Cheerio, X Factor fans. The Top 10 are set to perform, and it’s British Invasion week, meaning everyone will be singing songs by British artists. So let’s pretend we like soccer and the metric system and channel our inner Anglophiles.
Last week the mentors were up-in-arms about Khaya Cohen and Rachel Potter being in the bottom, so maybe this week they’ll stop blindly praising everyone and give some honest and constructive criticism. Except Paulina Rubio. I’m sure she’ll continue to say things like “America is loving your voice and you did best out of all the times I seen you do your singing.”
Mario Lopez let’s us know it’s another double elimination after the over-the-top intro that is way too much compared to the ratings and talent of the Top 10.
Kelly Rowland has chosen “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, because she’s a terrible mentor. As he starts to sing, Jeff is sitting in the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones. That earns him so bonus points from me, and his rock star stage presence and growl are solid, but this is such a bad song for him. He doesn’t have the range or falsetto of Freddie Mercury.
Paulina commends him for “crumbling,” proving that English isn’t even her second language, though she’s right about his off transitions. Demi Lovato and Simon Cowell think it’s his best performance yet (which, as far as I’m concerned, isn’t even close to true) and then, somehow, it devolves into the two sniping at each other.
To prove that he has a personality, he’s going to play the piano and sing Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.” In a weird way, it actually works since Tim is playing the role of an underdog who nobody likes (which he is). It’s better than anything he’s ever done, but his voice is still so adult contemporary and doesn’t appeal to me at all. They all call him sexy and Demi compares him to Robin Thicke, suggesting that smooth R&B is the right lane for him. Simon calls Tim “Hammy the Hamster” and thinks cabaret/Broadway is what he should do. I have no idea why the female judges are trying to make Tim a sex symbol, but it’s not going to work.
The girl who almost went home last week is focused on being more likeable. She’s singing “Let It Be,” which is one of those songs designed to score votes. I love it and this is really the perfect vehicle to let her show off every single trick in her bag, from the Amy Winehouse rasp to a surprisingly beautiful falsetto. It’s outstanding, though at first I was distracted by the audience’s pathetic attempt to clap along even though they couldn’t find the beat. The judges point out a few issues at the start, but they love her potential. Simon urges her to bring puppies on stage to make viewers like her.
Paulina finally pronounces his last name correctly. During rehearsals Paulina made him come up with a joke to distract him from the pressure. He sings “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This_” by the Eurythmics. It’s this weird slow jam version that turns into a techno dance remix with a bunch of popping and locking bobbies. His voice just doesn’t work with this arrangement at all and I find it unbearable. The sweet, goofy kid we see backstage doesn’t mesh with the attempt to make him a bad-ass with tons of swagger. Demi compares his voice to a young Chris Brown, but Josh doesn’t seem to be at all like Chris Brown, so it seems inauthentic to me. Simon thought the set-up was “bonkers.” He’s right and Paulina is a joke. Every time she opens her mouth and talks, The X Factor loses a little bit more credibility.
Alex and Sierra
The cutest couple ever is doing One Direction’s “Best Song Ever.” Oh Simon, you cheeky monkey. Simon literally phoned in his mentoring this week. I love these two and I actually think the sweet, romantic cover of 1D’s pop song is cool, but this is rough. To my ears, the vocals are all over the place. Their pronunciations are weird and I don’t think their voices gel as well as they usually do. I must be going deaf, because the judges lavish praise on them and Demi calls it their best performance ever. I need to listen to this a few more times to try and figure out what the judges heard.
Now we get our second Elton John song of the night, “Your Song.” She’s dedicating it to her little brother. This is certainly my favorite performance of the night. Her face is so expressive and the emotions are so intense. I also love that she doesn’t oversing it. In fact, she under-sings it, being vulnerable and not doing a lot of big runs. She’s quiet, which lets the sweet country tone come out. For once tonight, the judges and I are on the same page. Or Paige, as it were.
The guy who Simon thought should’ve gone home last week is doing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. His vocals are actually a lot better, but all the dancing Carlitos on the TV screens are distracting. He tries to sex it up, but it feels lackluster and dull. I was quite bored. Demi points out everything wrong with the set-up, thinking that there need to be girl dancers to pump up his sex appeal.
Also, hiss story rubs me the wrong way because the video talks about how he moved to L.A. to be a star and it didn’t work out, forcing him to live in his car. Maybe that was true for a while, but he was on MTV’s Making Menudo and he made it into Menudo. It’s sooooo disingenuous to act like he was always a struggling performer until The X Factor came along.
She sings Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” and Simon is right that this is a bad song choice. It sound incredibly nasal to me and it’s very unpleasant. She also focuses too much on hitting the notes and doing her runs, so I miss out on the connection to the lyrics. The judges, of course, think it was absolutely brilliant. I find it impossible to take them seriously since they’re saying every single act is amazing.
She’s taking Simon’s advice to focus on singing with Ellie Goulding’s “Burn.” Sje struggled with the high notes during rehearsals, and I don’t think she totally figured it out. I think this song pushed the boundaries of her range. It’s not as good as her “Titanium.” I’m also distracted by the shirtless dudes painted gold standing in picture frames. Simon calls her a puppet and he doesn’t know who she is, so he suggests she choose the song next week instead of Demi.
It’s becoming quite clear Simon is trying to make these guys win. Not only did the Groups perform last during the Four-Chair Challenge and the Top 16 (when these guys performed last), but now his Groups have performed last for the past two weeks. To build up Zach’s confidence, the other boys took him out and made him pick up chicks. They sing Coldplay’s “Fix You,” which is the most emotionally manipulative song ever (and used in one of my favorite TV scenes ever). I think their vocals are getting better and they’re starting to find a sweet spot, though it wasn’t perfect. But it’s kind of dull and these guys aren’t the best performers. Simon, as always, says they were one of the best acts of the night.
At the start of this recap I theorized that the judges would be more critical to avoid strong singers being in the bottom. That obviously didn’t happen because the judges basically said everyone was great and everyone did their best. Simon predicts that Tim, Carlito, Lillie and Ellona should be worried. We’ll find out if he’s right, or if his words prompt people to vote for those four, when two more acts go home tomorrow. And more importantly, One Direction will perform.
(Image courtesy of FOX)