The X Factor Top 6 Performance Recap: I Stand Here Waiting for You to Bang the Gong [Updated]

X-Factor-Alex-Sierra-Say-My-NameIt’s easy to make fun of The X Factor, what with Demi Lovato’s crocodile tears (and atrocious, “more prouder” grammar), Simon Cowell’s bloated sense of self-importance and especially future Emmy nominee for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Paulina Rubio’s patented brand of “does this chica have a concussion?” English. (Tonight’s “oily nose”/”you are you!” critique of Carlito Olivero was beautifully absurd, but still couldn’t top last week’s inability to tell her hot Latino contestant apart from wide-eyed 15-year-old Josh Levi.)

But then, an act like Alex & Sierra comes along, with a brand of vocal aptitude and brazen creativity that makes you think: “Hey, I might actually buy this duo’s music in the real world!” And just like that, the whole notion of watching La Cowell’s sputtering import for the sole purpose of aggressively snarky Tweeting feels a little bit hollow.

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Where there’s true talent, after all, there’s a show. And if I’m being honest — something the X Factor judges have forgotten how to do, at least based on their feedback for the sweet-but-sinking Rion Paige — I’m still invested in who wins this thing, whether they turn out to be the next One Direction or the successor to that nice road-construction dude in the cowboy hat who took home the Season 2 crown.

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With that in mind, let’s get to letter grades for tonight’s performances:

Jeff-Gutt-X-FactorDIVA SONGS
Restless Road: Taylor Swift’s “Red” — Grade: C- | No, no, no. You’re not supposed to let the one with the deep voice (AKA the one who can’t stay on pitch) have a solo verse — no matter much Simon tries to convince us it’s a formula that should help you sail to the finals.

Rion Paige: Carrie Underwood’s “See You Again” — Grade: D+ | Oh, Rion, it breaks my heart a little hearing you say you fought back tears during last week’s results show because “I didn’t know if I’d stop [crying].” But maybe that just means you need to step away from the world of nationally televised singing competitions, take a little more time to grow up (you’re only 13, kiddo!) and learn to control that big instrument of yours. This performance, alas, had more sharps than a big-city needle-exchange program. (Yes, I know, I already regret that metaphor.)

Jeff Gutt: Badfinger/Mariah Carey’s “Without You” — Grade: B+ | Memo to Mario Lopez: Mariah Carey did not make “Without You” a classic; it was originally recorded by Badfinger, and was also a massive No. 1 hit for Harry Nilsson in 1972. And memo to Jeff, I know that you already knew the aforementioned info, so don’t try to pretend you meant it when you fretted that, “I’m a rock guy. I just need to find a way to do it and make it mine.” Le sigh. The bad news for Jeff is that his version ranks somewhere in the upper midpack of the dozens of versions of this song that I’ve heard. The good news is he hit just about every note, brought palpable passion and a nifty Ryan Tedder thunder-y arrangement. Plus, the “Beam Me Up, Scotty!” lighting was a nice touch. In other words, I kinda dug it.

Ellona Santiago: Lady Gaga’s “Applause” — Grade: C+ | Either my ears are designed at just the wrong angle to appreciate Ellona’s tone, or the judges were selling me Kool-Aid and pretending it was Dom Perignon. To me, Ellona not only lost control of her powerful vocals at both ends of her register, but she sounded utterly vacuous attempting to deliver lyrics like, “I’ve overheard your theory/Nostalgia is for geeks.” Plus, the black leather bustier and tiny fabric-sample skirt were way too sexpot for a cute 17-year-old kid. Come on, Demi, you should know better. (Oh, who am I kidding? Demi hasn’t got the slightest clue what’s happening with her acts nowadays!)

Alex & Sierra: Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” — Grade: A+ | It’s not easy upgrading Beyoncé, Kelly and those other two, but damn — Alex and Sierra’s sweet harmonies, verbal dexterity and playful humor made me feel like DC’s R&B warning to a cheating lover was born to be a duet! Sienna’s mini-scat breakdown, Alex’s gruff counterplay (and adorbs eyebrows) and the sparse arrangement (which put their vocals front and center) made this one of the best X Factor performances, well, ever! Is there any way these cats don’t win the whole bag of Friskies?

Carlito Olivero: Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud” — Grade: B | Carlito was clearly aiming for “La Copa de la Vida” Part Dos, but — having been assigned the track by POW-POW only 24 hours earlier — he never quite reached such lofty territory. To his credit, the Season 3 recipient of Simon’s annual “You’re a Hard Worker” plaque hit the bulk of his notes — and in certain moments, displayed hints of real charisma — but ultimately this was more competent than it was compelling.

UNPLUGGED NUMBERS
Restless Road: Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” — Grade: B | Yeah, I still spied four (maybe six) background singers in the shadows, but the RR boys didn’t sound bad at all here, one of the few instances this season where they resembled a real life musical act. Sure, I couldn’t understand a word out of the deep-voiced one’s mouth, but improvement’s improvement, and I’m not gonna ding these fellas just because Demi fake-cried with joy.

Rion Paige: Thompson Square’s “Glass” — Grade: C+ | Ouch, Rion’s glory note missed the mark like me swinging the bat during my one season of Little League. The judges were super encouraging with their feedback, but methinks it was a parting gift before Thursday night’s inevitable ouster.

Jeff Gutt: Elton John’s “Daniel” — Grade: B | Jeff’s acoustic take on this plaintive ballad was made a little more emotional by the presence of his Nacy officer brother Daniel’s presence in the audience. Dude definitely has talent, but I couldn’t disagree with Demi’s complaint that the end product was like a bag of chips left open a few hours too long. Which is to say, a wee bit stale.

