X Factor USA 1.23 – Top 4

Tonight’s the Pepsi U-Pick-Em challenge, where the voting public gets to choose the first song the contestants sing tonight. Do normal Americans know more about song choice than famous judges? Short answer: No. Nobody knows anything about anything. Which does wonders for my self-esteem, actually. 

We start the show with Steve dredging up last week’s elimination as he speaks with Nicole, who inadvisedly chose to send Rachel Crow home. The audience tonight shows that all is forgiven by loudly booing her all over again, which is always enjoyable. She takes it in stride, though, and has a point when she says tonight is all about the contestants who are left, no matter how much they suck. Heh, that last part may have been added on by me, but you catch her drift.

Marcus Canty –
I’ll Make Love to You by Boyz II Men:  Does Marcus deserve to still be here? Um, no, but here he is, with his white rose and blue cheese winks, sexin’ up the ladies. He’s good not but great, sweet but shaky, just like every week. And holy smoke – smoke, everywhere, it’s like The Mist, but with Canty emerging rather than hideous monsters. Make of that what you will.

Careless Whisper by Wham:  LA thought it would be a fab idea to turn this into a disco number, complete with WTF interpretive dancers and Marcus in a white suit. I’ve gotta tell you, if Marcus somehow gets through to the final three, there is no Reality TV God. He is obviously a wonderful kid and deserves all sorts of wonderful things to happen to him. JUST NOT ON THIS SHOW. 

Chris Rene –
Spread Your Love and Fly by Sugar Ray: Chris Rene rocking a black leather jacket = me gusta. He actually reminds me a little bit of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that is never not a good thing. After his amazing original song last week, his performance tonight is a step back, but still plenty o’ fun. There’s no way to know what the judges really think when they give critiques as ridiculous as “You sparkle like a star!” and “You don’t look like a million bucks…you look like five million bucks after taxes!” Not every contestant can be the same level of amazing for every single performance…but you wouldn’t know it from the judges.

No One by Alicia Keys: Chris starts off sitting behind a piano, just him and his voice, which is my favourite way he sings. It’s can’t last, though – soon enough he’s up and there’s dancers and reggae and his ususl shtick. Is it enough to make it to the finals? It’s coming down to this: is it the singing that’s important – or the singer? It’s no accident that they wait until tonight to show us that Chris’s dad died of cancer, and now this is Chris’s shot to make his pop in heaven proud. For what it’s worth, I think Chris is just as good as other singers who’ve made it big in the business, and I’d be nothing but pleased if he does, too.

Melanie Amaro –
Hero by Mariah Carey: If she isn’t passionate (as LA accuses), it’s likely because her sheer terror sucker punched passion in the face. There’s nothing like singing for five million dollars to clear your sinuses. As much as I love singing competitions, I have no clue about the technical nuts and bolts of music, so it’s nice to hear Paula note that Simon changed the major chords to minor chords. He, of course, says that’s what made it special and memorable, but I’m with Paula. It’s muted where it should be soaring. But maybe that’s just me.

Feeling Good by Everybody Including Michael Buble: Now THAT’S what I’m talking about. I know Melanie can be all about God and misery and overcoming life’s challenges, but was it ever nice to see her let loose and be (dare I say it) sexy. This is a song that’s only as good as its singer, and Melanie has the talent to kick it to the curb. And if that last note doesn’t get her into the finals, nothing will. Does she have the fan support even though she’s not a cute guy? We’ll see soon enough.

Josh Kracjik –
Come Together by The Beatles: Josh comes together this week with a roar (rather literally). All is forgotten about last week, dear. And now I just have to forget those bizarre-o dancers gyrating behind you, taking away from the song.

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen: Josh gets the sweet spot at the end tonight, and I’m not sure how much it really matters in the voting process, but he does deserve it regardless. This is one of my all-time favourite songs, and even though it’s been used and abused by many a singing contestant, Josh brings all the emotion and prayerfulness this song demands (and talent, natch). It’s rather galling when LA doesn’t like it. How convenient when both the Boys on your team aren’t even close to as good as singers as Josh. Paula is also irked, as Josh’s performance made her boo and then hoo. I mean, at least Simon had the class to praise Chris even though Chris is standing squarely in the way of Melanie and Simon winning this thing.

Should go home: Good lord, Marcus Canty.

Will go home: Marcus Canty or I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.