The X Factor USA is the middle sibling of vocal talent shows. The older sibling, American Idol, has settled down, had a few kids, and lives in placid suburbia in a three-story house with double white doors and a patio with a grill. The younger sibling, The Voice, is getting all of the attention because, well, it’s frankly more entertaining to many people. That leaves the gangly, awkward X Factor in the middle to acquire acne and try to make it in the cruel world of reality singing competitions.
Now in its third season, the X Factor has desperately tried to spice things up. An x-shaped battle round provided a little juice to the competition, but, despite its differences, it was seen as a reaction to the little sibling’s vocal battles. Some strange form of live voting was attempted, but it failed miserably and caused a 2-hour live show to be scrapped and wasted (there is something the X Factor can proudly say was unprecedented).
Frankly, though, no matter what the show does, people will watch it for the singers. And, no matter how much the judges want to praise this stock of vocalists, this is really the season of the least. Of the remaining contestants on the show, I can count on a few fingers how many actually have the so-called X Factor. In year’s past, I have put together a full review of each contestant. For this season’s remaining contestants, I am going to do something a little different. Each contestant will receive a ranking between 1 and 5 Xs (1 the worst, 5 the best) as well as a brief, frank reason why they are ranked this way. Let’s get to it. Oh, and two of these individuals are voted off tomorrow, by the way.
Tim Olstad (XXX)
Three Xs for soft-spoken Tim Olstad. He seems like a kind and genuine person. His voice is sweet and he carries a good tune. His issue is his kindness. He lacks an edge. Besides from his good voice, he has nothing else that sets him apart.
Josh Levi (XXXX)
Early favorite. He has the combination the X Factor is looking for: looks, dance moves, and good enough voice. His vocal needs a bit of work, but, let’s be honest, the studio does wonders. He is marketable; that’s what matters. If the female voters think so too, he will be around for a long time in this competition. He’ll play on the Bieber factor for as long as he can.
Carlito Olivero (XX)
An older, less talented version of Josh Levi. He will also try to play to the public with his combination of looks, dance moves, and vocals, but his vocal is a bit whiny and that won’t last long in this competition.
Ellona Santiago (XX)
Same person as Jessica Sanchez from Season 11 of American Idol? Both Filipino singers from California around the age of 17-18. Both sing the same style of pop-diva music. I’m fairly confident they are the same person. Too bad Jessica Sanchez is better, and Ellona is the doppelgänger.
Khaya Cohen (XXXXX)
Give it up for the saving grace of season 3 of The X Factor. Raspy, Amy Winehouse-like voice paired with some gritty classic rock ‘n’ roll soul all mixed together with modern flavor; Cohen is hands down the best singer in the competition, and she should sail to the end of the show without must issue.
Rion Page (XXX)
Rion Page has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which screws with the joints in her hands. Despite this, she is perhaps the most optimistic person you’ll ever meet, and I do not think it’s an act. While she inevitably has to play the sympathy card (because people see the disability), she clearly doesn’t want to. She just wants to be a country singer, and, frankly, she is pretty good (better than most of the people in the competition). Who are we to judge? She is talented, kind, and better than all of the over 25s and groups combined!
Nicole (Lillie) McCloud (X)
What a great way to start off the two worst categories on the show. If you watch the X Factor, you know this contestant as Lillie McCloud. But, as the X Factor finally admitted during the show yesterday, Lillie is actually Nicole McCloud, a recording artist from the 1980s – 2000s. But she only put out one single and never made (“I was so close”), right? Wrong. She is a fraud. FRAUD. She recorded four studio albums and her single “Don’t You Want My Love” became an international hit. This single reached the top 10 on the U.S. dance charts, in addition to charting in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Her 1994 single “Runnin’ Away” peaked at No. 3 on U.S. Dance charts. She has had 7, yes, 7 charting U.S. singles, the latest one just a little more than a decade ago. Never made it? Are you kidding me? She is an absolute fraud who should never have been allowed in the competition. I know X Factor does not have a record contract clause like some other shows, but come on, it destroys the purpose of these competitions. I just feel bad for the other contestants who are just looking to make it for the first time. Move aside and let someone else get his/her turn.
Jeff Gutt (XX)
An uninspiring rocker with a decent rock croon and, uh, that’s basically it. It’s good that the show has a true rock singer, but I just don’t see where Gutt fits in the market. I guess he is a good enough band singer, though, so hopefully he joins up with some semi-successful band and provides solid lead vocals.
Rachel Potter (XX):
In the process of writing this post, I had seen Potter’s name every time I glanced over at the contestants, but as I started writing her segment I had to look back to get her name again. What does that mean? She is forgettable. Is it just me or are you also sick of fringe female country singers? They are limited vocally and generally hokey. Last night’s performance was overdramatic and almost comical.
Alex and Sierra (X)
Ah, the groups – Simon’s babies. One issue. He doesn’t have any talent this year. Oh well. This duo is terrible. Let me sum them up with some vocabulary words: mawkish, maudlin, syrupy, and nauseating. The girl is an awkward mess. The guy does a terrible Jack White impression. The act is garbage, but it will stay because they are a couple and for some reason this resonates with a desperate American public. They should have never made it past auditions.
Sweet Suspense (X)
Sweet Suspense provides me with such suspense that every time they perform I immediately fast forward through the performance. Why? They suck. No lead singer. No harmony. Just three young, pretty girls performing hackneyed, karaoke renditions of mostly terrible songs.
Restless Road (XX)
I am starting to get a bit restless. A product of Simon, Restless Road is a country boy band. I loved Simon’s thinking. I actually think this concept can work … with better singers. One of the three is good. The other two are filler. This act could last for a while because it is country, but ultimately it will wear out.