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.