Welcome back fine folk!
So the World Series is over, and apparently it’s Motown night on X Factor!
We start tonight off with a colorful medley of Motown songs sung by the entire final 12 and, as you’d expect, it’s a big ol’ barely rehearsed mess. It did bring me back to season 1 of American Idol, though, and how I used to illegally download the group medley performances off Kazaa the day after the shows aired (shout out Nikki McKibben, shout out RJ Helton). Maybe because I’m no longer thirteen, or maybe because nothing can compare to American Idol Season 1, tonight the medley felt like one clobbering obstacle standing between me and Mario Lopez’s new suit. And what a suit Mario has on tonight, guys. It’s purple and studly and a direct import from 1963. So let’s get this thing starteeeeed!
Since there is never a dull moment on this GD show, we learn that the first contestant up tonight is Josh Levi and wait a minute-- he isn’t even a top 12 contestant, is he, cuz he got voted off last week! What’s the deal here? Was last week a fraud? Did his agent blackmail the show’s producers with a horse’s head a-la The Godfather and demand he be put back on the show? There’s a thirty second segment that shows Mario sneaking up on Josh Levi and his mom at a cafe in LA and breaking the good news to them, but I have my suspicions y’all. Anywhoo, Josh Levi sings The Jackson Five's Lovin' You and it’s made immediately obvious that he is back in the competition for a reason. His vocals sound stronger than before and, as Simon Cowell points out, it’s obvious now that Josh can really sing. Whoo Joshy! Welcome back cute kid.
Rachel Potter is up next singing This Ol’ Heart of Mine by the Isley Brothers. HARSH SONG TITLE for an Over 25, right, but Rachel kinda kills this performance. She looks hawt and doesn’t let the fact that there is a giant “R” laying sideways on stage while she’s performing (set designer for this show please show your face and explain) get in her way. Kelly Rowland is obvi so proud of her, and overall, her performance is well-received by the judges.
Carlos Guevara is up next with a snoozefest rendition of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. I love Carlos, but not sure if this arrangement does any wonders for him. He gets mixed reviews by the judges, but he is just so damn cute that America can’t vote him off just yet-- right? RIGHT?
Simon’s golden boy group Restless Road is up next singing The Commodore’s Easy. After much hesitation about having to sing a Motown song when they are so thoroughly a country music group, the boys decide on a rendition of the song that really does wonders for them. The performance was not at all boring, and the audience completely buys it. Restless Road performances have given me some yawns in the past, but this one totally didn’t. So good for Restless Road. You go Restless Road.
Ellona Santiago’s up next. Ellona has apparently had a rough week because not only has she been studying for her SATs, but the cameramen also asked for four million shots of her walking around carrying her SAT book for her promo thing, so it’s no wonder homegirl is super tired. But really Ellona is way surprising. You think she’s a normal person until she gets on stage and nearly transforms into Beyonce. She can dance, she can sing, and most importantly, she can sing while she dances. Girl has got it. Simon praises her and when Mario asks her how her SATs went she said she answered all the questions and even had time to check over her essay. Think it’s safe to say Ellona’s having a great week!
Single-dad-rockstar-from-Detroit Jeff Gutt is up next singing Lionel Richie's Say You, Say Me and it was just great. Simon called it effortless, which is a huge compliment for Jeff since he’s had trouble singing songs that aren’t rock and roll songs since the competition began. Alex and Sierra come next with Heard it Through the Grapevine and I finally realize that Alex and Sierra are going to be the next Jason Mraz because all their renditions of songs sound like they could use a ukulele. I mean that with a lot of respect and admiration to Alex and Sierra-- people who spend a lot of time in hammocks are going to buy their records.
Khaya Cohen is up next with my personal fav performance of the night. She sings My Girl on a stage that’s set up to look like a classroom with a gaggle of male backup dancers in varsity dancers who are always reaching out to touch her but can’t quite reach. IT’S A GREAT PERFORMANCE. Simon said when he closed his eyes he swore he heard Amy Winehouse. Khaya needs to maybe lighten up or something, but she’s got a very good, very marketable voice, and I want to see her stick around.
Both Carlito Olivera and Lillie McCloud’s performances dragged tonight-- Carlito sang a slowed-down Stop in the Name of Love and Lillie a Stevie Wonder song. Both Lillie and Carlito have enough clout that one lame performance probably won’t send them home, but I expected more movin’ and groovin’ from both of them tonight. Y’all know how much I LOVE LILLIE.
The judges flipped out about Sweet Suspense’s performance of You Just Keep Me Hangin’ On by Diana Ross. Their harmonies could have sounded tighter, but they undoubtedly have star power. Especially their lead vocalist, Summer, who maybe was destined to become the lead vocalist of an all-girl band? She’s just so good at this!
Rion Page’s strange but pleasantly surprising performance of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough worked in her favor, even if at first she says Motown isn’t exactly her wheelhouse. Rion doesn’t put on bad performances-- she’s consistently present, and consistently into it. Simon really liked it and thought its weirdness worked.
Last but not least is good ol’ Tim Olstad, who says about seventeen (nah, just two) times in his intro clip that he wants to prove to America that HE IS NOT A FUNERAL DIRECTOR. Jeez, Tim, relax, nobody thinks you’re a funeral director bro. He sings I’ll Be There and his voice sounds great, and the song really reaches a new level when the curtain drops and we see a full choir behind him. Simon, in an a-ha moment, says "I know exactly what you are-- you’re Donny Osmond!” and Tim shrugs and agrees because he’s on camera and he might as well agree with Simon. But overall, good comments from the judges. Tim Olstad will stick around some more.
So that’s it for Motown night, guys!
Will be back tomorrow to recap the results show, during which one of our contestants will be sent home for good this time-- lookin’ at you, Mr. Josh Levi.