So here we are again.
I mean, we knew we were going to be here again, but I was eagerly awaiting the season's early rankings and, mostly, a performance by Selena Gomez before a double elimination.
Instead, "X Factor" put the wrong numbers on the screen for the East Coast and all of the voting was discarded. Since the contestants were all ready with their "Save Me" songs, "X Factor" is making all 13 of them sing again. In one hour.
This could be nuts. Click through for another Top 13 recap, same as last night only FASTER.
8:00 p.m. ET. "Tonight, we were going to bring you the results, but we had a graphics problem," Mario Lopez explains. "The pressure has never been greater. The battle begins now."
Singer: JOSH LEVI
My Take: Oh. I guess we're not doing Motown again tonight. Instead, Josh is doing Rihanna and, again, reminding us that with slow songs he's totally acceptable. Last night, I was a bit surprised by how solid Josh was. I'm not surprised tonight. Actually, Josh is probably better tonight. There are some runs and a bit more range than he showed off last night. It's not lively or high in personality, but it works well enough.
The Judges Say: "That was more than a Survival Song, that was a winning performance," Simon says. "You nail it!" Paulina gushes. And that's all.
Singer: RACHEL POTTER
My Take:Ha. This is hilarious. "X Factor" flashes a Rion Paige picture before Rachel's performance. Because this is just madness. Rachel's going with a straight-forward Martina McBride cover tonight and it's a good change of pace from last night's up-tempo attempt to go Motown-by-way-of-Nashville. This is probably a better indication of who Rachel is and nobody's going to worry about frantic arrangements or any of things that might have detracted from Rachel's performance on Wednesday. She's going to benefit from this second chance, even if I might have found her more appealing last night.
The Judges Say: "Do you have a twin sister? You must have because the girl who sung yesterday was horrible and the girl who sang tonight was fantastic," Simon says. "Beautiful job. I'm so proud of you," Kelly says.
Singer: CARLOS GUEVARA
My Take: Mumbly Carlos is back! I have absolutely no idea what he's doing to the lyrics of this Damien Rice song. It's a much better match with Carlos' voice than last night's smile-through-the-pain Marvin Gaye cover. This is the twisty, raw, somewhat oversinging Carlos we saw earlier. If you like Carlos, you'll like this. If not, his intensity will probably scare you a bit.
The Judges Say: "I feel that this performance has been the most amazing performance I ever saw," Paulina says. Ever? In life? From Carlos? I'm so confused. And nobody else gets to talk.
Singer: RESTLESS ROAD
Song: "Don't You Wanna Stay"
My Take: The show is racing along, but no amount of confusing pacing will stop the girls from squealing at Restless Road. This is a more predictable song choice and it, again, takes away the surprise that we got last night from seeing these guys try to do Motown. It's fine and right down-the-middle. Deep-Voice has a few more moments to shine and Neck-Beard isn't as pitchy in this one. Smiling Jason Street doesn't have much to do again. Last night, the guys definitely seemed more confident. Tonight they, like everybody else, sound more than a little frenzied and rushed. It won't matter in their vote totals.
The Judges Say: Simon thought the guys looked nervous and that the first half was a bit rushed, but the second half was great.
8:17 p.m. This is just awful. I don't know why they didn't preempt "Glee." The ratings for "Glee" don't matter anymore. What's the harm in screwing with its airing schedule, as opposed to putting on a bad performance show.
8:20 p.m. So Cover Girl still gets their in-episode commercial, even if we're shoving contestants on and off stage like cattle. "Makeup definitely helps me feel empowered." I may throw up. "As you can see, their sass levels are off the charts." Yup. Barfing. Now.
Singer: ELLONA SANTIAGO
My Take: This is what Ellona needed. Last night's performance was generic karoke and the judges overpraised it. Tonight, she's reminding us how big and strong her voice is when she does a ballad that stretches her. She isn't dancing. She isn't distracted by anything in the background. She's just singing. Much better. Ellona was right on my cut-line after last night, but this brings her back into the upper tier of contenders. She seems more locked-in as well.
The Judges Say: "I couldn't be more proud of you than I am right now," Demi says. "That was your best performance you've ever done," Simon adds.
Singer: JEFF GUTT
Song: "In The Air"
My Take: This is Jeff Gutt in his '80s element. If America keeps him around, he should slay next week's theme. He adds a little attitude to this Phil Collins favorite, but honestly this isn't an especially good showcase for anybody other than Phil Collins. As a vocal, it's pretty monotonous until near the end when Jeff finally just makes it into a Winger song. Yawn. Jeff was better last night.
