It's the week of Thanksgiving, and I am giving thanks for the fact that there are only four weeks of The X Factor left and that American Idol is just seven weeks away.
The Top 8 acts, two from each category, will perform songs on Big Band night, another in a long series of incredibly dated themes that stand in stark contradiction to the show's alleged attempt to find a current artist. But since I'm sure FOX knows most people are traveling or otherwise not watching TV on the day before Thanksgiving, they probably didn't want to waste a good theme on this week.
They're performing with a live 25-piece band, and the show acts like this is the most difficult thing ever. And this means they won't actually be singing Big Band music, which is what the theme suggests, but they're just doing any songs they want with a live band. There's also a new Final Face-Off where all of the acts will go head-to-head. Mario Lopez tries to hype it up, promising that it could change everything, but he's not very convincing.
Michael Buble is here to open the show. He's good, but he's definitely NOT representative of what this show is trying to do. Anyone who sings this style (like Tim Olstad) gets ripped apart by Simon Cowell for not being current or marketable.
Mario Lopez lets us know that two more acts will go home tomorrow. See, every single week on this show is a double elimination, so why was he acting like it was sch a big deal last week?
She dedicates this song to her supportive mom. Demi Lovato adds some choreography, and it's nice to see her moving around the stage and delivering a real show. I like her voice (though it trails off a bit at the end), and the whole thing is just extremely fun. The judges love it and Simon calls her "as cute as a cupcake."
They dedicate this song to Andrew's uncle who taught him to play the guitar and who died in an air show accident. I've defended these boys long enough, but their voices just aren't cut out for this. Colton is a rather weak leading man and Zach just doesn't fit at all. His deep voice is a cool novelty, but he's so uncomfortable on stage. The judges are, inexplicably, nice.
He dedicates this song to his dad, who made a lot of sacrifices to let Jeff pursue his dream. His dad shows up while they talk on the phone and Jeff's "No way" is the least convincing acting ever. It's all very touching about fathers and sons. If he sang "Cats in the Cradle" right now he'd win the whole thing, but he goes for "Feeling Good" instead. He sounds amazing and kills it, but this is another terrible song choice. It's been covered to death and there's really nothing new he can add to it. I prefer innovation and performances that surprise me, and this didn't. It was great in the exact way I assumed it would be.
Paulina Rubio goes back to mispronouncing his last name. If they fired her now, in the middle of the season, we would all understand. He dedicates this song to his grandma, the rock of his family. I like Bruno Mars' "Treasure" for him. It's more fun and he has some insanely cool moves, walking around the stage like an old pro. This is the most charismatic he's ever been by a mile. It's not as swaggy as his other Usher-esque performances, which is great in my book. Simon tries to offer constructive criticism and Paulina attacks his microphone. I love Josh, but Paulina is the worst.
"My next act is the only one Carlito Olivero. Oh, Paulina, please stop talking. He dedicates this song to his parents. He does an English/Spanish mash-up of Ricky Martin's "The Cup of Life" and "Maria." The Spanish parts are great, the English parts are mediocre. His performance is pretty solid, though it feels to me like he's just doing a Ricky Martin impression with the devilish grin and pelvic thrusts. It hurts my soul when the other judges praise Paulina for doing a great job with her acts. It also hurts my soul when I see the product placement backstage videos.
Alex and Sierra
They dedicate this song to each other. SO. DAMN. CUTE. They totally transform Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" into a Big Band-style song. It's the kind of weird, unexpected, innovative thing I love more than anything. I can't even wrap my head around the creative genius of this, or Sierra's killer vocals. Demi admits that she hated the arrangement at first, but Alex and Sierra made her love it by the end.
She dedicates this song to her fiancee, who is much better than her exes who physically and emotionally abused her. She does "Summertime," which is another God-awful song choice from Kelly Rowland. After Fantasia Barrino, no one on a reality show should ever do it again. She over-pronounces certain words, which annoys me. It's not current, it's not innovative, it's just old-fashioned. Sure, she has an amazing voice, but you need more than that to win. The judges rave, except Simon who thought it was too contained and wished it was more raw. Basically, he wants Fantasia. Lillie speaks up and actually nails Simon because his advice is often contradictory.
She dedicates this song to her older sister, who is like her second mom, who was just diagnosed with cancer. She shows up during rehearsals and it's quite touching. This is my favorite Ellona, the one who takes control of the stage and attacks the vocals with the ferocity of a diva. It's an amazing performance. The judges say this was her best performance ever. They seem to say that every week about every singer, but they're quite right in this case. Simon even says Ellona now has a chance to win this whole thing.
This is going to be a tough week, because so many singers had their best performances ever. And two have to go home tomorrow? They'd better act like the president and pardon one of the turkeys, because finding two acts who deserve to go home this week is impossible.
The Final Face-Off
Because filling a two-hour show with eight singers is impossible, even with The X Factor's ability to add stuffing, there's a new competition called "the Final Face-Off." Michael Buble helps them rehearse and uses the term "beeyotch." Buble is that cool kind of dorky where he can get away with things like that.
It's actually just a group song where each act sings one or two lines. In no way, shape or form is this a competition of a Face-Off.
Kelly loved Ellona, Lillie and Alex and Sierra, but thought Restless Road struggled.
Demi loved Ellona, Josh and Carlito, but thinks Lillie didn't do enough.
Paulina loved Josh, Carlito and Ellona, but wanted more from Jeff.
Simon refuses to say who did badly because judging people on three lines is ridiculous. Yes, it is. However, he declares Ellona as the winner of the night.
Will Simon's decree mean Ellona is safe, or will she lose out on votes because people will assume she's safe? Will the fact that early frontrunners like Rion Paige and Restless Road blended into the crowd and performed early hurt them? This was probably the best week yet, with Josh, Alex and Sierra, Ellona and Carlito all delivering great performances, plus reliably solid vocals by Jeff and Lillie. We'll find out which two acts go home tomorrow, Thanksgiving night, at 8pm.
(Image courtesy of FOX)