By Jessica Galang
This is it: The last show of the season and the last chance for finalists Fifth Harmony, Carly Rose Sonenclar and Tate Stevens to impress America and the judges. Each of the contestants had a chance to perform alone with their “song of the season”, a song that each artist felt was their best of the whole show, and perform a duet with a celebrity. Fifth Harmony was paired with Demi Lovato, Tate Stevens was paired with Little Big Town, and Carly Rose Sonenclar was paired with LeAnn Rimes. Their final song towards the end of the show was supposed to be “worth $5 million.”
In a special performance dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings, all of the former contestants came together at the beginning of the show and sang “You are Not Alone,” while the names of all the victims appeared on the screen. It’s touching when a huge production like X-Factor gives back.
All of my favourites happen to be from each contestant’s last performance of the night. Perhaps because all of the contestants realized “Holy crap, this is my last song.” They all really belted it out for this performance.
Here are my three picks:
Fifth Harmony — “Let it Be” by The Beatles ($5 million song)
While I enjoyed their “Anything Could Happen” performance, they’ve performed that song so many times that I’m just done with it (okay, I know, it was only twice). I felt like this song showed their individual vocal talents, while at the same time allowing them to sing together in classic Fifth Harmony fashion. I have to agree with the judges that Fifth Harmony have come really far in the competition and aren’t as boring as I originally thought. “You guys really did this song a lot of justice.” LA said. Simon Cowell, the girls’ mentor, said he’s beyond proud and that they deserve to win the competition.
Tate Stevens – “Tomorrow” by Chris Young ($5 million song)
Although his performance with Little Big Town was fun and energetic, it looked like an awkward high school talent show. I thought his song of the season, “Anything Goes,” was really well done and I was originally going to pick that for my favourite, but this one just overshadowed it. You can always see in his face and his strong stage presence how badly he wants to win. “I genuinely believe that in a year’s time we’ll be hearing about your record sales. You’ve had a really good night.” Simon said. Twitter user @CrystalCama12 tweeted: His final performance and he still never fails to give me goosebumps. Simply amazing! @tatestevensctry #TateNation.”
Carly Rose Sonenclar – “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen ($5 million song) Read more…
By Jessica Galang
Emblem 3, Fifth Harmony, Tate Stevens and Carly Rose Sonenclar are the final four left standing in the competition, and it’s getting super intense. You can tell all the musicians have their game face on and are bringing it with everything they have. Like last week, the acts will sing two songs: One chosen by the singers themselves, and one chosen by their mentor. Every performance is getting better and showing the true potential of the artists, which is why it’s getting hard to pick just three favourites.
Emblem 3 – “Baby I Love Your Way” (Picked by Emblem 3)
Emblem 3 picked this song because they said it’s their mother and father’s favourite song (Aww!). I’m a sucker for oldies, and I felt like their cover was really modern and creative; I wasn’t a big fan of the rapping part, but I still liked that they put their own personal spin on a classic. Like LA said, they’re super charismatic and they’re good at getting the audience into every performance. Demi said it was the first time she felt they actually lived up to what she expected of them. Twitter user @sassquatchet tweeted “I actually really think Emblem 3 deserves to be in the finals — they have such a unique, raw sound that’s so different than everything today”
Tate Stevens – “Fall” by Clay Walker (Picked by LA)
LA picked an emotional song for Tate, and he performed it so well I felt like he was singing on his wedding day. I don’t even know what to say about Tate anymore – I think everyone understands that his voice is impeccable and unwavering in every performance, and even if he doesn’t win first place, this show won’t be the last we’ll see of him. Demi said: “Your wife must feel like the luckiest girl in the world, spending your fifteenth anniversary singing your heart out to her.” Simon said he was happy that Tate decided to enter the competition.
Carly Rose Sonenclar – “Imagine” by John Lennon (Picked by Britney) Read more…
By Jessica Galang
Tonight’s show was unique as the contestants had to perform two songs each. One of those songs was chosen by the very people that keep the show going: the fans. The Pepsi Challenge assigned three songs to each contestant and the songs that got the most votes was performed on last night’s show. The contestants even tweeted what they were wearing; CeCe Frey tweeted a photo of her shorts and asked “denim or no denim?” The other song wasn’t revealed until they actually performed it — it was called the ‘unplugged’ song.
