This week marked a few very pivotal moments in our world’s history. Not only did we experience the very last repetitive date (12/12/12) of our lifetime (you know, unless you plan on living a really, really long time), but we also witnessed an event that is both near and dear to every reality show junkie’s heart: The X Factor semifinals!
That’s right, folks. Believe it or not, we’re now down to the final four of the competition, where even one little mistake can mean the difference between safe and signora. Their musical careers are actually hanging in the balance (and for once it has nothing to do with our crappy economy). It has to do with America’s votes. And with the finals only a week away, these guys (and gals) were willing to put it all on the line and take a few risks.
This week’s Semifinals round featured each act performing two musical numbers: one chosen by the acts themselves and the other chosen by their mentor. So which contestants shined above the rest and which ones failed to impress? Check out our recap below and find out!
Tate Stevens (Over 25s — Team L.A. Reid):
This lovable cowboy kicked off the night with his song choice, “Bonfire” by Craig Morgan, in appreciation of his great family and friends back home. Our favorite country crooner did what he does best and sang from the heart with as much twang as possible. As always, he’s adorable and impossible not to root for (as America has proven week after week). Britney wasn’t all that thrilled by the song choice, however, Demi called it a “winning performance” while Simon remarked that he looks like a man who can win this competition.
Tate’s second song, “Fall” by Clay Walker, was greeted with just as much — if not more — praise than the first. He gets so absorbed in every single song he sings, it’s hard not to get swept up into all the emotion. Seriously, if he put any more feeling into his performances it would be a Nicholas Sparks book. If you want to swoon over someone, ladies, swoon over this guy. Britney called his performance a direct hit and Simon told Tate that he is just as likely to leave this competition as Simon is to fly to the moon. No doubt about it, this guy deserves to be in the finals.
Carly Rose Sonenclar (Teens — Team Britney Spears):
There’s no doubt that Carly Rose is a talented singer. I mean, being able to successfully cover songs from some of the biggest Pop Queens in the world is no easy feat, yet she somehow always manages to pull it off without fail. And this week was no exception. The 13-year-old superstar tackled a piece from one of the fiercest divas of them all: Elton John, singing his popular hit song “Your Song.” It was a risky song, but once again, she managed to nail it and make the performance her own (ugh, 13 people!). I guess those awkward teenage years just don’t happen for some people. Overall, the judges loved it. Demi said it was predictable, but still considered it her best song yet, whereas Simon thought she was a little hesitant and felt she could do much better. That’s probably just the bitterness talking though…I hear Scrooge Simon gets like that around this time of year.
For her second song, Carly Rose sang John Lennon’s classic hit, “Imagine.” Normally, I’d advise against singing two super slow songs back to back, but this girl just seems to make it work no matter what. She always defies the norm. And, as an X-tra bonus, we got to see her play the piano, which was pretty cool. L.A., Demi, and Britney all thought it was incredible, but Simon felt there was just too much going on. Yeah…awesomeness! Vote for this girl, America. She deserves it.
Emblem3 (Groups — Team Simon Cowell):
Never missing an opportunity to make teenage girls swoon, Emblem3 opted to sing “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton, in honor of simpler times. To be honest, it felt more like a fangirl serenade than anything nostalgic. I don’t know why I can’t get on this boy group bandwagon, but they just don’t do anything for me. They’re cute and know how to work a crowd, but Simon’s over-cockiness seems to be rubbing off on them and I just don’t feel any real emotion from their performances. (At least there were no awkward solos this week, right?) L.A. called it their $5 million moment and Britney said they’re way more than just a boy band (though I’m not really sure what that means…The next Bachelor? Future DWTS contestants? Who knows!)
Their second number of the night, Paul McCartney’s “Hey Jude,” was performed with some actual emotion, which almost redeemed themselves in my eyes. Almost. But the amount of praise they received from the judges was a little hard to digest. Aside from the regular positive feedback we’ve grown accustom to hearing, L.A. actually remarked that they are teen heartthrobs like The Beatles. WHAT THE WHAT?! Yes, these guys can kind of sing and work a crowd, but they should NOT be getting compared to one of the most legendary boy bands of all time. That’s like comparing apples and oranges. It will take a lot more work for them to get to that level. These guys can’t by my love that easily.
