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X-Factor, Dec. 14 – It’s All About Being Original

In his package before his second performance, Marcus speaks about the drama from last week. Of anyone he could have gone up against, the last person he wanted it to be was “little Rachel. ” He had to dig deep into his soul and genuinely thought it was him going home. He was shocked to stay and feels like somebody was up there supporting him, which gives him motivation to go out there and keep competing.

Marcus also has the support of his mom in the audience every week, who gave him two years to get this music career going. Just a few months ago he was back home mowing lawns for a living, and now can’t believe it’s really happening to him and that he’s three people away from $5 million. He worked hard to get here and has had his highs and lows and doesn’t want it to end now. Simon compares him to a ball that you keep trying to bat away, yet keeps coming back to you. For his second song, he sings Careless Whisper, and I’m guessing he never heard the song before, as throughout some of this he seems too stiff. Then again he has female dancers dancing up close and personal to him., which we know he isn’t comfortable with. When the tempo picks up, so does he.

Nicole found this to be an unexpected song, but loves that Marcus put his thing on it as it kept growing and growing. She also loved the whole production. To her, he’s already a champion and winner. Paula calls this a good choice of song and loved that they took a classic ballad and made it uptempo. It was contemporary and worked.

Simon has really gotten to know Marcus and likes him and respects that he comes bouncing back week after week. To be honest with him, though, that was horrific. The song was absolutely wrong and the grotesque performance was like being in a Vegas show in 1983 with confetti. It was an absolute joke, and he deserves better than that. It was as bad as he’s ever seen. L.A. isn’t sure where that comment came from, as what he witnessed was a guy who has come out there week after week and given absolute performances. Surviving the way he has, L.A. thinks of him as an underdog, but tonight he’s more like a champion.

Chris Rene explains in his package that seven months ago he was learning how to be clean and sober, and here he is today. He never thought he’d make it this far. What Simon likes about him is that he hasn’t compromised and has remained himself. L.A. hasn’t let him pull out all his tricks yet, though, as he’s a remarkable musician, and they haven’t shown it. He’s going to play the piano this week, which he’s never done in front of a live audience. His dad was also a musician, and he used to sit with his him at the piano. His dad once told him that he has just one life and has to do good things with it. He passed away before Chris could make him proud, but he wants to do that tonight. He sings No One<, and it’s a completely different Chris Rene, complete with slicked back hair even. And then he picks it up and gets away from the piano. To quote someone in the know, “Bloody fan-tas-tic.”

Nicole tells Chris she’s going to have to keep it real. She has to agree with Simon. He doesn’t have the best voice in the competition, and took on Alicia Keys. But, that’s not what the competition is about. She sits there and watches him and asks what it is about him. It’s his spirit that transcends across the universe. Because he believes, she believes, and we believe in him. She loves it when he’s up there and is transparent, and is just trying to be him and no one else. Plain and simple, Paula loves him and embraces him. His confidence and transformation is awe-inspring. It’s worth getting him into the finals.

Simon said earlier he needed to come back and deliver, and he just delivered big time. That film he just saw, his dad would be incredibly proud, and not just with the performance, but with the way he has turned things around. He’s got heart and deserves everything that’s going to come his way. He may be the dark horse in the competition. L.A. is so proud of Chris. Stardom was never about singing, but lovability, and he has it. Chris has tears pouring down, and Steve comes and gives him a huge uncomfortable hug.

Melanie is up next and mentions in her package that from her first audition she has felt truly blessed. Simon brought her back and believes now that she’s the best singer. He wouldn’t swap her for anyone right now. What has been driving her the most is to give her family the financial security after they sacrificed so much for her. She’s scared about going home, though. Mariah Carey tweeted something to her, and it completely thrills her. She wants to make her proud now. L.A. thinks Simon choosing a really different song this week could be a mistake, but he gets it. It’s another song that he has twisted around. She sings Feeling Good, and it’s definitely different for her and not in any way a mistake. It’s the least boring of all her performances.

After a judges’ standing ovation, L.A. says he knows why she’s the only female left, and that’s because she’s the greatest female to ever grace that stage. She has everything it takes. He loves the song choice. It was not predictable. “You killed it, Girl.” Nicole tells her it’s a new dawn, a new day, and a new life for her. She should be feeling so good right now. It was the Melanie Amaro freedom anthem.

Paula gives Melania a few bravas and tells her she is letting go and they love it. She loves it and it feels good. Simon tells “Mel” this is why they brought the show to America. It’s because he always dreamt they would find someone like her, a bit of an underdog. She was thrown out of the competition, and it was his mistake. This was her greatest performance so far. Simon makes a plea to America to call and put this girl in the finale purely based on talent. But wait, this isn’t supposed to be about talent. It’s supposed to be about having it, the X-Factor, right?

In Josh’s package, he mentions that he feels he’s closer and closer to attaining his dream. If he goes home this week, he’ll be completely disappointed. He’s wanted this his whole life since he was a young boy and picked up his first guitar. He remembers playing small gigs, not having money and feeling like a failure. One week he called his brother and asked to stay with him. His brother says he’d do anything for him. He doesn’t look like Josh, but eerily reminds me of him.

Josh’s strategy for this performance is to take a desperate beautiful love song and make it different enough and emotionally connect to stand out. Brian Friedman tells him he needs to tap into something in himself he’s not even aware of. Nicole thinks it will become known as the best version of this song. He sings Hallelujah, and he has a lot to live up to for this American Idol fan. He sits at the piano and finds a way pull out the emotion in it, and I rank it right up there with the Jason Castro and Lee Dewyze versions. And that’s high praise for me.

L.A. points out he’s a huge fan of Josh’s, but to be honest, this performance lacked excitement for him. It’s a great song, but it lacked excitement. His advice going to the finals is to stop looking back at where he came from and look ahead to where he can go. He knows he has the goods, but needs to believe in himself. Umm, isn’t that what all these contestants were doing tonight? Looking where they came from? Paula, clearly moved, and through tears, asks L.A. how he can even say that. She tells him this is a guy who opened up his heart and gives every ounce of himself to the public and makes every song sound original. She’s never seen a contestant just like him, and what he just did tonight, if it were the finals, he would be the one to beat.

Simon tells Josh he has to be honest too. It’s all about the finals and there’s a lot of money at stake. He has to be fair here and has to agree with … Paula. He did what they knew he should do. He came out with a great song and sang it with great emotion. It was sincere, and he thinks that song has put him into the finals next week. Nicole thanks Paula and Simon for recognizing the simple truth, which is what Josh is tonight. I was like a beautiful prayer, and he’s just a gift to all of us. It was breathtaking.

When all is said and done, all four acts did really well tonight, but if I have to choose someone to go home, it has to be Marcus. Paula nailed it. In her description of Josh, she said he makes every song sound original, and that’s in fact what Josh, Melanie, and Chris do week after week, but Marcus is always coming from behind, still trying to prove he belongs with those three. From the beginning, those three were doing that, while Marcus was trying hard just to survive. Marcus came on the show to prove to his mom he belongs in the music business. He’s proved that. I don’t think he’s proved he deserves the $5 million though.

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