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'The X Factor' U.S. 2013 Episode 25: Alex & Sierra get judges' highest praise

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In part one of "The X Factor" U.S. Season 3 finale (which Fox televised on Dec. 18, 2013), the three finalists competed for the last time for "X Factor" viewer votes. The finalists are boyfriend/girlfriend duo Alex & Sierra, rock singer Jeff Gutt and Latin pop singer Carlito Olivero, who battled to win "The X Factor" grand prize of $1 million and a Sony Music recording contract.

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Simon Cowell is the "X Factor" mentor of Alex & Sierra, who are both 22. Kelly Rowland is the "X Factor" mentor of Gutt, who is 37. Paulina Rubio is the "X Factor" mentor of Olivero, who is 24.

Alex & Sierra is widely predicted to win, since the duo has been selling the most songs on iTunes out of all of the show's contestants this year. Alex & Sierra is also the only contestant act so far in the history of "The X Factor" U.S. to go to No. 1 on the iTunes (U.S.) Top 100 Songs chart.

In this episode, Alex & Sierra also got the highest praise from the judges.

Demi Lovato, who was mentoring the Girls category (female solo singers ages 12 to 24), no longer has any contestants in the competition, since her last two contestants (Ellona Santiago and Rion Paige) were eliminated on Dec. 5, 2013.

The episode on Dec. 18 began with Alex & Sierra, Gutt and Olivero singing together on Queen's "We Will Rock You."

(Click here to watch Alex & Sierra, Jef Gutt and Carlito Olivero's performance.)

(Voting information for each contestant is listed below. Voting for each episode is open for a limited time after each episode is televised in the United States. "The X Factor" U.S. host Mario Lopez announced that the phone numbers and text numbers for each contestant will be the same throughout show's entire season this year.)

In this episode, each contestant sang three songs: one song chosen as their "song to win"; the other song was a duet between with a famous singer; the other song was a game-changing "song of the series" for the contestant in the competition.

Here is a recap of the contestants' performances and the judges’ feedback:

Carlito Olivero sang Shontelle's "Impossible" (with some lyrics in Spanish) for the "song to win"; Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" in a duet with Prince Royce; and Santana's "Maria Maria" as the "song of the series."

Judges' feedback: For "Impossible," Rowland commented, "Carlito, what I have grown to learn and love about you is your heart. You always share your heart with us. And that's half of what it takes to have the X Factor. I just give so much kudos to you. Really nice job tonight." Lovato added, "I am blown away by that performance. The criticism was that you're still in your head, but the good news is that this was a very passionate performance. It gave me the chills. I believe you can win this!" Cowell said, "I really learned that I have to respect you. You're not the best singer, Carlito, but that's not necessarily a problem, because what you give, you make up for it. You take any song you're given and you make it your version." Rubio said, "We need the support for Carlito, and you deserve that, Carlito."

For "Stand By Me," Rowland said, "Hand claps all around. I felt that was really easy for your, Carlito." Lovato added, "Standing next to Prince Royce, you showed America that you have what it takes to become a Latino pop star." Cowell stated, "It was the perfect collaboration, because this is what you want to be, Carlito. You weren't overshadowed." Rubio commented to Olivero, "Little by little, you've been showing us the potential you have. A million dollars will change your life forever, and that's why I'm asking America to vote for your tonight."

For "Maria Maria," Rowland stated, "You know, Carlito, I'm really proud of you. You have come such a long way. All of your performances were really nice tonight. Congratulations." Lovato commented, "Carlito, I know how badly you want this. I can see it in your eyes. You were kind of literally on fire. I think this was a really great performance. I think you're the underdog in this competition, and I think America should vote for you." Cowell added, "Carlito, you have earned my respect. You have earned America's respect. It was the first time I believed that you had a future in the music industry. You've been a pleasure a work with, and I wish you the best of luck for tonight." Rubio concluded, "Carlito, you came here with a dream. And this is the dream: the finals here. I think you have the passion to give it all, and that's why we admire you so much. You deserve this recording deal."

