'X Factor' Recap: Alex and Sierra Steal the Show - Rolling Stone
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‘X Factor’ Recap: Alex and Sierra Steal the Show

Tearful top six makes Demi Lovato cry ahead of double elimination

Anyone have a hat? Because you may as well put all the names of the remaining X Factor contestants in one and pick a winner at random. That’s how hard it’s becoming to predict who will stay and who will go – mainly because everyone left is embarrassingly bad. Well, except for Alex and Sierra, who easily pulled ahead of the pack on Wednesday night. Can’t the show just hand them the win and call it a season?

Rolling Stone’s Complete Coverage of ‘The X Factor’ 

But alas, only two go home this week. And so far the viewers who even bother voting anymore seem to be tone-deaf, sending home talented singers like Khaya Cohen and Lillie McCloud in favor of the consistently mediocre Ellona Santiago and Carlito Olivero.

And while we’re on the subject of Carlito, how come it’s never – not once – been mentioned that he used to be in long-running Latin boy band Menudo? In fact, to get the spot in the group he won another reality singing competition, MTV’s short-lived Making Menudo back in 2007. While he went by Carlos Emmanuel Olivero at the time, that doesn’t make him a different person, so why hasn’t this been addressed on the show?

Probably because they don’t want us to think about how this season is made up of a bunch of has-beens and rejects: both Olivero and McCloud have had failed music careers, and Santiago and Jeff Gutt were both previously cut from past X Factor seasons. Even Alex and Sierra tried out for American Idol two years ago.

The omission of Carlito winning a reality show and actually being in Menudo for two whole years seems downright deceitful. Even Lillie eventually fessed up to being hit-making Eighties singer Nicole McCloud in a past life. But the show seems to be pushing Carlito forward every chance it gets, even handing him the pimp spot this week, which virtually ensures he’ll be sticking around for the semi-finals. Sigh.

Yes, after a night of performances that saw each act sing two songs – one by a “diva” and the other acoustic – Carlito will most likely scrape by again despite messy renditions of Jennifer Lopez‘s “Let’s Get Loud” and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” In both, he embraced his Latin roots by swiveling his hips and singing in Spanglish, prompting Demi Lovato to tell him the key to winning the competition is “flirting with girls.” Really, is that what it’s come to? “You need to be that hot Latin singer,” she cooed. How about saying he needs to be a better singer period? Nah, why bother with that. Just let him keep doing what he’s doing and pushing him through because the show hasn’t tapped the Latin market yet. 

Carlito admittedly only had 24 hours to prepare “Let’s Get Loud” (“I’m not trying to make excuses,” he said after defensively pointing out the fact), which is often the kiss of death for contestants (see: last season’s Lyric145, Vino Alan). But in this case, the pimp spot will probably even things out and keep him around another excruciating week.

Also definitely sticking around should be Alex and Sierra – although you never know on this show. While they did a risky rendition of “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child, they knocked it out of the park with A Great Big World’s “Say Something,” on which Alex strummed guitar while Sierra played the piano for (supposedly) the very first time in public. It was amazing, proving they are on a whole different level than anyone else in the competition. Confident, romantic, effortless – there were no gimmicks or distracting bells and whistles. But most of all, they didn’t make our ears bleed. “It wasn’t just the best performance of the night, it was the best performance of the entire season,” coach Simon Cowell raved. And truer words have yet to be spoken this season. If they’re sent home this week, there’s really no reason to tune in anymore.

Because, really, if they go, who are we left with? Manufactured country “man-band” Restless Road, whose members got emotional and caused Demi to cry after a countrified acoustic set of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!” (Maybe they think they’re going home?) Bubbly 13-year-old Rion Paige, who’s been on a downward slide for the past few weeks but keeps sticking around because her physical challenges probably garner a lot of sympathy votes. (Sorry, it had to be said.) The ridiculously over-the-top Santiago, who may look like a star but she just doesn’t have the vocal chops. And Over 25 rocker Gutt, who Simon bluntly pointed out is “quite boring as a person.”

So please, people, vote for Alex and Sierra. It’s the only humane thing to do. 

Previous recap: Lillie McCloud, Josh Levi Get Cut


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