Time for the Top 10 performances on “The X Factor.” The theme this week is British Invasion, so “Live and Let Die” ushers in the judges. Mario Lopez also informs us that it’s another double elimination week, so going home will be “devastating.” He does know that only one of them wins, right?
Cowell starts pimping his two remaining acts right out of the gate. We’ll see, Cowell. We’ll see.
1. Jeff Gutt, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen
Why is he sitting on the iron throne? That’s kind of weird. Anyway, Jeff Gutt is no Freddie Mercury. Sure, he could be a Bon Jovi impersonator, but the high Freddie stuff is not his friend — he’s way, way flat.
Looking at the whole field, Gutt should definitely stick around. He’s got chops. But this was not a great week. Demi and Simon call it his best performance yet — are they deaf? Did he not sound flat in the studio? I do know that live the performances can sound much, much different than they do at home, especially ones with loud, rocking accompaniment. It really hides the vocal in the studio. That was his worst performance so far, for me. I love Gutt, but that was not great.
2. Tim Olstad, “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” Elton John
Terrific song choice. Just because he’s not strutting around like a moron doesn’t make him boring, Cowell. Olstad has a beautiful singing voice. This was a gorgeous performance, though Tim definitely has not stepped outside his comfort zone. And I could live without his smug smile at the camera right at the end, that was yucky. Still, I find Tim to be one of the strongest vocalists in the competition.
Simon says his future is more cabaret/Broadway than recording artist, which might be true. He’s more theatrical than a lot of voices in the competition. But that doesn’t make him lacking in talent or boring.
3. Khaya Cohen, “Let It Be,” Beatles
Would it have been too on-the-nose for her to do some Amy Winehouse? Because talk about somebody who could do Winehouse justice. This is pretty, though, and she definitely is putting her own spin on it, which is good because this song can be very boring and repetitive. It’s generally more about the message than the vocal gymnastics.
If Khaya is in the Bottom 2 again, there’s something wrong.
4. Josh Levi, “Sweet Dreams,” The Eurythmics
Wow, bold choice. However, just like he’s done week after week, he makes this song sound like a current R&B jam, complete with dancing bobbies. The problem with this song, as opposed to last week, is that there’s only so much you can do with it. It’s a very monotone, repetitive song. Josh is an entertainer and he does his best to make this exciting, but vocally it’s just good, not great.
Still, should be enough to keep him. He’s one of the strongest acts in the Top 10. I agree with Cowell that his mentor is insane — but more because of song choice than the dancing policemen.
5. Alex & Sierra, “The Best Song Ever,” One Direction
Of course Cowell’s duo sang a One Direction song. Of course they did. Honestly, the voters are sure to love this, so it’s a smart move in that regard. For me, they’re doing their Alex & Sierra thing and the bridge/streetlamp setting actually kinda works, so I’m down with it. It isn’t my favorite of theirs, but it was solid.
At this point in the night, no one has knocked my socks off.
6. Rion Paige, “Our Song,” Elton John
Pretty choice, though not sure why she’s dressed like she should be singing “If You’re Going to San Francisco.” However, it’s nice to see her sitting down. Just something to change it up, because obviously she’s limited in her staging choices. Vocally, she’s a little breathy at times — is that an artistic choice or is she just not supporting? I’m leaning towards not supporting because she’s a little flat sometimes. The emotion behind the song is nice, it really seems like she’s older than she actually is, and overall, I really liked it.
7. Carlito Olivero, “Satisfaction,” The Rolling Stones
Well, he definitely took the criticism to heart from last week because he has really ditched a lot of the crazy production in favor of … well, some holograms of himself dancing. Huh. That’s kind of weird, but it’s a step in the right direction? Maybe? Vocally, this is another one that isn’t bad but isn’t great either. Everybody has been … fine tonight. Fine, but not incredible.
8. Lillie McCloud, “This Woman’s Work,” Kate Bush
I was really hoping she’d bust out “I (Who Have Nothing),” but this is good too. Her dynamics and control are so far ahead of everyone else in the competition, it’s not even funny. Her low stuff on “make it go” gave me goosebumps. She’s very old-fashioned, but she’s not 19 years old, so it doesn’t bother me. Lillie is just a great vocalist.
Still. Not a bring-down-the-house moment. Who’s going to really set the stage on fire tonight?
9. Ellona Santiago, “Burn,” Ellie Goulding
This is 1000x better than her performance last week, but it still just doesn’t grab me. She has a terrific voice, but she’s kind of a boring performer and there are definitely bum notes here and there. Plus, the falling-onto-the-golden-statues move is just a little too Busby Berkeley for my taste.
10. Restless Road, “Fix You,” Coldplay
C’mon, wow me. I’m ready to be wowed. Hmm. The solo stuff is OK — the bass guy sounds weird taking the verse down an octave — but the harmonies are nice. Really nice. These three get more comfortable singing as a group every week. This is probably my favorite one they’ve done so far.
It’s interesting that the judges don’t agree. That song must have sounded quite a bit different in the studio. Cowell praises them, of course, but I don’t really trust his opinion on his own groups anymore.
What do you think, folks? I feel kind of backwards from the judges tonight. But my pick for Bottom 2 are Carlito Olivero and Ellona Santiago — though I will say, nobody really biffed it tonight, just as nobody really knocked it out of the park. Everybody was pretty middle-of-the-road, which kind of made for a boring episode, right?