Ellona Santiago: Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy” — Grade: B- | I liked seeing Ellona dial back on the busy production-number stuff and focus purely on her vocals. I just wish she’d picked a slightly less ambitious ballad with which to showcase her skills. The opening verses were pitched a little too low for Ellona’s range, causing several hiccups in pitch, and that final melismatic run flopped harder than an elephant being pushed into a swimming pool. There were some pretty moments in the middle, though, even if I have to point out that Rachel Crow’s Season 1 rendition was superior.

Alex & Sierra: A Great Big World (feat. Christina Aguilera)’s “Say Something” — Grade: A | OK, so maybe this cover wasn’t didn’t deviate all that much from the original — which got trotted out to gorgeous effect last month on The Voice and the AMAs (read about the latter here). Nevertheless, the Florida duo completely captured the emotional drama of the lyrics, the plaintive flow of the melody — and pulled it off with a noticably trembling Sierra at the piano and the slightly more self-assured Alex on guitar, without a single botched note. Finally, a Standing O from the judges that seemed completely authentic.

Carlito Olivero: Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” — Grade: C- I’ve liked some of Carlito’s prior bilingual efforts, but he flip-flopped so rapidly here between Spanish and English that I could practically feel my head bobbing back and forth like I was at a tennis match. In other words, there was never enough space for the dude to relax into the performance and really bring home the message. His awful leather-sleeved blazer and the cheesy, mariachi-via-a-dentist’s-office instrumentation didn’t help much, nor will Paulina’s insane babblings, which included her screeching about Simon — “Every time I talk, he opens his nose!” Alrighty, then!

Should Go Home: Rion Paige, Restless Road
Will Go Home: Rion Paige, Jeff Gutt

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of Top 6 performance night? Who were your faves? Who surprised you? Who will and should be at risk? Take our poll below, then expand on your thoughts in the comments!



Comments (162)

  • Every time I read this is the same, “alex and Sierra” im tired of them and all the pop on that damn show

    Comment by van – December 4, 2013 07:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I find Alex & Sierra so much better than any other contestant that it’s like watching an entirely different show when they perform. They are definitely the only reason I’m still watching X Factor.

      Comment by LB – December 4, 2013 07:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • You nailed it. Couldn’t agree more.

        Comment by Louis – December 4, 2013 11:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • They put everybody else to shame! They should have this one.

          Comment by jaxguy – December 5, 2013 12:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Because Alex and Dierra are the only ones who can sing on pitch and are entertaining.

      Comment by Robbie – December 4, 2013 08:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • What would you expect – Michael to start giving out awards to all the sub-par contestants because they are nowhere near as good? If Khaya was still around, she might have nabbed one or two. Josh and Lillie could have had at least a vague shot. I guess Jeff and Ellona have at least the potential to upstage them once, but its unlikely. The reality is, Alex and Sierra are so far ahead of the rest that are left that it really isn’t Michael’s fault.

      Comment by Ben – December 5, 2013 01:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Alex & Sierra ‘Say Something’ #16 on iTunes.

    Comment by Mr&MrsWonderful – December 4, 2013 07:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • It’s #5 now. The original version is #3. It’d be funny if it got above that.

      Comment by S. – December 4, 2013 10:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • 3

        Comment by Jenna – December 5, 2013 02:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • WOW! #2 Say Something (The X Factor USA Performance) – Alex & Sierra
        It’s surpassed the original… LOL :)

        Comment by Too Sexy – December 5, 2013 08:12 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I just saw a chart listing it as #1

          Comment by Cali Girl – December 5, 2013 10:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Is that a Gong Show reference? :)

    Comment by Timmah – December 4, 2013 07:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • If you’re referring to the title of the article, it’s actually lyrics to “Applause”

      Comment by Clement – December 4, 2013 08:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • It’s a play on words, he’s referring to both Applause and the Gong Show. I thought people got the reference.

        Comment by Matthew Richards – December 4, 2013 08:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • But the lyric in “Applause” is a reference to The Gong Show.

        So it’s ultimately the same reference.

        Comment by Daw Johnson – December 5, 2013 09:12 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Say Something by Alex and Sierra was easily the winning performance of the season.

    The rest of your ratings are bizarre to me. I wouldn’t have given Red, Let’s Get Loud, or Without You any higher than a D. I thought Applause and Stand By Me were much better than you gave them credit before, despite Ellona’s last note and Carlito being a bit nasal…they were both solid Bs.

    Comment by Matthew Richards – December 4, 2013 07:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Carlito is a solid D every time. He sucks.

      Comment by Daw Johnson – December 5, 2013 06:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree the best performance of the year.

      Comment by jaxguy – December 5, 2013 12:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Is there a way we can vote off Restless Road.

    Comment by Rex Master – December 4, 2013 07:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Or just replace the middle one with Scotty and be done with it?

      Comment by S. – December 4, 2013 09:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Paulina Rubio: using passion as a verb, confusing her contestants with one another, and saying oily nose in a reality singing competition. I love/hate her.
    Back to the music, THANK GOD they are in this competition, or it would be unwatchable.

