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'The X Factor' Recap: The Top 5 Perform Dance and Self-Selected Songs (VIDEO)

by Laura Prudom, posted Dec 7th 2011 11:05PM
Melanie AmaroAfter last week's stunning (and in some quarters, highly divisive) elimination, this week's 'X Factor' performance show felt a little anticlimactic -- especially since we didn't have Blanket Jackson in the front row showing us how not to emote.

The theme was a little vague this week, promising popular songs sung in a dance style (as you can imagine, Josh Krajcik was somewhat perturbed by this development). And, because of a vaguely-explained technical glitch that prevented the contestants from singing Pepsi Challenge songs, we were also treated to tunes of the contestants' choosing, which were all put together in under 24 hours. (It showed.)

Hit the jump for our take on the final five's double performances, and place your bets on who is most likely to go home.

Simon Cowell's Girls

Melanie Amaro:
At this point in the competition, Melanie can do no wrong. Simon has carefully orchestrated her ascendance since the moment he "made the mistake" of sending her home during the judges' houses round, and now she seems untouchable. That's not to say that she's undeserving of success; her performances are consistently strong, she's relatable and charismatic on stage and she always stays safely in her wheelhouse without letting L.A. Reid get into her head. But knowing who the winner is weeks in advance never makes for particularly gripping television. Adele's 'Someone Like You' was a decidedly weird choice for a dance makeover, but despite the jarring arrangement, her vocals were solid enough to ensure that none of the judges dared to critique her. Even grumpy L.A. admitted, "the only thing that bothered me was that it was really good." Her second song, 'When You Believe,' was perfectly suited for her voice and the stunning Whitney/Mariah range she pulls off so effortlessly. L.A. did admit that it was a safe performance (and by Melanie standards, it was) but she gave Nicole goosebumps. Simon attempted to make us care that the old guy who originally signed Mariah to a record deal was in the audience, but no-one knew who he was, so it felt like a very odd stab at namedropping that fell flat.

Rachel Crow: I'll admit, when I first saw Rachel audition, I was absolutely baffled that Simon would champion her above many stronger singers, but he's made a fortune in the music industry for a reason, and even if she's not destined for a record deal, she's destined for a movie career as the next 'Annie.' She sings with a maturity and depth beyond her years, always hitting husky notes like a true crooner, and that makes it all the more disconcerting when she reverts back to her childish, giggly self for the judging. She picked both songs tonight, the first of which was 'Nothin' on You,' which, given the lyrics, was a fairly inappropriate choice. When L.A. called her on it, she wittily retorted that she was singing about Nicole and Paula, which was an impressive and speedy comeback, but it still didn't feel like a song that she'd actually release. Her low notes are always wobbly, but Rachel sounds good when she pushes higher, and that was further evidenced in her second song, 'Music and Me.' Nicole called her an old soul while Paula gushed that she was a role model, after Rachel unconvincingly insisted that she just wanted to be an inspiration to other kids. Simon was in total smug mode and was so unconcerned with what the other judges had to say, he got Paula and Nicole's comments mixed up.


L.A. Reid's Boys

Marcus Canty:
Poor Marcus found himself trapped in a maelstrom last week after Paula and Nicole dared to save him above Drew (which I'm still grumpy over). It seems inevitable that he'll go this week, since he's been in the bottom two twice already and he's not about to win the contest over Melanie or Josh, and then it will seem like all of last week's drama was truly for naught. In the meantime, Marcus probably had his best week yet in terms of keeping his voice consistent. He was perfectly positioned to liven things up with an up-tempo number, performing 'Ain't Nobody' -- and though he seemed a little overwhelmed by all the staging and the dancers around him, he found his rhythm and seemed to be having fun with it. Nicole enthused that he took them to church and the dance club at the same time, and even Simon -- who had to be feeling resentful given Drew's unceremonious exit -- admitted that it was a very good performance. He then tackled 'A Song For You,' which was probably my favorite vocal performance of Marcus' to date, and he kept admirable control throughout. His voice is rich when it isn't hitting that nasal, whiny pitch, and Paula and Nicole were near breathless with adoration, calling him timeless and a storyteller. Then Simon apparently got his teeth back from wherever he'd stowed them and pronounced the performance boring.

