L.A. Reid is quitting on us, folks. Yep, the record mogul decided that he could not live on Pepsi ads, the possibility of a Khloe Kardashian wardrobe malfunction, and Mario Lopez’ Pavlovian calls for viewers’ tweets, alone. I think we all know how he feels. These X Factor results shows—stretching ten minutes’ worth of content over sixty—have become an exercise in endurance and reality TV minimalism, in which we’re forced to confront directly the experience of time, as if we were watching an experimental film such as Michael Snow’s Wavelength in which nothing at all happens except our own act of watching it. At this point would I rather see an X Factor results show or sit through Andy Warhol’s Empire, an eight-hour movie consisting solely of a single shot of the Empire State Building? I honestly cannot say.
I mean, at least the Dancing With the Stars results shows include some enjoyably kitschy dance numbers to liven things up. X Factor’s sole attempt at a musical extravaganza was to have the four remaining contestants perform Dirty Money’s “Coming Home.” Sleeve-challenged boy band Emblem 3 ineptly rhymed their way through Diddy’s rap verses, while Carly Rose Sonenclar took over the Skylar Grey part. I’m afraid, Carly, that your destiny will be much like Skylar Grey’s: to linger in the shadows intoning a soothing, siren-song chorus, only to be blasted off stage by a motormouth rapper and his testosterone-fueled lyrics. But hey, at least they didn’t perform “I Need a Doctor.”
Unlike previous weeks, Thursday night’s results show featured only one elimination. Hence the extra filler. With only one more act set to get the boot, we’d then be all set for the showdown of the Top 3 during the finale. Khloe and Mario announced first that Fifth Harmony was safe. The abject loathing on Britney Spears' face upon hearing that Simon’s girl group had survived was palpable…and hilarious. While the pop tart has only one real positive critique to add at any given time—“amazing!”—her negative commentary is so refined, so precisely calibrated that words are in fact too imprecise to convey the subtle shades of her meaning. Pantomime is the only way to directly convey her emotional response. Have any of you guys ever since David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me? In the movie, Lynch’s FBI officer has a secretary named Lil, who can only communicate via a complex, highly ritualized repertoire of facial expressions. That’s pretty much Britney, who must boast at least fifty different shades of stinkface alone at this point. Truly, the greatest music to emerge from The X Factor this whole season is the symphony of emotion writ-large across Britney’s face.
One of those slightly more restrained stinkface expressions she saved for Tate Stevens, who was next saved. Britney is really, really not a country music fan. Yes, she’s from Louisiana. But you know what they say: this is a woman you can take out of the country, just don’t you dare put country in her earbuds.
L.A. Reid, however, remained Tate’s biggest supporter. “I can’t even claim to have been a country music fan,” the record mogul confessed. “But you know what I am now? I am a Tate Stevens fan.” I’m sure that when Stevens’ album makes its debut exclusively at Cracker Barrel—the restaurant chain that is to country music what Starbucks is to easy listening—alongside the latest offerings from Wynonna Judd and the Oak Ridge Boys, Reid will be in line.
So that left Carly Rose Sonenclar and Emblem3 in the bottom two. And Emblem3 got the boot. America just isn’t ready for our own Stateside version of One Direction. Especially since Cowell, devoted to micromanaging the boy band’s image, hasn’t allowed them to perform any of their original material in weeks. “I’m gutted, really, for them,” Cowell said. “But I really mean this. You are gonna have a huge career on the back of this.” We’ll see about that. I’m just sad their departure here in the semifinals means we’ll never get to see them compare biceps with Mario Lopez.
And so that’s our Top 3: Fifth Harmony, Tate Stevens, and Carly Rose Sonenclar. Do you think America made the right choice by sending Emblem3 packing? And do you think Cowell’s right about their future career prospects? See you next week for the finale!
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Fox]
L.A. Reid Leaving ‘The X Factor’
‘The X Factor’: Tate Stevens, Emblem3, Fifth Harmony Talk the Beatles…and Winning
The X Factor Recap: Risky Business
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Welcome back to The Voice! The final four (this is what March Madness is, right?) will soon become three: not through a Human Centipede-style abomination of science, but America’s votes. One contestant will be eliminated before next week’s finals — who’s it going to be?