    Comment by Dan (Haleyloonie) – December 4, 2013 08:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She said “ALL THE CHICANOS” not oily nose. All the sounded like oily and the nos in chicanos i guess led to nose. lmao

      Comment by mm – December 4, 2013 09:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Wow, Paulina was even more of a trainwreck last night that usual and even Simon had a hard time shutting her up. Her “I luuuuuuuuuuuve ju” to every single contestant and her nonsensical remarks usually have me fast forwarding through her “critiques” but last night she seemed way loopy on something. She’s like that wreck that you try to look away from but just can’t.

      Comment by The Beach – December 5, 2013 12:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Alex and Sierra was awesome tonight. I also thought restless Road had a massive improvement. My three favorites were Alex and Sierra, Restless Road and Jeff Gutt. I think Rion Paige and Carlito Oliveta will be going home.

    Comment by MAB – December 4, 2013 08:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Exactly what MAB said……….

      Comment by S7 Fan – December 4, 2013 10:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Alex and Sierra were great when they first came on, now alll the coaching etc.,Just let them pick a song and sing it in their own fashion. That is how they got on the d–n show in the first place. Please, do not let Jeff Gutt win. He is not easy to look at and I personally do not like his singing. Little Rion was good, but they have messed with her also and she is really very young. surely some one will pick her up in the future and she can make some recordings. I did not Like Simon Powell for a long time, but I think he tells it as it is, even if he is crass sometimes. My first season and probably last to watch XFactor. Have a wonderful HOLIDAY SEASON ONE AND ALL AND I AM SINGING TO YOU “I WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS !!

      Comment by emma – December 5, 2013 11:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Seriously Michael what is with your hate of Ellona? You hated Mathew he’s gone. Now you’ve turned your snarkiness on a 17 year old kid yet skate by Rion with passing criticism.

    Comment by Chablis – December 4, 2013 08:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yeah I don’t get it and I thought she did quite well on that first song, and that one he particularly bashed (I suppose in some sense I do get it since I knew he’d bash that one to bits, even though all the same I don’t know why he feels that way).

      Comment by HTGR – December 4, 2013 08:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Actually I have this weird feeling it’s because she was sort of all slinky on it.

        Comment by HTGR – December 4, 2013 10:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Maybe because Ellona is merely a second rate knock-off of Jessica Sanchez. Prolly one quarter of the girls/women in the Philippines can sing as good as Ellona. And that is praise for their talent, not a knock on Ellona.

      Comment by Alienate – December 5, 2013 10:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Great show again tonight! Alex & Sierra are just so genius together. Their voices are perfect compliments to each other and even though the premise of them on paper is so cheesy and corny it really works! They’re believable singing together and it’s always nailed in their performances. Say My Name was amazing, loved all the sass and the rapid fire verse segments they did! I was not expecting it and Say Something has to be the performance of the season!

    Apart from them I thought Ellona did great! My ears must be broken Michael because her vocals sound pretty red hot to me every week and she is completely fearless on stage. RR were the worst in the first round but pulled it back with the Avicii cover. I think Carlito is great too, he actually has that star quality this show is always harping on about and is a really smooth mover. Plus I think he’s a really hard worker, you can tell he’s always pushing hard to put on the best performance he can. I think it would be cool to have a major latin star in the charts again. Jeff sang really well tonight but I found both of his performances really boring! Without You is so overdone and I thought the “rawk n roll” arrangement on it was really ordinary and paint by the numbers. Daniel was really snoozy and lacked the magic of the other unplugged performances in that round. Rion…. poor Rion. She’s a plucky kid and I’ve loved watching her on this show but she should go home tomorrow. The others left are just better singers than her. But I think she’s a wonderful kid with a lot of heart and she’s been a role model while on this show.

    So my choice to go home tomorrow would be Rion & Jeff, but I’m worried about Ellona & Carlito.

    Comment by Hugh – December 4, 2013 08:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • If Alex and Sierra don’t win this thing I’m done with all singing competitions.

    Comment by Jason Castleman (@lethargicj) – December 4, 2013 08:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Totally agree. But the studio version doesn’t have Sierra at the piano and it loses something for me with just the guitar. :(

      Comment by jaded – December 5, 2013 12:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I don’t know if you downloaded the whole thing but the preview that only shows the guitar isn’t how it is on the whole downloaded song. That’s the same as the live song with piano at the beginning.

        Comment by jaded – December 5, 2013 05:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I feel like Alex and Sierra are a less talented version of Johnnyswim (look them up they are awesome)

    Comment by Mick – December 4, 2013 08:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Just looked them up. They are awesome and pretty similar to A&S. The woman is definitely a stronger singer than Sierra. But I still like Alex & Sierra a lot, with their creativity and great Sonny & Cher vibe.

      Comment by LB – December 4, 2013 08:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Apparently the girl is Donna Summer’s daughter. That explains the singing ability, she clearly inherited some good genes. They’re early 30s while Alex & Sierra are college age. It’s just a different feel. A&S are more laid back and sweet. I looked them up and thought the song Johnnyswim did on Craig Ferguson was fine to listen to but I won’t remember it at all afterward. I regularly watch that show, I probably heard it already and didn’t remember it then either.

        Comment by S. – December 4, 2013 10:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • She’s not Donna Summer’s daughter. Donna Summer’s daughters are Brooklyn and Amanda. We saw Sierra’s mother in the audience.

          Comment by jaded – December 5, 2013 12:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • S. was saying that the girl in Johnnyswim (not Sierra) is Donna Summer’s daughter.

            Comment by LB – December 5, 2013 05:08 AM PDT  
    • Wouldn’t have to look up Johnnyswim if it/he is really that incredible.

      Comment by Jenna – December 4, 2013 08:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Well now that’s pretty gosh darn ignorant of you to say.

