‘The X Factor’ USA review: Alex & Sierra, Jeff Gutt, Carlito Olivero make cases for finale

Alex & Sierra -Wednesday night brought us the “X Factor” USA semifinals, otherwise known as the reminder that we really only have to endure another week of this before hopefully Alex & Sierra are crowned the winner. There are really so many reasons to flame this season, whether you are talking about the judges, the voting, Mario Lopez, or the overall “this is the most important moment of your life” atmosphere that Simon Cowell drops on you like an anvil.

But, almost by sheer chance, there were still some good performances as the final four took the stage tonight. But, there were also a few duds in there.

Round One – America’s choices

4. Restless Road, “That’s My Kind of Night” – The great news for the guys? That this is an actual modern country song, and something that they should actually be performing. Now, let’s turn it over to the bad news for the guys: This still wasn’t great. When your best performances comes at the Four-Chair Challenge, you really have to be lucky that you’ve even made it this far.

3. Carlito Olivero, “Boyfriend” – Major cheese all over this one. We’re thinking somewhere along the lines of cheddar, mozzarella, some bleu cheese crumble, and then a pile of hot steaming nacho cheese all over it. The vocal was okay, but the whole singing to a girl in the audience? Perhaps trying a little too hard, no?

2. Alex and Sierra, “Little Talks” – Probably not the best way to follow up “Say Something.” This was the duo’s weakest performance in quite a long time on the show, highlighted mostly by a real lack of staging or innovation with the song. This first round wasn’t chosen for them, and it felt like they struggled with singing something that was automatically assumed to be perfect for them.

1. Jeff Gutt, “Hallelujah” – We’re giving round 1 to Jeff based mostly on him nailing the connection to the song, but this is also a song that he has already performed on this very show during his two-year journey. If he didn’t nail it, and if America didn’t love this song like they always do, we’d be a little worried.

The duets

2. Jeff Gutt / Restless Road, “Every Breath You Take” – There was no hope here for the country boys, singing a rock song with a guy who has probably sang this song for at least a good decade and a half. Jeff nailed this song, and at this point, we were starting to really feel like Jeff was having himself a rather good night.

1. Alex & Sierra / Carlito Olivero, “Falling Slowly” – While there was no real logic in making Carlito the awkward third wheel for a song that he really should’ve fallen through a trap door during so that the other two could finish it, everyone actually did pretty well with the at-times haunting show tune from “Once.” Still, Lee DeWyze and Cystal Bowersox probably have our best singing-show duet to this song.

Judges’ choices

4. Carlito Olivero, “I Need to Know” – Seemingly, a perfect song for Carlito. It’s a big Marc Anthony hit, he can do a little bit of Spanish, and he also can work the stage, but what’s with the convulsing dancers, and that terrible staging that made us think that Carlito was some sort of distraction from some sort of nifty magic trick?

3. Restless Road, “Wanted” – A little bit cheesy in its own right, but a much better performance for the the three than what we saw a little earlier in the show. One thing that we really did like was that there were a few good attempts at singing harmony in here … but did we notice the presence of the phantom background singers? It’s like Simon Cowell is ashamed of it, and so he sticks them in darkness and acts like they are not there.

2. Jeff Gutt, “Demons” – Not a bad night for Jeff by any means. There was a little shouting in here, but he did something relevant for a change! This at least showed to us that he may still have some sort of relevancy with the modern rock market, at least if he gets the right band around him.

1. Alex & Sierra, “Gravity” – This was almost “Say Something” 2.0. Soft, beautiful, and mesmerizing to watch. We worried about another ballad like this after the last one, but it got a good half of the crowd into a crying frenzy. Now, the problem for these two becomes trying to find a way to top this again. Episode grade: C.

Who was your favorite tonight among the top four, and do you think that any of these people are deserving of the million bucks at the end of this? Share some of your thoughts in the poll / comment box below! If you’re curious, click here to see where we ranked everyone going into this.

Photo: Fox



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