Is Ellona Santiago Really The Favorite To Win This Season’s ‘X Factor’ Competition? Now More Than Ever!

Posted: November 29, 2013 in Entertainment
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Ellona Knows Best 3

“It was a fantastic choice of song, the band sounded amazing, and you may now have a chance after that performance, Ellona, of you actually winning the whole show.” – Simon Cowell

When I first started this blog, my first article was “Ellona Santiago Will Win The “X Factor” Competition. Here’s Why:“.  I then proceeded to point out why I felt that Ellona Santiago was better than the rest of the ‘X Factor’ competitors.   I followed that article with one describing why “Simon Cowell thinks that Ellona Santiago is “The One” with the ‘X Factor’” based on his comments to Ellona over several weeks.  To recap, he said:

“That’s the one.” and “You are the girl I think I want to work with most in this competition.” after she auditioned with “Wings“.

“Ellona, it’s probably one of the best vocals we’ve heard, uh, from this category.” and “I can’t imagine you not being in this competition.” after Ellona sang “Clarity“.

“I believed in you and I was right. And what I love about you, Ellona, is that you’re here to win it, not just take part in a silly competition, but to win it and try and go on to sell records.” and then says, “And if she was one of my girls, I’d keep her … a million percent.” when Ellona opened the first live show with “Till The World Ends“.

“I mean that was your best performance that you’ve ever done.” after Ellona sang “Titanium“.

And, when Ellona sang “Baby Love“, Simon said, “I’ve got to tell you, you absolutely nailed that song. Really, really good!”  and, “You know what I love about you, Ellona, is that you’ve got, and don’t take this the wrong way, killer eyes. You know?   You’re really, really focused. You’re determined.  You want to win.  I really love working with people like you. Well done.”

But, then there came two consecutive weeks where Simon’s comments were not as glowing as they had been.  But, were they really criticisms or advice?  Here’s what he said:

“Ellona, I thought the  first two thirds of the song were literally mad.  I just didn’t get it.  I didn’t.  Too erratic, too crazy, too much going on.  And then the last 30 seconds, when you hit the big note, the melody came back in again on the song, it was great.”  and  “I have one, one thing I think I would like to hear you do next week if you’re here,  is I’d like to see something with less choreography because you’ve got a great voice and I want to hear you show that off.” after Ellona sang “I Wanna Dance With Somebody“.

And, after Ellona sang “Burn“, he said:

“Ellona, um, there’s no question or doubt, you are a brilliant performer.  Whatever you are asked to do, you just sort of like shrug and go along with it, you smile, and you sing well.” and “However, it’s like at the moment I’m watching an actress.  I haven’t re … I don’t know who you are yet.  And, my suggestion is, and and, forgive me Demi, next week you choose the material, you do what you want to do, because at the moment, you’re like a dancing, singing puppet.  And, I think you’re better than that.”

Simon has been a staunch supporter of Ellona Santiago from the beginning, but here he’s been offering some advice, even though his words could have been misconstrued as harsh criticism.  But, Simon has also been steadfast in his desire to see Ellona singing on stage without all of the dancers, just her owning the stage without any distractions.

Fast-forward to last night.

First, I want to say that when you’re down to the final 8 competitors in the show, nobody is going to have a bad voice.  They’re all good.  They couldn’t have gotten this far if they weren’t good.  So, there should be no disrespect towards anyone who came into last night’s show with a chance to continue.  Yes, they really are THAT good.  But, this is all about finding the one person who shines above the rest on a regular basis.  And, that’s what was highlighted last night more than any other night.

Rion Paige

The first performer last night was Rion Paige.  As everyone knows, she has a very nice singing voice.  And, she sang with a wireless headset so that she could be mobile during her performance.  The problem was, however, that she didn’t steal the show with her performance.   It was nice.   It blended.  It just didn’t GRAB me and take me somewhere.  I think she’ll be singing for years and years to come and she might have a very nice music career.   But, when it’s “all or nothing” like it is in this contest, she didn’t bring her “all”.

Restless Road

Next up was Restless Road.  Throughout this entire competition, they’ve moved on from one week to the next, but their continued presence seemed tenuous at best.  They can harmonize pretty well and last night they harmonized very nicely.  But, like Rion Paige, they just didn’t GRAB me.  If they’re going to “make it”, they need a more-defined identity.   They need stronger vocals.   They need to GRAB attention and they just don’t do it.  None of the three takes command, but they all defer to the others, so there’s no leadership with them.  What will make them special?  I honestly don’t know because they haven’t gotten there yet.

Jeff Gutt

Next up was Jeff Gutt.  I can honestly say that I was definitely impressed by him last night.  He really and truly distinguished himself and took command of the stage and his song.  I’d previously written that he didn’t really distinguish himself when he sang “In The Air Tonight” and “Say You Say Me”.  But, last night he came out strong and stayed strong throughout.   His performance was easily better than those who preceded him and, in my opinion, second best of the entire night (a close second, I’ll add, because he really was good last night).

Josh Levi

Following Jeff was Josh Levi.  I had previously written that I didn’t think that he had a chance to win the ‘X Factor’ because he doesn’t have a strong voice.  He sings like Michael Jackson when he was talking, soft, unmanly.  But, I’m not expecting Josh to be a full-grown man when he’s not.   Last night he did a very good job, better than any of his previous performances.   But, he still didn’t GRAB me.  His voice just isn’t geared towards being strong.   He was great onstage.  He moved well and didn’t miss a beat in his song.   He had a lot of energy and I can see him going somewhere in the not-too-distant future.   But, not just yet.