        Comment by will – December 4, 2013 11:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Lol. So only the artist you’ve heard of are incredible? That makes zero sense

        Comment by Henrique Mendes (@IkeMendes) – December 5, 2013 04:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Unfortunately most of the artist that have true talent, not the pop crap, many do not know. That is one of the things that is wrong with today’s music.

        Comment by Mary – December 5, 2013 05:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • THANK YOU! I’ve been saying this ever since I’ve heard A&S. Abner from Johnnyswim is so incredibly talented. Amanda’s voice really reminds me of Naya Rivera’s. I think Johnnyswim is what A&S could be with more experience. I’d like to see Johnnyswim make it first.

      Comment by rowan – December 5, 2013 09:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • If Alex and Sierra don’t win, there will be riots all over the world. Simon better wake up because not only have they been consistently great, but they are SELLING BIG on iTunes right now. Stop with the Restless Road pimping (quite honeslty, I want them gone ASAP!) because A&S are the real deal

    Comment by Clement – December 4, 2013 08:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • What show are you watching in which Restless Road is pimped more than Alex & Sierra?

      Comment by Daw Johnson – December 5, 2013 06:37 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • This one. He’s clearly pimped them more than anyone else so far. Although he seems to be slowly getting it that A&S are better though.

        Comment by HTGR – December 5, 2013 12:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really don´t can´t enough for X Factor, specially after the last two weeks of elimination ( the show already is a mess and lacks talent and than it loses three of the best ones?), so I didnt watch it, just saw Ellona´s, Jeff and Alex & Sierra performances.. I would agree with you one Ellona couple weeks ago were she was terrible on vocals, but since last week, I think she improved. Her take on Applause was good enough for me, had some moments and If I Was A Boy started off but second half was strong. I think Jeff version of Daniel was underrated, really liked it, one of my faves. Alex & Sierra are the most consistent, for me, they were a little boring this week, but I know that they did exactly what they should done to own the little audience that still watch this show, specially with their second song.

    Comment by guiaoshi – December 4, 2013 08:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I didn’t think that Applause was THAT bad. I thought Ellona did a pretty good job with it. He was a little breathy when she was running on and off the stage.

    Comment by Robbie – December 4, 2013 08:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • X Factor has iTunes votes this week too? Can somebody explain it to me?

    Comment by Jeremy – December 4, 2013 08:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • No, they don’t count as votes. People are just buying the song because they like it.

      Comment by Matthew Richards – December 4, 2013 08:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • They just have it this week or a long time ago? Because I haven’t seen any of the songson the chart before.

        Comment by Jeremy – December 4, 2013 08:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • As far as I know, they had Best Song Ever get to 14 and be at 29 for a bit a couple of weeks ago. I think their “Trouble” cover also charted. Again, not 100% sure on their positions.

          Comment by Amy – December 4, 2013 08:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s incredible to me just how much the US X-factor got it wrong. The UK and The Australian versions are very entertaining and have quality performers and likeable judges. The US one is just the ultimate trash of talent shows. It’s a massive fail.

    Comment by RD – December 4, 2013 08:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree. I’ve watched the UK seasons many times. Just don’t understand why it’s all been a bit rubbish in the USA. They need Gary and Louis to come over here!

      Comment by Mr. Sunshine – December 5, 2013 04:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Because execs in control in the U.S. seem to feel that everything needs to be overproduced, overdone, overscripted and dumbed down for U.S. consumption these days.
        .
        (Just look at something as simple as a David Attenborough nature documentary. Years ago they used to think that such fair was worthy of being shown on a major network in the U.S. and that his name might actually be a selling point. These days such shows won’t come close to any major network and will be put on cable…. after having been cut up and edited down and re-narrated (because British English, horrors, we can’t have that! it might scare off viewers!!!!), assuming they even appear on this side of the pond at all. PBS won’t mangle them and do that stuff, but basically any other channel here would these days.)

        Comment by HTGR – December 5, 2013 12:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • OMG! Yes to Gary Barlow! Simon, replace yourself with Barlow. In fact, bring the UK judging panel to the U.S., EXCEPT for Scherzy boobs.

        Comment by Megyn – December 5, 2013 08:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Actually,Fifth Harmony is doing pretty well.

      Comment by Shaun – December 5, 2013 12:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Note for Michael Slezack: I know bashing X-Factor is fun and I love when you do, but for your next Reality Check recap, can you PLEASE campaigne for Alex and Sierra to win X-Factor the same way you’ve campaigned for Hailey Reinhardt and Candice Glover. They need all the votes and support they can get and I don’t feel like you give them enough credit on Reality check. We can’t let Restless Road, Rion, Ellona or the others win this season.

    Comment by Trev – December 4, 2013 08:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • THIS!!!

      Comment by Clement – December 4, 2013 08:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • A+ and A “But then an act like Alex and Sierra…”
      Those grades and an entire paragraph are Michael’s accolades for Alex and Sierra.

      Comment by Scamp – December 4, 2013 09:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Hey @Scamp, I was talking about his web recap show “Reality Check.” You should look it up. It’s hilarious.

        Comment by Trev – December 4, 2013 11:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Not enough people watch “Reality Check” for it to affect the voting.