My No. 19 celebrity crush — and veteran Voice mentor — Michael Bublé opens the show with “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” It’s fun to hear fangirlish screams from the usually relatively reserved Voice audience. I like the snowflake set and the production’s wintry white theme, as reflected in Michael’s bright tuxedo jacket and big, pale face. Let’s you and me make a large-skulled, anemic baby, Bubbles.
GALLERY: Best and Worst TV Episodes of 2012 For their part, the coaches seem to have enacted an unofficial dress code. Slim-hipped Adam Levine wears a jacket that’s fit him since his eighth-grade graduation, and Blake Shelton dons a roomy three-piece suit that he might’ve found on the discount rack at Men’s Wearhouse (which is not say you look anything less than flawless, my scruffy Southern angel).The show flew Trevin Huntehome to Georgia to visit his extended family, and the reunion is as tearful and wholesome as you’d imagine. In a scene cribbed from a teen movie dream sequence, Trevin is greeted with a standing ovation at an assembly in his honor at his former middle school. Back in L.A., Trevin offers “Wind Beneath My Wings,” dedicated to those students back in Georgia. As he sings, he’s flanked by vaguely angelic female musicians in flowing, ethereal robes. Maybe a little too on-the-nose? Trevin, as always, is almost boringly good. He sounds a little flat in the song’s final, extended notes, but otherwise nails it. Nicholas David heads back to the Twin Cities to visit his family’s newly purchased home for the first time. His super-pregnant wife is very sweet, as are his little boys, each with a miniature version of Nick’s goofy face. They stop by the doctor’s office to listen to the baby’s heartbeat, which — to my disappointment — proves to have a normal, human rhythm and not a syncopated funk groove.
VIDEOS: 14 Most Embarrassing Singing Performances of 2012 Nick sings “You Are So Beautiful” in honor of his family, but damn, if anybody’s looking beautiful, it’s him. This is his first time appearing on the show without his glasses, and it turns out he’s surprisingly dashing. I hope Lasik’s marketing team is blowing up his voicemail about doing a commercial (for which he’ll sing “ I Can See Clearly Now ” — I expect a job offer by Friday, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce). Conspiracy theory: What if Nick never needed glasses, and planned this She’s All That reveal in advance to secure a last-minute bump in votes? And what if Terry McDermott isn’t really Scottish at all, and will from now on affect any accent America chooses? (My vote? Minnesotan.) Like “Wind Beneath My Wings,” this is an infamously saccharine song, but the stripped-down arrangement works for me. In search of an emotional payoff, the camera repeatedly focuses on Nick’s family in the audience. But, delightfully, the kids are too busy fidgeting and staring into space (my two primary childhood hobbies) to pay their dad any mind. Blake rounds up all his team members from this season to collaborate on a cover of “White Christmas.” D’aww. Incidentally, by this point, the show’s product placement has gotten so aggressive that I’m pretty sure there’s an assistant whose entire job is to position Starbucks cups in the foreground of every shot. Unsurprisingly, “White Christmas” is essentially a Blake solo performance — I AM NOT COMPLAINING — with his team contributing only 10 or 15 seconds of singing on the chorus. Glad we paid to fly all of you out here, folks.
