X Factor

'X Factor' singers hit with a last-minute theme switcheroo

Dec. 8, 2011 at 8:41 AM ET

Fox /
Melanie Amaro's performance was good, but Simon Cowell was still left begging for votes.

When teen sensation Drew was voted off “X Factor:” last week, Simon Cowell was noticeably upset. And apparently he wasn’t the only one. That result led to a fury of menacing tweets directed at the judges, which did not exactly cause the producers to tone down the rhetoric for this week.

Instead, Wednesday’s episode played up the feud for all it was worth, showing clips of Simon vowing vengeance and picking the very subtle #GlovesAreOff for his twitter hashtag.  But anyone hoping for him to unleash a reaction worthy of a mafia don was disappointed. Instead, it was just the usual cutdowns of Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul, and the occasional mild jab at L.A. Reid.

He had plenty of chances to do damage, since each singer sang twice, beginning with a dance number. We were promised a big twist for the second act, which turned out to be a last-minute theme switch to their Save Me songs. Which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal -- sure, it’s a pain to have to prepare for that on short notice, but two of them were going to have to sing it on no notice the following day anyway.

So which two are going to be singing their Save Me songs again Thursday?

Marcus Canty will probably be one, deservingly or no. He did all he could, and the themes this week played to his strengths, but having been in the bottom two twice already he has much less margin for error than the other four contestants. “God has a plan for you, honey!” Nicole gushed, but based on how the audience has voted so far that plan might not include a $5 million recording contract.

Rachel Crow is another possibility. It wasn’t her best night vocally, and perhaps as a result she really seemed to kick her stage persona into high gear. L.A. made a comment about “Hollywood circling the wagons” for her, which makes sense given that she’s a Disney Channel superstar waiting to happen.

She might not be the best bet as far as pure singing ability is concerned, but as far as being a superstar in the entertainment industry, Crow’s the one. But wow, is that Shirley Temple routine getting old.

This was not a night that set up well for Josh Krajcik, since he’s not a guy you’d expect to here on the stereo while out clubbing. But Nicole finally did him some good (better late than never) by coining the phrase “Krajcik Magic” to describe him, and if he’s smart he’ll have supporters wearing that on t-shirts in the audience tomorrow. Hey, the Soul Patrol thing worked for Taylor Hicks on “American Idol,” and Krajcik looks way younger and more hip than he did.

The two best bets to survive are Melanie Amaro and Chris Rene. Amaro was again outstanding, though Simon begged for votes by saying that if she wound up in “the piranha pool” she’d be going home. Odds are small that’s the case, but if scare tactics work to score political votes, then who’s to say it won’t work here as well.

Rene, meanwhile, had his best performances since his original auditions, in particular his original number, “Where Do We Go From Here?” Was it as good as “Young Homie?” No, but it was another reminder that he’s the most compelling of the five remaining finalists. Amaro has to be considered the favorite, but Rene cemented himself as a dark horse contender.

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