Welcome to the live blog for The X Factor Top 3 Finale for December 19, 2012.
Tonight, the final three take the stage to duke it out for the X Factor season 3 crown!
Who will win it all? Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens, or Fifth Harmony? Sound off in the comments!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with a statement from Simon about the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. He lets the families know they’ll always be in our prayers, before throwing to their tribute: The Top 13 performing Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone.”
-A children’s choir joins the Top 13 during the performance as the names of the victims appear on the screen behind them. I will refrain from commenting on the performance itself, because you just don’t go around judging a thing like that, positively or negatively.
-And we have a video package in which each of the three finalists talk about how bad they want it, with Tate again implying that his failure here means he goes back to laying brick on Monday morning, as if anyone is supposed to believe he won’t get a recording contract no matter where he finishes.
-And here’s a marching band to pump up the crowd as the judges come out with their artists. I’ll say it: Demi looks amazing.
-Ugh, and now I have to say it: Khloe looks kind of fantastic too. I need to take a shower. I feel dirtier than I felt after watching “Closer” in theaters with my mother as part of Oscar season in 2004.
-Back from break, as Mario announces that there will be two numbers for each act for voting convenience, with Khloe adding that the finalists pulled numbers out of a hat to decide performance order. And on that note…
Carly Rose Sonenclar is up first!
-We get the video package of Carly’s life story, in addition to her story on The X Factor. Her parents detail her history with music, and how she’s been singing since she could talk.
-We see Britney sharing a heart-to-heart with Carly, telling her how proud she is, with Carly promising to make Britney proud.
-Carly is singing her audition song, “Feelin’ Good” by Nina Simone. As good as this is probably going to be, I still wish they didn’t repeat last year’s conceit of having the finalists redo their audition songs. It just feels like the producers are approaching this finale as if audiences have already made up their minds, thus assuming that it doesn’t matter what these contestants sing. And I’m not exactly certain that’s the case.
-Say what you will about Carly’s extensive theater background, but this performance is impressive by any objective standard.
-LA feels Carly has topped herself, while Demi thinks Carly is going to inspire a lot of young girls (with Carly adding that she hopes she will). Simon, meanwhile, believes that Carly performed the song even better than she did in her audition. Lastly, Britney declares “We’re gonna win this.”
-Carly watches a live feed from her hometown of West Chester, NY, where the mayor declares December 19 “Carly Rose Sonenclar Day.”
-Back from break with Mario and Khloe standing side-by-side, looking vaguely like brother and sister. Though one apparently got better genes than the other.
Tate Stevens is up next!
-The life story: Tate fell in love with music as a baby, yet he’s been working blue collar all his life. His X Factor journey: His family was responsible for talking him into doing The X Factor, as he was vehemently against the idea. But now he’s on top of the world, and wants to win the whole thing, even though, as LA says, “Most people don’t begin their music careers at 37.”
-Tate is singing “Anything Goes” by Randy Houser. Yeah, with this vocal, he’s really not going back to hauling ass for minimum wage after this, and his likability would be better served by not pretending that that’s remotely going to be the case for him, or for his family. This is pretty easily his best vocal of the entire season. He does a crazy run in the middle of the song that I didn’t even know he had in him. Bonus sentimentality: He fights back tears towards the end of the song.
-Britney tells Tate that when he does “right down the middle country”, he’s dead-on. Demi still loves him, and calls that performance “a stadium performance”, and believes that if he keeps singing like that, he will be performing in stadiums one day. Simon congratulates LA for his mentorship, and calls Tate an American original. LA calls Tate lovable, as if the audience needs to be told as much for any of them to vote for him.
-We see a video from Tate’s hometown in which his mayor (who looks strangely like the mayor of Carly’s hometown) reveals that the water tower in his town will proclaim “The Home of Tate Stevens” in big, red letters. Tate gets choked up, and I’m beginning to think he won’t actually let himself cry outright until he wins this thing.
-American Idol tease, with clips that do little in the way of concealing the contempt Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj clearly have for each other. It’s a beef so intense that a thousand cows died to make it.
Fifth Harmony is up next!
-The parents of each girl explain how their daughters wanted to be singers since they were babies (I’m sensing a pattern here), except for Dinah Jane, arguably the group’s best singer, who didn’t decide she wanted to sing until the ripe old age of eleven!
-Simon invites the girls to his house (which looks like a completely different house from his “judges’ home”, but then, it’s not like it’s exactly a secret that those houses are for show), and gives them a pep talk about how he believed they would work as a group, with Lauren talking about how she cried during their performance of “Impossible” at Judges’ House because she could feel it was meant to be.
