With the images of a broken-down Rachel Crow still fresh on everyone's minds, "The X Factor" continued Wednesday (December 14) with its final four contestants pushing toward next week's finale.
Melanie Amaro and Josh Krajcik came out looking the strongest, seemingly leaving L.A. Reid's two remaining contestants — Chris Rene and perpetual bottom-dweller Marcus Canty — vying for the final spot in next week's three-way finale.
Each singer was given two songs apiece to strut their stuff for America. Beginning with a switched-up version of Mariah Carey's "Hero," Amaro was able to overcome her cheesy staging, which made her look like she was performing in a community theater's version of heaven. The song was called "bloody fantastic" by Cowell, while her second song — a rendition of the classic "Feelin' Good" — was dubbed by her mentor her best performance yet in the competition. Reid agreed, calling Amaro "the greatest female that's ever graced this stage."
Burrito maker Josh Krajcik flexed a little of his Krajcik Magic, starting with the Beatles' "Come Together" and closing the show with a piano-and-vocal take on the Leonard Cohen standard "Hallelujah." "I think it would be a massive shame if you don't make the final next week," Cowell told the 30-year-old, while a nearly-in-tears Paula Abdul remarked, "If it were the finals, you're the one to beat." (Reid was not as sold, and told Krajcik his "Hallelujah" "lacked excitement.")
Chris Rene somehow took on both Mark McGrath and Alicia Keys on Wednesday, diving into Sugar Ray's "Fly" and Keys' "No One" in the span of the show. In both, his spirit was trumped over his abilities, and the judges said he made them feel good, calling that just as important as vocal prowess. "Stardom is not about singing," Reid told him, "it's about lovability, and you have lovability. Am I right?" Well, McGrath would certainly agree.
That left Canty, who has landed in the bottom two each of the last three weeks, a fate Reid tried to spin by dubbing him "three-time Save Me Song champion Marcus Canty." Canty's first song was a routine spin through Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You," while his final performance — a clubbed-to-death take on George Michael's "Careless Whisper" — prompted Cowell's most stinging evisceration of the entire season. Cowell called it "horrific" and "grotesque" and compared it to a Las Vegas show in 1983. "It's not your fault, but this was a joke. An absolute joke, and you deserve better than that. That was as bad as I've ever seen."
Reid, on the other hand, praised his contestant, telling Canty that rather than an underdog, "Tonight, you look more like a champion."
But it's not up to Reid or any of the other judges, for that matter; this week, voting is entirely in the hands of the viewers.
One singer will get sent home during Thursday's results show, which is set to feature performances by Florence and the Machine and "X Factor" judge Nicole Scherzinger.
Who do you think is going through to next week's final? Let us know in the comments!