Saturday, 14 December 2013

Wow. 4 Acts. 12 Near Perfect Performances.

Five boys and one girl in the last four acts this year. Carlito, Jeff, Restless Road and Alex & Sierra are those left standing and this week one goes as the three who will compete in the Final are decided.

Unlike the UK, there will be no judge decision at this stage, with who goes through being determined purely by the public vote. Everyone says how hard their acts have been working.

I'm glad Carlito made it this far. I think most observers reckon he's got as far as he's going now, though, and this is the time to bow out. It's not like he's going to win this thing and he's safely on the X Factor Tour and will get a good income from that. He's opening the show and you do feel confident that he'll put on a good show. It's a Timberlake number If I Was Your Boyfriend and nicely staged with a genuinely surprised-looking girl being taken up on stage and sung to. Nice touch. He also pulls up Kelly Rowland and that works too. We've seen several acts try that trick in the past but without much success. He played the heartthrob role really well, as Demi says. Simon admits to feeling a bit nervous now. I imagine that his Restless Road are his weaker act of the two and the next most likely to go. That performance by Carlito might just have got him a bundle of extra votes.

Restless Road follow. That's My Kind Of Night is the song the public chose for them. Not a title I know but Simon tells them it's a hugely popular Country song. So you can see where Simon sees his main chance of getting through lies. And, of course, where so many winners get their votes from. It was a cheerful and upbeat number. A bit average in places. No-one shone, really. Demi was actually so right in saying that this was not particularly exciting and Paulina isn't that enthralled either. It was OK and I thought Andrew was relaxed and in the groove, Colton was just reliable but not as outstanding as he needs to be and Zachary, as ever, just seems a little off the beat and nervous. They could be good and I wouldn't write them off yet but, having started assuming that, whatever happened really, Carlito was the one going, I now have to reconsider that.

Alex & Sierra have had a superb run so far and last week took iTunes downloads by storm. That is, of course, a pretty good guide to how they'd do in the wild and now they have to do the same with Little Talks. They really do need to get the words right. Demi says she thinks she's looking at the winners. That was quite a surprise. I wasn't sure about the performance this time. It was competent, notes in the right place but on a similar level to Restless Road and I didn't get the same sensation of watching a record being made as last week. Having said that, I get the impression that the song was far better know across the Pond than here and will have gone down well.

Jeff Gutt gets Hallelujah, which is becoming almost an X Factor staple song these days. If anyone can do it justice, though, it's Jeff who needn't stray too far from the Jeff Buckley original. He does, though, adding the metal touch and that's no bad thing but he does mangle the word a bit in places. That was an impressive response from the audience. I had forgotten that he did this tune in his first audition in the previous series. If the judges' and audience's reactions are anything to go by then he would be a dead cert for the final with Alex & Sierra.

At the start Mario mentioned some strange duels. It looks as though there is now some The Voice-like affair where one act competes with another in the same song. I didn't like that set-up in The Voice so don't know what to make of this, another variation from the traditional show format. I do hope this isn't just to attract viewers for the ratings. There is some advantage in being able to compare directly two acts but only if they're competing for the same market - not the same prize.

Oh well, Carlito sets off. And, you know what, Carlito finds a wonderful new tone to his voice that we have hardly heard before. He does, indeed, hold whatever ground he was supposed to and, if anything, I feel he did better with that particular track. Both were excellent.

Next Jeff is up against Restless Road. I think it's Every Step You Take and I should think Jeff will be very comfortable ahead on this. He even sounds like Sting at the start. Restless Road have a decent harmony going and they do pretty well. Definitely it is Jeff who stands out. Could this be a pointer towards what we're going to see? Carlito is growing and showing some superb talent whereas Restless Road have yet to make an advance on last week. It is not a totally fair comparison, though, and maybe people have already made up their minds. And will it matter with that King Size Country vote anyway?