-Fifth Harmony is singing “Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding, and it starts with a silly, faux-epic voiceover about how dreams can come true. The arrangement is different, to boot. Though the choreography and aesthetic are all the same.
-All that said, it’s a repeat of one of my favorite performances of the season. And they’re killing it here, to boot.
-LA proclaims that Fifth Harmony are no longer the underdogs. They’re the ones to beat. Britney says they’re magical. Demi proclaims that they really came together, and hopes that America pulls through and votes for them, with LA adding that he doesn’t believe the girls were put together at boot camp, since they feel like a group that’s been together for way longer. Simon talks about how proud he is of the girls, and states that maybe they’ll win, maybe they won’t, but he believes they have a future regardless.
-Ally cries to see a live feed from her hometown, and it’s really touching and endearing, in that way that only a young kid’s enthusiasm ever tends to be.
-I really can’t stress enough how much I loved that performance, by the way. I would love for these girls to win the competition, if only because it would be such an incredible change of pace from the usual talent show winners.
-Back from break to hype tomorrow night’s finale, before throwing to Britney to introduce her next act…
Carly Rose Sonenclar is kicks off round two!
-No video packages this time, just straight to the performance. Carly is singing “How Do I Live” and is accompanied by Leann Rimes.
-Okay, is it just me or is Carly singing the original artist’s own song, to the original artist’s face, better than said artist? And yes, I realize that, technically, this wasn’t originally a Leann Rimes song, it was a Trisha Yearwood song (and Oscar-nominated, at that, as it was from the movie Con-Air, because nothing says country romance like Nicolas Cage as an ex-convict on a plane with Dave Chappelle).
-Alright, nevermind, now Leann is taking the reins back from Carly. It’s actually a pretty tight duet, far more so than I would have expected, since Carly is such an overpowering vocalist that I wouldn’t have expected her to blend all that well with another singer.
-Leann talks about how much she loves Carly, while Carly says it’s her favorite moment on the stage so far, adding that Leann made her feel very comfortable.
-Britney thought both Leann and Carly were incredible together. We don’t hear from the other judges though. Probably for the better, as I feel like this show is going to be cutting it pretty close on time. Plus, it’s not like any of the judges (even Simon) are actually going to badmouth a visiting performer. It’d just be three other talking heads telling the celebrity how great they are. Which wouldn’t necessarily be incorrect. But it would take up a lot of unnecessary time.
(Sorry, I’m rambling in lieu of actually watching any of these relentless “Home Goods” commercials. Maybe I’ll switch over to the International Hot Mess Express we Americans know as the Miss Universe Pageant)
-LA Reid looks hilariously confused when called upon to introduce Tate for the next performance. Off-topic: The hashtags are kind of silly tonight. #DivaDuet for Leann and Carly, and now #TateTown for this performance.
Tate Stevens is up next!
-Tate is singing “Pontoon” by Little Big Town, who accompanies him onstage.
-”Don’t act like you don’t want to. Party in slow motion. Out here in the open. Mmm, motorboatin’”…I have no comment.
-Little Big Town talks about how Tate makes country music proud, and how he has his own water tower!
-LA proclaims that the new love of his life is country music. So I’m guessing he’s leaving X Factor to pursue a career in Nashville? Ugh, if he shows up on ABC, I might have to stop watching, no matter how much I enjoy Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere.
-Before break, Mario teases the performer that will be teaming up with Fifth Harmony, saying that it’s a multi-platinum artist in the US who’s been on The X Factor before (though he didn’t say if it was as a visiting artist or as a contestant). I’m going to guess Leona Lewis, as she’s a decent enough name to make a big deal about, but not so big that she’ll overshadow the act.
-I need to take a moment to say that I absolutely cannot WAIT to start live-blogging Idol full-time this season once the season premieres! This is going to be tighter than my ass in a pair of hipster jeans.
-We hype auditions for season three, revealing the audition dates (available at thexfactorusa.com).
Fifth Harmony is up next!
-And I’m wrong about my guess: Fifth Harmony sings “Give Your Heart A Break” with Demi Lovato. Camille’s introduction of Demi is the cutest thing in the history of ever.
-Demi isn’t a bad singer by any means, but I think each individual member of Fifth Harmony is better. There, I said it. Now I can guiltlessly go on with my life.
-And we have our first standing O of the night, though I suspect it’s simply out of respect to a fellow judge. Demi talks about how much fun it was to perform with Fifth Harmony, and I immediately feel like Demi would have been a thousand times better mentoring the Groups, instead of the Young Adults, a group she had no idea what to do with.
