The X Factor USA – Winner – Finale Results – 12/19/2013 – Video
Who has won The X Factor USA Season 3? Welcome to the recap, live blog and finale results for December 19, 2013! Time to declare the winner of The X Factor USA 2013!
Rickey.org readers predict a huge victory for Alex and Sierra. The boyfriend/girlfriend duo scored 57.7% of the vote, eclipsing the next closest vote-getter, Jeff Gutt. The rocker took in 36.46% of the vote, while Latino crooner Carlito Olivero trails with just 5.84%. There’s still time to vote, so head on over and add your prediction!
Let’s get on with the recap and results!
-We kick things off with a video recap of the performance show, and I just have to reiterate what a great show last night was. Seriously, I was really impressed with everyone. And the variety of music choices and styles, in addition to more current song selections, made me love this several orders of magnitude more than The Voice performance finale.
-So we have crazy dancers that look like those freaky twins from The Matrix: Reloaded. They do a lot of really cool, inventive tricks with the lighting, eventually forming an “X”. I initially thought this was leading to the introduction of the finalists or something, but nope. Just dancing for its own sake. And hey, that’s fine. This was pretty neat.
-And now we introduce the judges with the trailer theme from Requiem For A Dream, and if that isn’t a perfect capper for tonight, I don’t know what else to tell ya.
-The judges are introduced, and we waste no time in getting to the music…
The Top 13 sing “One”: You know, in retrospect, this was actually a really talented group of finalists. I think the knee-jerk response to some favorites not getting through to the live shows soured some viewers on the acts that did get through. And while I could argue that the judges might have put some of the wrong people through, I can’t argue that the people they did put through aren’t talented. Because they are. All of them, really. And this performance shows it, for the most part. I was particularly impressed with Tim Olstad’s brief section of the verse. But everyone sounded good here, really. And it was great to see everyone again.
-After the performance, Mario Lopez asks Simon how he’s feeling about tonight, and he says “Very nervous.” He says he doesn’t know how the finalists are feeling, but he just wants to get to the end right now. I could make a joke about the viewership feeling the same way, but I’ll just leave that one on the table, because dammit, I like The X Factor. Even America’s.
-Mario interviews the contestants backstage about what winning would mean to them, and Carlito says he hopes America sees how much he wants and needs this, but regardless, he’s thankful for the experience and for the brothers and sisters he’s made in the competition. Jeff says he needs to win this more than he needs air, but takes the opportunity to wish viewers a happy holiday. Mario asks Alex and Sierra who their biggest competition is, and Sierra says, “Everyone! Have you heard these guys?” Adorable. And Alex looks snazzy as hell in that tux.
-We then get a video package of Paulina’s silliness and her weird pronunciations (“pitchy” = “peachy”), and I have no idea why every singing competition has to do these packages at their finale. But whatever, they’re harmless. Afterwards, Mario asks Paulina to say “pitchy” one more time, and she goes on an indecipherable diatribe that I’m still having trouble decoding.
Carlito Olivero’s Christmas Performance
-Paulina introduces, for the last time, her sole remaining act in the competition…
Carlito Olivero sings “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. Mario let us know we’re getting Christmas-themed performances tonight. I can’t remember if they did this last year, but I know they did this in season one. Carlito sounds pretty damn good here, and even does a little dance with a candy cane and some elf dancers, in addition to a group of ladies dresed in Sexy Mrs. Claus outfits. At the end of the song, the dancers freeze frame…and then proceed to hold those poses throughout the post-performance interview. There’s this guy directly behind Carlito who tries his damndest to keep his frozen smile, but eventually gives it up.
-Mario asks if Carlito and Paulina have anything they want to say to each other, and they talk about how much they mean to one another, and how thankful they are to have had the other in their life. We then throw to a fairly touching video package of Carlito’s family telling him how much they love him, and how proud they are of him, and Carlito fights back tears the entire time. Oh hey there, Frankie J! The singer pops into the video for a shout-out to Carlito, before we hear from Carlito’s parents, who tell him that he makes them want to be better people. Man, maybe I’m a softie, but this got to me.
Carlito tearfully thanks his family, friends, fans and city, and tells everyone that if they have a dream to pursue it. He comes across like a man that has come to terms with finishing third, and is just thankful for all the love. And that’s not a bad attitude to have. I almost find myself hoping he pulls off second place.
