The X Factor Recap: Eighties Is Enough

THE X FACTOR Khaya CohenInformal poll time, X Factor watchers!

The most confounding portion of tonight’s Top 12 performance telecast was:

A. Paulina Rubio’s continued employment in the face of her enthusiastic incompetence
B. Paulina’s insistence on using the word “America” while introducing her acts (Gurrl, it’ll take more than that to win us over, I’m afraid)
C. The screaming of the lambs audience
D. Mario Lopez’s obscene attempt to recreate a classic Michael Jackson dance move
E. Writhing ladies leading into various ad breaks (I didn’t hallucinate that, did I?)
F. The inclusion of an interpretive dance to “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)”
G. The fact that a mentor and/or contestant thought “Against All Odds” would be viewed as anything other than an unwelcome assault on viewers’ ears

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OK, OK, before you answer the question down in the comments, let me come clean: I’m not trying to hate-watch The X Factor. That would be a disservice to the 12 hard-working acts attempting to overcome seizure-inducing lights, batallions of background singers, checked-out mentors and cruel stylists who interpret the term “theme night” as “second Halloween.”

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And in fact, four or five singers tonight left the impression that they could — maybe even should — be viewed as viable artists who belong on the charts alongside (or perhaps above) Season 2 standouts Fifth Harmony.

Which is why I keep watching and recapping and, yes, railing against Simon Cowell and his cronies, who seem hellbent on a Thelma & Louise trajectory — straight over the cliff, then a cut to final credits. Heck, if this show provides me with one more terrific Alex & Sierra download before Christmas, I could easily justify a Season 4.

Anyhow, because of last week’s voting snafu, the episode began with one contestant getting the boot based on last week’s Thursday voting tallies. The doomed singer: Carlos Guevara, who didn’t bother to remove the gum from his mouth when Mario called him to center stage for a hasty goodbye.

But enough about the voyage of the damned,  let’s cut to letter grades for tonight’s performances!

Lillie McCloud: Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” — Grade: B | I gotta be honest: I feel a little bad for Lillie. She pretty much nailed every note of Chaka’s dance-soul classic (even if she colored within the lines of the original). And yet I couldn’t escape the sense that some of her inner sparkle got buried beneath the tortured hair and the houndstooth-check blouse — tied at the waist to denote that she’s not old-fashioned, dammit! If she lives to fight another week, I think Kelly should instruct Lillie to stop being so polite and start channeling the raging diva that’s hissing silently behind her clench-toothed smile. It might not make her America’s sweetheart grandma, but it would at least make her real.

Carlito Olivero: Miami Sound Machine’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” — Grade: B | The judges really came down hard on Carlito this week, but to my eyes and ears, the Latin heartthrob actually looked pretty comfortable with the night’s most intricate choreography — and managed to stay on pitch for a good 85-90 percent of his notes. Give some credit where it’s due: It’s not easy to sound cool when you’re tackling Miami Sound Machine. And even though Paulina griped that he “struggled” with his face (!), I suspect any befuddlement she detected came as a result of her word-salad introduction: “Carlito, Carlito can sing, can dance, can give it all. Here is for America!”

Rion Paige: Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” — Grade: C- | The kid has got spunk, (or as Paulina’s producer-written script denoted, she’s a “firecracker”). This does not mean, however, that Rion has any business tackling Pat Benatar’s range-y beast about a woman fighting to hold onto a crumbling relationship. Not only did Rion’s delivery lack the otherworldly conviction of La Benatar, but she also was sharp and gaspy for at least two thirds of the number. As Simon blathered about Rion’s greatness — offering only mild criticism of Demi for failing to find the exact right song for Rion — the ghost of his Early Idol Honesty shook its chains in the dungeon where it’s being imprisoned alongside Khloe Kardashian’s hosting dreams and L.A. Reid’s credibility.

Sweet Suspense: Toni Basil’s “Mickey” — Grade: N/A (until I can clearly hear the three girls’ voices over the track, I refuse to grade them!) | The multiple shots of Sweet Suspense’s backup singers again this week leads me to believe there’s either a sly producer who’s trying to tell America to ignore the Screens of Fire and the convulsing teenage-boy dancers and recognize that the Emperor is wearing a loincloth. Or that Simon himself secretly wants Sweet Suspense to go the way of Steve Jones so he can spend all his production budget filming Restless Road playing touch football in the parking lot. Whatever the case may be, I’m hoping that next Wednesday’s performance show includes a call-in number where I can vote for the voice in the shadows. (Hmmm…Voices in the Shadows might be a good name for ’em, no?)

Tim Olstad: Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” — Grade: D | Hey, Paulina, so you (or more likely a team of mid-level producers) chose the most overdone song in the history of singing competitions: Now what do you do? I know! I know! Fill the stage with a chain link fence, some old TV sets (projecting flickering candles) and a solitary female dancer in a white dress shirt (sans pants) writhing and stretching to no avail. Tim’s listless vocal was like the Lunesta butterfly carrying me away to sleepytimes, or as Paulina so concisely put it, “You sang like Tim!”

Khaya Cohen: Madonna’s “Borderline” — Grade: A- | I loved the way Khaya took “Borderline” — an ’80s classic with a flawless little melody — and put it into her retro-soul, Winehouse-ian wheelhouse. The kid may have lost control of a note or two near the end of the performance, but she was also one of the few performers to really engage the audience in a way that didn’t feel automatonic or, even worse, mandatory. As Simon noted in his raving critique, in Khaya, The X Factor’s third season may have discovered “somebody really special.”

Restless Road: Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” — Grade: B- | I found it amusing how the really stiff dude from the group argued that his pole-vaulting past would help the pre-fab boy band with their stage movement, only to turn out a performance where nary a hip got swayed (aside from those chicas in ridiculously short cutoffs writhing atop pinball machines. That criticism aside, however, I’d be lying if I didn’t give Colton credit for improving his accuracy tenfold since last week. Is there still a long way to travel before the trio’s vocals are ready for an actual concert venue? Sure. But maybe that’s why Simon didn’t call them Rested and Ready Road.

