'X Factor' Season 2 Grand Finale Recap: Country Singer Tate Stevens Wins

Tate Stevens, season 2 winner of The X Factor

The X Factor USA launched its second season in September 2012. Since then we have heard dozens of singers - some amazing, some awful - but on last night's X Factor Season 2 Grand Finale, it came down to three contestants: 13-year-old vocal prodigy Carly Rose Sonenclar, 37-year-old country singer Tate Stevens, and teenage girl group Fifth Harmony. When the public's votes were tallied America proved to be a “Tate Nation”; the Missouri road worker, husband and father of two, Tate Stevens, was named the winner of The X Factor’s five million dollar record contract.

The X Factor’s final show opens with a hokey segment on a staged red carpet, and Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian take turns welcoming the judges as they step out of their black SUVs. After the judges walk the carpet, the evening’s special guest performers arrive. First we see Pitbull, then Harry Styles and his chewing gum show up, followed by the rest of One Direction.

There is a video recap of the Final 3 performances, and then the judges L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and Simon Cowell are introduced to the studio audience while Europe’s “Final Countdown” plays in the background.

Then the X Factor Top 3 arrive and sing The Beatles “All You Need is Love” on the red carpet while cameras flash and adoring fans cheer. I’m not sure that’s the kind of love The Beatles had in mind when they wrote the iconic song.

Throughout the evening we see taped segments poking fun at the judges – the first one centers on L.A. Reid and shows clips of him chair dancing, conducting the band and playing air guitar. Simon’s is a montage of his harshest criticisms scored with “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”, Britney’s focuses on her repertoire of facial expressions; Demi’s shows her weekly arguments with Simon.

Tate Stevens
Each of the top three contestants performs a holiday song.  Tate Stevens from L.A. Reid's Over 25 category goes first with “Please Come Home for Christmas”. It’s my second favorite Tate performance of the season; my number one favorite was his version of Bon Jovi’s ”Wanted Dead or Alive”. His mentor L.A. Reid tells him he has been “amazingly consistent” and says, “I’m really hoping you can take this thing home.” Then we see a video of Tate’s family and friends back home wishing him well. Some of them call him “Tater”!

Ally Brook of Fifth Harmony
Fifth Harmony from Simon Cowell's Group category does "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" I like it, but Django (our greyhound) growls at the TV through the whole song! They all look cute in their Christmas finery, and of course Camilla is adorable in her signature huge hair bow. Simon tells the girls that he’s proud that he and they have become friends, and says “my fingers are crossed tonight.” Then we see friends and family members in the girl’s hometowns sending good thoughts.

Carly Rose Sonenclar
Carly Rose Sonenclar from Britney Spears' Teen Category sings “All I Want for Christmas is You” while toy soldiers dance behind her. I marvel at her incredible voice and know that someday when she’s an adult and I’m an old lady I’m going to remember seeing her as a 13-year-old on X Factor. Britney says, “It never ceases to amaze me every time she performs,” and Simon adds that at 13 years old Carly Rose “has got such a huge career ahead of her we’re lucky to have found her for the show.” We see Carly Rose’s family and friends sending her their best wishes.

Third place is announced, and it is Fifth Harmony. It comes down to Carly Rose Sonenclar and Tate Stevens.

We go backstage to visit with the final 2 contestants. Carly Rose is with her family, and her Mother is so sweet she uses some of her camera time to say how great Tate Stevens is. Then Tate calls Carly Rose “super talented”, and his Grandmother talks about how talented both contestants are.

Then we see a recap of the entire X Factor season: the initial auditions (Panda!), the judge's houses (Jillian Jensen!), the Final 16 (I miss you, Jason Brock!), Diamond White getting the call letting her know the judges wanted her back after she was eliminated… it all seems so long ago. After the clips each judge reveals his or her favorite moment of the season. For L.A. it was Tate’s first audition when he came out in his cowboy hat and said he was going to rap, for Britney it was “The whole experience”, for Demi it was “Every night that I sat at this table”, and for Simon it was getting a group into the final.

Pitbull on The X Factor
Before the results are announced there are three performances: the always awesome Pitbull does “Don’t Stop the Party” from his seventh studio album Global Warming, One Direction sings “Kiss You” from their recent Take Me Home album (and they have a giant pair of red lips onstage), and Tate and Carly Rose duet on a rousing rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb”.

One Direction in rehearsal for The X Factor Grand Finale
Then the moment arrives – it is time for the results. Mario reminds us that in recent weeks the public vote had Tate and Carly Rose 1/3 of a percent apart on the leader-board. The Top 2 contestants and their mentors are brought out, there is a brief but dramatic pause, and then the final results are announced. The winner of season 2 of The X Factor USA and recipient of a five million dollar recording contract is… Tate Stevens.

Tate’s first words as The X Factor champion are, "First and foremost I gotta thank the man upstairs for taking care of me, my family, all the country music fans, God bless you. Thank you so much for all the votes. This is the best day of my life."

Tate’s mentor L.A. Reid raves, “Congratulations to you, you deserve this; I'm proud to work with you, I think you represent The X Factor really, really  well, so on behalf of myself and Simon and all of the judges, congratulations.”

The show closes with Tate singing Chris Young’s “Tomorrow”, and at the end he is joined on stage by all of the season 2 finalists.

I was rooting for Carly Rose Sonenclar, and thought Fifth Harmony could win due to their performances during the final competition show, but I am very happy for Tate Stevens: he has a great voice and it's nice to see that at 37 years old - an age the entertainment industry sees as "over the hill" - his dream of being a country singer has come true. Congratulations, Tate!

To read more of our X Factor coverage click here.

Photos and video ©Talkback Thames, FremantleMedia, SYCOtv

Posted on Friday, December 21, 2012 11:55 PM