Mary J. Blige
-And we’re back from break with a 9-time Grammy winner. I’m not sure if I expected her to have more Grammys or less…
Mary J. Blige sings “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”: Funny she’s singing this, since Rudolph is airing on ABC Family at the moment. As for this performance, it’s an interesting new direction for Mary J., as she gives the song a jazzy, swing arrangement. She even does a little scatting during the bridge. I kind of love this direction for her. She’s more than got the pipes for it, and she somehow made this song sound strangely current despite how old fashioned it is, by necessity.
-After the performance, we get a video profiling Kelly’s love of handsome men, as we see all the men she’s flirted with during the audition process. She humorously apologizes to her mama for all the flirting, then talks about how nice her little kiss with Simon (depicted in the video) was, which puts a sheepish grin on his face.
Jeff Gutt’s Christmas Performance
-And now we have Kelly introducing her final act for the last time…
Jeff Gutt sings “O Holy Night”: This is AWESOME. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting a competition-level performance on a Christmas song, but he totally brought it on this vocal. And the rock-tinged arrangement really suits him. Just a great performance, all-around. And he gets a standing ovation from all four judges!
-After the performance, Mario asks Jeff and Kelly what they’d like to say to one another, and it’s a reiteration of how much the mentor-artist relationship has meant to them. We then view an emotional video package from Jeff’s family and friends, in which his mother talks about what an amazing father and man he’s become, recalling when he was 14 and his guitar was bigger than he was. His old wrestling coach also talks about how determined Jeff has been throughout his life. His dad says that no father could be prouder of his son. Lastly, Talon tells Jeff that he’s the best daddy ever…and it’s THIS that absolutely breaks Jeff to pieces. DAMMIT X FACTOR, I CAN’T BLOG THROUGH TEARS. STOP MAKING ME FEEL THINGS!
I’ve never seen video packages this exquisite at the task of manipulation, as now I find myself rooting for Jeff to take this thing. Of course, it could just be that I’m easily manipulated. That’s a possibility that’s always on the table.
Alex and Sierra’s Christmas Performance
-Simon introduces his remaining act for the last time, and I notice we haven’t heard at all from Demi tonight, mostly because we have no reason to…
Alex and Sierra sing “All I Want For Christmas Is You”: I adored this. The mid-tempo arrangement fit them beautifully and made it sound like an entirely new song. And their harmonies were just lovely. This is to say nothing of how amazing they both look. All four judges give this a standing ovation (prompting me to feel bad for Carlito, with only Paulina getting up for him), and it’s well-deserved. Yeah, yeah, I’m gushing. No, I don’t care how biased it makes me look.
-After the performance, Alex and Sierra thank Simon for helping them not only with the music, but with their emotions. Simon, meanwhile, talks about what a pleasure they are to work with, and says that he knew when he worked with them that he wasn’t just working with contestants, but future recording artists. We then get their family and friends video, and it’s an achingly beautiful package. Sierra can hardly even watch the video, she’s so overcome: her sister and mother tearfully tell her how proud they are of her, while Alex’s grandparents tell him they think he and Sierra are going to win. Actually, I think everyone in their video may have cried, in fact. And Alex is crying now too! But not me! No sir! Oh what? No, these tears are a result of onions. Someone is cutting onions in here, shut up!
-And now it’s time for a Quirky Video Package about Simon, and his irritation with Demi this season. In one clip, we see Simon accusing Demi of drinking annoying juice, which then leads to a fake commercial for Annoying Juice. We get an inset of Demi watching this video, and she ABSOLUTELY HATES THIS. I think she may have mouthed the words “That’s f***** up.” She just looked so disgusted with this, unless she was just putting on an act. But with the way the camera cut away from her, I’m guessing not. After the video, Mario tries to lighten the mood with Demi, who jokes that since she doesn’t drink anymore, she’s happy to have Annoying Juice as her new beverage of choice, since she gets to drink as much of it as she wants, and gets to annoy Simon with it. This was PROFOUNDLY awkward.
-Hopefully, we can put the entire quirky judge business behind us with our next guest performer…
Lea Michele sings “Cannonball”: I don’t think it’s said enough, but Lea Michele has a really great voice. Her tone is a lot different from what you might usually hear on the radio, particularly from a female singer. I don’t really care for the song, but I like Lea, and she seems stoked to be there. And after the 2013 she’s had, I’m just glad to see her smiling.
