It's very cool," he says. "Anything that happens is life-changing for me from
THE YOUNG DIVA:
Carly Rose Sonenclar, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
At 13, Sonenclar is "X Factor's" youngest finalist, but she's no showbiz novice. She was featured in an off-Broadway show at the age of 7 and later made it to Broadway in "Les Miserables" and in last year's short-lived musical "Wonderland." She also starred as Carrie in the national tour of "Little House on the Prairie: The Musical." She writes her own songs and performs at a New York jazz club.
And yes, she's in eighth grade.
She's been called a prodigy and a phenom. The New York Daily News recently gushed that Sonenclar "arguably sang 'My Heart Will Go On' better than Celine Dion" and that her version of "Over the Rainbow" would "make Judy Garland smile."
In last week's semifinals Sonenclar took on two music legends, belting out Elton John's "Your Song" and John Lennon's "Imagine." Judges have been complimentary all season long, but Simon Cowell told Sonenclar that the first time he saw her display emotion was in a taped segment introducing her last week.
Judge Demi Lovato told USA Today she'd like to see Sonenclar do something besides slow songs. "I don't know how much she wants to be here," Lovato added. "I don't see the drive I see in some of the other contestants' eyes."
She is considered Stevens' most serious threat and maybe even the front-runner. Throughout the live shows, Sonenclar and Stevens have traded the No. 1 spot (in viewer votes) between them.
THE GIRL GROUP:
This group wasn't supposed to have survived this long. Just last week, they called themselves underdogs (as did their mentor, Simon Cowell). Britney Spears was blunt: "I would be really surprised if you guys are here next week."
Plus, the three-dudes band Emblem3 usually ranked higher in viewer votes. Lest you forget, the superhot boy band One Direction was spawned from the U.K. version of "X Factor." But Fifth Harmony has some- thing in common with One Direction, too: In both cases, the show combined five solo artists into a group.
The young women of Fifth Harmony (that's their third band name, by the way) range in age from 15 to 19 and hail from Florida, Texas and California. Last week, they sang Ellie Goulding's "Anything Could Happen" and Shontelle's "Impossible" (that one partly in Spanish).
Will these teens drain votes from Carly Rose Sonenclar and put Tate Stevens on top? Maybe, maybe not. Anything could happen.
THE ROAD TO THE FINALS
Going to Hollywood
Part-time country singer Tate Stevens was goaded into auditioning for "The X Factor" by his wife, Ashlie, and their two kids, a process that started last spring at Kemper Arena and ended with raves from the judges at the Sprint Center. The show says tens of thousands of hopefuls tried out in five cities.
Later, 127 acts -- solo singers and groups -- were sent off to "boot camp" in Miami. Then 24 survivors were divided among the show's four judges for mentoring.
When live shows started in Hollywood Halloween night, 16 contenders remained. Since then, acts have been eliminated each week, both by viewer voting and the judges.
A recap of the live shows:
OCT. 31-NOV. 1
Tate sang: Craig Morgan's "Tough"
Quote him: "For me, you're a keeper." -- judge Simon Cowell
Judges' choice: Each sent two of their four acts straight into the Top 12 (with sing-off winners filling the other spots). L.A. Reid, who mentored the "Over 25" contestants, picked tattooed-all-over Vino Alan of Waynesville, Mo. (who also auditioned in KC), and Stevens.
Tate's viewer vote ranking:No. 1 with teen Carly Rose Sonenclar at No. 2
Tate sang: Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive"
Quote him: "It actually feels like you've arrived back in this competition." -- Cowell. (We're not sure where Simon thought Tate had gone.)
Tate's ranking:No. 1 with Sonenclar again at No. 2
Tate sang: Shania Twain's "From This Moment On"
Quote him: "I got to sing to her tonight, and it was kinda special." -- Stevens, referring to his wife, who was backstage
Tate's ranking:No. 2 behind Sonenclar
Tate sang: Lonestar's "I'm Already There"
Quote him: "I've been a fan of his forever. That would be kind of cool." -- Stevens telling reporters he'd love to sing a duet on the show's finale with ... Garth Brooks
Tate's ranking:No. 2 barely behind Sonenclar
Tate sang: The John Shanks/Keith Urban tune "Somebody Like You"
Quote him: "I'm a dancing machine. I don't know what the hell (Simon) saw. ... I'm breaking out the sprinkler next week. That's it. He's gettin' it." -- Stevens backstage
Tate's ranking: He returns to No. 1 swapping spots with Sonenclar.
Tate sang: Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" and Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes"
Quote her: "Tate is not doing much evolving as an artist." -- judge Demi Lovato
Tate's ranking: ?
Not revealed. Stevens, Soncenclar, girl group Fifth Harmony make the finals.
Tate sang: Craig Morgan's "Bonfire" and Clay Walker's "Fall"
Quote him: "There is about as much chance of you going back to your old job (in Belton) as me flying to the moon tomorrow night." -- Cowell
OR YOU CAN CALL HIM ...
Tate Stevens (nickname: Tater) probably doesn't care what you call him as long as you vote for him. A few of the labels he has picked up since his national TV exposure:
--"Country dad" (MTV.com)
--"The family man from Belton, Mo." ("X Factor" co-host Khloe Kardashian)
--"My man" (as in "He's my man -- it's that Missouri thing," as ousted contestant Vino Alan, a former St. Louis resident, explained it to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
--"Sappy, sappy, sappy" (Houston Chronicle)
--"My dad away from dad" (booted contestant CeCe Frey, who also told The Hollywood Reporter she'd like to see Tate win)
--"Country boy" (snarkfood.com, which opined that "America does love a cowboy")
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