To vote for Carlito Olivero:
Phone: 1-855-843-9302
Text: Text 2 to 21523
Official website: http://www.thexfactorusa.com
Official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thexfactorusa
Apps: The X Factor app and Shazam app

(Click here to watch Carlito Olivero's performance of "Impossible.")

(Click here to watch Carlito Olivero and Prince Royce's performance of "Stand By Me.")

(Click here to watch Carlito Olivero's performance of "Maria Maria.")

Alex & Sierra performed Ed Sheeran's "Give Me Love" for the "song to win"; Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" in a duet with Lewis; and A Great Big World's "Say Something" as the "song of the series."

Judges' feedback: For "Give Me Love," Rowland said, "Alex & Sierra, I'm so happy we're able to see how far you guys have come. Your vocals ... are amazing to me. Any label will take you right now." Lovato commented, "I am so absolutely blown away. I listen to your recordings on my iPod. Genuinely, I'm a fan. I'm so proud of you guys." Rubio gushed, "Sierra, you have that tone in your voice is unique. As soon as you start singing, everybody is impressed with that. You guys grow so much in the competition." Cowell added, "It has genuinely been an honor working with you ... I have always dreamt with a show like this that I would find an American star who can represent this country all over the world, and I genuinely believe we've found it with you two. You've never compromised."

For "Bleeding Love," Rowland commented, "I love y'all. I can't help it. I'm with Demi. I'm a fan. That was a really nice vocal, guys." Lovato said, "I felt, to be honest, it wasn't your best performance. Obviously, Leona killed it. I think Leona did a great job. She outshined you a little bit, but I still think you have what it takes to win this competition." Rubio added, "I loved that performance. I think that was amazing ... I love you guys." Cowell stated, "You respected the artist. I thought it was a beautiful version. Leona Lewis changed this show forever. I believe that you can change this show forever as well."

For "Say Something," Rowland commented, "The first time I heard this, I didn't actually think it would get better, but it did. You worked so hard to get here, so congratulations on another great performance, Alex & Sierra." Lovato added, "You guys never cease to not blow me away, if that makes any sense. You always blow me away. I'm so glad you ended this on a high note, because you guys could win this competition. You're going to go far. I'm so proud of you." Rubio gushed as she mangled the English language and even made up a word that doesn't exist in the English language, "The talent that you have transpass any border. Actually, music is the universal language. And the fact that you played the piano and the guitar, you guys are the perfect artist." Cowell raved, "You are exactly what a talent show in America needs. I think you're going to have a successful career, but based on what you've achieved throughout the competition, I genuinely believe that you deserve to win this. You're two of the nicest people I've ever had the fortune to work with. You haven't changed one bit. I know you're never going to change. Thank you."

To vote for Alex & Sierra:
Phone: 1-855-843-9301
Text: Text 1 to 21523
Official website: http://www.thexfactorusa.com
Official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thexfactorusa
Apps: The X Factor app and Shazam app

(Click here to watch Alex & Sierra's performance of "Give Me Love.")

(Click here to watch Alex & Sierra and Leona Lewis' performance of "Bleeding Love.")

(Click here to watch Alex & Sierra's performance of "Say Something.")

Jeff Gutt sang Aerosmith's "Dream On" as the "song to win"; the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" in a duet with Goo Goo Dolls singer John Rzeznik; and Radiohead's "Creep" as the "song of the series."

Judges' feedback: For "Dream On," Lovato commented, "That was really, really great. You took it to a whole new level. The only problem was I couldn't hear, but if that was the only problem, it's technical, and it's not your fault. I think you really did a fantastic job." Rubio said, "Maybe we [judges] couldn't hear you, but they [the audience] heard you really well. You're big, and I really admire you." Cowell said to Gutt, "For me, this is the very, very first time that I actually believe that you believe that you can win the show. Everything just felt authentic. I think you are the real thing. I can't imagine a record company not signing you." Rowland added, "I have one word for you, Gutt: amazing!"