-After the performance, Mario interviews the mothers of the finalists before throwing to a video package of each of the finalists talking about what winning would mean to them. It’s a new video package, as it features the judges talking about their acts, but damn, how many times are they going to rehash this? Everyone wants to win, everyone wants to provide for their families, this is their dream, this isn’t about winning a TV show, yada yada yada. Nothing new here, except a brief clip of Alex’s hilarious dancing from his pre-performance VT.
Third Place Results
-Now it’s time to find out which act is leaving the competition in third place. All the acts are out onstage (having gone through yet another outfit change — I want Alex’s jacket), and Mario has the envelope.
CARLITO OLIVERO finishes in third place on The X Factor USA!
-Carlito immediately accepts the news and talks about how happy he is just to be here. He thanks his family, friends, fans and God for bringing him this far. Paulina offers her words of comfort and encouragement to Carlito, and then we go to his farewell package. It’s kind of impressive to see how far he’s come, because dude was really rough in those early stages of the competition, and now he’s actually become one of my favorites of this season, just through sheer force of willpower. Carlito is moved by the video package, and shares a hug with Paulina, while his mother stares daggers at the stage. And Mario brings out the final two acts: it’s down to Jeff Gutt and Alex and Sierra (who is rocking the HELL out of an emerald green dress).
-After the break, Mario asks the contestants how they feel to be in the final 2, and Jeff talks about how winning would change his life. He says his son wants to be a doctor, and he needs to be able to pay for that future (Sierra gives the cutest pouty lip during this). Alex talks about what winning would do for their lives, and I continue to wonder how many times they can rehash the same two or three questions over and over again. These contestants have to be sick of answering what winning would mean to them for the thousandth time.
-We then get a video package highlighting the joke auditions, and no. I’m not doing this.
-We get to our next guest performer, who won The X Factor UK in 2006…
Leona Lewis sings “One More Sleep”: Oh no! Lip-syncing? Say it isn’t so, Leona! Actually, it might not be so. I’m notoriously awful at telling when a person isn’t singing live. But this sounds like a studio vocal all the way through, especially since her excessive dance movements don’t appear to have any effect on the volume, pitch, or steadiness of her vocal. With that said, she looks like a million bucks. In fact, she looks like several million bucks. If you converted it all into coins, you could swim in it like Scrooge McDuck. And her dancing is adorable, let’s not front.
-After the performance, Mario asks for a former contestant’s perspective on being at this stage of the competition, somehow forgetting that he already got the same perspective from the contestants who actually still are in this competition.
-Following the break, we get a video package of some of the “Magic Moments Between the Songs.” So basically, the best of the stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with being onstage, such as Josh Levi being brought back, and Lori Moore talking about how “hard work gets knocked down, but hard work gets back up” during the Four Chair Challenge. This is all set to “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” for some reason. Not that I’m going to complain about hearing some Starship on a Thursday night.
-Our next guest performer is flying solo. Despite Ke$ha being advertised, she’s not here. Not that I was clamoring for her to appear in the first place…
Pitbull sings “Timber”: Well, he raps “Timber”, anyway. And he’s flanked by dancers in Daisy Dukes, and while some might argue that it’s a wee bit explicit for an ostensible family show, I’d argue the Ke$ha clip on the video wall behind them is a thousand times worse. But whatever, I still enjoyed this, mostly because I have a completely unabashed love for this song. Yes, my tastes are as questionable as they are varied.
-Pitbull thanks his fans and greets the judges, then sends a shout-out to all the people who know and love him as Armando Perez, and not just as Pitbull. I’ve always liked Pitbull as a person, even if I haven’t always been crazy about his music. He was great on HBO’s Latino List, and he came across just as likable here, I thought.
-Mario congratulates Simon on knocking up Laura Silverman, although he says it much more eloquently and tactfully than I just did. He then throws to a video package that reminds me of those obnoxious AT&T Kids commercials, in which a group of youngsters give their thoughts on Simon Cowell after watching a variety of clips. One kid speculates that Simon is from Mars, and you’d best believe that if he is, he’s managed to get an X Factor and Got Talent up and running over there.
-And now we have the finalists singing together for the last time…
Alex and Sierra and Jeff Gutt sing “Love Me Again”: Alex sounds seriously great here, hitting one high note that impressed the hell out of me. I knew he had range, but I didn’t know it was that pronounced. This was a great, high-energy performance, and I appreciated that the final duet wasn’t some sappy, syrupy ballad you could pour on pancakes.
-After the performance, we hear from Sony CEO Doug Morris, who wishes the best of luck to the finalists and assures a promising future for the winner. Hopefully, they’ll get more significant backing than either Melanie Amaro or Tate Stevens got. Simon talks about how Morris is his boss, and how you don’t mess with him, before adding that they intend to get behind the winner and hopefully create a One Direction-sized success.
-Speaking of the boys, they’re here now, although from all the bed-head going around, I’m wondering if they ever left after the last time they were here. Maybe Simon let them out for a little bit for air, food, and to perform on other X Factors, before putting them back in the X Factor box they’ve come to call “Home”.
One Direction sings “Midnight Memories”: Say what you will about the group, but I’m kind of impressed with what an ambitious album Midnight Memories is. It’s like a musical Golden Corral, in that’s it’s basically a buffet of different kinds of musical styles. “Story of My Life” could have been a Phillip Phillips song for all anyone knows, while “Midnight Memories” is straight up arena rock. It’s really bold stuff for a boy band, and I dig it. I also liked this a lot because it finally looked like they were having fun, as opposed to the permanent expressions of boredom etched on their faces during The X Factor UK and Saturday Night Live performances.
-After the performance, Mario asks them about their holiday plans, then asks Harry whether he’s been naughty or nice. Then we get a brief plug for One Direction: This Is Us on DVD. Sorry, Mario, too late for the Rickey.org Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide!
-It’s time to finally find out who’s won this thing. I’m nervous, even though I wouldn’t be mad with either of these acts winning.
-The acts are here with their judges, and Mario has the envelope…
ALEX AND SIERRA WIN THE X FACTOR USA 2013!
-Sierra’s puzzled, “wha?” reaction is tremendous. And Jeff is a great sport about it, even though he’s clearly crushed. I really hope Jeff makes it.
-Simon says he feels like Christmas came early, and gives a shout-out to Jeff for all his hard work. Mario interviews the winners, and they’re both incredibly thankful. Sierra, in particular, wants to thank America for not making fun of her weird faces. Oh Sierra, your weird faces is why I love you!
Alex and Sierra sing “Say Something”: And Alex is so overcome with emotion that he struggles to get the words to the song out. Sierra is so moved to see Alex emotional that she forgets the words. Oh Lord, now they’ve got me going. Just the way they’re looking at each other on the “You’re the one that I love” lyric is utterly breathtaking. And as if that wasn’t enough, here come the other finalists to celebrate as the confetti falls, and this may be my favorite winning moment on any show in years. Just a devastatingly beautiful monument to just how affecting shows like this can be.
-We close with Simon thanking everyone who’s watched or voted, and thanking the crew and the other judges, and it sounds an awful lot like “goodbye forever,” but then, he gave a similar sign-off last night, so I don’t think there’s a whole lot that should be read into it. It’s not officially renewed yet, but I just can’t see FOX putting all the money into two or three new one hour shows next year, when they can fill their time commitments with just one show like The X Factor. But I guess we’ll find out soon enough, as FOX is expected to make a decision soon on whether there will be a season 4 at all. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, because The X Factor is still my favorite talent competition. Yes, even the American version. I shudder to think how many potentially great acts we might lose out on if this show gets axed. But that’s all for this year! Mario signs us off, and that’s a wrap on The X Factor USA Season 3!
So just to recap, Carlito Olivero finished in third place, Jeff Gutt is the runner-up, and Alex and Sierra are the winners of The X Factor USA 2013! But what do you think? Did the right act win? Will they have a big career in the industry? Which other acts this season have a shot at a real future in the music business? Sound off in the comments!
It’s lights out for me, but I want to thank you all for another fantastic season of comment chats, jokes, and general fun around these parts. It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to do this, and that’s largely thanks to you fine readers. Even if you didn’t comment at all, I’m incredibly thankful for your readership this season. I hope you’ve all had as much fun as I’ve had. Happy holidays to all!
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