-Simon tells Demi she was “sensational” and that what just happened onstage was “pop perfection” (hey now, a little perspective, Simon). He offers her a spot in the group whenever she wants, and I’m not sure it would surprise me to learn he wasn’t joking.
-So apparently it was announced a few days ago that Fifth Harmony would be performing with Demi, so now I sort of feel like a moron. But I suppose that’s what you get for avoiding spoilers like the avian flu.
-Time for round three! One last song for five million dollars.
Carly Rose Sonenclar is up for round three!
-Carly Rose is singing “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen (but the better-known Jeff Buckley version), which is one of the most overdone songs on shows like these, yet it still gets me every time (can’t speak for anyone else though). However, after the Sandy Hook tribute on The Voice, I don’t know if I can hear this song anymore without choking up, even though I question the sense in having a thirteen year-old sing a song that’s ostensibly about orgasms. But that’s neither here nor there. If this is her Winner’s Single, I’d buy it.
-LA called it “a really angelic moment.” Demi reiterates how impressed she is with Carly’s vocals. Simon thought it was an amazing version of an excellent song. And Britney again states how she thinks Carly is winning this thing, telling Simon to get out his checkbook (could Britney’s attitude hurt her act?).
-We check in with Carly’s hometown, where some obnoxious kid is jumping up and down in front of the camera, and that poor lady is STILL just standing there, holding a tray of cupcakes. My heart breaks for that woman.
-Mario reminds everyone that MP3s of each performance are available on thexfactorusa.com, before throwing to LA, who claims that while he initially threw a tantrum when he learned which category he’d be mentoring, he didn’t know he was the luckiest guy in the world for getting to mentor this next performer…
Tate Stevens is up next!
-Tate sings “Tomorrow” by Chris Young. Though lyrically it doesn’t sound like it, the entire arrangement screams “Winning Moment/Confetti Shower” to me. He sings the hell out of it, though neither of these previous two vocals were as good as his first tonight.
-Britney loved it, while Demi is nearly in tears upon the realization that this is the last time she’ll see Tate perform as a contestant on The X Factor stage. Simon talks about how Tate won’t have to worry about a day job anymore, as he feels that, in a year’s time, we’ll be hearing about his massive record sales. LA talks about how he loves that Tate is doing this for his family.
-We check in with Tate’s best friend, Randy. And also a hysterical, screaming middle-aged fan of Tate’s, who’s as enthusiastic about Tate as I am about the Oscars. And that, my friends, is saying something.
-We hype the finale with One Direction and Pitbull, before throwing to Simon, who admits that he’s a little sad that this is the last time he’s going to be introducing this act. However, they get to go out performing one of his favorite songs…
Fifth Harmony closes the show!
-The girls sing “Let It Be”, and this is just all kinds of wrong. The girls need to be fun and bubbly, not dour and serious. That said, it’s not like the performance is bad. Lauren, in particular, is killing it.
-And now the tempo has picked up. THIS is a better fit for the girls, even if I still feel that the gospel choir is overkill.
-It got better by the end, but it ended, what, thirty seconds after it really started to pick up? Either way, I still thought it was a mostly-lovely rendition. And all the girls brought their A-game, I thought.
-LA thought the girls did The Beatles justice. Britney loves the way the group has come together. Demi is sad that the competition is ending, and that we won’t get to see any more of these acts. Simon says that while he loves all three acts, he genuinely believes on this night that Fifth Harmony deserves to win.
-Ally’s cousin Jerry gives the girls a shoutout from Ally’s hometown, and she’s trying really hard to keep it together. It’s such a sweet little moment in a series that really does need more of that kind of thing.
And lines are now open!
So after tonight, who do ya got?
Is it Fifth Harmony? Carly Rose? Tate Stevens?
Tate is the odds-on favorite, while Carly has been nipping at Tate’s heels the entire competition. Yet commenter ArchieSue makes a good point below when she says that Fifth Harmony has five hometowns voting for them. This could be way closer than any of us are expecting. For what it’s worth, I’m predicting Tate will win. But I’m rooting for Fifth Harmony.
Either way, I feel like this was a pretty damn great performance show, as there was really only one performance that I didn’t think was all that great. But at least 90% of the night was fantastic, in my opinion. And it’s because the show mostly focused on the singers, as opposed to the petty squabbling of the judges. This is exactly the kind of show The X Factor should be, a tightly-paced collection of performances that’s less about the judges than it is about giving worthwhile talent a platform to expose their considerable gifts. I genuinely believe that, no matter who wins this season, each of the three remaining finalists are deserving of the title.
Get your vote on, and join me tomorrow night as I live-blog the finale, with Pitbull, One Direction, and the crowning of this season’s champion!
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