Chug, chug, chug. The X Factor keeps lurching along despite an embarrassing voting glitch and record-low ratings. And it’s doubtful its lackluster, borderline unwatchable Eighties night will help matters.
After last week’s clusterfuck that saw all of America’s votes thrown out on the very first night viewers had their say, it’s hard to feel invested. And since the show had to scrap last week’s elimination in favor of a do-over, they unceremoniously tossed Boys category member Carlos Guevara at the beginning of this week’s show. (What gives with not bringing back the leaderboard as promised last week?)
Another two hopefuls will go home tonight, and the reaping is wide open since virtually no one had a good performance.
Comically characterless Tim Olstad stressed how poorly put together the show is, probably because everyone behind the scenes is busy looking for another job. The wardrobe department didn’t do him any favors in terms of shaking the “funeral director” label Simon Cowell slapped on him a couple weeks ago by putting him in an all-black suit. And whoever let him plow through Phil Collins‘ “Against All Odds” will hopefully find that new job soon, because they clearly don’t give a crap about this one. And then there was the staging and choreography . . .
As Tim stood stone-still looking somber, the camera often followed a dancing woman who writhed around the stage, at one point even popping a squat in the mist that billowed across the floor. It was, by far, the weirdest performance of the night. And it didn’t win Tim much praise. “You have no presence,” Kelly Rowland said before Demi Lovato bluntly added, “You should be going home this week, you just aren’t growing at all.” But leave it to Simon to make a guy cry with his dry sense of humor: “I don’t know if you were aware or not – there was some girl doing a weird dance behind you that had nothing to with the song. It was a bit like a horror movie because she was, like, dying on the floor.”
So while Tim walked away with the award for Worst Performance of the Night, there were plenty of runners-up.
Carlito Olivero failed miserably for the third time in a row with a pitchy take on Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” which should have been right up his alley – except he obviously just doesn’t have what it takes. “You’re just eye candy,” Kelly said in the most non-condescending way possible. “You’re supposed to be suave because your name is Carlito, but you’re straining instead of being smooth.” Boys coach Paulina Rubio responded to the negative feedback by saying, “We have to work on your face; you’re showing fear.” Yes, if he’d only smile through a vocal meltdown everything will be just fine.
Still, that method worked for Ellona Santiago. The overachieving Girls member overestimated her talent and swung for the fences on Whitney Houston‘s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” – and literally wound up falling short. Amid frenetic choreography and raw, shaky vocals, Ellona slipped and fell. Granted, you’ve got to hand it to her (and the other women) that she hasn’t wiped out before considering the high heels this show puts her in why the guys get to stomp around in sneakers, but it still underscored how second-rate she is. “You gave her too much to do,” Simon said to Demi about the slip. “It was too crazy, too much going on. I’d like to see something with less choreography.”
Even consistently exceptional Lillie McCloud (who finally fessed up to being Eighties one-hit wonder Nicole McCloud) had an off night with Chaka Khan’s upbeat “Ain’t Nobody,” which gave her too much to do, too. Still, an “off night” for her is a good night for anyone else. Ironically, Simon finally gave her props for being “current” and moving away from “nightclub” performances even though she sang a song that’s 30 years old and her set featured a DJ booth.
With Lillie fizzling (in the dreaded death slot, no less), Khaya Cohen was the loan holdout for true talent. Putting her unique spin on Madonna‘s “Borderline” – sounding like Amy Winehouse had grabbed the mic – it was clear from the first note that this girl can sing anything. “You’re better than ever, and that’s almost impossible,” said Paulina in a moment of clarity.
In between the two extremes there was just a bunch of hyped up mediocrity. Rion Paige did a not so great take on Pat Benatar’s “We Belong.” A leather-clad Rachel Potter sex-kittened her way through Heart’s “Alone.” Jeff Gutt did the same-old, same-old with Cutting Crew’s “(I Just) Died in Your Arms.” Wild card Josh Levi did his best Usher impression on Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.” And then there were the groups.
Overall, Simon’s category didn’t fare too well. Sweet Suspense did a lackluster rendition of Toni Basil’s “Mickey” that saw them dressed up like biker chicks and doing a lot of synchronized walking. “They’re no Fifth Harmony!” Demi yelled as Simon heaped praise on the group. Meanwhile, Restless Road also dropped the ball on Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose,” where they didn’t cut very loose at all, keeping things country the whole nine yards. And then there was poor Alex and Sierra, who got hacked up by the judges – even their own – for their boxy rendition of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” in which they were separated from each other by a wall for most of the performance. Chances are, though, they’ll be safe since they scored the coveted pimp spot. (Phew.)
However, it wasn’t a great sign when host Mario Lopez asked each of the judges to pick their favorite performance and Simon bucked the trend of choosing one of his own by blurting out, “Josh Levi.” That must make his acts feel super confident going into tonight’s double elimination.
Previous recap: Voting Glitch Gives Acts Second Chance