LOS ANGELES — With Christmas rapidly approaching, ‘The X Factor’ is only three episodes away from crowning the first winner of the American series. So it would only make sense to refer to this week’s live show as “the semi-final.” In the opening, we took a look back at last week and how Nicole Scherzinger became one of the most discussed people in the country. Then Paula Abdul dropped the most obvious line of the evening when she said, “Anyone could go. Last week was a shocker. We could be in for another one.” Thanks for the observation, Paula. As long as Melanie Amaro doesn’t go home, it won’t be a shocker.
For the semi-final round, each remaining act was given the task of singing two songs. The first song was a song chosen by viewers, with something called the Pepsi Challenge. I guess the “challenge” part of it was for viewers to pick a decent song. Other than that, I don’t see how challenging it could be. But before the singing could begin, the judges had to walk out on stage. Would Nicole get booed again after last week? She sure would! Or perhaps the audience was just booing her “Rainbow Brite Goes To The Prom” dress. Either way, she got a little tough love from the crowd. I soaked it in and adored it.
Kicking off the performances was one of LA Reid’s remaining acts, Marcus Canty. Now, before I get into Marcus, he should have gone home last week. I don’t think anyone can deny that. Having said that, I might be slightly biased toward not liking Marcus anymore. I suppose it’s not his fault that he’s been in the bottom two for three weeks in a row. However, those were three missed opportunities to eliminate him, so I’m not necessarily cutting him any slack. The song viewers chose for Marcus to sing was “I’ll Make Love To You,” originally performed by Boyz II Men. Marcus chose to start off the song by saying, “This is for a special lady.” Ugh. I had to get the barf bag because it went downhill from there. First there was that “special lady” bit. Then he was holding a rose while looking seductively at the camera. Then there were some weird dancers doing interpretive dance behind Marcus while he sang. Then there was the issue of Marcus not even attempting to hit high notes and just sticking with his normal nasal tone. Needless to say, the performance was NOT good enough for the top four. Nicole, Paula and LA expectedly loved Marcus’ take on the song, but Simon Cowell wasn’t cutting him any slack. Simon said there were too many weird things going on at once and wasn’t really enjoying the performance. The song made me long for the days of Marcus’ initial audition many weeks ago when I actually liked him. Now I kind of resent him because he was saved instead of Rachel Crow.
Second on stage was LA’s other boy, Chris Rene. Via the Pepsi Challenge, viewers decided it would be best for Chris to take on Sugar Ray’s “Fly.” In theory, the song seemed like a good idea. The problem is the song is a hard one to make your own. Just ask Chris because he wasn’t able to make it sound any different than the original version. His vocals seemed more off than normal at the beginning of the song. Then the rapping wasn’t really up to par with his normal rapping. It just ended up sounding like a version you’d hear at the bowling alley after someone has had a few too many shots. And trust me, after my weekend and attending karaoke twice, I think I have the right to comment on what drunken karaoke might sound like. The upside of Chris’ performance is that he looked amazing. The show has really helped to clean him up. He looks like a completely different person from the first time we saw him. All four judges liked the way Chris did the song. Compared to Marcus, he was much better. Chris just seems more likable to me than Marcus does, so that’s why I’d prefer him to stay on the show. Go ahead, start sending your e-mails now about how I’m just being mean to Marcus because I can. Psh. Someone has to go. It might as well and SHOULD be him.
Third to sing was the only remaining female contestant, Simon’s mentee, Melanie Amaro. Viewers voted to hear Melanie sing Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” Once again, it’s a good song choice in theory, but another that’s extremely hard to make your own. However, Melanie did it. Through changing major chords to minor, the song took on a different, darker feel, that I kind of enjoyed. It sounded like a different song than the original Mariah version. The best thing about Melanie is how pure her voice is. Apparently angelic voices are prominent in the British Virgin Islands. Who knew? Melanie made “Hero” her own. I kind of want to download it and put it on repeat for the next few days. But that would impede my listening of Selena Gomez’s latest album, so that’s probably not going to happen. The judges, other than LA, loved Melanie, as they should have. LA, however, told her that he “didn’t feel her usual passion.” My dislike for Nicole from last week quickly shifted to LA. I looked at the TV and gave him the stink eye. Then Steve Jones came on screen and told Melanie she was “divine.” And all was right in the world again.
Rounding out the first round of performances was Nicole’s last remaining over 30 contestant, Josh Krajcik. The Pepsi Challenge winning song for Josh was The Beatles’ “Come Together.” The first thing I have to say about Josh’s performance is: FIRE! There were a lot of pyrotechnics going on during his song, and I’m not a pyro, but I do love me some fire every now and then. Perhaps it’s because I am without fireplace at my apartment, and I miss having one. Sure, I can turn the cable box to the fireplace channel, but it’s just not the same. Either I need to move somewhere with a fireplace or just move to South Florida, where I wouldn’t have to worry about such things. Anyway, back to Josh. His version of the song was about as far from karaoke as you can get. However, he didn’t really sound like himself during the song. He seemed like he was a bit nervous and holding back. He wasn’t blasting out his normal powerful vocals. I wanted a big head-banging moment, but I didn’t get it. Sigh. I’ll just have to listen to “Bohemian Rhapsody” to get my fix. All four judges liked Josh’s performance and said it was nice to have him back after a few weeks of straying away from himself. I couldn’t have agreed more. When there aren’t a bunch of unnecessary dancers around him, Josh is pretty awesome. I hope next week he stays away from the dancers and just sticks to what he does best: being a singer-songwriter with minimal staging.