Last night, I turned on a filler show and a singing competition broke out.
In Fox's desperate attempt to make 'The X Factor' worthy of a two-hour timeslot, the producers crammed in as much non-competition crap as they could to fill this puppy out. This included a performance by Paulina (eep!), visits to contestants hometown (watching the bouncer try to keep people out of the shot in Detroit was the show's highlight), and overstretched sob stories where we got to learn everything about every contestant all over again.
The showstopper (literally) though was bringing on celebrities to sing along with the contestants. In the form of Leona Lewis (Alex and Sierra), the guy from The Goo Goo Dolls (Jeff Gutt) and Prince's car or something (Carlito Olivero) these celebs made the contestants look like afterthoughts as they took a backseat to these supposed legends.
The judges evaluated the performances, but it's unclear why. These were finale fun performances, not competition performances - it was more about the guest than it was the contestant. It made no sense. Why not just have them sing thrice for real?
As it happened, each act sang twice. Here's a breakdown of the real performances:
Carlito Olivero Sang: "Impossible" by Shontelle
Kelly Said: I've always loved your heart.
Demi Said: I am blown away by that performance.
Simon Said: This is the kind of contestant I love working with. You're not the best singer, but you make up for it in that you take hold of any song you're given.
A pretty competent performance from Carlito here. His vocals are where they need to be. He seems like enough of a pro to not be out of place. However, there's something that's just so ordinary about it. Like a paint-by-numbers pop star book being filled in without any real creativity.
Carlito's got the charisma and his pipe, while not blow-away, are pretty solid, but there's not much beyond just doing what he should do.
Alex and Sierra Sang: "Give Me Love" by Ed Sheeran
Kelly Said: Any label would take y'all right now.
Paulina Said: As soon as you start singing, everybody is just impressed with your tone.
Demi Said: I listen to your live performances on my iPod.
Yikes. These kids came to play on finale night. This is a world class performance where even Alex seems like he could be a real star. Their harmonies are superb, they connect to the song expertly, there's just nothing wrong about this.
I'm the biggest Alex and Sierra hater on the planet, but on this performance they shed all their hipster annoyance and tapped into all the talent they seemed to be masking all season and just dug ferociously into this treacly song and turned it into something special.
Jeff Gutt Sang: "Dream On" by Aerosmith
Paulina Said: I really admire you after that performance.
Demi Said: I think you did a really fantastic job.
Simon Said: I believe you believe you can win this show.
Jeff saved a very smart song choice for last - this is the type of song that fits what he does perfectly: big rock anthem for his huge rock voice.
So why didn't this work? Why was it so dreary? Why was seeing Kelly semi-dance to it so awkward? It's a mystery to watch a perfect song choice fail, but here we are.
The arrangement didn't work, neither did his sleeveless look with the tattoos that seem a bit too young for him. The laser show. The lighting - all of it just made this feel dreary and his plodding vocal didn't do anything to overcome those hindrances. It just didn't work.
It's weird to see something that should have worked so easily crash down like this, but this definitely is left in smithereens.
Carlito Olivero Sang: "Maria, Maria" by Santana
Kelly Said: I thought it was a really nice performance.
Demi Said: You were kind of literally on fire.
Simon Said: You have earned my respect.
It's hard to figure out if this is a pure karaoke performance or more just a terrible song to sing at this stage that Carlito just had no chance to do anything with.
First of all, there appeared to be about four lyrics in his version of this song and Carlito's range seemed even more limited. This repetitive monotony just made the song annoying as he attempted to thread some sort of a melody into what was a truly boring arrangement.
His vocals were definitely substandard: total karaoke vocals from somebody who should be better at this point.
Carlito always seemed like a star, but on this performance he wasn't a very bright one.
Alex and Sierra Sang: "Say Something" by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera
Kelly Said: Congratulations on another great performance.
Paulina Said: You have passed every border. You guys are the perfect artist.
Demi Said: You always blow me away.
Looks like we have our winners. Alex and Sierra deliver another really top-of-the-line performance with a perfect pick from their 'X Factor' archives. They know how to put this song together and it's actually better this time than the first time they performed it.
Because I can't stand these hipster poseurs, all credit should really go to Simon Cowell for molding them into something that seems like a legitimate acoustic Carpenters for this generation. They've come from annoying buskers to looking like they could cut a record you'd really want to buy.
Or will at least be as good as The Captain and Tenille.
Jeff Gutt Sang: "Creep" by Radiohead
Paulina Said: I think there's nothing missing. You are the perfect artist.
Demi Said: It felt like a stadium performance.
Simon Said: You sang it brilliantly. You had a fantastic night.
Jeff gives one of those performance where you're waiting for the moment. He starts out okay, and you're just waiting for those big notes to come and him to really turn the performance into something interesting. Like a minute of filler to start and then an end of good stuff.
Except Jeff totally bobbles the good stuff. It's either uninteresting or just shrill. He botches the big notes and fails to make a moment really happen. It was wannabe rock star from somebody who seemed like a real rocker just a week ago.
Could be back to the tribute circuit for Mr. Gutt.
It's come to this: It's Alex and Sierra's competition and the rest are just living in it.
It's hard to think of their getting beat, but if anybody's going to do it, it will be Jeff.