Rachel Potter: Heart’s “Alone” — Grade: B+ | The juxtaposition of Rachel’s twangy delivery and the “ripped from a karaoke machine arrangement” was a tad peculiar, but on the flip side, the girl hit some big, dangerous notes with all the force and audacity of David bringing down Goliath. Still, my fave part of the performance was Rachel’s mentor Kelly shouting “lies and deception!” — like a particularly fierce Good Wife lawyer making a courtroom objection — when La Cowell tried to say Rachel’s pitch had veered off a couple times. “I don’t think anybody in [Simon’s] category hits those notes, so he wouldn’t know what those sound like.” OOOH, Kelly, that’s one to add to the burn book!

Ellona Santiago: Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” — Grade: B- | Demi seems to have it stuck in her head that Ellona is X Factor‘s answer to Rihanna or Katy Perry, but something’s not quite working. Granted, the biggest problem this week may have been choosing the absolute cheesiest number in the Whitney Houston songbook, but Ellona never looked entirely comfortable in the pop-chanteuse role she was playing. Every week, in fact, she approaches these budget-conscious production numbers (hey, it’s a burnt-out car with a license plate that reads “DANCE”!) with the kind of grim determination that ought to be reserved for her SATs, and this time around, the exertion took a toll on her vocals. Ellona was under the melody at least half the performance — even if none of the judges were allowed to say it. I’m not saying the kid doesn’t have potential, but I also have my doubts that X Factor or Demi cares enough to fully unlock it.

Josh Levi: Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” — Grade: A- | I’ve wondered about Josh’s charisma levels prior to this week, but “Straight Up” was proof positive that he could actually exist in the real world right this second (and outsing the Biebers and Browns of the world in the process). Josh’s “Straight Up” was slick and modern and very well-sung, and the kid threw in enough cool dance moves to prove himself a double-threat. Kelly was right that if Josh is going to make it post-X Factor, he has to believe a little of his hype and stop looking so surprised by his own success. (Just as long as it doesn’t lead to him being carried up the Great Wall of China by his future bodyguards.)

Jeff Gutt: Cutting Crew’s “(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight” — Grade: B- | Maybe it was the whole intro package about Jeff’s insomnia, but I thought his voice sounded ragged and slightly off form tonight. Perhaps even more vexing, though, was his failure to take any kind of risk with the arrangement, a poor choice that left him looking like just a good karaoke singer compared to the more daring likes of Khaya, Josh and Alex & Sierra.

Alex & Sierra: Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” — Grade: A | What kind of games were the judges playing, hurling their verbal tomatoes at the night’s most intriguing performance? I know, I know…Alex and Sierra have such crazy chemistry that it may have seemed odd on paper to separate them with a wall — but that distance proved to be a great source of dramatic tension, almost as if the duo were locked away and separated in an effort to overcome their addictions to one another. Sierra’s a capella intro was glorious (and a high degree of difficulty, I might add) while the hypnotic arrangement allowed Alex to ooze even more sex appeal than usual. By the time Sierra banged on the wall in time with the music, my mind was made up: This was the performance of the week — and no amount of Demi Lovato griping can convince me otherwise.

Should go home: Tim Olstad, Rion Paige
Will go home: Carlito Olivero, Lillie McCloud

And with that, I turn it over to you. Who did you like on this week’s X Factor? Who deserves to be in jeopardy? Who are you worried about? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Ayelet says:

    I’m kind of confused as to why the judges are consistently hard on Alex and Sierra, while constantly lowering their standards for everyone else. Is it because they’re the only group left that they didn’t put together? It doesn’t really make much sense to me…

    • Becky says:

      He wants restless road to win. I just listened to the judges comments. I feel they are reading what simon has given them to read. They did not come to close to nailing it. It was the wrong sing for them. And while tonight was not Alex and Sierras best basically because it was odd staging they are my faves. They are just leagues above everyone rose. They know their sound.

      • SJ says:

        Yes SImon desperately wants a commercial success – for the show’s sake and for his record company…and he feels a group will do it. There is no country boy band and 3 hunky guys could have pop country hits, crossover, and be a huge success. Will they? Who knows…But Simon who happens to own the show got the groups 2 years in a row…how would that happen otherwise? He’s pushing them big time…and yes the judges seem to have scripts – not that it helps Paulina any (Britney looks like a speech professor in comparison)…and interesting that they put Demi back next to Simon as they have great chemistry. I just hate these manufacturered groups of singers who couldn’t make it…Alex & Sierra at least came together as themselves and we don’t have a love couple on the charts either. They need to sing I got you babe, no? It was weird to have Simon criticize his own group. Half the acts should be gone – they’re terrible. S

    • Roland Via says:

      Some voters are just not into Simon and many will vote against HIM, despite the artist. I believe he is testing the popularity waters of Alex and Sierra to see if the viewer voters will vote, rather than assume that because they are so good everyone else will vote for them! Betcha the vote count AND the itunes download prove him wrong, which of couse is what he wants. I think he sees that the only way to make the other 2 pre-fab groups work is overdone tracks smothered in background vocals and the voters will see through that. Alex and Sierra don’t need that crap. They are genuine and come through that way. Apparently Simon is not involved in the final production decisions as he said so and acted “surprised”. Last week Sir Simon said they need to pick their own songs. Probably production too. A & S need to ride the horse that brung ’em.

    • 80s says:

      80s music is so fun and I thought everyone did a great job. Simon has the best team!

    • Lewis says:

      Alex and Sierra are ok but this week’s performance was not great by far. I would certainly not give it an “A” as this critic did and it was definitely not the best performance of the week. Khaya Cohen’s was. I do agree with almost all of his other comments. It must be a thing he has for this Sonny and Cher kind of music or the love connection. Anyway, I love Sonny and Cher but don’t find these guy’s voices to be strong enough or their harmonies interesting enough to win this thing. In my opinion, they will be gone by the Top 6. I agree the four listed are the next to go. Josh Levi had his best performance of the competition. Restless Road’s lead singer was stronger this week and Sweet Surprise and Jeff Gutt were much weaker. None of those has the power to win it. I hate to repeat the obvious but Paulina – despite her legit Latina artist street cred which I respect – is an atrocious judge with no meaningful critique and her singers seem poorly coached and at a huge disadvantage. Just when I thought there could be no judge worse than Nicole Scherzinger. Despite what you think of Simon’s commercialism (there is nothing wrong with asking, “what will sell?”), in my view, he is still hands-down the best judge “X Factor” or “Idol” has ever had because he is honest and is willing to go against the tide. Polls attest to his overwhelming popularity for those very reasons and the quality of his insights.

