‘The X Factor’ USA review: Alex & Sierra are clear favorites over Carlito Olivero, Ryan Paige
The top 6 artists on “The X Factor” came out tonight and performed in two different themes: Diva songs, and also unplugged tracks that really put the focus on the vocal. Unfortunately, what the night really turned into for us was an opportunity to just call the season now, give the money to Alex & Sierra, and just go home. The only reason there will be any other outcome is if some of the female Restless Road fans out there go crazy and power-vote.
We’ve broken down the performances (and rankings) by rounds, so let’s not waste any more time before diving into the performances.
Round 1 – “Divas”
6. Ellona Santiago, “Applause” – Typically, we admire risk … but this was a disaster. The vocals were atrocious, the song choice bizarrely self-indulgent, and the costuming entirely questionably yet again. It feels almost like Ellona fancies herself a real-life version of some of the performances on “Glee,” but the difference between her and the “Glee” numbers is simply that they are not really singing while wearing those costumes and dancing.
5. Restless Road, “Red” – Hey look, it’s guys acting uncomfortable singing a female artist’s song! If you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go back and start caveman-grunting in our cave. Seriously? This is a country song that these three actually should have been comfortable with; it’s like one of their buddies told them that Taylor Swift was “uncool” and they spent this entire performance acting like they didn’t want to be there. Also, backup singers to make them sound good.
4. Carlito Olivero, “Let’s Get Loud” – This performance was about as loud as a cute kitten meowing and playing with a toy. There was no real passion or energy, and Carlito did the extremely off-putting thing afterwards and whined about how little time he had to learn the song. Dude, you’re getting to be on TV with a chance to win money. Learning a song in 24 hours is nothing.
3. Rion Paige, “See You Again” – Slightly better than Restless Road, but a reminder that Rion really is not ready for these sort of songs just yet, and has some issues with her voice that really need to be worked out here. For one, her pitch is a little bit all over the place, and she just doesn’t have those power notes yet to fall back on.
2. Jeff Gutt, “Without You” – Apparently, “diva week” is actually just doing a rock version of a song covered by a diva that is already out there. This was a very safe performance from Jeff, but in a round that featured trainwreck after trainwreck, safe may actually get him to the next round.
1. Alex and Sierra, “Say My Name” – It may not go down as the best performance in the history of “The X Factor” (there where little phrasing issues), but they did Destiny’s Child pretty proud here. Not only that, but they reminded us that they are really so far ahead of the rest of the competition right now that they could come out and fall asleep on stage and still get some votes.
Round two, unplugged
6. Jeff Gutt, “Danny” – This just happened to be yet another decent performance from Jeff Gutt. The problem with that is that the second round was actually significantly better than the first, and just giving another decent performance is only going to get him so far this season. Eventually, he could hit the end of the road because of it.
5. Restless Road, “Wake Me Up” – At this point, we almost hunt for background singers on the stage just to call Simon Cowell out on his you-know-what. But if they were there for this one, we didn’t see them. It’s not a country song, but there is enough of a county element in this Avicii track that this performance actually did work for the boys. Probably their best number in a while.
4. Carlito Olivero, “Stand By Me” – A sweet, consistent vocal, but we still argue that singing performances in two separate languages doesn’t always work. You have to really minimize when you are going to use this, and we would have actually enjoyed this performance more if all of it had been in Spanish.
3. Rion Paige, “Glass” – This was a smart choice for Rion. A Thompson Square hit that is very current, in her genre, and she can sing with a certain amount of sweetness. To be fair, she is not really old enough to relate to all of the lyrics of the song just yet, but she gave it a really nice try and this is one of our favorite performances from her.
2. Ellona Santiago, “If I Were a Boy” – See, Ellona? You have a ton of talent! We never doubt that the ability to deliver a great vocal is in there, but she focuses too much on being this super pop-star in her uptempo numbers that it doesn’t always work. Now that we’ve given the compliment, is there any way at all now that we can put a stop on future renditions of “If I Were a Boy”? To be frank, this song has been completely played out.
1. Alex & Sierra, “Say Something” – This is probably one of the top 3 performances of the season, and that’s saying something given that most of the top 3 performances are from these two already. They just simply nailed this both vocally and emotionally. There really is not anything here that we can even criticize at this point, since they check every box. Fantastic. Episode Grade: C.
Who did you like the most on “The X Factor” tonight? Share in the poll below, and click here to see where we ranked all of the contestants going into tonight’s show.