“The X Factor” finale kicks off in style with a rented red carpet, a pack of rented paparazzi, a rented cheering crowd, and some rented limos to drop off the show’s judges, where Ko-Hosts Khloe Kardashian Odom and Mario Lopez are able to snag the first interviews.
As the judges arrive, Mario and Khloe hit their marks by mentioning the phrase “$5 million recording contract” five times in under three minutes. Then it’s back to the arrivals.
Each of the finalists — that’s country singer/road worker Tate Stevens, 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar, and made-for-X girl group Fifth Harmony — in turn get out of an SUV, microphone in hand, and take turns singing Beatles tune “All You Need Is Love” as they make their way backstage and then onstage, while the renta-razzi snap away.
An all-singing red carpet should be the new standard for trophy shows.
“That was a-Ma-zing!” Khloe affirms.
First performance of the night: Tate Stevens on “Please Come Home for Christmas” backed by sexy female elves. Tate sounds very professional.
A video tribute to Tate follows, with loving endorsements from family and friends while that treacle-tune from sentimental British Christmas movie, “Love, Actually” plays. Throughout the season, the X-producers have deployed this music when they want to cue us to get a lump in our throats.
“How does that make you FEEL?” Khloe booms at Tate, who blows off the answer with some minimal response. One thing we admire about Tate is his refusal to take the bait on these “Love, Actually” moments.
Over 35 million votes were cast last night, Lopez tells us.
A best-of video runs showing Simon insulting various contestants over the course of the season. Sample: “You sound like a dog trying to lay an egg.”
Fifth Harmony tries to recapture the girly energy of their one successful song, “Anything Could Happen”, with the 1960s chestnut “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”. We could have watched “Anything Could Happen” again, maybe this time with Santa hats and candy canes — but no, they had to branch out!
“You guys started out as strangers and now you’re like sisters,” Khloe booms at them. “How does that make you FEEL?” The girls affirm it makes them feel like sisters.
Next, a good song for Carly Rose in “All I Want for Christmas,” which the X-choreographers embellish with break-dancing toy soldiers.
At the one-hour mark, Khloe comes out in a costume change. She’s changed out of her green lace mini-dress and is now a form fitting brown-ish leather-ish mini-dress. Or she had herself dipped in chocolate.
And it’s time to send the lowest voted of the three acts home. No surprise, it’s Fifth Harmony who had never been big vote getters before peaking at just the right time two weeks ago.
Special guest Pitbull performs, in support of his new album “Global Warming”, which is a serious issue for the planet and is already having major effects like forcing backup dancers to wear short-short raincoats over their short shorts, apparently.
Roll tape on Youth Demographic Judge Demi Lovato insulting Simon throughout the season, including our favorite Demi-Simon slapdown, in which she grabbed the mike as he was trying to introduce his pet boy band Emblem3, saying they were going to — “perform something predictable,” Demi finished.
Which makes a good segue to the next act, Simon’s successful pet boy band, and winners of the British “X-Factor,” One Direction, singing a predictable though catchy number “Kiss You.” What with all their appearances on American “X” this year, including the many airings of their Pepsi commercial, we feel that we’ve come to know the lads intimately.
Carly Rose and Tate take to the stage to duet, or rather take turns singing parts, on Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” for one last shot at over-loud, muddy sound mixing from the X-sound booth.
Khloe has made a third costume change, this time into something iridescently reptile-skin like. So we know something big is up next, like announcing the winner.
And it’s Tate Stevens, the likeable, modest, family man and asphalt-layer who could use a break in life — his great back-story wasn’t fair to the other contestants really, but that’s the hard reality of TV singing competitions.
Tate sings us out with Chris Young’s “Tomorrow” about a man who’s apparently about to walk out on his wife. Hey! Anyway, he doesn’t break down and cry, as have so many competition winners in years past. And, since they aren’t playing that tune from “Love, Actually, “ neither do we.