For "Iris," Lovato exclaimed, "That was an awesome performance! I'm so star-struck right now, but you held your own. I'm so happy right now!" Rubio added, "Jeff, all these weeks and months, you came across as a beautiful musician father. And just remember one thing: rock and roll never age. And you have that X Factor, my friend." Cowell said, "It was the perfect collaboration. It was the perfect song. It's one of my favorite songs of all time. I want to thank all of the guest artists who bothered to give up their time tonight to work with these contestants. Jeff, you did brilliant on that. Congratulations." Rowland gushed, "I'm so proud of you. You just killed it! Congratulations."

For "Creep," Lovato raved, "That was amazing. When you were standing there, with the fire behind you, hitting that high note, I actually had a moment where I was like, "Wow, I feel like this is a stadium performance.' It was incredible. I think you have what it takes. I think America should vote for you." Rubio chanted "Gutt!" several times before she commented, "I enjoyed this performance. I think there's nothing missing. I think you're the perfect artist that bring your son into the story. The band, the choice of the song, you by yourself, you're unique." Cowell added, "Jeff, I'm happy that you sang that song, because we didn't get to hear it properly during the auditions, but that was the song that really got you back in the competition. You sang it brilliantly tonight. I'm really happy that millions of people got to see and hear you. You've had a fantastic night. You're a great contender. I wish you the best of luck." Rowland gushed, "I've said this before, but I can't tell you how much watching you grow ... the past couple of weeks has been my heart's joy. I just want you take this win home for that beautiful little boy right there, [your son] Talon, who believes in you, whose life you can change. This contract can change your life. America, I need you to get behind Jeff. I need you to pick up those phones call and vote for this incredible star we're looking at right before our eyes!"

To vote for Jeff Gutt:
Phone: 1-855-843-9305
Text: Text 5 to 21523
Official website: http://www.thexfactorusa.com
Official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thexfactorusa
Apps: The X Factor app and Shazam app

(Click here to watch Jeff Gutt's performance of "Dream On.")

(Click here to watch Jeff Gutt and Johnny Rzeznik's performance of "Iris.")

(Click here to watch Jeff Gutt's performance of "Creep.")

In this episode, Rubio performed "Boys Will Be Boys." Rubio's performance was very cheesy and dumb, just like her judging style on this show.

(Click here to watch Paulina Rubio's performance.)

In "The X Factor" U.S. episode airing on Dec. 19, 2013, the winner will be revealed. It has also been announced that One Direction, Mary J. Blige, Lea Michele, Pitbull and Ke$ha will perform in this episode.

Dec. 19, 2013 update: "The X Factor" U.S. episode that was televised on Dec. 18, 2013, was one of the lowest-rated prime-time network shows of the night, even though "The X Factor" was up against mostly reruns on other networks. According to the Nielsen Company, the episode had only 5.04 million U.S. viewers. The episode finished in sixth place in its time slot (8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST/PST) and seventh place overall among the 11 U.S. prime-time network shows that aired that night.

Here are the rankings of the U.S. prime-time network shows on Dec. 18, 2013:

  1. "Barbara Walters 10 Most Fascinating People of 2013" (ABC) — 8.89 million U.S. viewers
  2. "CSI" -- repeat (CBS) — 6.69 million U.S. viewers
  3. "Criminal Minds" -- repeat (CBS) — 6.4 million U.S. viewers
  4. "Modern Family" -- repeat (ABC) — 6.22 million U.S. viewers
  5. "The Middle" -- repeat (ABC) — 5.79 million U.S. viewers
  6. "The Sing-Off" (NBC) — 5.49 million U.S. viewers
  7. "The X Factor" (Fox) — 5.04 million U.S. viewers
  8. "Michael Bublé's 3rd Annual Christmas Special" (NBC) — 5.03 million U.S. viewers
  9. "A Home for the Holidays With Celine Dion" (CBS) — 4.95 million U.S. viewers
  10. "The Goldbergs" -- repeat (ABC) — 4.67 million U.S. viewers
  11. "The iHeartRadio Jingle Ball" (CW) — 1.32 million U.S. viewers
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