'X Factor' Top 6: Jeff Gutt and Ellona Santiago bring it

jeff-gutt-the-x-factor.jpgAfter last week's shocking elimination, the Top 6 for the "X Factor" know that anyone can go home in any given week, so they gotta bring it. The theme this week is diva hits for song no. 1 and unplugged for song no. 2.

1. Restless Road, "Red" and "Wake Me Up"

Well, this starts out pretty well, though there aren't a lot of discernible harmonies. However, the tall one really needs help with his stage presence -- he seriously just wanders and bops around out there. Also, his solo on this song was terrible. Really bad. It's not enough that he can sing low, girls who are screaming like banshees. He needs to be on key, too. Oof.

Their second song is miles better -- there are harmonies, the solos are pretty strong. I mean, we all know this group is going to win it all and then fade into oblivion, right? They're obviously very popular with the teen girls, but they do not have the chops to make it as a country group.

2. Rion Paige, "See You Again" and "Glass"

Carrie Underwood can be a bit much for Rion. She so desperately wants to have a belter voice like Carrie, but she's not there. The quiet stuff is so much better than the big stuff. Rion should do more Miranda Lambert stuff. She'd be great (really great) on "The House that Built Me."

Her second song, like Restless Road, is much better than her first one. She still needs to work on supporting her big notes, but this song is so quiet and pretty, it's right in Rion's sweet spot.

3. Jeff Gutt, "Without You" and "Daniel"

Great choice for him to get past the "diva" requirement, since this wasn't originally a Mariah Carey song. Anyway, this is awesome. He's giving this a dark vibe to it that makes it sound so serious and heavy, like he's singing this while on a bridge somewhere, staring down at the churning waters or something. (I'm not getting excited about suicide, gang, don't email me. I'm just excited about his dark emotion. Plus the song's lyrics are, "I can't live if living is without you" so.)

Anyway, that was terrific.

His second choice is also really good. It's a complete reversal from the first song and it shows off his guitar skills, plus his brother is standing there in his uniform with tears in his eyes, so I mean. Touchdown.

But vocally, Jeff Gutt is in a different league tonight. He has absolutely slayed both his songs. He could win this whole thing and he could actually release a really good album.

Demi and Simon say it wasn't as good vocally, which is bunk. A quiet song is OK to do sometimes and he did very well on this. It's a different kind of song. It's nice to see a softer side and to see him play the guitar.

4. Ellona Santiago, "Applause" and "If I Were a Boy"


I've been critical of Ellona in the past (and I stand by that) but I really like her Gaga. The slow opening is nice and then she handles the faster part with aplomb. Gaga is not easy to sing and Ellona is keeping up pretty well. Now, considering what the voters like, is this what will keep her here? Not sure.

However, her second song is terrific. It's like -- oh yeah, Ellona has a really strong instrument. Why doesn't she show this kind of talent off every week? She picks songs that are too hard for her, or too hard when she's stomping all over the stage. This is really good and my only criticism is the same as Kelly Rowland's -- soften it up sometimes. Rein it in a little.

5. Alex & Sierra, "Say My Name" and "Say Something"


Bold choice, but since they change songs up so much, this might work. It's not like they're trying to be Destiny's Child. Anyway, Sierra sounds better on this than Alex does. He's dropping a few notes. They're also not singing together enough -- that's their wheelhouse and this is splitting them up too much. When they finally start harmonizing, it's ... hmm. It's OK. This is really not their best. Love the staging, though.

Kelly Rowland says they pulled it off, which I disagree with, but she has to compliment them or she'll look like a meanie.

Their second song is miles better. This theme is perfect for them, so it would've been weird if they had blown it. But yeah, their "Say Something" is gorgeous. Amazingly gorgeous. Totally in love. It's nice that Sierra isn't trying to be Xtina, because she's not Xtina. She does her own thing on the piano and I dig it.

6. Carlito Olivero, "Let's Get Loud"

Terrific choice for his diva song -- it's fun, it's got the Latin flavor that he does very well with and it's not so full of vocal gymnastics that he can't keep up. It's not blowing me away -- there's just not enough substance to this song. He needs to have a big second number to have a good chance at staying.

But much like everyone else, his second song is so much better. I actually don't like him singing half English/half Spanish, it's distracting on this song for some reason. I usually love when singers do that, but this is just weird. However, I love the rumba flavor and vocally, he sounds nice. Will it be enough? I fear not. It wasn't flashy enough.

For me, Jeff and Ellona clearly won the night, with Alex & Sierra doing enough on their second song to stay. I think Carlito, Rion and Restless have all worn out their welcomes. If I had to pick two to go, it'd be Rion Paige and Restless Road. But we'll see.

What do you think, "X Factor" fans?
Photo/Video credit: FOX