‘The X Factor’ USA review: Alex & Sierra, Restless Road, Josh Levi try to save subpar show

Alex & Sierra -We’ve been very critical of “The X Factor” lately … and we’re about to get even more so with this British Invasion theme week. This is literally the same theme that was on the British version of the show this past wee, and there were a couple of songs in here that were also performed on that show. Also, Simon Cowell decided that a part of this needed to be a One Direction tribute concert. (Heck, the entire show felt like a lengthy ad for the boy band appearing tomorrow night.)

Just to make matters worse here, the singing (which is mostly what this show is about) was largely subpar. We had a few outright disasters tonight, and Mario Lopez continued to be a combination of creepy and boring as a host. There wasn’t a lot to like here, from the obvious producer-pumping of certain acts to the over-praising from the judges. At least we do have one act who we feel is something extremely special today.

Ranking the top 10 performances

10. Tim Olstad, “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” – Here is the trajectory for Tim this season: Perform every song that has been covered on every other singing competition, and then bore us by the end of it. Seriously. This was both cheesy and bad, based mostly on the fact that this is not a good song for this sort of show, and he has no clue how to perform on stage. He’s a nice enough guy, but he’s so old-fashioned that we’re pretty sure that Don Draper would have told him the same thing on “Mad Men.”

9. Ellona Santiago, “Burn” – Terrible performance of the song, and we say this as someone who likes what Ellona does on the show. Demi’s sad face near the end of this song really says it all; it’s almost like this was a joke that Ellona really thought was hilarious, and she wanted to tell it despite everyone waving their hands and telling her not to. So many bum notes in here, and the song just didn’t work.

8. Rion Paige, “Love Song” – Why is no one doing the Elton John version of this song anymore? It’s actually the more challenging one vocally than the Ellie Goulding rendition. We didn’t like the song for her, we didn’t get the emotional connection, and that little part near the end was just weird and out of place with the rest of it. Probably Rion’s worst performance of the competition.

7. Carlito Olivero, “Satisfaction” – We imagine that the Rolling Stones are not a cheap band to license, but with this song? It’s been a little overdone as of late, and Carlito really offered nothing new to it. The vocal was good, but the tempo was a little slow and we actually felt like this was a tad bit boring. Having himself be his own backup dancer on various screens? We’ll at least admit to this being pretty cool.

6. Jeff Gutt, “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Wait, is Jeff on the Iron Throne? DID HE MURDER KING JOFFREY? There are so many pressing “Game of Thrones” questions that we almost couldn’t focus on the performance … but with this being said, we feel like he did a pretty good job. Not a great song choice from Kelly Rowland, though; we really don’t think this Queen track should be shortened to satisfy a singing competition.

5. Lillie McCloud, “This Woman’s Work” – It’s not really that we felt like this performance from Lillie was necessarily out of this world, but there were so many other duds on the night from other performers. She sang it very well, but the first thing that we really wanted to do after this was go and listen to the version that Michael Lynche did back on “American Idol” season 9.

4. Khaya Cohen, “Let It Be” – Another great vocal from Khaya, but we have a little bit of a bee in our bonnet about the almost funeral pace that was given to this performance. Why does a slow song need to be even slower? The power in this song is that it doesn’t give you too long to linger on any single note or lyric. At least we felt like Khaya really was connected to what she was doing.

3. Josh Levi, “Sweet Dreams” – We want to say that this entire performance with the phone booth was really just a veiled tribute to the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who,” but Josh probably has no clue who “Doctor Who” even is. The kid is getting better with every week, and there’s no doubt that he could have a pop / R&B career moving forward. But the next Chris Brown? Let’s not curse the man with that sort of thing, Demi!

2. Restless Road, “Fix You” – Okay, so this surprised us. We were almost ready to write off the boys last week, and while we’re sure that country fans want them to actual do a country song. At least this Coldplay number was turned into something with a country feel to it, and the harmonies / vocals were most great. Their best in weeks.

1. Alex & Sierra, “Best Song Ever” – Yes, this was somewhat annoying that Simon Cowell wants to promote his One Direction songbook even more, but this was such a cool risk for the duo that mostly paid off. Major props for these two for avoiding the obvious karaoke angle, and actually coming out every week and do something different. After what we’ve seen so far, these two really should be the ones to win this competition. They understand themselves the best.

Unfortunately, three or four good performances can’t save the rest of the show at this point … especially when there are so many other things that should be going right but aren’t. Grade: D+.

Who was your favorite tonight, and do you feel like this episode was anything special? Share your thoughts in the poll below! Also, click here to see our full editorial on why Cowell’s vision is hurting singing shows right now.

Photo: Fox


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