      • BenM says:

        Yeah I agree. Hey, I usually agree with Michael, and I came on here and also wondered why the judges would be saying Alex and Sierra were off key. It turned out its because they were. Particularly Alex’s first verse, and the first chorus, were completely and utterly woeful. For someone who is usually so completely harsh on anyone who is off key (I think, often even to being quite unfair, as being exactly on pitch isn’t always necessarily what makes a performance great), I’m shocked Michael has given Alex and Sierra such a great grade.
        It must just be because, like me, he really wants them to win!!

      • Delon says:

        Nicole won last year’s The X Factor UK. She is actually a pretty good coach. She is genuinely invested in coaching. Her tenure on the US version might have been tainted by the hysterics of that precocious munchkin, but she is definitely not the worst judge of any competition.

  2. Nina says:

    The judges were completely off in their comments about Alex and Sierra! They are the only act that I’m rooting for!

    • Kim R says:

      So I had only seen bits and pieces of this season (usually in commercial breaks from other shows). Alex and Sierra are on a completely other level. Their set up was unexpected and so original. I have no idea what the judges were talking about. And who is this Paulina? :)

    • Mary says:

      I wouldn’t say they were completely off, it was not their best performance. Having said that still was way above the others. Khaya was the one who impressed me the most, but A & S was up there. The rest blah.

    • mary says:

      Sierra & Alex are great. I just want them to do a really up tempo song next time.

  3. grumpy ol' lady says:

    Michael, thanks for writing about your viewpoint on XF. I didn’t get to watch Alex & Sierra’s performance; I did get to catch Simon’s comments and was concerned for the duo. Simon said they were off pitch which didn’t sound like something they’d be, but if you say they did good, then they did good.
    But then they praised Rion, who was off-pitch nearly her entire song, sometimes painfully so.

  4. Et al says:

    This show is still on?

  5. Becky says:

    I was confused by tonight. I don’t remember us all wearing shorts everywhere we went but okay. The hair could of been bigger. Lol. And with all the choices out there, the selections were poor. I really only liked Josh. I did think the stage was strange for Alex and Sierra… The problem with restless road doing footloose is they needed movement to the tune and with the girls dancing around them this just seemed to show they had no musicality. I would of thought they would have done a true country song. Maybe from Willie, Waylon, or kris. Something plays to all of them.
    Lillie should of done her own tune. That would of been fun since it is from the 80’s.
    sweet suspense could of done jump. And I forget the tall girls name but she is really uncomfortable. She should of not been in the middle.
    I do not like the song Borderline. But I am sure Khaya will survive.

    • Mich says:

      HAVE. Should have, would have, could have. I know you just listened to Paulina for two hours, but dang.

    • HTGR says:

      Shorts were everywhere in the 80s. But yeah the hair was even bigger. The one thing that always gets unplayed is the hair. Movies, TV, whatnot, almost never gets it right and they always go too contemporary with it, even if they often overdo the clothing and many other things having like 70% of the girls running around like early Madonna every day when only a few would actually out and out do that and only here and there. But yeah the hair was big.

    • Delon says:

      Lillie singing her own song from the 80’s would’ve been an awesome idea and so meta. What a missed opportunity. It was definitely Lillie’s worst night.

  6. Josh says:

    Alex and Sierra could go far in the industry. I really wish someone would press the off-button on the audience members–they’re so loud! If the show gets axed it’ll be because Simon never bothered to watch the show for himself to see just how messy it is.

    Does anyone know if Alex and Sierra’s Give Me Love performance is on iTunes? Can’t find it

  7. Jim says:

    Rachel was my personal favorite of the night. Besides that hiccup, I thought she nailed alone

  8. DarkDefender says:

    Alex & Sierra are pretty good.. And best when in close proximity to each other during a performance (separating them by a wall was stupid).. They vibe off each other and that is where the magic lies.
    As for the rest of the contestants? My mom, is tons more dynamic singing in public and she can’t even carry a tune.

  9. Josh Levi was the best of the night. I could imagine Drake releasing his version of Straight Up and having it be a hit. It’s what Candice Glover tried to do with the song earlier this year and failed.

    Why are you grading Lillie McCloud and Restless Road so high? Ain’t Nobody was a C at best, and Footloose was an off-pitch trainwreck.

    • LB says:

      I was especially excited when they announced Lillie McCloud would be singing Ain’t Nobody (brings back tons of college memories). Unfortunately, she ruined it for me. That was not a good performance.

      • Yeah, that was weird for me, because I was expecting her to do a great job with Chaka Khan. But she was really off-time throughout the whole song, and the dancing and the outfit was horrendous. Made me miss Latoya London’s cover. Lillie probably would have done better coming out and singing a Nicole McCloud song.

  10. Jenny says:

    This show sucks. I tuned in for 20 mins and it’s so painful to watch. Paulina is awful, seriously thought she knew English when signed on.

    • Timmah says:

      I turned it on long enough to hear an awful, pitchy, shrill version of Borderline that all the judges praised to the heavens. That was enough for me. And yeah, what’s up with Paulina? Didn’t they do a screen test or something before they hired her?

    • MC says:

      The funny thing is last Thursday’s show was awesome. it was the best one of the season and many of the songs were chosen by the singers. There was very little rehearsal time because of back-to-back shows, but most of the singers were on their A or B+ game. This show tonight was a disaster. The most confounding thing for me tonight was H. (None of The Above). It was actually the downbeat and enervating arrangement of Borderline. I couldn’t tell if Khaya was missing the notes or was staying true to a horrible arrangement. It appears, upon a re-view, that she sang it adequately, but it was a paint-by-numbers version of Borderline.