Carlito Olivero

Next up was Carlito Olivero.  He, like Josh Levi, came out with a lot of energy.  He stayed true to his Latino roots and sang a tune that was a mix of Spanish and English.   It was nice.   I wrote before that I believe that he’ll really do something in the Latino music world.   And, last night I wasn’t shaken from my earlier beliefs about him.   He’s nice and good, but not commanding, not in the way that Jeff Gutt was earlier.  And, I wasn’t really a fan of the feathered female dancers with him onstage.   For some reason, it just didn’t work and I didn’t have an easy feeling about it.  I think it actually cheapened what he was trying to do rather than benefit him.

Alex & Sierra

Up next was Alex & Sierra.   I have to say that I enjoyed their Big Band duet.  They are a good singing team and Sierra shined nicely when she sang her lead vocals.   She and Alex definitely have very good chemistry and I’m glad they’re together this way.   Of all of the performers of the night, after Ellona and Jeff, I thought they did the next best.   They really performed well last night.   They might still need some work on their vocals when they need to really GRAB a tune and the audience, but it was still a very nice performance.   But, when Simon says that Ellona might be a “singing puppet”, he should be careful that those same descriptive words can’t be used towards his groups.   Alex & Sierra will find a market, but I don’t know how much of a market there will be for them.   They still have work to do to really get there.

Lilly McCloud

Next up was Lillie McCloud.   Through this entire competition, she has really impressed me.   Her vocals have been fantastic.   But, I was actually let down last night compared with prior performances.   I can’t really put a finger on it except that I didn’t really feel the emotion from her as I had in the past.   It seemed more like a Top 40 going-through-the-motions-with a-little-sparkle kind of performance.   Maybe too polished and less emotion.   I believe Simon said something about it not being “raw” enough and that may be exactly it.   She definitely has great vocal command, but it seemed like it was too much, with less feelings.

1 Ellona Santiago Portrait

And to finish the individual performers, Ellona Santiago.  I can honestly say that every time Ellona has sung onstage, she has grabbed the attention and owned the stage and the song.   Last night was no different.  Her voice dominated.  She dominated.   As soon as the song began, she commanded with her voice and she was the main attraction on a stage where she also had dancers.   I had heard this song before (Mamma Knows Best) and I believe her performance was much better than Jessie J’s version.   Of course, the Big Band was also great all night and definitely during this tune.   But, when Ellona Santiago started singing, she was truly a diva, THE star of the show, and she performed with the confidence that comes with that knowledge.

And, this is where she always seems to distinguish herself.  Every time she’s sung, she has unleashed her voice.   It’s been noticeable every time.   There is no shy and timid about her singing or her moving onstage.   I know that she’s been singing and dancing since she was a little girl, but this is the biggest stage she’s been on.  But, that hasn’t deterred her one single bit or made her unable to deliver.  She’s stepped out onto this stage like she’s the featured performer every time.   She has been completely consistent in delivering outstanding performances, so it’s actually difficult to state which of her performances thus far has been her best.   But, she out-performed her competition yet again last night and this wasn’t lost on the judges.   Here’s their comments:

Kelly Rowland started off, saying, “Ellona that was your best performance since you being here, your best so far.”

Paulina Rubio came in with, “I’m a big fan of yours and I love that you are in command, that you lead, you are a leader. More than a Muppet. I believe you are a Superstar.”

Next, Simon said, “Ellona, that is what we call a “Game Changer”.  It was, look, tiny criticisms still.  Next week, and I really hope you’re gonna be here, but you gotta lose the dancers next week and I just wanna hear you.  Because it’s all a bit dress-up at the moment.  And what is taken away for me is the fact that you are an incredible singer, Ellona. I mean seriously incredible. It was a fantastic choice of song, the band sounded amazing, and you may now have a chance after that performance, Ellona, of you actually winning the whole show.”

And Demi Lovato finished with, “Ellona, I couldn’t be more proud of you.  I mean I think you did so amazing, with the dancers. I think your story touched so many people. It touched me hearing it. JulieRose is in the audience tonight.  I’m really, really thankful for you. You did an incredible job and I agree with Simon, it’s something that I’ve seen way before this performance, that you could win this competition. And I very well think that you will.”

You simply cannot take away the fact that all of the judges had very glowing comments for Ellona Santiago, including Simon, who was, I think, taken the wrong way for using the words “singing puppet” when he was really trying to encourage Ellona to do her own thing on a stage without all the background performers, like she did with Titanium.  And, Ellona really should be considered the favorite to win this whole competition, based, not only on last night’s performance, but by all of her performances thus far.

And finally, when the show was closing, with all of the acts onstage after a final ‘sing-off’ of “Cry Me A River”, Mario Lopez (the MC of the show) came out, put his arm around Ellona Santiago, and began asking the judges individually who was “most outstanding” during the show.

Kelly Rowland started off with the only words that really mattered, “The woman that you have your little arms around.”

Demi was next, “Um, I know I have two girls up there, um, they both did great, but one of them really excelled and I have to agree with Kelly.  It was Ellona.  You did incredible.”

Paulina followed with, “But I need to say that Ellona, I don’t know if that’s the gold on you that comes straight to me, the golden girl, but you did amazing, you did amazing.”

And Simon concluded with, “But what I can tell you is that somebody here tonight had an outstanding night and that is Ellona Santiago.   Outstanding.  … But Ellona, this is your night.”

Is it a rarity that every judge for the show would choose the same person as the one who really stood out more than the rest?  Probably, since they have their own acts that they’re mentoring.   But, in this rarest of occasions, only Ellona Santiago really stood out as the most outstanding performer.

You can see her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

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