'X Factor' Finale Part 1 Recap: Fifth Harmony, Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens Perform

Fifth Harmony on part 1 of The X Factor season 2 finale

Last night on Part 1 of The X Factor USA season 2 finale, we watched teen prodigy Carly Rose Sonenclar, country crooner Tate Stevens, and girl group Fifth Harmony battle it out in their last performances of the televised singing competition. Tonight one of these Top 3 acts will win The X Factor's five million dollar recording contract and the title of Pepsi artist, meaning the company will produce their first video and air it during the Grammy Awards.

The show opens with a somber Simon Cowell stating, “Words cannot describe what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary last week…you will always be in our prayers, you will always be in our hearts, and this is our tribute to you.” Then this season’s Top 13 X Factor contestants sing Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone” in memory of the victims and families of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The regular portion of the show begins with gladiators playing drums and dancing on a strobe-lit stage, and the judges and their contestants are introduced: Demi Lovato; Britney Spears and her Teen finalist, Carly Rose Sonenclar; L.A. Reid and his Over 25 finalist, Tate Stevens; Simon Cowell with his Group finalist, Fifth Harmony.

Co-hosts Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez arrive and Khloe sums up the competition as, “A schoolgirl against a family man against five girls who have never given up.”

We are shown three locations where fans are gathered to watch the show and cheer for their hometown heroes: West Chester, New York for Carly Rose; Belton, Missouri for Tate; San Antonio, Texas, (where Fifth Harmony singer Ally lives) for the group.

For their final performances each of the acts will sing three numbers: the singer’s choice of their favorite "Song of the Season", a celebrity duet, and a tune chosen by their judge/mentor to seal the deal for the five million dollar prize.

Carly Rose Sonenclar
Carly Rose Sonenclar goes first with her “Song of the Season”, Nina Simone's "Feeling Good". L.A. thinks she has topped everything she’s done, Demi is “very impressed” and says Carly Rose will “inspire young girls to follow their dreams”, Simon says he was blown away the first time he heard her sing “Feeling Good”, and that this performance was even better. Britney tells her, “It’s shocking how bright your star is – we’re going to win this.” Then we see the Mayor of West Chester, NY, who declares December 19th “Carly Rose Sonenclar Day”. A clearly surprised Carly Rose exclaims, “Who can say they have their own day!”

Tate Stevens’ “Song of the Season” is Randy Houser's "Anything Goes". Britney says, “When you do right-down-the-middle country you are right on.” Demi tells him, “You turned that performance into a stadium performance.” Simon agrees with Demi and says Tate is “Made in America” and “authentic.” He also congratulates Tate’s mentor L.A. Reid for succeeding in his unlikely pairing with a country singer. L.A. tells Tate he is proud of him. Tate’s hometown crowd is gathered at his old high school and his boss is there. When asked if he expects Tate back at work he says, “Hell no, we expect him to win this whole thing”. Then the Mayor of Belton shows the country singer a photo – the town’s huge water tower has Tate’s name painted on it. Tate is moved to tears.

Fifth Harmony’s “Song of the Season” is Ellie Goulding's "Anything Could Happen". L.A. Reid says the first time he saw them he didn’t think they would work as a group, but now they are “magical”. He concludes with the high praise, “You were the underdogs, now you’re the one to beat.” Britney concurs with, “Magic happens when you guys perform.” Demi says they are powerful, and she hopes that America pulls through and votes for them. Simon tells them, “Something special would happen if you won this competition.” Then we see the fans in San Antonio, including Ally’s minister – they all vow to vote for Fifth Harmony all night.

Next we see the finalists sing their celebrity duets.

Carly Rose Sonenclar does her duet - “How Do I Live Without You” - with LeAnn Rimes. LeAnn says Carly Rose “is such an amazing talent I want to wrap her up and just hold her.” Carly Rose says it was "one of the most fun moments" she’s had on stage, and Britney calls their number, “shockingly amazing”. It’s a strange performance though – it is short on harmonies, and seems more like a duel than a duet on LeAnn’s part.