      • MC says:

        I gotta say that the positive feedback by the judges to Khaya was not unfounded. Remember, however, the judges had only seconds to respond to last Thursday’s outstanding performances. Khaya killed it on Wednesday and Thursday last week and this was a belated chance for the judges to fully acknowledge that. It seems like Demi was choosing the songs again this week, so I don’t buy the idea that a retro-soul version (still a bad idea for a song like Borderline) was intentional. I think many times the new arrangements are simply ways to accommodate a singer’s voice when he/she can’t sing a song very well in its original key and/or original tempo.

      • Mary says:

        I think that is the point. WAY to much production for newbies. It is distracting on so many levels.
        I actually feel sorry for the contestants 95% of them have no Xfactor what so ever, but I will give them this most of them probably can sing, which unfortunately this show is not about singing. Fox should just let this show go and concentrate on improving Idol.

    • CrazyEyes4u says:

      That’s bad. But how about learning the name of your team. Tim Olson, Josh Levey. She did that weeks ago and corrected it and now she made name blunders again. She’s just aweful all around.

  11. CrazyEyes4u says:

    Ewww. Paulina… LOL! What a mess. Why is she there? What the heck happened to Demi’s look? Looks like an character from Star Trek. Lillie needs to go along with Tim Olson.

    • MC says:

      The margin for error for older contestants is very small, so Lillie might be on her way home. I also agree that Tim Olstad is past his expiration date. At least Paulina can’t get his last name wrong anymore.

  12. Sissy says:

    was I imagining that the cameras spent as much time on the background vocalists as sweet suspense during “hey mickey”? are the producers just messing with us at this point?

    • LB says:

      I noticed that too. I suppose they are trying to be forthcoming about heavily supplementing the main vocals either in response to or in anticipation of criticism.

  13. Tess says:

    I like Tim (I know, for shame!) but the song choice felt like it was intentionally given to him to derail him. It would not surprise me if Tim did well in the votes last Thursday and they’re pulling out all the stops to get people to not vote for him – no better way to do that then to make him sing “the song that should never be sung again in a singing competition”.

    The best of the night for me were Josh, Khaya, and Alex & Sierra. Worst for me were Rion and Jeff, but I wonder if they both maybe will still do well with voters based on last week’s better performances. I could easily see Lillie, Carlito, and Ellona being in trouble though.

    • DarkDefender says:

      Against All Odds = sabotage.
      No matter how much Simon wants to sell it and cram it down our throats, Restless Road just isn’t going to happen. Ever.

    • DarkDefender says:

      Also.. Simon separating Alex & Sierra was calculated. They will out last Restless Road, Simon knows it and he is messing with them to get the result he wants.. Which is why XFactor (and American Idol) are past their prime. Too much “producer trying to control the results” for the audience to get invested in a winner. Not to mention the blatant pandering to country music fans (who vote and buy CDs).. [ we call that getting. “Blaked” on TheVoice]

    • Byrdie says:

      Tim is my secret shame as well.

    • Mary says:

      Sorry the only decent song Tim sang was the audition. He has gone further than he should. I agree that is the worst song to chose but lets be real, he will never stand out. This was the wrong show to be on.

  14. BenM says:

    Paulina is my favourite bit of the show. I always get a laugh or two out of her every week, its fantastic.

  15. Poohbear says:

    Jeff Gutt radically outshined all the others

  16. Morgan says:

    In NO universe were Alex & Sierra deserving of an “A.” A “B-” at best. Josh Levi was the best of the night, hands down. That young man is special & Paulina was not very smart in eliminating him to begin with.

    • S. says:

      I was with you on the first part. People need to get their tv’s sound or their hearing checked if they thought A&S were the best of the night. I think they’re one of the best in the competition but that was awful (for them, not compared to some acts). A anything is completely unwarranted. Their own mentor seemed frustated that it didn’t go well and I don’t think Simon’s acting abilities are such that he was faking that look on his face for votes–either sympathy for A&S or to skew toward Restless Road. Sierra got off just like Simon said. Easy to work on. Good news is they’re still likely in the top and will probably stay there. Josh was fine and getting better, not great, but improving each week. I kept seeing people online say he’s basically a young Chris Brown without the baggage. That could be worth a lot of $$. Khaya was mostly really good but she’s gotta be careful because she lost some control in her riffs. Candice Glover talked about how she worked things like that out well in advance so that they seem improvised but weren’t. She knew exactly where her voice was going. Khaya probably still thinks she can wing it, but even many more technically advanced singers don’t do that

      • BenM says:

        Yeah S. Unfortunately its when people say things like Alex and Sierra weren’t off pitch that I simply know they don’t have any musical cred. It’s ok to be honest about a poor performance from a group that are still clearly the best and my favourites to win.

  17. Robbie says:

    Anyone else getting perd haply vibes from Mario Lopez?

    • Byrdie says:

      OMG yes. This comment made my night haha! The little hip shake he did every time he told us it was 80s night was so awkward I felt bad for him.

  18. Robyn says:

    Love Alex and Sierra, they are heads above the others. If you listen to the contestants sing, without the visual of the act (I know, the act is part of the X Factor) most of them just aren’t that outstanding vocally.

  19. HTGR says:

    I have to congratulate Demi on having, amazingly, provided the single most absurd feedback comment ever on one of these and THAT is saying a LOT.
    How on Earth does she say that the two things Sweet Suspense were lacking was energy and looking like they were having fun for a performance that basically was as far from low energy as about any performance any of these has ever been. Now you can hate pop energy and hate that sort of thing and hate them and whatever, but to say it was incredibly low in energy and that they looked like they were miserable and having no fun? What?? That’s as objectively silly as saying 1+1=3. I know many here hate on them because they always hate on that type of pop performance but I dare one to find a single human on earth who would call that performance seriously low on energy. Whether you despise every last thing about them and/or the performance or the opposite, find one person, other than Demi who could call it exceedingly low in energy. And the only time they looked they were not having fun was, as Simon called them, after the three witches were trashing them.
    It was such an absurd comment you wonder if it was not pre-scripted for drama between Simon and Demi (since there duels appear to be a selling point for the judges panel)? I have a hard time believing that she could actually believe that the two things that leapt out from that performance were that it was very low in energy and that the girls didn’t seem to be having any fun whatsoever. Whatever you thought of it, the two things is 100% had were insane amounts of energy (and the crowd was not exactly acting dead while it was going on either) and that they looked like they were having a blast.

