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Who’s No. 1? It’s the question on all X Factor fans’ minds, but the finalists and judges had more pressing concerns with the digit. Namely: which chart-topping No. 1 hit song would they choose?
As in all things X, the final picks were a mixed bag that included the unexpected (The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”) and the tried and, let’s face it, tired (Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” — aka Simon Cowell’s favorite song. That’s not to say that season two’s top 8 didn’t twist up a rhythm or two — although that, you heard with your own ears. As for what you didn’t see? Read on for THR’s view from the inside…
- No surprise here: there’s a direct feed from the X Factor studio to Simon’s mega-trailer/mansion on wheels. Walking through the CBS Television City parking lot, it’s clearly visible even from far away — to the point where the head judge may want to post a supersized banner that says, “Spoiler Alert!”
- Continuing our stroll past The Price is Right bungalow and Bill Maher’s reserved parking spot, we spot a slew of candelabras and velvety furniture on standby. The grand piano a few feet away makes us think the props are for Thursday’s guest, Alicia Keys. In fact, they’re for the consistently over-the-top Cece Frey.
- Let’s hear it for the audience warm-up guy Frank Nicotero, who, with a wink-wink, just had to point out when the countdown clock hit 4:20. It likely went over half the peoples’ heads — and certainly, the dozens of youngins. Then again, it is California…
- The judges’ entrance may be our favorite part of the two-hour taping, if only to see the sheer terror on Britney Spears and Demi Lovato’s faces as they (carefully) try to baby-step down the see-through stairs. The guys — Cowell and L.A. Reid — on the other hand, are high-fiving fans in the pit and practically skipping to their seats.
- Diamond White is first to take the stage, but in slowing down her version of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” much of the studio audience is confused as to whether to stand or be seated. Indeed, for the first 30 seconds or so, the amount of rising and sitting feels like a church service.
- The first commercial break calls for a photo opp (Britney and L.A.) as dozens of balloons are popped by stagehands. Now that’s a fun job (almost as cool as the vacuum cleaner-wielding confetti gatherers).
- Clearly Vino Alan is next up, but with zero movement or set-building on stage, it becomes instantly clear that his performance will have to wait until after the break. When the Missouri rocker does appear, he gives props to the band in the form of a finger pointing appreciatively.
- Another break, another photo — this time with frienemies Simon and L.A.
- Vino’s “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” leaves Britney perplexed, but while he was singing, the pop star was bobbing her head as L.A. grooved in place one seat over. Despite the lukewarm reception, a fan yells “I love you, Vino!” almost as if on cue.
- Speaking of cue, Khloe Kardashian is positioned among the pit members for the next intro and looks comfortable. She even gets chatty with the fans surrounding her.
- The most entertaining performance of the night was actually at the judges’ table, where Simon and Demi were practically going for each others’ throats. Case in point: the virtual stare-down they had following Paige Thomas’ stellar performance.
- Warm-up Frank was trying to build a buzz for the Rick Astley hit, but considering a good chunk of the audience members were born a decade after the song had hit, recognition of the artist or his “rick-rolled” meme reference, was no doubt rare.
- Although one of its own suffered the loss of a grandfather, Fifth Harmony’s insta-support system came in holding hands and many, many heartfelt embraces throughout the break and before the five girls launched into Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger.”
- Coming back from a break with seconds to go, L.A. Reid is the lone judge at the table. Britney rushes back, barely making it in time to introduce her second act, Carly Rose Sonenclar.
- An Adele song is one tall order — no wonder Carly Rose is alternating sipping water and tea while seated at the top of her set piece.
- Another break brings out Fox alternative programming president Mike Darnell, who uses the four minutes to talk shop with Simon.
- How do we know where Tate rates with the audience? Clearly as high as his ranking position seeing as the studio bleachers were literally bouncing along to his performance of Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You.”
- CeCe Frey’s “Lady Marmalade” set was a sight to behold, as was the cleanup effort, which warm-up Fred described as Pinkberry exploding.
- Demi Lovato is on the campaign trail. During the break, she takes her run-of-show sheet and scribbles on the back, “Vote for Paige and CeCe.” Then, Demi pleads with the audience to “tell all your friends that they deserve to be in the top.” Or else what? Demi says she’ll hunt the nonbelievers down, confessing, “I’ve got hook-ups in the C.I.A.”
- Emblem3’s ramp was set up just in the nick of time (how do they do it?), but even without it, the three boys from Huntington Beach clearly had energy to burn — so much so that Drew felt a need to drop to the floor for a push-up at song’s end.
What did you think of Wednesday’s episode? Leave your comments below.
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