For tonight, here are my top three favourites:
Emblem 3 – “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart (From the Pepsi Challenge)
Emblem 3 is so adorable; they remind me of a boy band from the 90s. I felt it was really appropriate that they sang ‘Forever Young’, since they really embody youth and that boyish charm that makes preteen girls go nuts. I felt they did a really good rendition and they all sang the song on point. While not all their performances are amazing, they really know how to keep in harmony together and make it work. Demi had the biggest smile on her face and told they judges they all know she’s a fan, but she wants to see them command the stage more. However, @SimonCowell tweeted “I have no idea what Demi is talking about @emblemthree were amazing.”
Carly Rose Sonenclar – “If I Were A Boy” (From the Pepsi Challenge)
This performance can literally be summed up by one line she sings towards the end: “But you’re just a boy, no you don’t understand.” As soon as I hard her vocalize that line, I pretty much just accepted that the competition is probably over because Carly is phenomenal. Though this is an overplayed song, she performed it just as well as Beyonce herself, and it looks like she’s getting more confident every week. “As a fan I get very excited because you never let me down, you are so talented,” LA says. Demi said her vocals are amazing, but she wants to see her sing more up-tempo because it is predictable – Simon quickly interrupted and told Carly not to listen to anything Demi has to say. I must agree with Demi; it would be nice to see Carly go beyond the slow tempo and do something different rather than pick the same kind of song every week. Still, it was a flawless performance.
Tate Stevens – “If Tomorrow Never Comes” Read more…
With only eight contenders left in the competition, it is only appropriate that this week’s theme is “songs that hit number one on the music charts.” The X-Factor also gave audiences a special treat by premiering the new music video for Will.I.Am and Britney Spears’ new song “Scream and Shout,” which had Britney Spears speaking in a British accent for some reason. Everyone stepped it up this week, even CeCe Frey (above) with her version of “Lady Marmalade.”
Here are the top three performances you definitely need to see:
Carly Rose Sonenclar – “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele
How adorable was her oversized fedora? I felt the hat really matched the old-school, bluesy sound of her unique version. Fashion aside, Carly Rose champed the tempo of this usually fast-paced and melodic song and slowed it down for us in the beginning. While I don’t think she sang the song as powerfully as she has been singing in recent weeks, she still kept her fierce stage persona and made the song her own. LA agreed with me: “I didn’t think it was your very best,” he said. “But even your second best is better than everyone’s first best.” Simon joked and said while she can definitely sell records, she’s not human and may have to be disqualified because aliens are not allowed to enter the competition.
Paige Thomas – “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley
As the weeks have gone by, her mediocre performances made me give up on Paige, and I felt her passing every week was a fluke. But this performance showed that she really has potential. While most people think “Rick Rolled!” when they hear “Never Gonna Give You Up,” I don’t think that thought stuck in anyone’s mind as she turned the song into a haunting and slow rendition that was so melodic I could totally see it on someone’s heartbreak playlist. She also seemed a lot more confident and sexy this week as she swayed her hips and moved across the stage (Love it!). Even LA Reid, who has been harsh on her the past few weeks, tweeted: “Finally, @PaigeAva just turned a page in this competition”
Tate Stevens – “Somebody to Love” by Keith Urban Read more…
By Jessica Galang
Everyone knows intense emotion and reality TV go together, which is why this week’s X-Factor will be perfect for the reality junkie. Last night, the top 10 sang songs dedicated to people they’re thankful for. The Thanksgiving-friendly theme was perfect for falling-behind acts like Arin Ray and Paige to get a popularity boost, but unfortunately neither did as well as they could have. Still, I found myself fighting back tears because some of the stories were so emotional — particularly CeCe’s.
While it was difficult to choose the best (I had a lot of favourites tonight), here are my top three picks for this week:
Carly Rose Sonenclar – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland
Carly Rose might as well have her own reservation on my list every week. Her voice, which is so good I swear it should be illegal, was amazing as usual. I’m a big fan of this song already, but I think her version is better than the original. Her notes were spot on, vocalized flawlessly, and it never seemed like she was trying too hard. I also love how she always looks so confident and sure of herself in every performance, which is a rare quality for a 13-year-old. Demi made a bold statement by saying that Carly will be in the music industry for the rest of her life, and she got a standing ovation from judges.