Fifth Harmony (Groups — Team Simon Cowell):
For their first song, Fifth Harmony tackled “Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding, which is pretty appropriate since, at this point, anything could happen. You know, except the fact that they’re definitely the ones who will be going home this week. They just don’t have the same singing capabilities as Tate and Carly; and Emblem3 has too big of a fan base to be eliminated. They actually did do some harmonizing though, which L.A. was very pleased to see (or should I say hear). He called it their best vocal performance they’ve ever done and Britney thought it inspired girl power. (Spice Girls reference everyone!) And as far as risks go…that girl’s bow was really something…
But some risks don’t always work out the way you want them to. The girls rounded out the night by singing Shontelle’s “Impossible,” a song they already performed earlier this season at the judges’ homes. They also chose to sing parts of the song in Spanish to bring their own unique flair to the competition. However, regardless of whether it was in Spanish or English, this not-so-risky song choice didn’t seem to sit too well with the judges. L.A. called it lazy and Britney said she would be very surprised if they make it to next week’s finals. Sorry ladies, repeating a song you’ve already performed is no bueno.
So what did you think of Wednesday night’s round of performances? Which acts do you think stand the biggest chance of making it to the finals? Sound off on your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to tune in for Thursday night’s results show where the Top 3 will be revealed and on to the finals!
Follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyBean0415
[Photo credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX]
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There isn't much of a twist to The Woman in Black's haunted house tale: man goes to a creepy old house runs into an angry ghost and mayhem ensues. That standard horror plot would be fine if the execution were thrilling every scare sending a chill down the spine. But star Daniel Radcliffe's first post-Potter outing has less life than its spectral inhabitants with impressive early 20th century production design sharp cinematography and solid performances barely keeping it breathing. Much like the film's titular spirit The Woman in Black hangs in limbo haunting the quality divide.
Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is barely holding on in life having lost his wife during the birth of their child and struggling to stay employed as a lawyer. To stay afloat Kipps reluctantly takes on the job of settling the legal affairs of a recently deceased widow. Living in her home the you-should-have-known-this-house-was-haunted-by-the-name Eel Marsh House Kipps quickly realizes there's more to the woman's life than he realized unraveling her mysterious connections to a string of child deaths and a ghostly presence in the home. Even with pressure from the townspeople Kipps continues his investigation hoping to right any wrongs he's accidentally caused by putting the violent Woman in Black to rest.
Radcliffe bounces back and forth between the dusty mansion made even more forbidding by the high tides that routinely cut it off from civilization and a town full of wide-eyed psychos who live in fear of the kid-killing Woman in Black. Even after losing his own son Kipps' neighbor Daily (Ciarán Hinds) is convinced the "ghost" is a fairy tales while Daily's wife (Oscar nominee Janet McTeer) finds herself occasionally possessed by her dead son scribbling forbidding message to Arthur about future murders. Arthur wrestles with the two extreme points of view but Woman in Black doesn't spend much time exploring the hardships of a skeptic quickly slipping back into standard horror mode at every opportunity. When they have time to play around with the twisted scenario all three actors are top-notch but rarely are they asked to do anything but gasp and react in a terrified manner.
Director James Watkins (Eden Lake) conjures up some legitimately spooky imagery leaving the space behind Arthur empty or cutting to an object in the room that could potentially come back to haunt our befuddled hero all in an effort to tickle our imaginations. But like so many "jump scare" horror flicks Woman in Black relies heavily on the "Bah-BAAAAAAH" music cues obtrusively orchestrated by composer Marco Beltrami. A rocking chair a swinging door and the reveal of a decomposing zombie ghost lady could work on their own especially in such a well-designed environment as Eel Marsh House but Woman in Black insists on zapping a charge of musical electricity straight into our brain forcing us to shiver in the least graceful way possible.
The script by Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass X-Men: First Class) tries to throw back to the slow burn character-first horror films of classic cinema while injecting the sensibilities modern filmmaking. The combination turns Woman in Black into visually appealing dramatically bland ghost story. Radcliffe still has a long career ahead of him as Woman in Black does suggest but this isn't the movie that get people thinking there's life after Potter.