    • mike hollingworth says:

      hey….just shut…….up!

    • Mary says:

      I kinda see what she was saying. I thought the girls looked stiff moving around, like they were concentrating on there moves and not letting go. The song is a fun high energy song, but sorry the girls weren’t. I think that is part of the problem with this show, to much going on up on stage between backup singers, dancers stage props. It is just to overdone and none of these contestants are professional enough to handle it. It is distracting on so many levels. I usually end up watching the dancers because I know they are probably good.

  20. Britt says:

    So my favorites were Josh, Alex & Sierra, Rachel and Khaya (in that order). Also if I hear Jeff Gutt mentioned being a broke single dad again, I’m going to scream.

    • Robyn says:

      I agree about the broke single dad sympathy card being mentioned every single time and being tiresome. Enough already.

    • HTGR says:

      Yeah they have mostly moved to getting away from all the background sob stuff this season, thankfully, but with him they are playing it up big time still.

      • RS says:

        thats because its the only card he has left, last year I found him to be ok…this year he appears to be nothing more than a whiny deadbeat.

    • Mary says:

      OMG I totally agree. I was screaming if your that broke go get a JOB. You have a responsibility to provide for your son and is he that dumb to think this show will do that even if by some miracle, which won’t happen, that he wins. All these shows are a stepping stone nothing else.

      • HTGR says:

        Actually if he did win it might just do that. Although I’m not sure since I think I read they changed it. I think the first season or two, you actually got to outright get a huge chunk of the $5 million no matter what you did (supposedly one winner more or less decided they had money and after the first song didn’t take off they called it a day and sat on their pile of money, could be false gossip though), so in, if what I read was correct, simply winning this win, unlike the others, could make you pretty set, enough to live on well for at least 15 years and much, much longer if you are talking getting by, assuming they didn’t change it, but actually I think they might have.
        Not that I disagree with your points. Although we probably should keep in mind that the producers may be egging on that story line and feeding him lines and so on.

  21. Olita says:

    Wow. Demi was spot on in her observations that practically everyone lacked energy and presence. The backup dancers were so dynamic in comparison to the singers. The singers brought their coffeehouse personas to an arena and were outsized.

  22. nobody special says:

    i musta been watching a different x factor than the rest of you. i don’t figure the world needs (or can stand) another bieber, and that’s all ol’ josh was. wouldn’t have given him more than a c- for his song tonight.

    • Justin P says:

      I agree with you 100%. He sounded like a Justin Bieber wannabe and his vocals simply weren’t up to par. The ONLY act worth watching on this show is Alex and Sierra. They bring originality, and both of them actually have good recording voices that I could hear on the radio. Don’t get me started with Paulina. My 5 year old nephew is more fluent in English than she is. Hopefully this is the last season of this trainwreck of a so called singing competition.

      • Mary says:

        My god people, give the lady a break. I know she is hard to understand but the way you all rag on her, I feel sorry for her. Maybe people on this board should learn tolerance.

        • Justin P says:

          Not only is she very hard to understand, she adds no musical knowledge to the show WHATSOEVER. I am a very tolerant person, don’t get me wrong, but Paulina just makes this show almost unwatchable (unless you are watching it for comedic purposes only). The only thing she says after every single performance is “I love you.” “You are amazing”. She did not once, throughout the entire competition, offer any constructive criticism to the contestants. So, before you call all of us out on being intolerant, watch Paulina on the show. Her incompetence coupled with her accent is just unbearable at this point.

        • RS says:

          Get real mary..this is a singing show in AMERICA… you have to know functional english to be an effective judge/mentor. If Simon went to the X Factor Mexico I would expect him to know functional spanish… or DON’T GO.

  23. SJ says:

    Can Paulina be the worst judge EVER on one of these shows? She’s making Britney seem like an eloquent genius. I already hear Simon’s interview next year that Paulina was a mistake.
    At least we saw some talent this week but the show is still a mess and half of the finalists could be gone tomorrow with no losses. It is ironic having an 80s theme when you supposedly want a young audience. Yes, the songs are easy and cheap to clear, but your target audience has never even heard them. Its over 3 decades ago and you’ve got 13 year olds. Guess at least one advantage for the oldies. (Btw, has an over 30 contestant gotten a career from any XF show. I think one guy in his late 20s won the UK version in the early years but didn’t really go anywhere. Tate isn’t going anywhere either…Susan Boyle and others were on Got Talent not XF)
    Back to the judges/mentors, I wanna know how much work they actually put in (esp compared to The Voice..>heck in the UK, contestants have to deal with Sharon O who is in the US all week hosting The Talk and going to her son’s DWTS -s o they probably only have her on Fridays)..We don’t see a whole lot of mentoring; Im not sure if the judges pick songs or if thats all producers, and it doesnt look like the judges do much of the staging either. Simon just isn’t the guy he was on Idol – he tries to be mean sometimes but then again, he often praises people who don’t deserve it so he has lost all credibility. To him, its about ‘winning’ and if theres one thing the Voice has proven is that people want some friendlier TV without bashing people all day. Honesty is ok and criticism is ok, but bashing a contestant or trying to sabotage someone cuz they’re on another team is not.
    Just a final thought, nothing against Elonna, but if were going to the Phillipines/Hispanic route, I think Jessica Sanchez is 10x better and I miss her already. (Surprised she also didn’t mention the typhoon at all)..And lets stop telling all these kids they’re going to be stars…or pretending that you have a kid and $1 in the bank. That doesnt really help your case…And lets hope LIllie gets more new wigs. She’s a gramma people

    • CrazyEyes4u says:

      Yes Yes. Paulina is a hot mess indeed. Nothing she says is ever constructive or critical. Paulina still mispronounces Josh Levi’s last name (like a levee instead of the jeans) and Tim Olstad as Olson? I too was surprised that they didn’t mention the typhoon that hit the Phillipines with Ellona. Maybe milk it as this weeks inspiration for her performance…like the Swon Brothers did with the Tornado in Oklahoma.

    • RS says:

      Jessica Sanchez was better technically then Elona, but she was like a robot with zero connection to the songs she sang.

