What a difference a 25-piece orchestra makes. The X Factor finally delivered a night where I didn’t feel like tuning out halfway. Apparently, the contestants sing on pitch much better with a live band. For the most part, the Top 8 performed solidly. No one truly stunk up the joint, making it a bit harder to rank the remaining acts. Check out the videos and my rankings below.

On a side note: How interesting is it that all the judges each have two acts in the competition still? I thought for sure Paulina or Demi would’ve been wiped out by now like Cee Lo Green is on The Voice?

X Factor Season 3 Top 8 Performances

Rion Paige

Song: “Swingin'”
Original Artist: John Anderson

Kicking off the show is always a difficult thing. You don’t know if the producers are throwing you to the wolves or if they genuinely think you can set the tone for the evening. Even though it was less big band and more country hillbilly, I loved it. Props to Rion for not letting nerves be her downfall. By far her best performance so far. Bonus points for dealing with choreography so fluidly. It seemed a natural fit on her.

Restless Road

Song: “Life is a Highway”
Original Artist: Tom Cochrane

Just like Rion, Restless Road tried to pass off a country track as a big band number. Honestly though, as long as the acts deliver, I really don’t care if they bend the rules a bit. It wasn’t as good as Rion’s but still solid. Bonus points for looking dashingly handsome in their suits, especially Andrew. WOOF. Me likey.

Jeff Gutt

Song: “Feeling Good”
Original Artist: Nina Simone

At last, a true big band number. Sure, picking this Nina Simone was expected, but Jeff nailed it. The judges showered him with their praises, especially Simon. Gutt finally won him over. The endearing package where Jeff talked about his dad should endear him to viewers more. He’ll definitely be on the receiving end of some sympathy votes.

Josh Levi

Song: “Treasure”
Original Artist: Bruno Mars

First, can we discuss how much of an idiot Paulina is? She introduced Josh as her only boy left in the competition. I love that you could see Simon’s fingers on the side motioning that she, in fact, still has two acts. Poor Carlito. Paulina has already written him off. On to the performance… Holy cow! How much of a showman is Levi? He was Michael Jackson meets Bruno Mars with a dash of Frank Sinatra. While Simon wasn’t a fan of his dated dance moves, I appreciated them. With three solid performances in a row, he’s officially won me over. I wouldn’t mind a Josh win at this point. He has the potential to be a viable recording artist.

Carlito Olivero

Song: “La Copa de Vida” / “Maria Maria”
Original Artist: Ricky Martin

Ask and you shall receive. Demi wanted some Ricky Martin, and Paulina and Carlito delivered. Though, it appears Paulina received some mentoring notes from Simon as well. Whoever came up with the idea, huge applause. I can’t believe I’m saying this about Carlito, but I absolutely loved it. It was Vegas meets Miami. The bilingual mashup highlighted him in the best possible way. For once, he actually was as sexy as he claims.

Alex & Sierra

Song: “I Knew You Were Trouble”
Original Artist: Taylor Swift

ABSOLUTELY SPEECHLESS. This is how you take a contemporary track and make it over into a big band number. Sierra brought her “A” game this week after being labeled the weak link. Not only did she look drop dead gorgeous, she sounded sensational as well. There was almost an aggression in her delivery. It worked for her. She was so good, I almost didn’t notice Alex. Almost being the operative word. He’s too damn hot to ignore.

Lillie McCloud

Song: “Summertime”
Original Artist: Porgy and Bess musical

There’s no denying Lillie’s pipes are phenomenal. However, this was predictable, boring and borderline cabaret. I’m so glad Simon called her out on being to constrained and not being raw enough. Lillie is definitely in danger. I’m sure her response to Simon, albeit polite, will not go over very well with viewers. No one likes it when contestants talk back to the judges.

Ellona Santiago

Song: “Mamma Knows Best”
Original Artist: Jessie J.

I agree with Simon that the production and staging was too much. Aside from that, Ellona finally came to play. Unfairly, I’ve been hard on her and simply chalked her up as a poor man’s Jessica Sanchez. Tonight, she impressed. It was sassy and for the most part, pitch perfect. Job well done Ellona, job well done.

X Factor Season 3: Which Acts Are Your Favorites?

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Top 8 ‘Cry Me A River’ Group Performance

Michael Buble mentored the contestants for a group performance. I’m not sure how I feel about the acts being judged on this. Naturally, some parts of the song are meatier than others. Even though they tried, the lines were not equally distributed. With that in mind, I agree with the judges that Ellona and Alex & Sierra shined the brightest.

X Factor Top 8 Rankings

  • 1. Alex & Sierra
  • 2. Carlito Olivero
  • 3. Ellona Santiago
  • 4. Jeff Gutt
  • 5. Rion Paige
  • 6. Josh Levi
  • 7. Restless Road
  • 8. Lillie McCloud

What do you think of tonight’s performances? Did the Top 8 impress you? Who do you think is leaving? I predict the bottom will be Josh and Lillie with either Carlito or Jeff filling the third slot. How about you? Sound off below.