'X Factor' Recap: Melanie Amaro Dominates Semifinals
Before the performances even begin, there's a dramatization of last week's already way-dramatic Rachelgate affair. Everything occurs in slow-motion, like a parody of reenactments you might find on The Simpsons. Then, suddenly, the final four are on the beach for some reason, spouting interchangeably obvious statements about the ever-rising stakes. "I want to be one of the three standing on the stage in the finals," Chris Rene says, which we might have already inferred. Let the semifinals commence!
The un-killable Marcus Canty is up first. "This is for that special lady," he says. I'm sure he means his mom again, but then Marcus launches into "I'll Make Love to You" by Boyz II Men, and I stand super-corrected. He sounds strong and in control for the most part, but the background dancers are all doing weird performance-art cycles in red nightgowns and at one point, our man gives a single white rose to a girl in the crowd. It's all a bit much, but at least we can count on Nicole to say something incisive and/or relevant about it: "Marcus, you're bringing sexy back." Never mind. Now that Marcus has outlasted Simon's girls for two weeks in a row, Mr. Cowell is out for blood. "You were trying too many weird things at once," he says. "It was distracting, very corny, and for me the problem is you didn't change the song enough." Marcus' performance was by no means amazing, but this sounds like revenge talk.
Next, Chris Rene is saddled with Sugar Ray's "Fly" for his Pepsi Challenge song. "It's party time," he says en route to the stage, but considering the leather jacket with Dracula collar he's rocking, it seems like the kind of party you might throw on a goblin costume before attending. Unlike Marcus' sexyback squad, the dancers here are diverse in gender, age, race and probably political affiliation. Aside from a rap interlude in the middle, Chris sounds a little awkward and behind the beat. No matter, though. The crowd chants Chris' name afterward to the tune of "USA! USA!" and the judges basically do, too, barely touching on his actual singing. "You have the sparkle of a star," LA says. "What I like about you is that you make us feel good, whether onstage or off," notes Nicole, before mentioning that Chris looks like a million bucks. Paula disagrees, though. "You look like five million bucks… after taxes." Then she keeps going: "Plain and simple, you have the gift to communicate to the world. Your heart resonates with the world." Ironically, it's a statement that couldn't be communicated aptly to anyone in the world. Simon is more straightforward, at least: "Is it the best vocal performance I've heard from you so far? No," he says. "You've got one more chance to nail this."
Melanie Amaro appears with Sudden Beyoncé Hair to perform Mariah Carey's "Hero." The song was picked for her by the audience, but you can tell she's happy about it and she sounds terrific singing it. LA objects to the predictability, though, and more. "When you started, I didn't feel your love for the song – your usual passion." Paula praises Melanie, but complains about Simon's switching of the major chords to minor. Simon defends himself against this criticism by venting his distaste for karaoke, decreeing Marcus' song as rote and karaoke-esque in comparison to Melanie's. Dude really wants Marcus to go down.
The Beatles' "Come Together" sounds wonderful coming out of Josh Krajcik. He isn't very dynamic in terms of movement, though, mostly planted in one spot. LA gives one of his typical backhanded compliments, saying this is the best he's seen Josh in a few weeks. But what does Paula think? "Josh, you have the ability to not only affect our souls, but to attack our souls. You get into us," she says, likening Josh to a spiritual Osmosis Jones. Nicole then revisits last week's conversation about the intense look in Josh's eyes, calling it a look of "steel." Oddly, this is what prompts Simon to finally ask, "What the hell are you talking about?" Nobody knows, Simon.
Marcus's second song is a techno-remixed version of "Careless Whisper" that trades in sax solos for clubland bounce; the whole thing ends in confetti and another sappy wink to the audience. Nicole and Paula are happy, but Simon lays into Marcus yet again. "That was horrific," he says, causing the audience to drop their collective monocles. "It was like a Las Vegas stage show in 1983. It's not your fault, but that was a joke." Somehow, this doesn't lead to the Simon vs. LA monster battle we've been building toward all along.