      • BenM says:

        I felt a lot of connection to songs with Jessica. Ellona I’m missing it for some reason. She just isn’t working for me at all. I have Khaya out of the girls, she is the one for me who is really great.

  24. Jim Welker says:

    I agree Josh was a c-! I guess we saw a different show! I felt nobody was even a b this evening! Wrestless Road was terrible! At least Santiago had energy! I thought she sang ok! As a whole, the show stank! Only question I have is….WHEN WILL THE SHOW BE BOOTED? Some of the arangemenrs were terrible! Lillie was ok but I thought she looked uncomfortable dancing! Alex and Sierra are overrated! Giving them an A is ridiculous! Even Simon didn’t feel they were at their vest! I still fell that none of these singers will go anywhere in the business, even if they win!

  25. HTGR says:

    I have to say Josh was quite a surprise since he had appeared to be a waste of a save, but he had presence and creativity there. I guess they had seen more and maybe had a better idea of what we were doing with him than we or at least I thought.
    OTOH I’m not sure Josh or A&S made one particularly feel 80s, but I suppose that doesn’t matter. Most of A&S performance seemed extremely contemporary (although the fact that they seem to be the rarer silly side, light/fun hipster types and not the super serious I’m obviously brilliant and deep because blah blah blah nonsense type certainly was more 80s at least), and the whole first part seemed to be almost entirely re-written, but again I guess that doesn’t matter if you were to just take it as is and forget the 80s or the song.
    Sweet Suspense brought the whole sugar pop happy upbeat fun side of the 80s (the time before all the downer, drabber, more angry influences of grunge and the harsher more angry/violent influences of ganster rap and the hipster influences mixed into suburban youth culture). I was kind of surprised the three witches were on them, especially since the attacks didn’t make the remotest sense (no energy, no fun?? was that scripted for drama?). The crowd sure seemed to have fun. It seemed like a well delivered, high-energy suburban teen pop 80s sort of performance to me. I guess the Restless Road, this time, did sort of bring that too, maybe a little shaky vocals at times still, but they had the energy and sold it in that sense. Lillie’s vocals were delivered with some 80s styling.

  26. lex says:

    Slezak. Producers. Choose. The. Songs. Not Demi, not Simon, not Kelly, the producers. so enough of that crap “Demi picked the wrong song blah blah”.. just stop your bias

  27. Jillian says:

    Demi seemed cranky tonight. I thought that Restless Road fell flat tonight yet the judges gave them rave reviews. I also cringed at Rachel Potter trying to be Carrie Underwood circa Season 4 of American Idol. Nothing can top Carrie’s version of Alone and no one should really try either. I have a feeling that Paulina’s boys will be the first ones out much like Demi’s category last season.

    • HTGR says:

      Carrie’s did have really strong vocals, but people also forget how robotic she was back when she was on Idol, Rachel was a lot less robotic by far.

    • Yeah. It’s possible to cover a song that’s been covered on another show, but the cardinal rule is never to cover one that’s been a showstopper. It only invites negative comparisons. Candice Glover managed do it with I Who Have Nothing, but that’s the only time I’ve ever someone out show-stop a showstopper. Despite not living up to Carrie’s standard, Rachel probably WAS the best vocal of the night, which says something about the X Factor.

  28. HTGR says:

    Rachel was quite good.
    I could swear I was easily hearing Sweet Suspense most of the time so I’m confused by Michael’s comments. (unless they were lipping to backing track or singers, but at one point it seemed clear it was delivered live by them and it seemed to have the same tone and projection as other parts.
    On the other point, I hope they are not all just a game to Simon and a setup for his Restless Road. He is obsessed with making the next great boy band in the US, that was clear last year already (although it ended up, contrary to all his pushes, the girl group that did it for him in the end, not that I think he didn’t maybe believe in his girl group inside deep down but the $$$$$$ in his eyes from that UK boy band has him a bit seeing with $$$$). He did support them strongly this time, but then Demi’s comment was so odd, was it scripted for her? I don’t know what the truth is.
    Demi tried to get Rion to get the sense of power and way it needed to be delivered, but maybe a mix off too young to get it and maybe not having the chops to do it, she can actually sing some things fairly well, but she tends to not really deliver when she has to do certain things so it didn’t really come off with what the original had and she did some other parts better but then it sounded very country twangy and not 80s pop at all.
    Borderline was such an iconic song, sort of ushered in the whole era of 80s pop to some degree (although some new wave was earlier), so it was a little hard adjusting to such a Winehouse sort of 60s/contemporary version that somewhat re-did the whole 80s pop vibe to a tune that almost stood for the 80s pop vibe, but it was interesting, a few rough bits, but interesting and probably quite good once you get past that. Her very weak performance the first week of lives appears, thankfully, to have been a fluke.
    Maybe Jeff was a bit worn out. This should’ve totally been his wheelhouse week, he knows the era, he knows the old time 80s rock and so on. It was sort of good, but also a little weak and ragged so it never became anything that took over the room with domination like he did the other week.

    • HTGR says:

      Actually I’m still not sure what I think of that Borderline performance. Some was interesting and cool and yet it seemed just sooo not Borderline, although perhaps that shouldn’t matter I don;t know, and some bits seemed a little wonky or behind or a touch over-stylized. With something totally her wheel house I think will be solid.

    • BenM says:

      Yeah, Sweet Suspense were quite easy to hear. They were also discernible last week (although less so) when Michael made similar comments. I can only presume that Michael is saying it more to make a point because he has never demonstrated a lack of ability with the ear before. I guess that point would be that Sweet Suspense may be being made to sound better by having a wall of sound in behind them.

  29. lex says:

    that has nothing to do with my comment but ok?

  30. Jim Welker says:

    I think Restless Road should be renamed HIT THE ROAD, which I hope they do soon!

  31. Jim Welker says:

    Restlee Road is ok when the 3 sing together, but they are weak singers on their iwn which was very obvious on this show! They need to sing together to have any chance of doing well!