The Judges Say: "You've gotta sort your phrasing out," Simon says and Kelly protests that it's "styling." Demi agrees with Simon.
Singer: ALEX & SIERRA
Song: "Give Me Love"
My Take: What Alex & Sierra do is more difficult than what anybody else in the competition has to do. They have to rearrange songs and make them their own in a way nobody else is bothering with. So it isn't at all surprising that this is the least interesting and least successful performance they've given so far. The harmonies aren't nearly as tight and Alex is much more clearly carrying Sierra along. They get better as they go along, but this couldn't have been easy. There's a lot of emotion at the end, which helps sell what maybe the arrangement can't..
The Judges Say: "That was immaculate," Simon says, calling it "ragged and raw," making it clear that this was their song choice.
Singer: KHAYA COHEN
Song: "Distant Dreamer"
My Take: Khaya returns to the Duffy well with fewer affectations than in some of her other performances. This is just a little girl with a big voice belting, rather than a young girl trying to sound like a successful contemporary version of an old soul singer. What I'm saying is that this isn't an impression. It's just a song sung well. There's an unsteadiness in the beginning, but as the song builds, Khaya's voice builds with it. That was, at least so far, the most impressive of the evening's vocals. That was the case for Khaya last night as well.
The Judges Say: "You are a little Aretha," Demi says. It's not good, incidentally, that we're only getting "judging" from the mentors at this point. Yet another failing in this ill-conceived episode.
Singer: CARLITO OLIVERO
Song: "If You're Not The One"
My Take: Carlito wasn't very good last night and I still don't know if I buy him in ballad mode. His voice becomes somewhat nasally and bleat-y on high notes when he holds them for any length. And I don't think his falsetto is any good at all. In fact, the falsetto is a bit brutal. If America keeps Carlito around next week, it's going to be a major surprise. I should note that the girls in the crowd are squealing enthusiastically.
The Judges Say: "I know tonight is a challenge for you?" Paulina says. "Is he ill?" Simon asks. Paulina insists that Carlito nailed it. I disagree, but there's no question that Carlito looks like he could pass out at any second.
Singer: LILLIE MCCLOUD
Song: "Who Wants To Live Forever"
My Take: I love Lillie's voice, but her phrasing is really strange and unpleasant here. She's warping the words in weird and unpleasant ways, pushing seemingly random notes. As she hits the end, she finally gets to soar a little. Again, remembering how frantic these past 24 hours have been, I'll give Lillie a mulligan on the lyrical strangeness.
The Judges Say: "That's what you call a diva," Simon says.
Singer: SWEET SUSPENSE
Song: "That Should Be Me"
My Take: I take back what I said about Alex & Sierra. Sweet Suspense may have it even harder. They're teens. They're not used to being in a group. They weren't asked to dance or move for this performance that's probably a sweet mercy. All things considered, I think they're actually doing remarkably well. The harmonies are solid. The solos are good. I'd say this was the best of the Groups performances, grading on a curve.
The Judges Say: Simon says there was a lot of pressure on them and he wishes they weren't in this position. Ouch.
Singer: RION PAIGE
Song: "Born This Way"
My Take: Rion's got a slightly twangy arrangement of Lady Gaga. Was this arrangement on that country thing Gaga did? I have no idea? Leaving aside the intrusive backing vocal that mostly vanishes, Rion does the song well, even if she seems a bit confused when the backing vocals return towards the end. Everybody's just trying to get on and off the stage without doing any damage. And Rion did not. In fact, at the very end, she nails some huge notes and, best of all she closes with genuine swagger. Everybody else tonight has reached the end looking like they want to curl up in a corner and either sleep or cry, but Rion ends with a look that says, "Yup. That was what I wanted to do."
The Judges Say: The judges stand for Rion. "The only reason I sat back down was so I could tell you how incredible that was," Demi says.
Singer: TIM OLSTAD
Song: "I Believe I Can Fly"
My Take: This was a predictable song choice and the result is predictably boring and radio-friendly. At the end, Tim actually steps away from the microphone stand and does a little kick step. He does a few fist-pumps and beats his chest once or twice. This was easily the most energized he's ever been, for whatever that is worth.
The Judges Say: "Your voice continues to impress me," Paulina says.
9:00 p.m. "I've never had anything so quick in my life," Simon says. "That's not what she said!" America yells.
9:00 p.m. There were some decent performances mixed in amongst the chaos, but that was not a pleasant pace for an hour of TV. I think Rion, Khaya and Ellona were my favorites. Carlito was, by a somewhat wide margin, the night's worst for me and I'd expect that he'll be in trouble next week along with Carlos and Rachel.
What'd you think?
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