jeff Gutt got the idea to sing this song by listening to ANY RADIO STATION AT ANY POINT IN THE DAY.
Despite the fact this song is more overplayed that "Royals", Jeff makes it sound new again. I almost didn't recognize it at first as he stripped it bear and built it back up into a rock anthem that's so much better than the original it's almost criminal.

Jeff made this song his own in a fashion that births great covers. And that's what this was. Not a version, a full on cover that took enough of the original to be familiar but became a massive stadium rock song under the care of somebody who's really starting to look like a rock star.
Standing O from home too.
Grade: A
Final Thoughts and Predictions:
Simon was right. This was probably the best show of the year. The first time a lot of these contestants really looked like they could end up stars. Particularly Jeff, who is looking like he's beyond this competition at this point.
So who goes home in the midst of all this? Well, Carlito, of course. Carlito's been near the bottom all competition, singing save-me songs more than taking a safe seat. Plus, he led off and is likely to get lost.
It will be a surprise to see Carlito in the final three, and a big surprise to see anybody else eliminated.

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Photo Credits: Michael Becker/ FOX

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