      Comment by mm – December 4, 2013 09:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Well it had a BAD start. An awful Restless Road pimped to hell and with even the other three judges all raving for them. Ugh. And then it sadly didn’t get any better and the judging was phony and SImon was faker than ever and I was falling asleep in state of horror and trying to change the channel, it was totally off the rails….
    .
    But then Jeff came on and man he was back.
    .
    And then Ellona put on quite a genuine pop-star performance (I KNEW Michael would trash it down though).
    .
    And then A&S really brought it and in a new sort of style on this one that showed they were far more than a one trick pony. That was pretty damn cool.
    .
    And it suddenly got my attention again and I was able to forget all the nonsense spouted earlier on.
    .
    I was surprised that Restless Road actually did much better on their unplugged song.
    Most of the others did about the same or worse, although A&S did a pretty nice job next to last though there.

    Comment by HTGR – December 4, 2013 08:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Paulina seemed to be unleashed tonight to say what she wanted and it was an improvement, if wacky and a little garbled and words replacing other words and so on. Wacky entertaining is better than a few odd, boring, restrained, programmed quips here and there. (I actually got what she was going on about with the blood and rock and roll, not sure why Simon was so puzzled on that one.).

    Comment by HTGR – December 4, 2013 08:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Well considering one of the judges up there famously had a cutting problem, it seemed in poor taste.

      Comment by Daw Johnson – December 5, 2013 06:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I’m sure that didn’t enter her empty little head…let’s not take political correctness to a ridiculous level.

        Comment by Maria – December 5, 2013 06:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Paulina wasn’t the one who brought up cutting, that was actually Simon! And I sure as heck didn’t remotely think of cutting from what Paulina had said! Where did Simon even come up with that? She was just saying that rock should be like raw, primal, etc. not that you need to literally spill blood and certainly nothing to do with cutting!

        Comment by HTGR – December 5, 2013 12:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Anyway for the finale I’d like to see Jeff, Ellona and A&S for sure.
    .
    For the semis I’m not sure which of the other three to add in to make it four, hard to say, maybe Carlito at this point???
    .
    Favorite performances of the night were Jeff, A&S, and Ellona’s first performances along with A&S’s second performance.

    Comment by HTGR – December 4, 2013 08:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Actually the fourth spot should really go to any number of eliminated contestants such as Rachel or Lillie just for starters.

      Comment by HTGR – December 4, 2013 09:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Jeff Rocked!!!! I hope he will make it to the final four.

    Comment by Tameka – December 4, 2013 08:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree. I thought his version of “Without You” was the second best performance of the night. The addition of the electric guitar brought something new to this overused classic. His gritty vocal completed the arrangement. He sounded nothing like NILSSON’S version.

      Comment by Mark – December 5, 2013 04:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • It was okay but he should be in a band not a solo artist. He reminds me of a wanna be rock star.

        Comment by Mary – December 5, 2013 05:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • For me, Jeff Gutt is the only REAL voice left in the competion. A & S started out really strong, but have had a lot of bumps since- though their 2nd song last nite(though it seemed to be TOO short) was great. Both girls are over-rated, though Rion at least sings with emotion. Carlito & RR are both so-so- though I think after last nite’s show, it’ll be the girls going home. But, as long as Jeff & A&S go thru- the other spots could go to anyone.

      Comment by janet belrose – December 5, 2013 02:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ellona has such a strong Voice as well as great stage presence! She has such a powerful mature voice…and very entertaining! She never really gets good marks no matter how she does! She’ll be there at the end…you’ll see!

    Comment by Jim Welker – December 4, 2013 09:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Demi says RR sang their way to the finals…..WHAT A LOAD OF FULL BS….THEY WERE NOT THAT GOOD…NEVER HAVE BEEN!

    Comment by Jim Welker – December 4, 2013 09:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think they started praising RR so their fans stop calling in for them thinking they are safe. I mean how can you say that they have great harmonies and tight vocals where it clear that the 4 background singers are doing the harmonies.
      When Kelly said:
      “Guys you know what I loved the most about that performance?” I was really hoping she would say The background singers.

      Comment by EvaneSam – December 5, 2013 12:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Slezak, she did not day Oily nose. She said “All the chicanos” as in all the hispanic people who live in the U.S. Your hearing is just as bad as Simon I guess.

    Comment by mm – December 4, 2013 09:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Pretty sure she said “Chicago, Illinois” in the most horrible pronunciation imaginable.

      Comment by Hayes – December 4, 2013 09:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I agree with the “Chicago, Illinois” interpretation. “Illinois” is what ended up sounding like “oily nose.” Also, mm, I’m pretty sure Michael didn’t actually believe she said “oily nose.”

        Comment by LB – December 4, 2013 10:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • She clearly said Chicago, Illinois at one point. Is that what people got the “‘oily nose’” thing from or was that from something else?

        Comment by HTGR – December 4, 2013 10:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • As soon as she said “Illinois” in a convoluted manner, Simon started asking her why she said Carlito had an oily nose. I can definitely hear why he may have thought she said that.

          Comment by LB – December 4, 2013 10:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I’m certain she said South, California…lol :))

        Comment by Too Sexy – December 5, 2013 08:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think the point he was making, is sometimes you don’t know what the heck she is saying. I find her amusing, actually she reminds me of Paula.

      Comment by Mary – December 5, 2013 05:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ellona’s rendition of Applause was better than Gaga’s and I found it blasphemous that you rated it lower than Carlito’s performance! Carlito should have been home 3 weeks ago.

    Comment by Jillian – December 4, 2013 09:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Carlito should of been gone. Ellona is the full deal. She’s AMAZING! A&S ‘Say Something’ # 6 on iTunes…. AMAZING! Rion and Carlito or RR needs to go.