  32. DS says:

    Is no one going to comment on how Demi quietly and backhandedly said Rachel Potter is more talented than Carrie Underwood…. Eff off….come on. Rachel is a talented vocalist but that reaches nowhere near Carrie’s version. Also, who do you think you are Demi Lovato criticizing Carrie Underwood…give me a break. Brutal. I am not a big Carrie fan at all, I’m not jumping to protect her, but I’ve always got this Bi*** vibe from Demi, and the more I listen to her the more nasty and cruel I think she is. I dislike her…
    Paulina might just be the worst judge in the history of singing shows.
    I miss the old Simon.
    I’ve watched every season since day one of the Voice, X Factor and American Idol. This is brutal. I question my judgement on watching the X Factor the more I see it. Alex & Sierra are the only group I enjoy, and Josh Levi is the only other marketable character. I could find equal levels of talent as these contestants at 50 pubs in every major city across North America.
    The Voice this year blows X Factor out the water.
    Bitter? Sure am…Sheesh.

    • Rachel Potter just got on Twitter and admitted her version isn’t as good as Carrie Underwood. Which makes me like her more. Lol.

    • RS says:

      I feel exactly as you do, but it took me 2 episodes to realize what this show really is…and it is nothing more than 2 hours of Simon screwing us over with sub par contestants , songs that belong on Idol 10 years ago and the relentless pandering and flat out lying about performances. All the judges comments are scripted and the backing vocals make it impossible to make out what some of the contestants sound like.
      Its frustrating because like you, I have followed this show from day 1…but I had to remove it from My PVR, FB and Twitter feeds because its insulting to my intelligence.
      The contestants with the most promise (simone torres, danie geimer) all got the cut early and its just mediocre.
      This show will be cancelled in December and Simon will go back to the X Factor UK and ruin that (Sharon O and Luis Walsh are working on making it as bad as the USA version.)

  33. Don Viajero says:

    I also thought Josh was easily the best of the night. Rachel, Alex & Sierra and Jeff were okay. Pretty much everyone else ranged from mediocre (Khaya, Lillie, Sweet Suspense) to downright awful (Rion and Tim). Watching this really is kind of like watching a high school talent show in comparison to The Voice.

  34. Blue says:

    I don’t see where all the praise for Alex and Sierra is coming from. I didn’t like there performance much, and I’m a fan of theirs. Their audition was MUCH better than that.

    Rachel was the best to me, and even she hit a few sour notes. This episode was a pretty bad.

  35. Jason says:

    Not only is paulina horrible at English but shes terrible at math too! She says Josh is youngest in comp but Rion is 13! I think Rion and Lilly are out for sure!

  36. Jason says:

    Has a judge ever criticised their own act to that degree before! Especially when the performancw was that competent! Mayne not their best but still current and believable! SOmething is rotten! I BELIEVE They were in first place laST WEEK and the producers have decided to bus them!

  37. spongebob says:

    A: Khaya
    A-: Alex & Sierra, Josh
    B+: Rachel, Rion (I actually liked the song choice for her)
    B: Ellona, Jeff
    B-: Carlito
    C+: Restless Road
    C: Sweet Suspense
    C-: Lillie, Tim

    Should go home: Sweet Suspense, Tim
    Will go home: Lillie, Tim

  38. Mary says:

    I was late to the party but the ones I did see I was not to impress. I would say Khaya was the top one for me, then Josh third Alex & Sierra. The rest well they tried. Sorry but Tim needs to go cannot sing and no stage presence at all. Why the audience wanted him in there is mind blowing. I feel like I am watching some kids show they put on in their garage to entertain family and friends with extra lighting. Fox is nuts if they pick this up for next year.

  39. Beth T says:

    My favorites last night were definitely Alex and Sierra and – surprise to me! – Josh. I also liked Ellona and Khaya. Jeff Gutt sounded under the pitch the entire way through his song to me. Rion, too. I agree with a commenter above that it would have been fun to have Lillie do her OWN 80’s song, but I actualy liked her performance as well. And I thought Carlito (who is usually just “meh” for me) was actually pretty good, for everything he was doing.

    I do not get the Rachel love. I thought last night she was as shrill as always. Her voice is all push and power (on high notes – she doesn’t seem to have any lower range at all) and zero nuance to me. I really want Restless Road to be better than they are, but… and I, too, was puzzled by a pre-package that talked about movement only to see that consist of walking up and down the steps a couple times.

    I’m with Michael on Sweet Suspense: except when they sing their solo lines, I can’t tell whehter they are actually singing or not. There are so many additional vocals in their numbers (whether that is live from the back-up singers or on a recorded track I have no idea) that I just can’t tell what parts belong to those girls. No clue if they are singing harmonies with each other, which I think is key in a vocal group. That said – no idea what Demi was on. “Energy” was about all there was to last night’s performance.

    Which leaves Tim. Hmm. I happened to be doing something else while his bit was on, so I only heard it (didn’t see it). Vocally, I thought it was one of his best performances, but the song choice – ugh! I don’t buy into “producer sabotage”, but I can totally get behind “producer laziness”. Seriously – get that song out of every song list on every singing competition ASAP. And apparently I missed what by all accounts was a pointless dance accompaniment. (To be honest – I find most of the dancing pointless and distracting. And most of the production numbers completely overdone, for that matter…) But no matter how much Tim is improving, I just can’t imagine “Tim” and “X-factor” having anything to do with each other. :/

    If i had my druthers the bottom two tonight would come from Sweet Suspense, Rachel and Tim, but I’m guessing it won’t actually be any of them. :D

  40. EVPandHC says:

    I must be the only one here, but… when I was listening to Alex and Sierra, Alex was really really flat.

  41. RS says:

    I’ve said this from the beginning…one of the ‘theme’ nights should be A CAPELLA–no dancers, no back up singers, nada. That will separate the real talent from the rest. Also, it is easy to see who is a ‘singer’ versus who has the “X”. The singers sing passioned lyrics in a sing-song manner thereby losing the passion. Can you imagine singing Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Great Balls of Fire” or Elvis’s “Surrender” in a nice and sweet way? The “X” artists puts pleading, passion and inflection into their performances. They FEEL their performances.

  42. Brent says:

    I didn’t realize that anybody still watches this show. I don’t know anybody that admits to watching it.

    • RS says:

      i bailed after 2 episodes this season and now i catch the recaps and “highlights”…its like watching a car crash in slow motion to me…i am actually amazed by how bad the performances are but how much the judges praise them, its like the judges have earpieces and they are hearing the Voice.

