X FACTOR RECAP: The Final Four Perform!

It's the final week of performances before the finals, and only four contestants remain in this week's The X Factor. "The stakes could not be higher," Mario's dimples say. No, seriously, his mouth barely moves so I'm pretty sure it was his dimples. We have two hours of singing ahead of us in categories that could not be broader: the contestant's choice and the mentor's choice. Genuine question: is there anybody on the planet who enjoys two hours of this? I mean, I don't really mind any of these acts (and I genuinely enjoy seeing what the other three bring to the table), and I still think two hours is excessive. 

Either way, kicking things off is Tate Stevens with "Bonfire" by Craig Morgan. I don't know the song but it's super country. Like, imagine the most stereotypical country-rock song you can conjure and then sing "at the bonnnnnfire" and you're almost guaranteed to have sung this song. For those of you who aren't interested in imagining your own version of the song, you can watch Tate's performance here (and stay tuned for the rest of them shortly). It's not bad at all. "I have to say at this point in the competition it has to be your best, and I don't think that was your best." Britney tells him, because as Carly's mentor she's not biased at all now that it seems pretty clear it's either going to be Carly or Tate who wins.

Carly Rose Sonenclar chooses Elton John's "Your Song." Full disclosure: I have an irrational attachment to this song because as a kid, we had a digital piano that played this song when you pushed a button. Also in the spirit of full disclosure, I'm still totally rooting for Carly and her insanely on point vocals to win, but despite the inclusion of a children's chorus (that is not a joke) this probably isn't her best. Her middling performance, though, is still a hundred times better than most of what you'll see on these TV singing competitions most of the time. "I thought that was a beautiful version of a fantastic song - I actually don't think it was your best performance so far, I think you're nervous," Simon tells her.

Emblem3 is laying on the floor to start their performance. Um. Why is Emblem3 laying on the floor? It adds nothing but an awkward pause to stand up in the beginning of their song (Peter Frampton's "Baby, I Love Your Way"). Tank Top spends a lot of time grabbing said tank top and singing at the girls in the first row of the audience from a close range, but other than that it's okay, I guess. Not my cup of tea. "I was worried about you finding your five million dollar moment, until now. That was the first time I saw you as recording artists," LA says.<

Fifth Harmony choose Ellie Goulding's "Anything Could Happen" with a weird Alice in Wonderland-esque birthday party set. I don't like this look - they're being served cake or something by waiters who are dressed in suits with butterfly wings. It makes no sense. What does make sense, though, is that this is a song they can definitely sing without the crutch of a backup chorus, and they do. "It felt really great." Demi says. As she promised at the top of the episode, she's  totally outspoken and saying what she thinks this week now that she's an impartial judge, you guys.


LA chooses "Fall" by Clay Walker for Tate's second song. There's not much to say about it since it's typical Tate. He dedicates it to his wife. He's a good singer. His wife cries. The end. "Tate, that was a great song," Simon says. "But this is supposed to be a reality show, so let's get real. There's about as much chance of you going back to your old job as there is of me flying to the moon tomorrow night." At last. Simon, I know you totally realized that after reading my recap last week, but thanks for saying it anyway.

Britney chooses John Lennon's "Imagine" for Carly, who chooses to play the piano for the first and last parts of the song. It's nice to see her showing some musicality beyond her voice (although to be fair, it's not that difficult to play on the piano), but she really comes into her own when she's able to take it up a notch in the second half of the song. Also, her dress is adorable. Britney says it's time for Carly to move beyond this stage, which is such a weird thing to say and you can just see poor Carly thinking: what does that even mean? I don't think Carly's headed home, especially not with two groups still in the competition, but I don't really get what Britney meant either.

Emblem3's song, chosen by Simon, is "Hey Jude." It's actually quite good, comparatively speaking, and really listenable - but I'm getting really bored at this point, so about halfway through the song I decide to start counting how many times the kid with the hat points at the audience (nine that they show on camera) and try to figure out which one is Tank Top (it might be the one with the hat, actually). "You actually are teen heartthrobs like the Beatles," LA says. Totes, LA. They're going to be musical legends based on this one performance of a cover of a Beatles song.

Fifth Harmony closes out the show with Shontelle's "Impossible." It's not terrible, but it's a little whiny and they've already performed it once. The only difference is that one of the girls sings a verse in Spanish. "I felt like it was pretty good, but I would be really surprised if you guys are here next week," Britney says.


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