Totally 80’s Night on “The X-Factor”

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love the 80’s. So whenever the decade is covered in a show I’m watching, I have to go in depth about it.

“The X-Factor” got to a rough start tonight to remedy last week’s voting debacle.
The person who went home in 13th place was Carlos from Paulina’s Boys category. I loved his audition, but since then, he just hasn’t sounded great. I hated to see him go, but it was just as well.

While not in the exact order, this was tonight’s playlist.
I’m still very disappointed that nobody did a Prince song or anything by Hall & Oates, but I must commend this group of contestants for picking original song choices. Songs I haven’t heard covered a million times.

1. Lillie McCloud- Chaka Khan- “Ain’t nobody”
2. Carlito- “The Rhythm’s Gonna Get You”- Gloria Estefan
3. Rion Page- “We Belong”- Pat Benatar
4. Sweet Suspense- “Mickey”- Toni Basil
5. Restless Road- “Footloose”- Kenny Loggins
6. Tim Olstad- “Against all odds”- Phil Collins
7. Khaya Cohen- “Borderline”- Madonna
8. Rachel Potter- “Alone”- Heart
9. Ellona Santiago- “I wanna dance with somebody”- Whitney Houston
10. Josh Levi- “Straight up”- Paula Abdul
11. Jeff Gutt- “I just died in your arms tonight”- Cutting Crew
12. Alex & Sierra- “Addicted to Love”- Robert Palmer

For the first time, 59yr old Lillie McCloud addressed her history with the recording business. She DID have a single out in 1986, but her career didn’t go anywhere beyond that. She got loads of criticism with not being forth coming with that information (not the way most contestants from “The Voice” are, anyways). She put that to rest as well as her being old-fashioned.
Chaka Khan was a great artist for her to cover and she even looked like she fit in the decade with the hair and the clothes she was wearing. She sang well, but didn’t have the exclamation point she usually delivers. I’m sure she’ll stick around, but there’s no guarantee of that.

That Gloria Estefan track Carlito covered is one of my favorites of hers. I thought he looked and sounded amazing. The arrangement worked really well, made the song work for his personal style and everything looked professionally.
It was the first of several times where I wondered if the judges and I were watching the same show. They hated it. I loved it. It’s a helluva lot better than either song he did last week.

Rion Page had a HUGE moment last week with her “Born this way” cover. This week, she did something completely different… she did an up-tempo track. “We Belong” is a Pat Benatar track that doesn’t get covered as much as “Love is a Battlefield” or “Hit me with your best shot” and I’m glad she and Demi picked it out. My only critique was that I felt she was a little ahead of the beat during the chorus a few times. But she looked like she was having a great time up there and I had fun watching. So nice to see her do a song that isn’t deadly serious.

Sweet Suspense covered choreographer Toni Basil’s one-hit wonder “Mickey.” The whole set of the staging looked great. As much fun as I had, they did nothing new with the song. They could be at risk of going home because they didn’t do a lot to stand out.
They did a much better job with “Keep me hangin’ on,” which was closer to Kim Wilde’s version in the 80’s than the original. Not surprisingly, I prefer the 80’s version hands down.
Simon was the only one of the judges that liked this performance and he even said tonight was their best showing. We shall see when the votes come out.

I enjoyed Restless Road doing “Easy” last week during Motown night and the voting debacle put them in an awkward place. Luckily they got a second chance and they returned with a vengeance. “Footloose” is one of the most frequently played 80’s tracks, probably one a lot of people are sick of (especially Kevin Bacon, who literally pays off wedding DJ’s so they DON’T play it when he’s in attendance). Given the setting of the movie and the fact they’re three country boys, it was a perfect match.

And this is where there was a huge rift came down between me and the judges that took a while to recover from.

