X Factor Recap: No One Wants to Be De-Seated

The-X-Factor-Ellona-SantiagoYou could call Simon Cowell cruel for introducing the “Four-Chair Challenge” to Season 3 of The X Factor, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Like a cat who toys with semi-conscious chipmunks on his owner’s doorstep, the British crankypants spent an hour tonight slowly snuffing out the hopes and dreams of more than half of the 10 teenage girls left in the competition.

Then again, not all chipmunks are meant to sing — certainly not the one in a crayon-red wig whose screeching rendition of the disco classic “Blame It on the Boogie” made Kelly Rowland’s eyes pop comically — like Spongebob getting squeezed by The Hulk’s fist of rage.

For the uninitiated, the Four-Chair Challenge takes the 10 remaining contestants in each category, has them perform in front of a live audience — one at a time — then either get sent to a “chair of safety” or be eliminated on the spot. The twist? Even contestants who score chairs aren’t guaranteed a Live Round berth — not until the final act from his or her category has performed, and the mentor has made the final “either, or” call.

With that, let’s take a dive into how tonight’s hour played out:

ELIMINATED (in chronological order) (and please come back in the morning, since I’ll be adding full performance reviews for the evictees overnight)
Bree Randall, “Glad You Came” | Grade: D
Jamie Pineda, “Don’t Speak” | Grade: B+
Ashly Williams, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” | Grade: B
Simone Torres, “A Change Is Gonna Come” | Grade: C-
Rylie Brown, “Angels” | Grade: C-
Primrose Martin, “Blame It on the Boogie” | Grade: F

Khaya Cohen, “Locked Out of Heaven” | Grade: B Her slowed-down rendition of “Locked Out of Heaven” was a massive improvement on her dubious audition. Yet while the Winehouserie of her instrument is as obvious as Paulina’s inarticulacy, I’m still hearing too many instances where her nasal tone veers toward the unpleasant.

Rion Paige, “I Won’t Let Go” | Grade: A- Impossible! This adorable moppet in an orchid cupcake dress made me not hate a Rascal Flatts song! That little break in her voice is country radio-ready, and this performance was miles better than her so-so audition.

Danielle Geimer, “Georgia on My Mind” | Grade: B Probably the second-cleanest and second-prettiest vocal from the entire category, but there wasn’t a lot of creativity or risk-taking in the song choice or arrangement. (Yeah, that’s my long-winded way of saying Idol‘s Kendra Chantelle did it better.)

Ellona Santiago, “Clarity” | Grade: C  I honestly don’t know how Simon labeled her among the category’s best vocalists. To my ears, Ellona’s pitch was as dubious as a toddler trying to draw a perfect circle. And sorry, kiddo, but histrionics are no substitute for legit emotional connection. As I Tweeted during the show, “Clarity? Not when it came to the notes on this song!”

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of tonight’s X Factor? Who were your favorites? Did you disagree with any of the judges’ decisions? Sound off in the comments, then come back overnight after I update this post with more detailed contestant reviews!

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