Season three of “The X Factor” has reached its critical penultimate phase with an ultra-intense round of semi-final performances from the four remaining contenders airing last night, Dec. 11.
Detroit’s Jeff Gutt has spent the past two decades on a single-minded mission to forge out a successful music career. After weeks of grueling competition, everything he has been striving for comes down to last night’s performances. They will either be his ticket to the finals and his last shot at the title, or he will come home.
His trio of phenomenal semi-final performances sent a message loud and clear: Jeff Gutt has no intention of leaving and every intention of walking away with a season three win.
He threw down the gauntlet immediately with his explosive performance of the song that earned him huge critical acclaim at his audition last season, “Hallelujah.” With America’s anticipation already raised to dizzying heights, Jeff drew us in subtly with flawless pitch as the song flowed out of his soul and took on a sheer life of its own. The raw power and pure sincerity in his delivery was so affecting that we wanted to stay there with him, suspended in a moment that can best be described as enchanting.
We were literally spellbound watching this 37-year-old single dad pour his soul into what will forever be known as the "Jeff Gutt version" of one of the most iconic songs of all time. This fact, in and of itself, is truly remarkable. Not to mention the single shot straight to the top of the iTunes Rock chart within mere minutes of the performance.
All four judges rose to their feet in the first unanimous standing ovation amidst a sea of thunderous applause and Simon Cowell, who has intimate ties to the song that has been covered by a multitude of talented artists declared it, “One of the best versions of the song I've ever heard.”
Though Simon probably didn't want to admit it, Jeff Gutt swept the first round by an incredible mile.
Round two pitted the magnetic rocker against Restless Road in a dueling duet that easily lent itself to Jeff’s vocal sensibilities. The classic '80s rock ballad, "Every Breath You Take," brought a stellar performance from Simon’s country trio. But once again, Jeff’s power cut through with impartial judge Paulina Rubio noting how Jeff’s “one voice” clearly dominated.
Finally, the humble Midwestern musician closed out the night following a brilliant performance from Simon’s charismatic duo, Alex and Sierra. Jeff’s mentor, the very smart and vibrant Kelly Rowland, wisely chose the smash hit “Demons” by Imagine Dragon from the blockbuster "Hunger Games" film franchise for her artist tomclose out an overall intense night of competition.
The final song brilliantly showcased exactly what kind of record Jeff could make. That said, as a whole, Jeff Gutt can literally make any kind of record he wants and it will most likely sell a massive amount of copies. As it stands, Jeff’s "X Factor" live performance singles are holding 6 out of 10 of the Top 10 songs on the iTunes Rock chart with “Hallelujah” and “Demons” holding number 1 and 2 respectively. “Without You" is number 4,” “Bohemian Rhapsody" is number 5 and “Feeling Good” rounds out number 9. How is that for chart domination?
Jeff’s fire never waned as he gave everything he had in his final attempt to win America’s votes. The audience went wild at the end of the fierce performance that displayed his incomparable vocal range and power. He was clearly a warrior, waging the battle cry of his life in his song. All four judges rose to their feet again for a repeat standing ovation, for which he was the only one of the four remaining acts to earn.
Now, the humble and deserving rocker stands at the edge of his dream, awaiting America’s decision. In a recent Examiner exclusive interview, Jeff seemed calm about his impending fate, feeling "blessed to have gotten this far." Regardless of the outcome, Jeff Gutt has clearly emerged as a talented and important musician. He’s clearly found his destiny and a successful musical future seems like a pretty tight lock.
“The X Factor” airs in Flint on Wednesday and Thursday at 8 PM ET.