The X Factor recap: Run Around and Desert You

One of the Top 8 acts leaves her mentor's wishes in the dust; Britney Spears and will.i.am Rickroll us in their own way
Ep. 20 | Aired Nov 28, 2012

PAIGE KNOWS THE GAME And she's gonna play it.

Fox

I had pretty much the opposite reaction to Carly Rose Sonenclar's segment -- everything that happened before the song itself was so scripted, flat, and blah that I wanted to smush a cupcake into her face (on behalf of her brother). But as soon as "Rolling in the Deep" started, Carly had finally drawn me in. Her voice is so pitch-perfect and I was genuinely interested to hear where she would take each note.

I would have even been fine had Carly remained seated on the little candlelit staircase the whole time. I remember liking Haley Reinhart's "Rolling in the Deep" cover so much because she never attempted to out-power Adele. Carly could have gone that route too and still "made it her own" with inventive melisma and what have you.

She's so practiced and perfected that it is a little alarming, though -- Carly truly is an alien with no edge. There's no gamble with Carly. She'll easily maintain top-two positioning this week along with…..

Tate Stevens! "LET'S HAVE SOME FUN!" screamed Tate's mentor L.A. Reid, clearly ready for fun in his 100% Pure Fun light green sweater. With no need to fear a huge drop-down in the rankings, Tate tried out something more upbeat: Keith Urban's "Somebody Like You." Tate's devastating second-place finish last week seemed to have lit a fire in him -- he was bopping around all over the place, dancing in front of a drum with his name on it, sidling up to a guitar player who looked like Vino Alan (in the face), and experimenting with a sassy finger wave. All impressive stuff from Tate.

Of course Demi and Simon had to ruin Tate's moment with an eye-rolly tiff about whether Simon would ever get married. (Demi whined that she hoped her phantom future husband would love her as much as Tate loves his wife; Simon called that a "tall order," and actually I just can't anymore.)

I'm excited to report, in the name of FUN, that my favorite moment of the episode was this botched confirmation of bro-dom between L.A. Reid and Tate Stevens.

Upon repeat playbacks, it seems as though Tate was headed in for a chest-level hand-swat to complete the high-five trifecta, but L.A. had already moved onto to an unprecedented SALUTE. Absolute mayhem!

NEXT: Bejeweled Leopard Face continues to dig her own grave

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