      Comment by Mr&MrsWonderful – December 4, 2013 10:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I wish and wish that finally Restless Road goes home tomorrow but I sadly doubt it.
    It´s probably between Rion, Carlito and Ellona.

    Enough of Restless Road already! I am so pissed they got this far!

    Comment by Titina – December 4, 2013 10:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • A&S charting great on iTunes:
    ————————-
    #5. Say Something (The X Factor USA Performance) – Alex & Sierra
    #36. Say My Name (The X Factor USA Performance) – Alex & Sierra

    Comment by Mr&MrsWonderful – December 4, 2013 10:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Do Alex + Sierra remind anyone else of Casey + Haley from American Idol? When I see them perform I keep thinking back to C+H’s “Moanin” performance! My favorites of the night were A&S and Jeff (I really loved his “Daniel” performance). I actually kind of like Ellona’s “Applause” performance to be honest. Rion was terrible as per her usual, RR and Carlito were both slightly better but not good enough. I’d like to see Rion and RR hit the road but I doubt Simon’s pet project is going anywhere other than the finals.

    Comment by Laurie – December 4, 2013 10:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • X Factor USA – don’t do theme nights if you can’t follow through with it. Jeff Gutt’s “Without You” is not really a diva song, despite Mariah Carey did a new version. It is sort of a rock ballad, and I am a bit irritated because James from the Voice just sang the same song two weeks ago. Caroline also sang “Wake me up” but at least it was nearly a month ago. I think there are many good songs out there and both the Voice and X Factor should not use the same song in the same season. However, I give Jeff’s credits, as he is pretty much one of the few contestants that does a unplugged song with just guitar and little background music. I don’t mind the unplugged part and maybe the Voice should do something about it too. It is too much with ten to twelve big songs in a row within two hours. However unplugged means less background vocal and minimal music, so I am not sure if Restless Road’s “Wake Me Up” is an unplugged song.

    This week I was watching X Factor USA waiting to listen to Alex & Sierra. They are just amazing and I love that version of “Say My Name.” It is just so original and I will buy their songs. “Say Something” worries me, as they are a bit too current and nothing much you can do with it. However they sang it so beautifully together and sort of accomplish that unplugged goal – nothing crazy and just vocal. I just bought these two songs in iTunes too.

    Ellona – I disagree with you Michael because she did well, compared to other contestants. That version of Applause is good and I don’t think she is worst than Lady Gaga especially she sang it live with all those choreographies. The second song started off a bit shaky, but she regained her ground on the last half. She reminds me of Jacqui Lee in the Voice, who also has this issue with controlling, especially transition between soft and strong and then back from strong to soft. That takes years of practice. I think the producers are pushing her to the end so she is given the good spot.

    Restless Road – not sure what is going on here! Both songs are bad, and where is the harmony? Colton was singing most of the times, and compared to Caroline in the Voice, this “Wake Me Up” version is just not good. (That’s why you don’t want to use the song that the Voice has just used a few weeks ago, as there will be the comparison.) Colton should be a solo artist and can be made into a country star. Too bad he is stuck with Andrew and Zach!

    But I did not notice they went down a notch this week with the staging! Thank you!

    Comment by Adrian – December 4, 2013 11:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m tired of Ellona, her style can’t stop me from thinking of Jessica Sanchez’s own (practically identical). Her voice sounds like a watered down, less impressive version of Jessica’s….
    Nothing stands out to me that’s beyond worthwhile.

    Comment by Lokie – December 4, 2013 11:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The only thing Ellona and Jessica have in common is that they’re both young, female and Filipina. Otherwise, they couldn’t be more different. Jessica has style, maturity and soul. Ellona is a little girl in a singing competition. How dare you.

      Comment by Trev – December 5, 2013 12:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Hence why I say she’s some lame version of her.
        Initially I had no inclination to compare the two. But her preferred genre and just her voice remind me of a crappy Jessica Sanchez

        Comment by Kaba – December 5, 2013 05:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Jessica Sanchez is a robotic wannabe who will never make it.

        Move on with your life.

        Comment by RS – December 5, 2013 10:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Sounds a lot like Ellona…only one of them has a formidable rising following and gained more attention from the public eye during their time on their respective singing competitions. C’est la vie.

          Comment by Lokie – December 6, 2013 06:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • They look alike, but their vocals sound nothing alike. Ellona is picking up a lot of Demi Lovato’s inflection…

      Comment by Daw Johnson – December 5, 2013 06:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • lokie, you are going loco. Ellona have far better talent than Jessica sanches. Jessica not only can’t dance and no stage presence. Ellona has the x factor better that alex and sierra. Put your senses together.

      Comment by jess – December 5, 2013 11:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Jessica sanchez has much better stage presence.
        How she was on idol is no reflection of her style.
        Look up her stuff. She’s even rapped a few times here or there.
        Sorry, Ellona is second-rate

        Comment by Lokie – December 5, 2013 01:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • -Restless Road did a lot better tongiht. The background of their first performance looked like Kanye West’s video with Kim (lol). They need to learn how to move and work the stage. They always stay in the same spot.
    -Why must they lie to Rion like that? You don’t have to be mean, but tell her something constructive because other people will and they won’t be nice about it.
    -Jeff-I’m not a fan. I found him boring tonight. Plus he used his kid and then his brother who is in the military. I can’t help but think he is trying to use anything to his advantage.
    -A&S- My mom hates them, but loved their songs this week.
    -Carlito- I actually like him. Him, A&S, and Ellona actually have energy when they perform. I like that Latin vibe which has been missing for awhile.
    -Ellona- I like her too. I do get Jessica Sanchez vibes, but I think she is a great entertainer.