They’d been hard on Tim Olstad the past few weeks. Their critiques always say “you have a great voice, but…” and it just goes downhill after that.
Tonight, I don’t know who he reminded me of, but he looked like a professional up there. I felt his performance 110%… and I’m very protective of Phil Collins’ music on these shows. I just got through ripping apart Jonny Gray on “The Voice” and he went home after doing “Another Day in Paradise”. (And despite how much I’ve come to like his songs, I still begrudge Phillip Phillips for destroying two Phil Collins songs on “American Idol” and never even getting in the bottom 3 for it).
But sadly, Simon was right about his predictability. When I heard Phil Collins, I KNEW he would do “Against all Odds”. The next step is for him to step outside of his comfort zone, possibly do something upbeat… something that’s NOT A BALLAD.
This was also a night of awkward back-up dancers. He had a single dancer on stage that kept stealing the gaze of the camera, doing interpretative dance to his lyrics. Carlito’s number was dominated by back-up dancers, including a female. The way she was dressed reminded me of Mayte 20 years ago… and I would have killed to see Mayte dancing in her place because she did nothing for me.

Then with Khaya Cohen, I’d become less and less of a fan of hers over the past couple weeks. I haven’t liked her voice or her song choices. She did “Borderline” by Madonna and destroyed it… and that’s not a good thing. The vibe was completely different, as if they tampered with it enough to make it a completely different song. Not at all… and none of the judges wanted to take my side.
Truth be told, I was very frustrated at this point in the show.

Before the next break, they said Rachel Potter was going to do Heart. I was already in panic mode. I forgot what song she sang for the “Four-Chair Challenge,” but I saw that happening all over again with “Alone.”…
except that didn’t happen. On stage, she had two back-up dancers and her props were a tall chain-link fence and a wind machine. She looked like she belonged in the decade itself. Granted, nobody can blow out that song like Heart (although I still think Carrie Underwood was close on “American Idol” Season 4’s 80’s night)… but she didn’t lose control of her vocals with the exception of the big note only Ann Wilson could hit.
One of several 80’s songs that gives me chills and some came back tonight.

The divide resumed with Ellona Santiago. She did really well with “Titanium” last week, but I’m still not a fan.
First off, Diamond White did a great version of “I wanna dance with somebody” last season, so I didn’t feel there was a need to revisit it.
Second off, she didn’t sound good, the back-up dancers were distracting (they were in bright red jacket, ew) and it was just all over the place. Simon was the only judge that made sense to me regarding her. He said it was a complete mess that he didn’t get until the big note she hit in the last 30 seconds.
I think she’s ridiculously overrated and shouldn’t have made it this far to begin with.

Looking back on the show now, I still believe Josh Levi had the stand-out performance of the night. I was afraid he’d do “Man in the Mirror” (which I’d heard cover previously this week on “The Voice”). Instead, he did “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul and had an amazing night. He broke it down, made it sound current as if Usher or Ne-Yo was singing it, and owned the stage. His vocals had my heart racing, they were so good… and I’m almost back in the place I was with Scotty McCreery on “American Idol.” He’s only 15 (Scotty was 17), I’m 27 so I gotta calm the hell down 😛
I’m hoping that if this works out for him, he doesn’t cop an attitude like Justin Beiber has lately.

Jeff Gutt rocked two songs last week. One was “Say you, say me,” which I was head over heels for. The other was “In the Air Tonight,” which was good, but I wasn’t 100% convinced.
I only knew one song by Cutting Crew, so I was concerned when they said he’d be doing one of their songs.
“I Died in your Arms” tonight… I almost wanted to cry because it sounded like that was his career being killed off by a bad song choice. This song is a personal favorite of mine. Unless he did something new and different, I knew it’d be a bad idea. It’s too bad because this dude’s a rocker and he could have picked ANY song from this decade.
I’m just hoping that doesn’t cost him the competition because he deserves so much better.

Last but not least was Alex & Sierra. Simon suggested a revamped version of “Addicted to Love,” which I predicted would be the Robert Palmer track they’d do doing (it was either that or “Simply Irresistible”… ironically, the girls on Jeff’s backdrop reminded of Robert Palmer’s groupies that are featured in his videos, almost like they were foreshadowing.
It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I really enjoyed their version of it. Not even Simon was pleased with how it turned out. Based on that, I have some concerns.

Tonight was a million times better than last week’s Motown night. It wasn’t always perfect, but there were great song choices and I enjoyed most of the performances.
The only ones I was critical with were Khaya and Ellona… either one of them or Sweet Suspense, I think, could be going home tomorrow night.

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One Response to Totally 80’s Night on “The X-Factor”

  1. Pingback: Four Awesome Covers Of 80's Songs - 1stAngel Arts Magazine

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