Diamond White – “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion
Besides the fact that her hair was awesome (I love that she broke away from the teeny bopper pony tail),this performance was absolutely phenomenal. It was probably my favourite in the competition so far. She picked a perfect song to dedicate to her mother, who White said “gave her life for her.” It seemed like a genuine performance as White sang the song with her trademark powerhouse vocals and emotion. Despite being so young, she was able to pull off a mature song. After this performance I can’t believe she was kicked out in the first place. LA tweeted: “Shine bright like a diamond. @diamondkwhite.”
Tate Stevens – “I’m Already There” by Lonestar Read more…
By Jessica Galang
Last week for the first time in television history, singers were ranked based on their popularity, with Cece Frey coming in last and Tate Stevens at number one. With these rankings made public, the pressure was on for contestants like Arin Ray and Paige Thomas, who are falling behind.
This week was “Divas Week,” which will probably end up being one of the most favoured weeks of the season. Who can argue with a group of talented singers paying homage to some of the best songs of the twentieth century?
Here are my top three picks for this episode:
Fifth Harmony – “Hero” by Mariah Carey
With a name much better than 1432, Fifth Harmony rocked one of Carey’s best songs. Fifth Harmony doesn’t use dancers like the other contestants seemed to have done at least once. They play the “innocent girls just here to sing, not dance” persona really well. While LA thought they struggled a little at the beginning, they found their voice later on.
Carly Rose Sonenclar – “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion
[Insert obligatory Titanic joke here] Carly Rose, keeping with her popularity streak and love from judges since day one, carried this song with what seemed to be no effort. Her vintage gown was perfect for the haunting, ghostly feel of the melody. I forgot she’s 13-years-old because of the control she has over her audience. Her judge, Britney Spears, definitely has a competitive edge thanks to her. “I don’t believe you’re a human being. Because you can’t do that at 13,” Simon said in awe.
Vino Alan – “Let’s Stay Together” by Tina Turner Read more…
By Jessica Galang
I enjoyed the performances this week way more than last week. The singers are becoming more confident in their respectful elements — Beatrice Miller is doing great with her rocker persona and Arin Ray showed his upbeat hip-hop side with an awesome performance of “American Boy.” However, these three stood out the most.
Carly Rose Sonenclar: “It Will Rain,” by Bruno Mars
Britney Spears has a real advantage with Carly Rose on her team. I’ll just come right out and admit I absolutely HATE this song. But Carly Rose somehow made it bearable — perhaps, amazing? She dressed all in black and took on a dark, gothic persona, which really added to the emotional appeal of a song since it’s supposed to be about desperate love. I actually felt the emotion in the performance, which I think is what made it so powerful. “This is you in your element and I would watch this over and over,” Demi said. And Simon said “I’ve got a feeling with you Carly, we’re watching a star in the making.”
Emblem3: The Tempations/Katy Perry/One Direction mashup
I was already loving Emblem3‘s high-energy performance when I heard One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” beat. But the fact that they used it to cover The Temptations’ “My Girl” (One of my absolute faves!) and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” made this performance my favourite of the night. Personally, I think when you can flawlessly mashup a modern and classic song, that’s when you’ve got a solid performance. Even LA said “I don’t know what to say, I want to say something, but I don’t know.” This performance left me as speechless as he was.
Diamond White: “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston Read more…
When I was 13-years-old I’m pretty sure the highlight of my year was getting picked second last in gym class instead of last, as usual. For Carly Rose Sonenclar, I’m pretty sure the moment she’ll remember is getting a standing ovation from all four X-Factor judges during her audition.
They were initially wary of her older song selection, but Carly KILLED Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and sounded well beyond her years. Carly auditioned in Providence and even though she claimed she was nervous she looked completely at home on stage.
It’s not all that surprising though. Although they didn’t go into any details on the show, Carly has made the rounds in New York’s theatre and Broadway scene. She’s also sung the U.S. national anthem for a slew of games.
Watch her here: