I honestly didn’t think X Factor could get any weirder than it was last year. I WAS WRONG. Crying teenagers, a stiff host (RIP Steve Jones) an hysterical judge (UGH Nicole Sherzinger) were not all that could go wrong with a competition reality show, I learned.
Watching X Factor 2 was a deeply weird and surreal experience. At first, I was totally gung ho about the new season. Simon was retooling, and with the brand new judges, perhaps the chemistry would be better than S1, where Paula and Nicole were treated like idiot children by Simon and LA. Steve the stiff would hopefully be replaced by a lively and fun duo. I attended the Providence audition and, quite frankly, had a blast. I was excited.
And to that end, I actually enjoyed the audition phase of the competition. I really dug that the episodes were shot on film, giving the shows a cinema verite feel. And although much of it was obviously staged, the storylines were often compelling. Demi and Simon were hilarious frenzies. Britney’s faces were hysterical. And there was some great talent up on stage. But it all fell apart when the live shows began.
Frustratingly, the problem was not the talent, but how they were managed by the producers. Talented performers like Lyric 145, Jennel Garcia and Vino Alan were done in by horrible song choices and advice from those around them. X Factor turned into a parody of itself, and it’s no wonder the ratings dropped. I tried to enjoy it as the over the top trainwreck it had become, but the obvious manipulation ruined any attempt just to sit back and enjoy. The way Simon punted Vino Alan–who played right into his and LA’s hands–was gross to witness.
And anyway, as the season wound down, it just became BORING. Announcing the results order, beginning with which contestant earned the most votes, was interesting in principal. Who wasn’t surprised that Tate was at the top of the list that first week? But, unfortunately, it ultimately served to telegraph the winner early in the game. Thankfully, there was a little bit of competition around the 3rd spot. But I have to wonder, if Simon had let Vino be, would he have wound up in the top 3? That was the other thing–revealing the leader board made the backroom manipulations even more obvious.
The Simon/Demi dynamic began to feel forced and verged on annoying. Britney, who could barely reveal emotion, had nothing to say to contestants beyond a few recycled platitudes. NOT earning her 15 million dollars! And the combo of Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez as hosts was a complete and utter failure. Mario is a capable host, but he had ZERO chemistry with Khloe, who was a joke. Her inability to master even the hosting 101 stuff, like reading the teleprompter, and her tone-deaf interviewing style, likened her to a living breathing SNL skit.
There were certainly highlights during the season. It was cool to watch the sweet girls of Fifth Harmony eventually prevail over Simon’s favorites, the douchy Emblem3, simply on the strength of their vocals. Early on, Lyric 145 brought some real flair and originality to the competition. As much as I bagged on CeCe Frey, her love-to-hate persona was entertaining. Carly Rose had several outstanding, relevant, performances–including “Rolling in the Deep” and “As Long As You Love Me.”
But as we lumbered toward the finale, and it was crystal clear who was going to win, I had pretty much had it. Tate Stevens may or may not become a successful country artist. To me, his sound was radio friendly, but totally generic. Simon better hook up with some Nashville peeps who know what the hell they are doing, or Tate’s launch is going to be tragic.
Carly Rose is a precocious phenomenon. She reminds me of Glee star, Lea Michele. I think Carly would have been better off on Lea’s path–stage work until she hit her 20s. Lea has obviously learned so much from her years in the business, but she didn’t hit the big time until she was ripe and ready. Carly still has some maturing to do. At this point, her best bet would be to do age appropriate gigs like Disney, and maybe have a career trajectory similar to Demi Lovato’s (sans the eating disorder).
Fifth Harmony and Emblem3 certainly have a shot at success. But again. GOOD SONGS. Simon managed it for One Direction, so there is hope for these kids.
Back to tonight’s finale. It was a handful of performances, results and a bunch of filler. In other words, a total snoozer. The so-called “superstar” duets from last night, should have been performed tonight–for fun, when there was nothing at stake. That way, the LeAnn Rimes debacle would have been humorous, rather than a disaster for poor Carly. Simon could really only get two musical acts for the finale? Fail. As much as I mocked the opening bit with the limos, it was actually cheesy fun (minus the horrible Beatles cover). The Christmas tunes were also entertaining. Like the Idol finale, the rest of the Top 13 should have been highlighted. Nigel learned that the audience WANTS TO SEE THEIR IDOLS ON STAGE. The group numbers and superstar duets with the finalists who have already been eliminated are the best part of the Idol finale. Even The Voice producers get it.
X Factor US is a rapidly sinking ship. No wonder LA is jumping off. And I’m not sure Simon is the person to fix it.
X Factor begins with the cameras out on the red carpet. Khloe and Mario meet the judges (awkwardly) as they step out of limos. LA is first. Demi is next. She tells Mario that she thinks ate has a really good chance to win. Khloe paws Simon’s chest hair as he exits his limo. EWWWWW. Britney grabs her stomach as if the rubber-looking dress she is wearing is too tight. Pitbull feels great. The screaming is getting a little louder…guess WHO! One Direction pops out of their limo. Their hair is stunning. Well, except for the one with the buzz cut.
Pitbull and One Direction will perform tonight.
The X Factor judges take the stage to “The Final Countdown.” SOOO CORNY. The X Factor Top 3 are introduced. Whoops. Where are they? Khloe and Mario look around confused. Mario tries to cover up the gaffe by saying they are probably busy signing deals. Right. OK let’s try that cue again! The cameras take us outside. AND IT’S TIME TO DESTROY ANOTHER BEATLES’ SONG! Hooray. And by HOORAY I mean. PLZ GOD NOOOOO. The rest of the Top 13 join in as the Top 3 make their way to the stage
lip syncing singing a super peppy version of “All You Need is Love.”
First bit of filler! It’s a video clip featuring LA Reid and his funny funny hand gestures set to The Nutcracker. Mario says he’s “like a conductor” at the judges table.
LA introduces his act, Tate Stevens who sings the holiday classic, “Please Come Home for Christmas” by The Eagles. Oh look. Dancing Santa Angels. Tate delivers the tune in his typical generic way. The Dancing Santa Angels begin dancing around him and it looks super redic.
LA tells Tate that he’s done an amazingly consistent job. Is that high praise from a mentor?
Back at the home town. DID SOMEONE JUST CALL HIM “TATER PIE” I think they did. PLEASE PLEASE BRING that crazy lady biggest fan back. We hear from Tate’s family. You know, the wife HE LOVES SO MUCH. That’s the singer’s cue to cry. He loses it when his mama or someone reminisces about little tater pie playing a plastic guitar. His crying and sobbing children expressing their love totally puts him over the edge.
There were over 35 million votes last night. The FIRST RESULT IS COMING REAL SOON. Please. Cause this filler is killing me. Now, a montage of Simon being REAL REAL MEAN. Guess the song! “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.”
Simon Cowell introduces his act, Fifth Harmony, whom he calls “my favorite little group of the moment.” Yeah, now they are. because your pimped favorites, Emblem3 tanked. The girls sing “Christmas Baby Please Come Home” dressed in red and white winter outfits. There’s falling snow. AND PONIES. Check them out dancing with candy canes. They sing and dance around Simon’s chair and it’s kinda creepy. This performance is full of missed notes and off key singing. Oops. Simon says he’s very proud of his girls. “My fingers are very very crossed for you tonight.” As if he doesn’t know. Now it’s time for the Video Package of tears, as their frinds and family tell them how proud they are and how much they love them. What are they doing to these family members to get them all to cry?
OMG BRITNEY IS SHAKING AND CRYING.
Back from break and it’s time for a montage of BRITNEY FACES. Of course.
And now, Britney introduces Carly Rose Sonenclar who sings “All I Want For Christmas is You.” She’s got dancing drummer boys. And yeah..they are little kids busting hip hop moves. Her rendition of the song is a little…sluggish? There’s something about Carly–she NEVER seems energetic, even when she kinda tries. Britney gives her girl a golf clap. No. Really. TIME FOR THE VIDEO OF SOBS from Carly’s friends and family. Carly has been taking piano lessons for 5 years. FUN FACT. Wow. This is a very reserved family. Nobody is crying.
The poor fans who are stuck outside watching the finale on a big screen TV are interviewed by Robo-Khloe. Mario promises we are MOMENTS AWAY from the first elimination. Your promises are hollow, Mario.
Time to announce the Third Place finishers! The judges and their acts take the stage. Finishing in 3rd place IS…Fifth Harmony. No surprise there. Let’s look back at Fifth Harmony’s INCREDIBLE JOURNEY.
Khloe (awkwardly) interviews the Top 2 and their families backstage. How many different ways can Robo-Khloe ask the same question? And how sick are the finalists of being asked “how are you feeling…” How the eff do you THINK they feel Khloe!
Now a video package taking us through the entire season set to Florence + The Machine’s “Shake it Out.” The judges had an amazing experience. AMAZING. Simon says working with the groups has been a blast. He calls last year’s groups a “disaster.” POOR PAULER.
More horrible, endless Khloe interviews, now with the rest of the Top 13. Blah blah blah. MOST BORING FINALE EVERRRR. Can we just crown Tate and get it over with?
The first musical guest finally arrives. It’s Pitbull singing “Don’t Stop the Party”. Well, it hasn’t begun yet, so NO PROBLEM THERE.
Mario says that after the break, we’re going to take a look back at this “incredible season.” Haven’t we been doing that endlessly all night?
Now it’s time for the Demi vs Simon video package. Oh look. It’s Simon coming back LATE from his cig break.
Next, One Direction sings their next pop smash, “Kiss You”. Ramps lead to the top of a giant plastic set of lips. And they are kind of scary. A video screen playing trippy/cheesy videos is embedded in the open lips. Weird. The song has a super 80’s power pop vibe. I make fun of the boys A LOT but if I’m being perfectly honest, I find their tunes totally infectious. I certainly don’t punch them off when they come on my car radio.
Mario asks the boys, as X Factor UK veterans, what the contestants are feeling. Wouldn’t that be “f*ck we were eliminated!” Because, like Fifth Harmony, the boys came in 3rd place in their season.
Ugh. These endless interviews. Khloe is back outside talking to fans. THIS IS NOT FUN.
Carly Rose Sonenclar and Tate Stevens take the stage for a duet. Oh boy. They sing “The Climb.” Carly has NO head voice. She sounds super weak in falsetto. Whoa. Tate is kinda pitchy. This is not the right song for him. PLEASE DON’T MAKE THEM SING TOGETHER. Here. Comes. The. Gospel. Choir. Nope. They never sing together. Thank you higher power. Regardless, it was still pretty terrible.
OK HERE WE GO RESULTS. Carly Rose, Tate and their mentors take the stage. And the winner is….TATE STEVENS. Of course. So LA leaves the X Factor as a winning mentor.
Tate Stevens sings out with “Tomorrow”. And that’s the end of X Factor 2, people.
- WINNER – Tate Stevens
- 2nd Place – Carly Rose Sonenclar
- 3rd Place – Fifth Harmony