The X Factor Season Finale Part II Running Diary – The End is Here

Last night, the final three acts of The X Factor performed for the last time before America’s final vote.  Tonight’s season finale part II is supposed to be a celebration of the season and will feature the big reveal of the winner of the $5 million recording contract.  As has become my way in other Wednesday night show recap/columns, I thought a running diary was the way to go.  Unlike the first performance of tonight, this diary was written live


8:00 – It’s the X Factor red carpet and a “countdown” until the show begins.  This is ridiculous.

8:01 – It’s LA Reid!  He looks like a hobbit next to Khloe’s Gandalf.

8:02 – It’s Demi Lovato!  She looks incredible, is incredible, but does not seem to be enjoying this silly interview with Mario Lopez.  Can you blame her?

8:02 – It’s Simon Cowell!  Khloe’s interview goes nowhere (a constant theme of season 2).

8:04 – It’s Britney!  It’s Pitbull!  It’s One Direction!  Honestly, this red carpet routine feels uber-staged and insincere.  This is embarrassing.

8:06 – The montage from last night reminds me of just how bad LeAnn Rimes performed last night in her duet with Carly Rose.  If Carly Rose loses this, I am holding the “I am worried about you” version of Miss Rimes accountable.

8:08 – Did Pitbull get his nickname because he kind of looks like a pitbull?  Can someone explain this to me?

8:10 – The packaged descriptions of the top three finalists (“the family man”) are too packaged (another unfortunate theme of this season).

8:10 – Hmm, what just happened? (I went back and watched.  Here is what happened: Mario says, “Right now America, here are the X Factor top 3!”  Then there is an excruciating six-second pause in which Mario and Khloe are frozen.  Next, in silence, Mario and Khloe cross stage left and begin to talk, but the mics are turned off so you don’t hear their attempts to save the moment.  Flash to a picture from outside of the red carpet of an SUV limo that may have been taken earlier in the evening.  Mario’s mic comes back on and he makes some joke about how the contestants are so nervous that they are “making a deal” if one of them wins.  Good try, Mario.  Khloe laughs nervously and says, “I think we are ready.”  Mario then again announces the top three and crosses stage right with a smile that says he wants to strangle whomever screwed this moment up so badly.  All of this epitomizes so much of what has been wrong this season)  That was unprofessional and inexcusable.  Wow.

8:11 – Lip-synching opening performances should not be happening on a season finale of a Simon Cowell produced reality competition program.  This is a complete mess so far.

8:12 – The walkthrough, SNL-like opening montage (“Look at all the performers that have come before you!”) is meant to be fun.  Only Camila from Fifth Harmony seems to be having any.  CeCe is getting her makeup done in the chair!  Look, there’s Diamond White!  Give her a hug Carly Rose!  This is just embarrassing.

8:18 – The LA Reid “animated at the judges desk” montage set to the Nutcracker suite is the best produced segment on The X Factor in many weeks.

8:21 – I have written this many times before: if I were a fan of country music, I would really dig Tate Stevens.  His voice shines on this slow-tempo Christmas jam.  This is the highlight of the night so far.

8:25 – This video montage from Tate’s family and friends from back home in Belton, MO is a genuinely beautiful moment.  His reaction to his mom and his son is what this show can be all about.

8:26 – Khloe, please be quiet with your “how did it make you feel” questions.  They are unnecessary and silly.

8:32 – The whole Simon “is the Grinch” montage feels very 2003.  Are they going to bring out Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard next?

8:34 – I am a sucker for “Baby, Please Come Home” and I am (admittedly) a sucker for Fifth Harmony performances.  Win or lose tonight, there is definitely something “X” as a factor with these five young women.

8:37 – Director of the X Factor: please show Dinah’s reaction to Dinah’s family and Normani’s reaction to Normani’s family.  Thank you.

8:38 – Quick update: Camila’s little sister Sofia is now the highlight of the episode.

8:39 – Fifth Harmony members all have seemingly amazing families.  This was a beautiful segment.

8:44 – Mario tells us that it is about to “get really intense in here.”  Is he describing the meeting he is about to have with Simon when Simon lets him know that he will not be returning next season?

