‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through The X Factor,
Paulina Rubio said something stupid, so Simon Cowell smacked her.
The Top 3 acts prepared and then started to wait
To see who would win, joining Melanie and Tate.
Can Carlito Olivero pull off a shocker?
Or will the win go to Jeff Gutt, the rocker?
Sadly for them, one thing stands in their way,
A duo whose success proves they have “Something” to “Say.”
I believe we are looking at the start of an era
With the greatness of my favorites, Alex and Sierra.
OK, enough rhymes, it’s time to watch the final three acts perform on The X Factor season 3 finale.
Each act will perform thrice: Their best song of the season, a celebrity duet and their winner’s song.
The overly dramatic intro features Alex and Sierra arriving via helicopter, Jeff Gutt riding a motorcycle and Carlito Olivero in a town car. Once they arrive, the Top 3 perform “We Will Rock You.” These three styles don’t mesh well, and Alex and Sierra look uncomfortable with this song.
The first round is their winning songs.
Paulina Rubio says he’s “doing it better than never,” whatever that means. His story is all about being the underdog, the fighter. It’s a touching story about doing it for your family, but it would mean more if he didn’t spend so much of the season being thoroughly mediocre. He sings Shontelle’s “Impossible” and does the whole thing where it’s half in Spanish and half in English. He’s good, and he’s certainly improved over time, but I still don’t find anything particularly compelling about him. Kelly Rowland really admires his heart, but doesn’t say anything about his actual performance. After the performance they go back to his hometown in Chicago and its a production disaster with bad sound and some random Pizza Guy.
Alex and Sierra
Their backstory is more about how sweet they are as a couple and how good they’ve been on the show, a stark contrast to how Carlito has been in the bottom twice. Their song is Ed Sheeran’s “Give Me Love” and it captures their whole love story. These two have really found their groove with these romantic, emotional performances in the past few weeks, and this is another one along the lines of “Say Something” and “Gravity.” Unlike with Carlito, Kelly goes on and on about their amazing vocal abilities and how she would sign them right now. Demi Lovato goes on about how she listens to their live recordings on her iPod. It’s clear that they are the most viable artists to actually have a career. People aren’t just fans of them, they’re fans of their music. Their hometown video has a bunch of Irish dancers performing in honor of Sierra.
His video is all about being a single dad and how he auditioned last year but didn’t make it past boot camp. There’s plenty of crying between Jeff and Kelly about how much they love each other. This is my problem with the finale. Carlito and Jeff are both making emotional appeals to viewers about how badly they need to win for the families. But with Alex and Sierra, it’s more about the music. He sings Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” It’s fine, and completely unoriginal, but it’s increasingly hard for me to see him as a current artist when 90 percent of his performances are songs from the ’80s and ’70s. He’ll be fine as the lead singer of a rock band. It seems there were technical problems and the judges couldn’t hear him, but they praise his performance anyway. Sure, because judging performances without listening to them makes total sense. In Detroit the party is hosted by a Red Wing, which I believe is some type of hockey team.
As if there isn’t already enough filler, Paulina performs. After hearing her talk all season, it’s impossible for me to take her seriously as a human being or a legitimate artist. She’s basically the modern-day Charo.
Next up are the “celebrity” duets. You’ll understand why I put that word in quotation marks in a second.
Carlito Olivero with Prince Royce
Who is Prince Royce? Well, he’s not Prince. He’s some young Latino singer who I’ve never heard of. They sing “Stand by Me,” which Carlito just did by himself two weeks ago. I’m sure this appeals to some people, but I feel like Carlito is increasingly being pushed into the Latino niche market. Since that’s not my cup of tea, I don’t really find anything interesting about this duet. It’s funny to hear Prince talking about how Carlito is an up-and-coming young artist when they’re actually the same age. Simon Cowell promises that Prince Royce is going to be a breakout star next year.
Alex and Sierra with Leona Lewis
Now this is a duet (or trio), singing with the X Factor U.K. winner on her own song, “Bleeding Love.” It’s fine, but I don’t really like duets involving three people and the format of these performances, starting with the celebrity, takes the focus away from the acts. Still, it’s cool to watch and they all look like they’re genuinely having a good time. Demi is the most objective one by saying it wasn’t their best and Leona stole the show. Yeah, these aren’t really duets, they’re showcases for the celebrities with the competing acts doing back-up.
Jeff Gutt with John Rzeznik
That’s right, he’s performing with the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls (and a judge on FOX’s disastrous The Next Great American Band). Kelly calls Rzeznik “one of the greatest musicians ever.” Really? They do “Iris,” and I suppose I have to be happy that Jeff is doing a song from the last 15 years. Maybe it’s just me, but their voices don’t mesh particularly well. They try to rock out, but this isn’t a hard rocking song. And they miss a few cues that make it really jarring and awkward. These duets were an awful idea. The judges rave about it for some unknown reason.
After two rounds, I don’t really see any winners. I haven’t been truly blown away by any of the performances. And now (after another Cover Girl product placement video) comes the final round, where they each perform their favorite song from the season.
Since he previously did “Stand by Me,” this is actually his second repeat performance of the night, and it’s “Maria Maria” by Santana from way back in the Top 16. It’s a big production, but his vocals sound like he’s out of gas and he’s extremely sweaty. Kelly calls it “really nice” and other judges all say they respect him.
Alex and Sierra
Their best song of the season is a no-brainer: “Say Something.” Tomorrow I’ll post my list of the best performances of the season, and let’s just say this is very high up. In fact, there’s a whole lot of Alex and Sierra on it. This song is every bit as powerful as when they first did it. Just…wow. Kelly says it’s even better than the first time. Simon gives his big speech about how they deserve to win and they’re current and amazing. In Daytona Beach, the mayor officially declares it “Alex and Sierra Week.” Awesome.
In a nice bit of symmetry, Jeff ends the season just how he began it, with his audition song, “Creep.” Of course I wouldn’t call this his best performance of the season, so redoing it is kind of questionable. It’s just not a very good song to highlight his singing. And the camera keeps cutting to his little son in the audience, and with all the fire, I’m left to assume this will give that kid nightmares tonight. Not to mention the trauma of hearing his father say, over and over again, “I’m a creep.” Demi tells America to vote for Jeff (after telling America to vote for Carlito and Alex and Sierra earlier). Kelly ends the night by saying we need to vote for him because it will help Jeff’s son, Talon. Seriously? She’s using the cute kid to score votes? And then Jeff cries. That’s precisely why I DON’T want him to win. It’s all about sympathy votes with him.
That does it for the performance finale. Now America votes and tomorrow, starting at 8pm, we’ll find out who wins. Also, it’s a big Christmas special with performances by Glee‘s Lea Michele, One Direction, Mary J. Blige, Pitbull, Ke$ha and Leona Lewis.
(Image courtesy of FOX)