GALLERY: Best (and Worst) Songs of the Year Cassadee Pope visits her boyfriend and family in West Palm Beach, Fla., dropping in on a local radio station and accepting a key to the city. Coach Blake’s influence has apparently rubbed off — Cassadee returns to country with a soaring yet controlled cover of Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy.” I really like her version: it reminds me of a Taylor Swift B-side, minus the veiled references to Jake Gyllenhaal. Blake praises Cassadee’s capacity for emotional expression and storytelling, both of which are key to country stardom. By the time you read this recap, this single will have charted on iTunes. Perhaps because The Voiceis too cheap to foot the bill for transatlantic travel, Terry returns to New Orleans, his adopted home. He adorably surprises his son, then is himself adorably surprised by his aunt and uncle visiting from Scotland. In related news, I have lost at least 4 percent of my body weight in tears over the course of this episode. For the evening’s final performance, Terry takes on The Beatles’ “Let It Be.” It’s lovely, adjusted to a slightly higher register to suit Terry’s voice. There are no high highs, because any rendition of “Let It Be” is always more about the song (which Blake calls “sacred ground”) than the singer. Nevertheless, it’s a great cover. Who would’ve thought that British rockers could succeed in America? The Voicereturns tonight at 8 p.m., when one of the remaining four contestants will be eliminated. Follow Molly on Twitter at @mollyfitz. [Image Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC] More: The Voice Recap: Pretty Girls and Unicorns The Voice Recap: 50 Shades of Blake The Voice Recap: The Cee-Bow Connection
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Victoria Beckham is known for many things — her fashion sense, her scowl, her creatively named children, her shoes that are higher than Lindsay Lohan on her way into rehab — but one thing she's not really know for is her book smarts. Despite having "written" a memoir, back in 2005 she said she has never read a book. Not even one! She never has time for books. Well, that's all changed. Lady Becks has finished her first full-length read, and it's a doozy. Yes, she's a big fan of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Vicky B told Glamour magazine (where she guest edited September's issue, because it's not that she's illiterate, she's just, you know, busy) that she finished the first one and loved it. "I’m halfway through the second one. I even bought my mum the book!" she says.
Congrats on finishing your first 1.5 books! In honor of the new favorite hobby of our new favorite Spice Girl (after Scary, of course) we decided to make her a little reading list that seems to be along the lines of her interests.
Hollywood Wives: Jackie Collins' classic about the priviledged women of L.A. and all the sex that they're having.
Champion: Fabio certainly knows how to be on the cover of a romance novel, but what about when he writes about a champion. Victoria should know what it's like to marry one.
Just for Kicks: A showgirl falls in love with a soccer player. Sound familiar?
Unofficial Posh Spice in My Pocket: Literature is supposed to teach you something about yourself, right?
Madame Bovary: Lust, sex, betrayal, passion, fashion, death (spoiler alert!): it's everything your average romance novel lover wants, except it's not so easy to read.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo credit: Wenn.com]
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Raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing (or not hearing because all the piercing screams have rendered you deaf) about every little thing Justin Bieber ever does. Now raise your hand if you’re tired of seeing the little twerp’s face on everything from magazine covers to backpacks to lunchboxes. Well, it’s only going to get worse from here on out; I don’t think we’ve even hit the halfway point of the Biebermania hurricane. Now, Bieber’s people have found another way to drain the wallets of tweens’ parents everywhere. Bieber nail polish. Yep, you read that right.
Bieber is working with Nicole by OPI to bring his nail polish line called “One Less Lonely Girl” to stores. So tweeny bopper ladies, when wearing his face on a t-shirt and blasting “Baby, baby, baby, baby….” (those are all the lyrics, right?) on your iPod don’t make you feel close enough to the Biebs, you can now wear a color named after one of his songs on your fingernails! They come in totally revolutionary shades too, like “Me + Blue” (which is dark blue) or “Step 2 the Beat of My Heart” (which is heart shaped glitter). The really obnoxious one, however, is OMB! (bright red) which promotes the worst Bieber-fication of a phrase ever; that’s right, OMB means “Oh My Bieber” because OMG just can’t contain the fanaticism. The word 'ridiculous' can’t contain my feelings about this nonsense.
But this is only the really weird tip of the ice berg, folks. Bieber’s got a whole slew of stuff to shill just in time for the holidays. We’re talking about his first book, Halloween costumes (I wonder if they come with a lesson that famous hair-flip), a line of dolls (creepy), a 3D concert movie, Christmas cards, bracelets, life-size cardboard cutouts, water bottles, pink fuzzy pillows shaped like his initials, and even underwear. (That last one’s just creepy; aren’t most of his fans 13 year olds?)
I get it, little girls are bonkers for Bieber, but this is an epidemic on monumental proportions. On the other hand, I guess we should have known – his original claim to fame was starting a mall riot on New York’s Long Island.