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'X Factor' Finale Recap: Alex and Sierra Win Season Three
One Direction, Lea Michele and more perform in two-hour show

Phew. The X Factor finally did something right this season: Alex and Sierra won.

Rolling Stone's Complete Coverage of The X Factor

After a rocky, borderline-laughable third season, the show may have saved face by declaring the cutesy couple from Simon Cowell's Groups category the victor and handing them a $1 million recording contract. They might actually stand a chance in the real world.

Of course, the U.S. version of The X Factor doesn't have a great history of launching careers – both previous winners (Melanie Amaro and Tate Stevens) have disappeared, and the biggest names to come out of the show so far are Fifth Harmony and Emblem3 (exactly). But considering how well Alex and Sierra did on the iTunes songs chart week after week and that mentor Cowell is often willing to put his money where his mouth it, there's a slight glimmer of hope they could be the first X Factor act to make an impact. Then again, they too may vanish into thin air.

But with Cowell on their side, it seems like they might actually stand a chance, as he's been deeply invested in groups from the franchise (which is huge in many countries outside the U.S.) ever since One Direction blew up after being put together on the U.K. version in 2010.

So, despite The X Factor being one hot mess of a show on the verge of extinction (there are conflicting reports about whether it will be renewed, with no official word from Fox yet), Alex and Sierra seem to have a better shot at after-show fame than, say, this season's Voice winner Tessanne Chin. Mainly because The X Factor has a better global track record of breaking stars and Cowell's bread and butter comes from being a record exec, whereas the coaches on The Voice are singers trying to elevate and maintain their celebrity status and probably don't really want other artists nibbling on theirspread. 

But only time will tell who will float and who will sink. For now, Alex and Sierra can walk around showing off their matching World's Cutest Couple sashes. "Thank you for not making fun of my weird faces" was all Sierra could say after being announced the winner of show, since she and Alex were crying too much to even speak (let alone sing, which they were forced to do one last time).

Meanwhile, despite giving it his all in the final performances, Over 25er Jeff Gutt and mentor Kelly Rowland had to settle for second while Paulina Rubio's Boys team member Carlito Olivero placed third.

Filling in the two-hour finale were former X Factor U.K. finalists One Direction, for what felt like their 10th performance this season, and U.K. winner Leona Lewis (who did a duet with Alex and Sierra Wednesday night). Mary J. Blige, Pitbull and Glee star Lea Michele also made appearances.

And while this may or may not be the last we see of The X Factor, it was definitely the last time Demi Lovato will appear as a judge on the show. But there was no big send-off, or even any mention of her departure. Instead, the show thought it would be fitting to make fun of the fact that she used to have a drinking problem by implying that she constantly slurped on bright green "Annoying Juice" while sitting at the judges' table. The recently rehabbed former Disney star wasn't amused, mouthing "that's fucked up" when the cameras cut to her.

Oh well, they can't get everything right. It is The X Factor after all. 

Previous recap: Jeff Gutt Goes for Broke


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