'The X Factor' Recap: Top Four Contestants Perform in the Semi-Finals

Dec 14, 2011 | 7:58pm EST

the x factorS1E21: Welcome to The X Factor Semi-Finals! And what does that mean? The finals are only a week away and the pressure is potent. I mean, if last week’s results showed us anything, it’s that ANYONE could be sent home at ANYTIME. Speaking of which, let’s all just take a moment of silence to honor the recently-voted- off, adorable 13-year old, Rachel Crow…. So like I said, it’s really any man's (or woman’s) game at this point. Melanie and Josh are amazing singers, but Chris Rene seems to have really won over the crowds favor – who knew recovering drug addicts had such a big support group?! Then there’s Marcus Canty, who apparently has more lives than your everyday housecat and simply refuses to be sent home. And since the judges have repeatedly proven themselves to be absolutely useless (in both the mentoring and the voting realms), the contestants are basically on their own.

Like last week, each act had to sing two songs each, one being a song of their choosing and the other being what America chose for them to sing as part of the Pepsi Challenge. So how did the final four perform under the extra pressure of the semi-finals? Check out their performances below!

First up was “Three Time Save Me Song Champion” Marcus Canty who sang I’ll Make Love To You by Boyz II Men and it was decent until he hit the high notes, then things got a little shaky for a moment. And then near the end he did a double wink sort of thing, which I guess was supposed to qualify as sexy? I’m still not sure. In all honesty, this really wasn’t his best performance. The staging, the vocals, the wardrobe, it just all seemed a little dull and forgettable. Paula and Nicole on the other hand, called the performance “classy, “ while Simon thought the set up with the white rose was a little too corny for his taste. But L.A. just kept calling him the “Three Time Save Me Song Champion” as if that was supposed to settle the matter. To me, that just means he’s almost been kicked off the show three times in a row based on America’s votes. Not something to really be bragging about. But as a person, the guy is very entertaining and an absolute sweetheart, I’ll give him that.

Up next was Chris Rene, who sang Fly by Sugar Ray and aside from the DJ remix sections, it was a really great performance. On the whole, I haven’t really been a big Chris Rene fan, but he may have just won me over with this performance. He exuded a confidence I don’t remember seeing before and the song seemed like an excellent fit for him. Of course, the hot leather jacket didn’t hurt either. But Paula said it best by saying he looks like $5 million after taxes. And in this economy, you know that’s really saying something.

Then Melanie Amaro sang a beautiful rendition of Mariah Carey’s classic song, Hero. She did an absolutely amazing job like always. Seriously, the vocals she pulled off during this song fully proves just how much she deserves to be in this competition and she looks stunning. I just wish Simon would have her move around the stage a little bit. I feel like the only thing he’s ever had her do is stand idly by the microphone the entire time. Moving around would help her connect with the audience more and help to bring even more life to the songs. But hey, that’s just my opinion. All the judges thought it was an outstanding performance, except L.A. who said she didn’t put enough passion into piece, but given that L.A. criticizes pretty much all the other contestants that aren’t his own, I’m not going to take too much stock in what he says. Seriously though, if this girl doesn’t make it into the semi-finals, I’m going to be shocked beyond belief. Although on this show it seems like anything is possible.

Then Josh Krajcik sang another Beatles classic, Come Together, which once again spotlighted his deep, scratchy vocals – just minus the scary, crazy eyes he sported last week. I just really want this guy to win because he has the perfect blend of likability and raw, substantial talent. A voice as unique as his would have no problem selling records, that’s for sure. And the judges agreed, all giving him nods of approval (yes, even L.A.). But my favorite comment was when Paul asaid his singing attacks people’s souls, which sounds frightening, but it’s actually supposed to be a good thing I guess. I’m so glad she’s still apart of this competition even though her groups have been out of the running for weeks and weeks. I mean, who else would grace us with such poetic one-liners?

Kicking off the second round of songs was Marcus, who sang Careless Whisper by George Michael. The performance was much more lively and energetic than his first song, but he really needs to stay away from those high notes because once again he didn’t quite hit them properly. As a whole though, it was an improvement, although Simon didn’t seem to think so. In fact, he called the whole thing a joke and thought it was absolutely ridiculous, which of course L.A. argued against. And then there was Nicole and Paula who have reached the point in the competition where they offer each contestant equal amounts of praise, no matter how bad or good the actual performance is. Really helpful.

After that, Chris Rene returned to the stage to sing No One by Alicia Keys and it was great! I don’t know, I’m just really loving Chris’s performances tonight. The way the song started off slow, with him at the piano and then gradually built up to him dancing around with the back up singers was just really nice to watch. And he looked absolutely dapper, so kudos to his wardrobe team for making him look so sharp time and time again. The judges had nothing but nice things to say as well. Nicole complimented his spirit, Paula called him awe-inspiring, and Simon said he’s become the dark horse in this competition. I believe we’ll be seeing him in the finals.

Then came Melanie, who sang Feeling Good by Muse and guess what – she moved around! Alright, it was only a few feet, but that’s still an improvement and you know what, it made a difference. The song required her to really belt it out in her strongest, powerhouse voice and it was simply awesome. L.A. said it WASN’T predictable and she killed it, while the rest of the judges followed up with similar praise. This is what the show should be about – pure, raw talent and it fits this girl to a T.

And last, but certainly not least, Josh Krajcik was the final performance of the night and sang a very moving version of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah while playing the piano. Now this is an exceptionally hard song to do since the lyrics itself carry so much emotion, but Josh managed to pull it off. It was touching, but not overly cheesy. It was sincere, it was classy, it was winning material. There's only one word for it -- phenomenal. America, please vote for this guy!

So who do you think will be sent home tomorrow night? I’m guessing this is Marcus’ final week in the competition, but hey – this show has an unpredictable track record. Sound off below!

More Recap News