X Factor

Final four perform on 'X Factor,' and the audience already has a favorite

Dec. 15, 2011 at 8:46 AM ET

Frank Micelotta / FOX. /
'X Factor's' final four: Josh Krajcik, Melanie Amaro, Marcus Canty and Chris Rene

Nicole Scherzinger was the lightning rod for "X Factor" criticism this week, getting blasted for her indecision that sealed Rachel Crow’s elimination. But that doesn’t bother her. “I can handle the boos a lot better because they make me stronger,” she told host Steve Jones.

Let’s hope so, because she got more of that this week, including from her fellow judges. When the host read a fan tweet that said “Sometimes the judges just spew out random drivel just because they have to ‘say something,’” L.A. theatrically pointed at her. And truthfully, only one of her comments this week was at all memorable, and that was because it was so ridiculous. We’ll get to that later.

But Nicole can be comforted by one fact: She won’t be in that position again as a judge. The contestant with the lowest number of votes goes home this week, so she can be as indecisive as she wants.

That change has to be good news for Marcus Canty. Canty’s still the odds-on favorite to go home, as the three-time Save Me Song Champion (tm L.A. Reid) hasn’t built up the fan support of the other three contenders. Also, America did him no favors by making him sing “I’ll Make Love to You,” by Boyz II Men, which made him look like a wedding singer.

His follow-up, “Careless Whisper,” was his most original performance of the competition, but not the kind of song that makes uncommitted fans of the show flock to him.  The odds of him being among the top two vote getters is just about zero, but he doesn’t have to four-peat as the sing-off champion to survive. He just has to come in next-to-last.

Judging from the studio audience, that’s unlikely. The “Chris Re-ne! Chris Re-ne!” chants were even louder than the booing Nicole got a week ago, though again America gave him a curious song to sing (we really want this guy covering Sugar Ray songs? Think, people!). But his second song was a risk that paid off, in Alicia Keys’ “No One,” and his story about making his late father proud tugged at the heartstrings. Nobody who supported him to this point would switch gears based on that.

Meanwhile, Simon Cowell did everything but get down on his knees and beg the viewers to keep Melanie Amaro around. From Mariah Carey’s “Hero” to the classic “Feeling Good,” she shone again on Wednesday, and her mentor urged the audience to pick up the phones and make sure she made next week’s finale. She deserves that, and will likely get it.

That leaves Josh Krajcik, who’s in an interesting position. On the one hand, Rachel Crow fans who aren’t happy with Nicole are unlikely to throw their support to her mentee, though obviously it’s not like he tells her who to vote for. On the other, the people gave him the best song to sing by picking “Come Together,” which suited both his voice and his style.

Then he went with “Hallelujah” as his second number. Here’s where Nicole lost a little bit of perspective.  “He’s never performed it before but it will be the best version that anyone’s ever heard of this song,” Nicole said.

Seriously, Nicole? Just don’t go there. He did fine, well enough that both Paula Abdul and Simon called him a favorite, but his version wasn’t even the best among reality show contestants, much less touching Leonard Cohen or Jeff Buckley. It was the best version anyone had ever heard, assuming it was the only version. But even so, it was probably enough to keep him safe and finally send Canty packing.

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