Ape descendant Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) gets yanked from the Earth by best friend and alien Ford Prefect (Mos Def) seconds before a Vogon constructor fleet destroys it to make way for a hyperspace expressway. Next thing he knows Arthur is aboard the Vogon ship reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (voiced by Stephen Fry) and wondering where he might get some tea. But he and Ford are not in the clear: the Vogons (some of whom look like the nightmarish drawings of Ralph Steadman come to life in S&M leather) want to throw them into the vacuum of space right after they read some of the third worst poetry in the known universe. Luckily the spaceship Heart of Gold picks up the stranded hitchhikers in the nick of time. Stolen by the dim but groovy President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) the ship has an Improbability Drive that causes certain mischief turning the stowaways into loveseats and later two missiles into a bowl of petunias and a sperm whale. Also onboard is doe-eyed Earth girl Tricia "Trillian" McMillan (Zooey Deschanel) who previously ditched Arthur at a costume party on Earth to satisfy her wanderlust with Zaphod. The crew then embarks on a quest to find the Ultimate Question to Life the Universe and Everything after supercomputer Deep Thought (voiced by Helen Mirren) found the answer: 42. On the run and without a home Arthur discovers that life's true meaning comes from the answers found within.
The slapstick antics and sharp dialogue evoke enough laughs to make one forget that the characters are rather one-note. Rockwell's Zaphod is a riot at first but the cheeky smile and devilish winks soon wear thin. Deschanel has little to work with playing Trillian though it's fun watching her wield a point-of-view gun on Zaphod. Mos Def mumbles some lines but does manage to act like someone from another planet. Freeman does an amiable job playing the fish-out-of-water Earthman but neglects to express the grief and bewilderment of someone who just lost his planet. Even John Malkovich as Humma Kavular--the spiritual leader of a cult awaiting the arrival of the Big Handkerchief--fails to make much of an impression in his brief appearance. Only Alan Rickman as the perpetually glum robot Marvin and Bill Nighy as the stammering planet designer Slartibartfast remain funny without becoming routine--though unfortunately Nighy only appears in the third act. A half-cocked romance between Arthur and Trillian is thrown in for good measure with the couple merely going through the motions.
Directed with considerable flair by first-timer Garth Jennings whose frantic visual style blends well with Adams' ironic wit the film looks as good as can be. CGI is used to display Adams' universe in ways never seen before: The massive concrete slabs of the Vogon fleet surrounding Earth the Heart of Gold tricked out in 1960's Formica kitsch the stark bureaucratic world of Vogosphere and the eye-popping factory floor on Magrathea are all vividly brought to life. Although the graphics of the Guide look more like Internet pop-up ads than stellar entries from the best-selling book in the galaxy the exposition from the Guide is clever and amusing though one should brush up on the material prior to viewing. Even with all the stunning visuals however the plot is still thin. Jennings and screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick (Chicken Run) have trimmed the story--and witty banter--to its barest essentials leaving out some of the funnier bits to quicken the pace. Memorable exchanges--like the opening battle of wits between Arthur and Mr. Prosser--are reduced to a few meaningless lines while the always hinted-at love affair between Arthur and Trillian gets the full Hollywood treatment. In the past Adams who died of a heart attack in 2001 has allowed the Guide to change and progress with each incarnation so new additions--like the point-of-view gun and the cult of the Big Handkerchief--are welcomed. But the patchwork of wacky vignettes and neutered banter particularly between Arthur and Ford leave one yearning for something more meaningful.
Pop singer George Michael said today that he has purchased the Steinway piano used by John Lennon to compose "Imagine" for $2.1 million.
"We can confirm that George Michael has bid successfully for John Lennon's piano," a spokeswoman for Michael told Reuters. "He decided to do this because the piano was a part of music history and because he wanted it to remain in Britain."
The upright, walnut piano, which Lennon purchased in 1970 for some 1,000 pounds, went on the auction block late Tuesday in a trans-Atlantic auction. It has been housed at the Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool, England, since February.
98 DEGREES' DREW SAYS 'I DO': The boy band 98 Degrees, whose hits include "I Do (Cherish You)" and "Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)," saw one of its own say "I do" over the weekend. Drew Lachey wed longtime sweetheart Lea Dellecave during a ceremony in Cincinnati on Saturday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Dellecave's mother told the Enquirer that the happy couple has known each other since the fifth grade. 98 Degrees bandmates Nick Lachey (Drew's bro) and Justin Jeffre attended the private ceremony.
AGUILERA FILES LAWSUIT: Teen pop sensation Christina Aguilera filed a lawsuit against her former manager, Steven Kurtz, on Friday in Los Angeles citing fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. In the lawsuit, Aguilera, 19, says that Kurtz, who managed the singer's career starting at age 17, used "improper, undue and inappropriate" incluence over Aguilera's professional activities.
Aguilera wants to void her contract with Kurtz and recently signed on with Irving Azoff, Don Henley's longtime manager.