8:45 – The Britney reaction shots video may highlight an underlying truth: is Britney’s body language communication more effective than her verbal communication?  Answer: Without question.

8:46 – Yeah, it was probably time for Carly Rose to tackle Mariah.

8:48 – These “funky toy soldier” dancers backing up Carly Rose are doing great work.  It is unclear whether they are young people or not.

8:50 – Doris, Carly’s piano teacher, is a special woman.  “Go Carly!”

8:52 – No, Mario.  It is hard to explain how montages like that make one feel (although Carly Rose manages an eloquent answer because she is just that good).  Stop asking, please.

8:53 – This Khloe interview with a fan is unintentional comedy in its ultimate form.  Steve Jones would be proud.

8:58 – Hello unexpected Khloe costume change.

8:59 – Fifth Harmony is in third place!  (This is not entirely unexpected).  Khloe’s first comment is unintelligible. (“Fifth Harmony, you guys are out of the competition, but you guys fought a crazy fight to stay where you guys have.”) Has Khloe been taking Britney’s speech classes?

9:03 – Quick final take on Fifth Harmony – I give Simon much credit here.  He recognized that there was something special with this combination of voices and personalities and mentored them to an improbable third place finish.  They were always engaging and enjoyable to watch (the anti-Sister C) and certainly fill a gap in the marketplace.  I wish them the best of luck in the future.

9:10 – Khloe continues to ask awful questions of the Stevens and Sonenclar families.  Simon and X Factor brain trust: let’s find some new host talent for season 3.

9:14 – Watching this video montage of the entire season inspires this lingering thought: Jennel Garcia deserved to go further in this competition.

9:17 – When asked what her favorite moment of the season was, Britney’s reponse: “The whole season has been pretty amazing to me.”  Classic.

9:18 – What is Drew Chadwick talking about?  Renting a cabin and going snowboarding?  Thankfully, one thing Khloe did learn this year: take away the mic from Drew Chadwick before he finished a sentence.  We will all be better for it.

9:23 – My wife’s comment: “Pitbull looks like an old, creepy guy.  He is not even that good and this song is stupid.”

9:25 – She continues, “He has a little ghost goatee.  That is disgusting.”  Speak the truth.

9:32 – The chemistry between Demi and Simon is undeniable.  Of all the things that need to continue in season 3, this is it.

9:36 – One Direction came and went.  Honestly, it was too easy to tune them out.  I want the “biggest boy band in the world” to more effectively hold my attention.

9:42 – Carly Rose and Tate on the stage one last time and together singing a duet is a potential treat.  Unfortunately, “The Climb” is stuck in no-man’s land for their two diametrically different voices.

9:46 – The Tate and Carly Rose hug at the end is an unexpected moment.  These two finalists really care for one another.

9:48 – Simon has now unbuttoned three additional shirt buttons.  He is trendsetting a new form of shirt called the “Helm’s Deep V-Neck.” (And no, I am not sure what this spontaneous pun means either.)

9:52 – Khloe’s costume change no. 3 does not work.  This bedazzled pink and gold get-up is off-putting.

9:54 – This is it….the winner of The X Factor and the $5 Million dollar recording contract is…

9:55 – …Tate Stevens!

9:55 – Tate and then LA’s hug with Carly Rose is complete class.  Credit to both of these men for understanding what it must feel like for a thirteen-year-old girl to come this far and then fall short.

9:56 – Carly Rose is visibly disappointed.  Don’t you fret, girl.  We will be hearing more from you soon.

9:58 – Demi and Simon have a sweet moment next to one another when they watch Tate sing through his “I am the winner” song.  If anyone was going to beat Carly Rose, I am happy that it is this talented and kind man.

9:59 – Emblem3 are making fools of themselves on stage.  Tough lasting impression, lads.

10:00 – The final image of the season? Camila giving Tate a congratulatory hug from behind as we fade to black.  The X Factor season 2 season is now in the books and I think we all need a little break…

Stay tuned for a reflection on the whole season and an assessment of the current state of X Factor affairs in the coming days (or weeks).  Until then, happy holidays to all!

David Bloom can be reached on twitter at @davidbloom7.  His THE CHALLENGE POWER RANKINGS appear weekly on Derek Kosinski’s 

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