Chris Rene: Undoubtedly the least-talented vocalist still in the competition, Chris could be in danger along with Marcus this week, but he, too, had his strongest night to date. Without Astro around to steal his rapping spotlight, he turned in a solid rendition of 'Live Your Life,' having written his own lyrics that fit well with the rhythm of the song. He seemed comfortable with the theme, and Nicole praised him for making the song his own. Simon admitted that although he didn't have the strongest voice, as an overall performer with charisma, Chris was doing great. He closed out the show with an original song that was every bit as compelling as 'Young Homie,' stripping things down with an acoustic guitar. His voice sounded better than it ever had, since he was obviously perfectly at home with the lyrics, and there was no way the judges were going to tear apart one of his self-penned tracks, even if he had sucked (which he didn't). Simon called it a "stroke of genius" to choose one of his own songs to help get him into the semi-finals, while Paula praised the universe for sabotaging the Pepsi Challenge songs to allow him to sing his own.




Nicole Scherzinger's Over 30

Josh Krajcik:
Out of all the performers, Josh struggled the most this week, especially with the dance track -- Rihanna's 'We Found Love.' The quality of his voice is flawless, and had he been able to perform it acoustically instead of with the obnoxious dance backing, I think it would've been one of my favorite performances of his. As it was, he seemed to get lost amid the noise and flashing, and couldn't quite find his rhythm, as if he was performing against the track instead of with it. L.A. said that he didn't buy it as a song that Josh would ever perform on his album (duh), and Simon agreed that it was inappropriate for him, using the opportunity to get in a couple of digs at Nicole and her poor taste while he was at it. His second song, 'Something,' felt a little dull to me, although it was classic, consistent Josh. I felt like he was somehow more engaged with the first song, as strange as that sounds, and the second just seemed to pass me by without making an impact, probably because we've all heard Josh sing similar songs far more impressively. L.A. said "thank god you sang a second song tonight," because it reminded him of the Josh he fell in love with (and this from the guy who slammed Drew every week for being too samey?) while Simon called it a massive improvement and implored Josh not to allow any more crazy choreography or "props" to distract from his voice.


If the audience actually listened to the judges' critiques, I would say that Josh was in the most danger this week. Luckily, America largely seems to ignore the mentors and their bickering, so I think it'll be three strikes and Marcus is out -- there was no sense in the judges prolonging the inevitable last week when Marcus is destined to lose, but it almost seems like Paula and Nicole might continue to keep him in just to prove a point. Chris will probably join him in the bottom two, just because he's also had an inconsistent journey so far, relying far too much on audience sympathies.

'The X Factor' airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8PM ET on Fox.

Who do you think performed the best this week, and who is in danger of going home? Have you forgiven Paula and Nicole for Drew's elimination, or do you think they made the right decision last week? Share your thoughts and predictions below.

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA

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6 Comments

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ezeddy2

Marcus should have been gone weeks ago, so I'm thinking tonight it is Marcus.

December 08 2011 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bonbon

Marcus to leave tonight, Drew was terrible.

December 08 2011 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dillontoe

Are you attempting to say that the audience of this show does not know who Clive Davis is or are you just admitting how oblivious you really are. I would say a majority of this audience followed Simon from American Idol who has had Clive Davis dedicated weeks on the show. If you are going to review this show you should at least know something about the industry and the LEGEND that Clive Davis is. Show some respect...

December 08 2011 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eppardblm

i think this show is starting to suck.simon controls this show.what happened to the great country singers they were never chosen for the top 24.we all know he hates country music.where is the real rock music.(led zepplin,deep purple,reo,foghat,ect.chris rene,marcus canty should been gone log time ago.best singers on here is josh,rachel,melany.

December 08 2011 at 8:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frank

I was very happy with one half of last week's results, Giving that Astro the book caused my wife and I go clap and hoot and howl with excitement that we would not have listen to his same old same old stuff every week and seeing him turn into a little baby when he felt unpopular! As far as drew, that was the exact wrong pick. Drew has a great voice, stage personality and she would go a long way. Picking her over Marcus smacked of racial overtones. I don't think they wanted to kick off two blacks on the same show>LA Ried will never kick off one of his own no matter how bad they are, especially the black singers. The judges are not picking on the strenght of their performance but the color of their skin and by who's team they are on. In a few words, Drew was sacked for who she was and not by a lack of talent. A bad thing to happen on the X-factors first year.

December 08 2011 at 12:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marco Paul Anthony

Yes I am unhappy about DREW being eliminated because after tonight I can conclude that DREW and CHRIS are the only TRUE artists deserving of this contract. Do I forgive Paula and Nicole? Nicole most definitely not unless I have missed her speaking on subject. I ALMOST forgave Paula until I heard her interview on Access Hollywood. Nope sorry ladies. You hurt and deprived too many people for motives I believe to lack integrity.

December 08 2011 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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