Tate Stevens is next with his duet: he sings “Pontoon” with Little Big Town. After the song they say Tate “makes country music proud,” and “He’s got a water tower, people.” L.A. thinks the performance was “so much fun and so natural”, and announces that he has a new love: country music. It’s a very good performance, but Tate seems to blend into the group instead of standing out on his big night.

Demi Lovato and Fifth Harmony
Fifth Harmony’s duet is “Give Your Heart a Break” with someone Simon introduces as, “a very, very good friend” – Demi Lovato. After their performance Mario calls them “Sixth Harmony”. Simon enthuses, “Demi Lovato, you were sensational. That is what I call pop perfection” and he invites her to join the group. It’s a fun performance, and Demi doesn’t out-sing the group – she lets the girls shine.

Then each finalist gets one last chance to sing for the five million dollars with songs chosen for them by their mentors.

Carly Rose Sonenclar sings Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. She wears a white gown with a jeweled neckline on a stage filled with white streamers, and she has a choir backing her. L.A. calls it “a really angelic moment”, and commends her not over-singing the song but still hitting her famous “Carly Rose note”. Demi says she “looked like an angel and sang like a ridiculously talented angel.” Simon tells Carly Rose, “You looked great, sounded great, love that song… you had a good night.” A confident Britney states, “That song alone is worth five million dollars” and tells Simon to get out his checkbook. Then we see the teen phenom’s hometown and her friends and fans – “Carly’s Angels” - and her piano teacher cheers, “Go Carly!”

Tate Stevens
Tate Stevens’ third song is Chris Young's "Tomorrow". He performs in a cowboy hat, plaid shirt and jeans. Britney says it was great and that she always enjoys what he does. Demi says, “I’m almost crying because this is the last time I’m going to see you on stage.” Simon compliments Tate with “You have represented this older category so well… I wouldn’t worry about your day job anymore, in a year’s time we’re going to be hearing about your record sales… you’ve had a really, really good night.” L.A. is proud of Tate for consistently delivering. Flash to a shot of Tate’s hometown – Tate Nation – and his best friend Randy who says that he’s proud and looks up to Tate.

The final performance of the competition is Fifth Harmony with The Beatles’ “Let it Be”. Like Carly Rose, they are all dressed in white and they are backed by a choir. L.A. opines, “You guys are magic happening right before our eyes… you’ve come so far… I’m really happy for you” and he adds that they did the Beatles’ song a lot of justice. Britney tells them that they’ve blossomed, and Demi says it just hit her how much they have evolved. Simon beams and says, “I really do believe on the night you deserve to win this competition.” We visit Ally’s church again, and see her cousin Jerry and a crowd that was so psyched about the group it’s hard to tell what they were shouting, but one gentleman clearly said he was carrying a “Fifth Harmony pizza” – it was a nice moment.

My X Factor USA predictions:

I love Carly Rose Sonenclar, I think she is technically the best singer on the show, and I have been rooting for her, but in terms of pop stardom on this final night, I think the flashier Fifth Harmony might stand out more to the show’s younger viewers.

Tate Stevens is great, and on a weekly basis he has taken the top spot more than any other contestant, but I'm not sure if his demographic engaged in the hours of obsessive voting that normally takes place after the final performances of a singing competition.

I think Fifth Harmony is going to win. They saved their best performances for the final night, they have the benefit of Demi Lovato’s extensive fan base voting for them because of the duet, and I agree with Simon's statements (on previous episodes) that the recording industry is lacking a girl group right now. Although throughout the season they have been referred to as "underdogs", last night Fifth Harmony reminded me so much of The Spice Girls – I think girl power is going to rule the X Factor results.

Part 2 of The X Factor USA season 2 finale airs tonight (12/20) on Fox at 8/7c on FOX. A winner will be crowned, and there will be live performances from One Direction and Pitbull.

To read more of our X Factor coverage click here.

Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens, and Fifth Harmony on The X Factor USA
Photos ©Talkback Thames, FremantleMedia, SYCOtv

The X Factor has announced its 2013 call for singers. If you are over 12 years old, and a solo singer or in a group, you can audition online at TheXFactorUSA.com, or live at one of the following locations: Los Angeles CA, Charleston SC, New Orleans LA, Long Island NY, or Denver CO.

Posted on Thursday, December 20, 2012 11:55 AM