'The X Factor': Fifth Harmony Goes From Underdog to Front-Runner
During the final four episode of "The X Factor," girl group Fifth Harmony performed "Anything Could Happen," an Ellie Goulding song that preaches spontaneity and the idea that, well, anything could and sometimes will happen. The next evening, the five-piece shocked the viewing public by vaulting into the show's finale, beating out fellow group Emblem3.
One week later, Fifth Harmony was singing the same tune -- literally. And the group could just be the second champion of "X Factor."
But to make it to the $5 million recording deal promised to the winner, the girls had to clear the most popular contestants of the season, 13-year-old schoolgirl Carly Rose Sonenclar and country crooner Tate Stevens.
Sonenclar, more recently the front runner of the competition, was all over the place, both in vocal range and in consistency. At times she shone, hitting the trademark Carly high note at the end of a stunning "Hallelujah," while she supplied a lower register in "Feeling Good." Stevens was consistent the whole night, as he's been all season, with sturdy renditions of "Tomorrow," "Pontoon" and more.
But it was Fifth Harmony that won the night. The girls, who were paired together at the start of the competition as per "X Factor"'s general protocol, brought the heat with three consistently well done songs that both sounded and looked radio- and tour-ready, which is promising even if they don't emerge victorious (see: One Direction on the show's British equivalent).
The show kicked off with a tribute to those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, with show finalists (including some eliminated) convening on Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone," the 26 casualties' names displayed on the back video screens.
Given each contestant's respective, at times frenetic fanbases, expect a nail-biter of a finale. Take an in-depth look below at each performance of the night from show's start to show's finish to see who you thought was, as a judge from a rival singing competition might say, in it to win it.
Carly Rose Sonenclar - "Feeling Good"
Sonenclar kicked off the evening with the song that caused the judges (and America) to fall in love with her, the oft-covered jazzy classic that displayed her range, from the low notes of the verses to the finale's dulcet vocal runs. She sounded better than in her audition (which was to be expected), and reminded viewers of the potential that still lay dormant within her. "Feeling Good" is destined to become a staple in Sonenclar's catalogue, and she's only going to sing it better.
Tate Stevens - "Anything Goes"
The 37-year-old everyman also began the show with his audition tune, Randy Houser's "Anything Goes." Coach L.A. Reid stated quite matter-of-factly before the performance that "[Tate] has to win," and he delivered with a nearly pitch perfect rendition that didn't seem far off from a performance at, say, the CMAs. It wasn't flashy, but Stevens rarely is. Also, although Carly Rose was given her own day by the mayor of her town just minutes prior, Tate was told post-performance that his name would be on Belton, Mo.'s water tower. That feeling you and I are currently experiencing is unmitigated jealousy.
Fifth Harmony - "Anything Could Happen"
Understand that while Fifth Harmony may just have been the night's elite, it wasn't "Anything Could Happen" that sent them to the top. Their performance was spot-on, flanked by dancers and donning colorful costumes. So what's wrong? Oh, right, we saw it last week. Unlike Sonenclar and Stevens, who sang their audition tunes, Fifth Harmony went back to the same trick that arguably got them in the finale to begin with. Had it been the first time, praises would be leveled. Instead, shrugs abound.
Carly Rose Sonenclar - "How Do I Live" feat. LeAnn Rimes
Khloe Kardashian promised big surprises prior to the second round of performances. We got them in the form of special duets between each rookie and an established act. Carly Rose drew LeAnn Rimes, who it should be noted burst on the scene with the album "Blue" in July 1996, when she was also aged 13. Unfortunately, Rimes didn't do her partner much justice, and vice versa. Was it the wrong song choice? Maybe. Just a fleeting moment of mediocrity? Perhaps. Really, I just don't think they clicked. And speaking of not clicking....
Tate Stevens - "Pontoon" feat. Little Big Town
Tate Stevens plus country superstars should equal major success; I think it's in something like every textbook ever. But in pairing with Little Big Town, Stevens had to hit the notes normally reserved for the group's two female leads, and that just didn't happen much on the chorus. On the plus side, he sounded great on the verses, and LBT was on top of its game, so the performance was altogether OK. But hey, Reid declared country music to be the new love of his life following the song, so there's that.
Fifth Harmony - "Give Your Heart a Break" feat. Demi Lovato
The surprise was spoiled in the split second Demi Lovato made a move to get up from her chair before the commercial break. Fifth Harmony dueted with the "X Factor" judge on one of her biggest hits, mixing exceptionally well together on the chorus to the point that it was tough to discern Demi's voice from the group. Following a standing ovation from the judges, Simon Cowell called the performance "pop perfection." Yeah, that could be the bias talking, but I'm inclined to agree.
Carly Rose Sonenclar - "Hallelujah"
Honestly, it's kind of amazing she didn't sing this song sooner. Sonenclar ended her night with the Leonard Cohen song that everybody and their brother has attempted. The difference is that, unlike most or perhaps all of your brothers, she made it work. She capped off a powerhouse vocal with a note toward the song's end that could have won her the competition, soaring toward the rafters over a backing choir. It's what folks have come to expect from Carly Rose, though that didn't make it any less majestic.
Tate Stevens - "Tomorrow"
Stevens excels when he's doing country music that's decidedly mundane -- that is, not too flashy, gimmick-less and highlighting his persona as the guy who could live down the road in your rural town. Chris Young's "Tomorrow" showcased his standing as a country vocalist that can match many current artist blow-for-blow. Frankly, I think it's what we can expect from Stevens post-"X Factor," whether he wins or not. It's simply what he exudes.
Fifth Harmony - "Let it Be"
Fifth Harmony meshed well with Demi Lovato on its previous effort, but on the final number of the night, the girls' voices flowed with each other, sounding more like a bona fide group than they ever have. All this happened while all girls were able to stand out as vocalists for their time in the spotlight, albeit brief at times, before returning to the general harmony. Fifth Harmony's gospel take on the Beatles staple wasn't, say, pop perfection like its predecessor, but a few tweaks here and there could make it a truly inspiring number. It's tough to take "Let it Be" over Carly's "Hallelujah," but the girls didn't disappoint.
Who were your favorites of the night? Who's going to win the whole thing? Do you want those cupcakes Carly Rose Sonenclar can apparently expect at home? Sound off in the comments and join us tomorrow for the crowning of the winner.