That was over quickly so no harm done and I guess it was quite interesting.

Now Carlito is on again with a Mark Anthony song that seems to be ideal for him - another excellent choice by Paulina. I Need To Know in English and then some Spanish. That'll pull in a few more votes. Another very good performance from this guy. I do have to say that he deserves to get through with that. It's not sure, though, with that huge Country vote going to Restless Road.

The three boys have a big Country number, one of those gooey, rolling guitar numbers that just roll on. I Want To Make You Feel Wanted gives each of them a nice chance to frame what they do. It's what I'd imagine they'd record and even Zachary sounds good, just not as good as Colton and Andrew. He still gets the screams from the crowd, though. That was a nice, sugary number. I didn't think it will have made such a difference. Comfortable and confident but I don't agree with Demi that they saved themselves with this. Not in terms of that being a better performance than Carlito. But they may have attracted those votes so she may be proven right.

Alex & Sierra. Gravity. Beautiful. It could have been written for them. Very very emotional moment. So impressed with these two. Simon wants to bottle the last 10 seconds of that performance. I know what he means.

Following that was never going to easy and Jeff is at another end of the market with a rowdy number. Where My Demons Hide didn't start that well at all and sounded quite a tough number to sing, even for this guy. Not my choice of song for him. I didn't like it much at all and if he gets through then it'll be on the back of his previous performances.

This has been one impressive show and one that all those who dislike reality TV shows or competitions like this might view. It could change some minds - the four acts were that good and I cannot recall when I've written that about any of the X Factor or American Idol shows at this stage.

Part two. The results! I have been keeping away from Twitter and X Factor sites as we only get the show on Saturday.

I started just assuming Carlito was in 4th place. Now I feel that he deserves at least 3rd place.

The sing-a-long version of Stronger did tend to emphasise the 1st Alex & Sierra 2nd Carlito 3rd Jeff 4th Restless Road view that I am coming round to but you really can't tell much from some track they're all told to sing, like it or not. Jeff didn't look very well this evening and Zachary was wobbly again. That will not have had an impact on votes, though. That's already been decided.

I bet he reads out Alex & Sierra first. They are a definite. Oh that' silly - Mario must have been told to do the We'll find out after the break... No. It's Carlito who makes it through first!! Well done, lad. I was prepared for him to leave, despite the excellent three performances he put in. So who's place has he stolen? My guess is Restless Road's.

Now if you'd just tuned in and seen Carlito performing on the stage you'd think that he was doing his farewell number but this week it looks like all those getting through will get to do a number. OK. Cheaper than pulling in some international act I suppose. He is actually very good - in Spanish entirely this time. Well done indeed. He's pleased.

This vote business is getting dragged well out.

Oh, they did pay for an international star after all - and an expensive one: Enrique Iglesias. Now that's someone Carlito can copy in the Final and do well. Nice performance. Very over-produced with almost every imaginable lighting effect thrown in for good measure. Heart Attack. That'll do well.

Back to the votes. So, this time it'll be Alex & Sierra through for sure? Everyone knows they're through so to leave them v another act at the end would be unfair to the other act. Yes. OK. So will they be joined by Jeff Gutt or Restless Road?

They perform Let It Go, another beautiful track. This is the Ellie Goulding number - she writes some wonderful numbers and this so suits them. Sierra even seems to have Ellie's accent! They must be on their way to win this thing.

Now the sad part as Mario has to announce who doesn't make it. I am expecting Jeff Gutt to be the one through but Country votes may have been enough for Restless Road after all. It is Jeff Gutt who makes it through and we bid farewell to Restless Road.

I expect Simon will organise something for them. He did pretty well for Fifth Harmony last year!

Jeff Gutt does the big ballad - like something from an American Heartbeat CD. Yes, it's competent but maybe just a little bit boring. Nice touch at the end as the three acts stand on stage and Sierra turns away from the camera and just sinks into her boyfriend's arms.