‘X Factor’ Top 4 Recap: Choose Or Lose
With only four contestants left in the "X Factor" semifinal, and only one of them going home this Thursday, there will be no sing-off, no judges' deliberations, and no possibility of a deadlock this week. America will simply decide which three make it to next week's finale, and that's that. "But the judges are still here to do what they do best: judge!" the show's co-host Khloe Kardashian (Odom) announced brightly on Wednesday. Okay, whatever you say, Khloe. I never thought the judges on this show did a particularly bang-up job this season (although Britney Spears was surprisingly more lucid this week than usual). And after this Wednesday's episode, I realized...you know what else the judges don't do so well? Mentor.
This point was easily proven Wednesday when, for their first performances, all of the contestants sang songs of their own choosing. And all of these performances were superior to the second songs that their "mentors" had them do later in the evening--indicating that the contestants probably would've been better off making their own song selections all along. (Remember, some of "The X Factor's" producers' and mentors' horrible decisions had disastrous consequences for contestants like Vino Alan and Lyric 145 earlier this season.)
What was even odder was how co-host Mario Lopez described the second song that each contestant did: "the song that they really think can get them to the finale." Huh? Wouldn't the contestants (and their mentors) want them to do "a song that can get them to the finale" every week? And did that mean that the first songs the contestants did were just throwaways, just warm-ups for Wednesday's second act? Pretty strange wording there--especially since, as I've already stated, the first-act performances of the night were so much more finale-worthy anyway.
Whether Tate got the "death spot" this week via some random rock/paper/scissors decision-making process, or whether this was orchestrated to knock him down a peg after he overtook golden child Carly Rose Sonenclar on the leaderboard last week, I do not know. Insert your own conspiracy theories here. But the death-spot placement certainly wasn't enough to knock him out of the game, and I do have to say that Tate knows how to open a show, so it's probably for the best that he sang first. Was his cover of Craig Morgan's good-ole-boy anthem "Bonfire" cheesy? Oh, you betcha it was. It was corny, Garthy, and it even delivered an environmentally incorrect message with its backdrop imagery of animated burning tires (though Tate's name in flaming red KISS font was a nice touch). But...it felt like a concert. It felt like Las Vegas, or Nashvegas. It looked like something that'd air on CMT instead of Fox. Clearly the guy knows his audience, and he chose his song accordingly--and wisely. Britney, who apparently got the memo that viewers are tired of hearing her declare everyone "amazing," was unexpectedly rough on Tate, saying, "At this point in the competition it has to be your best, and I don't think that was your best." Demi Lovato disagreed and actually called Tate (wait for it) "amazing." And Simon Cowell, a man who has imposed some pretty ridiculous song choices on "X Factor" contestants in the past and has often prevented contestants from showcasing what they do best, ironically praised Tate for being true to himself, saying: "You could have chosen something mushy and treacly, which you know is going to get the votes, but what you did is you brought the song that you want to record. That is why it was one of my favorite performances. This wasn't you being controlled by anyone, this was you saying, 'This is who I am.'"
For his second performance--you know, the one that could really get him to the finale--Tate did Clay Walker's "Fall," selected by his mentor, L.A. Reid, and dedicated to his loving wife for their 15th wedding anniversary. This is when Tate got all "mushy and treacly," as Simon might say. It was nice, but forgettable--I found his rowdy "Bonfire" performance much more entertaining. The judges loved this, however. Even Britney changed her mind, saying, "We've seen you be hit and miss, and that was a direct hit." Demi exclaimed, "You deserve this! You're so talented!" And Simon predicted, "There is as much chance of you going back to your old job as there is of me flying to the moon tomorrow." Yep. It's true. I honestly don't think there is anything Tate could do right now to mess up his chances of making it to next week's finale.