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“This is crunch time,” Rion said in a hectic mid-show package showing how busy the contestants lives are. It was smart in a way because it reminded us, the audience, how much work actually goes into the show. We sit on our couch and complain about this out-of-tune number and that awkward dance, but we rarely remember how much rehearsal, waiting and stress goes into each song.
After that reminder and a brief mention of Nelson Mandela’s death (handled, briskly, by Mario Lopez with as little earnestness and gracefulness as humanly possible), it’s time to get to the first elimination of the night. And it is…
Ellona Santiago! The crowd seemed shocked, as did Demi, but it was part one of my prediction from last night. Ellona has pipes, to be sure, but she often chose songs too big for her and then masked the poor singing with over-the-top staging. And besides, the last three weeks have been filled with terrible choices from America, so why anyone would be surprised about a talented singer going home early is beyond me.
Next was a performance from Emblem3, a pop reggae band (according to Wikipedia), who competed on X Factor last year. They sounded better than Restless Road and Roxxy Montana combined, but I’ve already forgotten what their hit song sounded like.
Then came the reveal of the bottom two: Rion & Carlito. Following that was another of the show’s alums, the foxy, British girl group Little Mix. But let’s skip right to Rion and Carlito singing for their life.
Rion went first and sang “The House That Build Me.” I’m not a big country fan, but I love that song. It’s so simple and pure and lyrically beautiful. While earlier, Rion said she wanted to “shine [her] light” on the stage, all she delivered was an exceedingly pitchy and badly-sung vocal. When Rion’s good, she’s very good, but when Rion jumps off the deep end, it’s really, really bad. And this was really, really bad.
Following her was Carlito, who sang Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna.” I couldn’t hear 80 percent of the number since every girl in the audience was shrieking like the Biebs was personally serenading them. But what I could hear sounded pretty good. On top of that, Carlito seemed to be having fun, drinking in the cheers, and even seducing Demi’s sister (awkward!) in the audience.
Demi voted for Carlito to get the ax, Paulina voted for Rion, Kelly voted for Rion and Simon voted for Rion. Which means A) Rion is going home, B) for the first time in the live shows the right people are leaving and C) I correctly guessed 2/2 about who would get the ax tonight.
Goodbye Rion and Ellona, and see you next week with more X Factor!