    I rather listen to A&S, Carlito, and Ellona over the other three.

    Comment by Britt – December 5, 2013 12:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree with you Michael. They one with the deep voice in RR is hard to understand. And the one on the right is only ok.

      Also you promised us a song on Reality Check and you didn’t sing not a lick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Comment by Britt – December 5, 2013 12:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You must be very young or tone death.

      Comment by edmund1974 – December 5, 2013 12:37 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Says the guy referring to someone as “Tone Death.”

        Comment by Daw Johnson – December 5, 2013 06:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 1. Ellona – She had a great night. She made me like the song Applause even if she messed up that last run. And it’s good to hear her stripped down with the second song.

    2. Alex & Sierra – For the first song, I didn’t like it. I felt Alex was struggling and was disconnected while Sierra was killing it. Love her. The second one was perfection. They really need to sing Falling Slowly from Once in the semis or in the finals.

    3. Jeff – He killed the first song even if that song was already overperformed in these shows. The second was good. If he makes it, I hope he can sing Hallelujah. His version was one of the best I’ve heard.

    4. Restless Road – They did a good job although I’m disappointed there’s STILL a backing track/backup singers on the Avicii song. Colton is just a star and sometimes I really feel bad for him for being weighed down by the other two amateurs.

    5. Carlito – Even though the first song was a disaster right from the second he missed his cue, I liked his second song. I’m just a bit distracted by the shifting languages. He should either stick with one or sing one whole verse in one then shift.

    6. Rion – I think she had reached her limit. She can only do so much. Both songs were good though.

    Prediction:
    Eliminated first – Rion
    Showdown – Ellona vs Carlito (Carlito going home)

    Comment by spongebob – December 5, 2013 12:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Jeff was absolutely great. Come on guys.. I think he’s the one that can sell albums.. Ellona..Really??

    Comment by edmund1974 – December 5, 2013 12:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think the opposite I think there are better rock stars out there, he does not stand out.

      Comment by Mary – December 5, 2013 05:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Alex and Sierra have hsd me play best song ever constantly for 2 weeks straight. Theyre my new obsession. Sorry but Restlless Road sound and look amazing, loved wstching and hearing other 2 guys sing more and their harmonies are gorgeous when done right, I think Simon is spot on with his praises. Demi, Paulina then Kelly, in that order are clueless almost all the time, dumb chicks. Feel sorry for Simon. Rion shoulda been eliminated 3 weeks ago, Carlito too. Jeff did best this week. Elona, im filipino too but damn she bores me, and off key alot, ugh, whst was simon hearing?. Sad contestants on finals. UK xfactor has better talent by far, besides a&s and rr.:-)

    Comment by Danilo – December 5, 2013 01:43 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Still waiting for Restless Road to perform shirtless….they continue to disappoint.

    Comment by darcy the slutty twin – December 5, 2013 01:44 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • It might make their performances more memorable because darn they are not good.

      Comment by Mary – December 5, 2013 06:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • That’s probably the understatement of the year!!

        Comment by Mr. Sunshine – December 5, 2013 06:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Michael Slezak, you are the one I am waiting for each week, more than the performances, you are what makes this talent show interesting for me. Your reviews are the top of the notch, funny, smart, on the point, never missing a thing. I love, love your wit and the truth that comes with every single word you write. I always agree with you. Just hope for the sake of it, that Jeff Gutt will still be here next week, we need a rocker after all, just to make it a bit more exciting. But definetly if there is any relevance to the X factor, Alex and Sierra should be the winner of this competition !!!!

    Comment by Linda Lhrar – December 5, 2013 04:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Nitpicky, but the song Daniel is about an Vietnam vet who is blinded and wants to escape everyone he knows, so hopefully that isn’t prophetic. Also, love love love Alex and Sierra but I finally realized last night that he reminds me of a 70′s porn star.

    Comment by Maria – December 5, 2013 04:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • He looks like an unathletic Mark Sanchez. Far more so than Adrian Grenier, Sanchez’s more famous doppelganger.

      Comment by Daw Johnson – December 5, 2013 06:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes! The orange skin, the mustache! Alex is totally a ’70′s porn star and I love it! I feel him beckoning me every time he sings.

      Comment by darcy the slutty twin – December 5, 2013 11:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • If A & S doesn’t win, then they better pull the plug on this show. Michael it wasn’t perfect but I actually liked applause and to be honest I do not like the originial. I think Elona is the only one left with a chance at the pop market. I think she does have the whole package and given the right promo she might make it. The rest to be honest I really can’t remember what they sang. Simon should of voted Rion out last week, she just does not have the voice. I think she will be the first one to go tonight, at least I hope for her sake. It is admirable that she did this, but she is no where ready for this. I think her and Carlito or maybe Jeff will go tonight. I would perfer Restless Road with her but it is not happening. God if they end up winning that will be the final nail in this show.

    Comment by Mary – December 5, 2013 05:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Slezak way off on Restless Road.

    Every time the guy with the deep voice sings, the crowd goes wild. He’s not a technically proficient singer, but you can’t ignore that audiences love him. And isn’t that what The X Factor is all about?

    Comment by Daw Johnson – December 5, 2013 06:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I take the audience clapping with a grain of salt. They are probably cued when to clap. If people listen with their eyes close they will see they are not very good. The second song was better than the first, but If Simon ever hopes to have a successful winner, he be better off with A&S or Elona. I would bet my last dollar RR will not make it in country.