  43. grumpy ol' lady says:

    I was finally able to listen to Alex & Sierra’s entire song, and despite Sierra being a little off at first, they were (to me) clearly the best of the night. I don’t get the negativity from the rest of the “judges” (and I use that term loosely).
    That said, Simon threw them under the bus. He’s tone deaf to the other acts but praises them up, and yet he takes down his own? He seems to want to be taken seriously, but honesty isn’t in his lexicon at the moment. I’d believe him if he’d told RR when they were off-pitch too, or that Rion was off key almost her entire song and THEN made that critique about A&S. But the way he handled things? No.
    I will admit the only reason I’m watching this season is for A&S. I look forward to what they’ll do next week. I would LOVE to see A&S get their own show like Sonny & Cher, but updated. I think these two have great entertainment potential and if Cowell & Co. don’t back them, I’m hoping that other producers/exec’s will see it and offer them opportunity.

  44. darcy the slutty twin says:

    Was I the only one who thought Khaya Cohen was horrible? She was out of breath for the entire song and veered off pitch during the big notes! Seriously, Michael Slezak?! A-?!

    • You’re right. I thought she was the best of the night when I first heard it, but then I realized the producers tricked me by putting her after Tim. She was just really good in comparison.

    • MC says:

      The very compressed Thursday performance show from last week aired directly opposite a results show from The Voice. I think it’s fair to say that many people did not watch the X Factor last Thursday unless they recorded it on a dvr. I think people watching last night who didn’t watch the Thursday show from last week were confused by the glowing comments (for Khaya) from the judges. The entire panel of judges had a maximum of five seconds per act to comment last Thursday. Khaya killed it last week, but the judges were never able to acknowledge it until last night. Those how tuned in only for last night (and missed last Thursday’s show) must have concluded that the judges were only responding to Borderline. Actually, I think they were responding more to last week than anything else.

    • Timmah says:

      I thought exactly the same. I think Michael’s grading X Factor on a curve.

  45. mary says:

    All the singers are good. I just think the wrong songs are being chosen. They should stay away from Phil Collins, Whitney, Heart & Pat Benatar. Unless they can really bring it on those choices, they end up being dull.

  46. waterbug says:

    i have a feeling Alex and Sierra will be the breakaway from this season. They are original and talented.

  47. OC Cool says:

    The taste level on this show underground. Calling whoever-he-is a creative director is an affront to the dictionary.
    A few of the contestants have some talent but they are buried in melodrama, miasma and poison. Nobody can save this show and the only thing I feel is regret for having ever laughed at anything Simon said on Idol.
    The Voice has changed things for the better and this show trails first season American Idol in relevance. I can live with Idol, usually enjoy it. X Factor thinks coating solid gold with sequins increases value.
    Also, hire a band instead of running whatever program plays music on Mac.
    How awful… so awful it’s not even fun.
    Kelly will survive. Demi is among peers and the like-minded. I don’t know Paulina. Simon should be done.

  48. HTGR says:

    Wow, can’t believe who got sent home automatically with the lowest total and didn’t even at least the sing off out of the bottom three, no way they would’ve lost the sing-off I don’t think. Come on, no way the worst last night or any night so far even maybe not vocally shown in the strongest fashion this week and really absurd week to go home too. Can’t say more without giving it away, although certain stuff may hurt just enough to land bottom bottom and not at least upper bottom. That sucked.

  49. HTGR says:

    Good grief I can’t believe who the bottom three were. The voting public is the real train wreck of this show. Utterly absurd. I seriously wonder, considering all the other bugs, if they didn’t program the vote counting wrong or something. Totally bizarre, utterly bizarre bottom three and utterly bizzare well I can’t say that either without giving things away.
    Man I may be done with show after this week. This is one of the, yes IMO of course, worst voting jobs done by the public on these shows I’ve seen. I can’t begin to make heads or tails how that is the bottom three!?!?
    Maybe VTF took over and not enough watch so they had real power?

  50. John Anthony says:

    I just finished watching tonight’s X-Factor and witnessed the worst voting I’ve ever witnessed. To let a bunch of guys who performed so bad stay and two acts leave the show who were clearly better is stupid. This show is in trouble in the ratings and will fall further I’m sure. How stupid does Simon think we are! I watched the X-Factor since it’s beginning but tonight was my last. Simon should be taught a lesson by all of you out there who watched the episode tonight. You can’t let better talent leave and keep the garbage no matter who does the voting!!!! I hope every honest viewer out there voices their honest opinion of what went on tonight on the X-Factor! Thank you for letting me voice my opinion.

    • Jesse says:

      Yeah, true ! Alex was off-pitch at the start cause he couldn’t find the music track out of the acapella. But they are at least fun ! Kayah is the best and most creative singer, but she had some problems on Wednesday with a song not really suited for her. No way she should’ve been in the bottom two ! Kayah and Alex & Sierra are the two best acts on the show. Felt bad for Sweet Suspense too, as their singing was buried under the track. They also weren’t given the focus during the performance. Not that they would win, but they weren’t horrible. Tim, no x-factor at all, and a terrible song and wacked out dance routine…kind of like night of the living dead ! He should’ve gone along with Lillie, who’s got chops for her age, but just isn’t interesting.

    • HTGR says:

      easily the worst voting i’v ever seen, when for the very first bottom three of the season, the bottom could have even been the top three if anything (maybe not quite, but you get the idea) are…. I mean stick a fork in it.
      never before seen those with top twitter support end up dead last one week later and where all three in the bottom, all three, were so clearly not.
      I almost wonder if they didn’t have another production mess up and cross lines and mess the vote again.
      How can you watch when this season when the voters are intent on eliminating all the best the first week (or two, since you know it’s will horrible results next week too) it seems? at least last season some good ones lasted, even if Tate somehow won every week regardless of what he or anyone else did. i guess that was a bad sign of where voting was going. It maybe drove away the remaining people who didn’t vote like that and there you have it.
      Didn’t help that the judges gave uneven support to all three in the bottom. If they didnt want this result then why did they give them uneven support? Although maybe it didn’t even matter the results were so wack.