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'The X Factor' U.S. 2013 Episode 26: Alex & Sierra win; Jeff Gutt in 2nd place

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Boyfriend/girlfriend folk-pop duo Alex & Sierra were named the winning contestant for the third season of "The X Factor" U.S. in the episode that Fox televised on Dec. 19, 2013. The victory had been widely predicted since Alex & Sierra have sold more music on iTunes than any other contestant on the show this year, including two songs that hit No. 1 on the iTunes (U.S.) Top 100 Songs chart. As part of "The X Factor" grand prize, Alex Kinsey and Sierra Deaton (who are both 22) have won $1 million and a Sony Music recording contract.

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Rock singer Jeff Gutt (who is 37) came in second place. Earlier in the episode, it was announced that Latin pop singer Carlito Olivero (who is 24) came in third place.

After Alex & Sierra were announced as the winners, Simon Cowell (Alex & Sierra's "X Factor" mentor) said, "I feel like Christmas came early. Jeff, big respect. You did brilliant in the final, but my heart was with these guys [Alex & Sierra]. I genuinely think they deserve it. Thank you, America."

When Lopez asked Alex & Sierra how they felt after they won, Kinsey replied, "We're speechless. We don't even know. This is incredible. Thank you, everybody who's voted."

Deaton added, "Thank you so much for getting us here. Thanks for not making fun of my weird faces all the time."

Alex & Sierra actually did not look all that shocked that they won, probably because their iTunes sales made it obvious that they were the frontrunners.

In his farewell statement, Gutt was gracious in his defeat. He said to his supporters: "I owe you guys everything. I'm not going to give up. I'm going to out there, I'm going to be on tour and making records. I met a lot of great people in this process. I just want to thank you all and Merry Christmas. Congratulations to Alex & Sierra."

Kelly Rowland, who was Gutt's "X Factor" mentor, did not get a chance to say anything when she was on stage with him, but she gave Alex & Sierra a hug and congratulated them, and she smiled and clapped after Gutt made his farewell statement.

Alex & Sierra then sang A Great Big World's "Say Something," their first No. 1 hit on iTunes. Kinsey was so emotional that he began crying and sang off-key for the first few lines of the song. They were joined on stage by the other contestants who made it into the Top 13 this year.

(Click here to watch Alex & Sierra announced as the winners.)

Even though Gutt and Olivero didn't win, they too are expected to get record deals with Sony Music. And, as I first exclusively reported, these other "X Factor" U.S. contestants from 2013 are being considered for Sony Music deals: Restless Road (fourth place), Ellona Santiago (sixth place) and possibly Josh Levi (seventh place).

In his farewell statement, Olivero said when "X Factor" U.S. host Mario Lopez asked him how he was feeling: "I'm blessed, bro. I'm happy, man. I worked so hard to get here. We came in third place, baby! We cannot be mad at all. God is good, Please continue to join me on this journey. I love everybody at home. Alex & Sierra and Jeff, I love you all so much. You all deserve it. To my mom and my dad, I love you. I'm never going to let you guys down. And to everybody at home and to all the judges, I hope to be working with you all soon."

Paulino Rubio, who was Olivero's "X Factor" mentor, added: "Carlito, you deserve this and more. This great experience changed you forever. You're a hard worker, you love your family, you know your roots. This is a new beginning for you. Congratulations, Carlito."

(Click here to watch Carlito Olivero get eliminated.)

In the first half of the two-hour episode, the final three contestants performed Christmas songs: Olivero sang "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"; Gutt sang "O Holy Night"; Alex & Sierra sang "All I Want for Christmas Is You."

(Click here to watch Carlito Olivero's performance of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).")

(Click here to watch Jeff Gutt's performance of "O Holy Night.")

(Click here to watch Alex & Sierra's performance of "All I Want for Christmas Is You.")

And before Alex & Sierra were announced as the winners, they teamed up with Gutt for a performance of John Newman's "Love Me Again."

(Click here to watch Alex & Sierra and Jeff Gutt's performance.)

At the beginning of the episode, all of the "X Factor" U.S. contestants who made it into the Top 13 this year (Alex & Sierra, Gutt, Olivero, Restless Road, Rion Paige, Santiago, Levi, Lillie McCloud, Tim Olstad, Khaya Cohen, Rachel Potter, Sweet Suspense and Carlos Guevara) did a group performance of U2's "One."

(Click here to watch the contestants' performance.)

There were several guest performers in this episode. They included:

Lewis and One Direction are both alumni of the British "X Factor" and are the two best-selling "X Factor" acts worldwide. Lewis was "The X Factor" U.K. winner in 2006. One Direction came in third place in 2010.

Fox has not yet announced the fate of "The X Factor" U.S., but in a December 2013 conference call with journalists, Cowell said he is confident that the show will be renewed for a fourth season in 2014, but he wants the show to have big changes, including an all-new judging panel. He declined to elaborate on the changes he had in mind.

