The X Factor: Hearts Are Broken on the Path to the Final Four

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Last night marked only the second time that America's votes had a direct influence on who went home. To recap within a recap, if you recall America's votes place two contestants at the bottom, they then sing a "save me" song, and the judges then decide which of the two should go home. Should the judges' votes result in a tie, the decision reverts back to a count of America's votes and the contestant with the lowest number goes home.

This method is an unnecessarily clunky way to eliminate contestants, one that allows the judges to put their own grudges ahead of the competition. After seeing this happen twice, I have to conclude that it was developed solely to set the show apart in some way--any way, beyond the Pepsi endorsement deal--from American Idol.

So what happened? Josh, Melanie, and Chris all survived America's vote the previous evening, leaving precious pumpkin Rachel Crow and Marcus Canty--in his third straight bottom-three appearance--in the bottom two. After the "save me" performances the decision went to the judges. L.A. obviously chose Marcus Canty over Crow, and Simon of course chose Crow over Canty. So the decision went to Paula and Nicole--Paula voted to keep Crow, but rather than make the decision Nicole copped out and voted to keep Marcus, in a major buck-passing move. It was a little disappointing, and seemed calculated to avoid Simon's ire at a direct vote-off of his protégé.

When it came time to announce the results from America's votes, and the result was announced it was clear from both the judges' and Crow's reaction that her elimination was not expected. And why should they? She's a crowd, media, and judge favorite and Canty just escaped elimination for a third time? I won't say Rachel was robbed, because the fact is America voted her out fair and square, but I do think that this voting process could and should be refined to eliminate the unnecessary play of competition between the judges. One thing I do like about Marcus Canty--his first concern was to comfort Rachel, and I think that says a lot about him.

So now we have our final four: Chris Rene, Marcus Canty, Melanie Amaro, and Josh Krajcik. What are your thoughts on last night's elimination show, and who do you think will emerge victorious on The X Factor?

The next episode of The X Factor airs Wednesday December 14 at 7 p.m. CT. You can watch video excerpts from last night's episode online.

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