      Comment by Mary – December 5, 2013 01:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Alex and Sierra’s performance of “Say Something” was better than the original I thought. They are the only act that is keeping this show on the air. How are Carlitio and Rion still left in this competiition? I remember watching Carlito’s audition thinking this kid wouldn’t make it past the blind auditions in The Voice or even American Idol for that matter. The fact he is still left just boggles me. His “Let’s get loud” performance was so terrible that I literallly had to change the channel because my ears started to hurt. And Rion, not be mean, is just not ready for this compettion at all. Granted, she is a great inspiration to many people, but the fact of the matter is, her voice is just not fully developed yet. Give her a few years and maybe she’ll get there, but she just doesn’t have it all yet. Also, Restless Road just appeals to the teeange girl market, so that’s the only reason they are still left. Their vocals are atrocious.

    Comment by Justin P – December 5, 2013 06:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Seemed more like a near perfect copy of the original. Which they didn’t surpass by any means.

      Comment by Kaba – December 5, 2013 07:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I love Alex and Sierra’s ‘Say Something’ vs the Original. Hey it’s #2 on iTunes surpassing the original which sits at #3. Rion and Carlito should not have made it this far… I think they could be gone tonight.

      Comment by Too Sexy – December 5, 2013 07:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How the F did Paulina Rubio pass screen tests? I know they were trying to recreate the magic that was Shakira on The Voice, but Rubio doesn’t have any of it. No charm. Nothing to say. Not good-looking (anymore at least).

    And, seriously, mispronouncing a contestant’s name (Reee–On)?

    Comment by Daw Johnson – December 5, 2013 06:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Puklina is a hot mess. She’s become a comedy act. She mispronounced her own contestants names. Tim Olstad as Tim Olsen, Josh Levi as Josh Levee, and the wrong person should be introducing Josh Levi, but she intro instead as Carlito Olivero. Even states. South Carolina as South, California. She brings absolutely nothing.

      Comment by Too Sexy – December 5, 2013 07:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Like I said before, Rion needs to go home–she is not vocally strong enough to compete with A&S and Jeff Gutt. At 13, she needs to develop socially and work with a vocal coach a few years and try out for another reality singing show at 17–she just may have a chance then. Charisma = A+, Vocals = D.

    Comment by waterbug – December 5, 2013 06:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Rion’s dad…hubba hubba! Come to mama!

    Comment by darcy the slutty twin – December 5, 2013 06:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How come it’s never been mentioned that Carlito was on the MTV (2007) singing competition “Making Menudo” and that he subsequently sang with Menudo for several years?
    .
    That Carlito also acted on several major network series (Rizzoli and Isles, for one) and several commercials including for Starbucks?
    .
    Look up Carlos Emmanuel Olivero. Seems that Lily wasn’t the only person who’s had a previous musical career.
    .
    I think what’s ticking me off is that bloggers and the press (present company excluded) harped on Lily’s previous career, but fail to note that of Carlito’s.

    Comment by Grumpy Ol' Lady – December 5, 2013 07:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • They want to make the Rico Sauve and the lover, Carlito as a fresh face act working hard at trying to make it…. this guy needs to go. Not sure why he auditioned on X-factor USA, he could of had more success on The Voice Mexico.. oh wait, he had his chances.

      Comment by Too Sexy – December 5, 2013 07:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • thanks for the info!

      Comment by waterbug – December 5, 2013 08:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Paulina is sooo entertaining…she cracks me up…it seemed as if they gave her a few cocktails before they sat her at the table too! haha

    Comment by waterbug – December 5, 2013 08:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Paulina acts like a friend of mine after 3 chocolate cosmos.

    Comment by waterbug – December 5, 2013 08:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love Alex & Sierra. But, I wish they would stop bringing up Sonny & Cher. I don’t think the music industry is looking for the next Sonny & Cher or Captain & Tennille. Can’t Alex & Sierra just be who they are, because they are really good.

    Comment by connerc – December 5, 2013 09:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I wish Alex and Sierra were on The Voice. Then I would only have to watch one show.

    Comment by Tim – December 5, 2013 09:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • omg! me too.

      Comment by waterbug – December 5, 2013 10:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Alex and Sierra did awesome, and they are starting to lead the pack. But cmon, to say that Sierra’s piano playing was so outstanding is bull. She was nervous, barely played, lacked flow with her hands, it was clear as day to anyone who plays the piano. Ok maybe it was nerves and she can actually play. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here and praise someone for just sitting behind the keys. They are still favourites though. I’m just disappointed with the “judging”

    Comment by Flicker – December 5, 2013 09:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Alex & Sierra are #1 on iTunes.

    Comment by S7 Fan – December 5, 2013 09:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I guess someone is watching XF after all then. Interesting. Even AI and TV haven’t had a lot of #1 most recently.

      Comment by HTGR – December 5, 2013 01:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Hallelujah?
        I can guarantee their performance won’t float around like Matt Schuler’s is.

        Comment by Lokie – December 5, 2013 01:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Yeah but that is just one. Did The Voice this season have any others hit #1 and did AI have any this past season? (maybe they did, I wasn’t tracking it particularly, last season I think TV had a number of #1s on itunes, certainly a lot of top 10s; I think AI used to have more too).

          Comment by HTGR – December 5, 2013 04:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Idol does not allow the tracking of their contestants. It does not show up on the charts. They may change that this year, you never know.

            Comment by MAB – December 5, 2013 04:51 PM PDT  

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