In the conference call, Cowell said he will have a "different role" on "The X Factor" U.S. if the show is renewed in 2014. Fox probably will wait until May 2014 to officially announce the fate of "The X Factor" U.S.

Insiders have already said that Cowell plans to return to "The X Factor" U.K. judging panel in 2014, to fill the spot vacated by Gary Barlow, who replaced Cowell in 2011.

Demi Lovato (who became a judge on "The X Factor" U.S. in 2012) has officially confirmed her departure from the show after People.com reported that she is quitting the show to focus on her music career.

Rowland has told the media that she doesn't know yet if she will return to "The X Factor" U.S. in 2014, but she would remain a judge on the show if she's asked.

Rubio has not yet commented on her future with "The X Factor," but it's highly unlikely that she will continue being on the show because she was very unpopular with most "X Factor" viewers, who hated that her ditsy behavior and inarticulate comments. Rowland and Rubio became judges on "The X Factor" U.S. in 2013, but it sounds like Cowell doesn't want them back on the show.

Lovato has been getting a lot of criticism from "X Factor" viewers, who think she is rude and immature when she's interacting with Cowell. In the Season 3 finale, the show even took a dig at Lovato by showing a compilation reel of Lovato's clashes with Cowell and putting in some visual effects in a cup she was drinking by making it look bright green and labeling it Annoying Juice. The camera showed Lovato looking irritated and insulted as she watched the reel. (She obviously did not know that something like that would be shown on live TV and maybe she wasn't aware the camera was on her as she watched the reel, but she definitely not happy about it.)

But when Lopez asked Lovato if she had anything to say to Cowell, Lovato (who is a recovering alcoholic/drug addict) put on a fake smile and said sarcastically, "I think it's very, very clear that since I don't drink anymore, Annoying Juice has become my new drink, and I love it, because I can annoy Simon with it!"

(Click here to watch the Demi Lovato "Annoying Juice" video.)

Rowland also got a little bit of teasing, although not as mean-spirited, in a video compilation reel about her flirtatious ways with male contestants.

(Click here to watch the Kelly Rowland "Gets Her Flirt On" video.)

Rubio did not escape any teasing, as her shaky grasp of the English language was mocked in a video compilation reel.

(Click here to watch the Paulina Rubio "Mangles the English Language" video.)

Cowell certainly seemed to be saying goodbye to the show in some way, when he gave his final thoughts in this Season 3 finale: "I just want to thank everyone who's voted to watch the show, who's voted for the show. To the producers, the music team, the choreography team, my judges, who've been amazing, the contestants have been great, and, for me, personally, I've had the time of my life. And thank you very much."

Ratings and critics' reviews for "The X Factor" U.S. hit an all-time low in 2013. According to the Nielsen Company, the show averaged 6 million U.S. viewers per episode in 2013. That's a big drop from the show's ratings of 9 million U.S. viewers per episode in 2012 and 12 million U.S. viewers per episode in 2011.

If Cowell leaves the show's judging panel or has reduced air time on the show in 2014, then it would be foolish to think that this change would increase ratings. Millions of people have already stopped watching "The X Factor" U.S., which in its last few weeks of Season 3 sunk into the lower half of the ratings for U.S. prime-time shows. If Fox thinks that the show is worth saving, then the network better be prepared for "The X Factor" U.S. to get even lower ratings in 2014.

Dec. 20, 2013 update: "The X Factor" U.S. episode that was televised on Dec. 19, 2013, was the lowest-rated season finale in the show's history. According to the Nielsen Company, the episode had only 6.22 million U.S. viewers. (By contrast, "The X Factor" U.S. season finale in 2011 had 12.5 million U.S. viewers. "The X Factor" U.S. season finale in 2012 had 9.66 million U.S. viewers.) The Season 3 finale episode finished in fourth place in its time slot (8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST/PST) and fourth place overall among the 12 U.S. prime-time network shows that aired that night.

Here are the rankings of the U.S. prime-time network shows on Dec. 19, 2013:

  1. "The Big Bang Theory" -- repeat CBS) — 11.25 million U.S. viewers
  2. "The Millers" -- repeat (CBS) — 7.54 million U.S. viewers
  3. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" -- repeat (ABC) — 6.41 million U.S. viewers
  4. "The X Factor" (Fox) — 6.22 million U.S. viewers
  5. "Two and a Half Men" (CBS) — 5.74 million U.S. viewers
  6. "20/20: The Year" (ABC) — 5.68 million U.S. viewers
  7. "Elementary" -- repeat (CBS) — 5.65 million U.S. viewers
  8. "The Crazy Ones" -- repeat (CBS) — 5.64 million U.S. viewers
  9. "The Sing-Off" (NBC) — 4.48 million U.S. viewers
  10. "Saturday Night Live" -- repeat (NBC) — 4.3 million U.S. viewers
  11. "Reign" -- repeat (CW) — 880,000 U.S. viewers
  12. "The Vampire Diaries" --repeat (CW) — 760,000 U.S. viewers
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