The X Factor: Pepsi Challenge Final Four

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Last week bubbly Rachel Crow was eliminated from The X Factor leaving Marcus Canty, Melanie Amaro, Chris Rene and Josh Krajcik as the final four contestants in line for a $5 million recording contract, a Pepsi commercial, and of course the title-holder of WINNER for the first U.S. X Factor competition.

The strongest singers are clearly Amaro and Krajcik, who couldn't be more different from one another. Melanie has some work to do before her gospel roots have a broader appeal, but the mentoring on this show has obviously helped her branch out. Canty and Rene are battling it out for the third spot, in my opinion, and Canty's consistent appearance in the bottom two doesn't help his outlook.

Up first on tonight's episode: We finally get to hear those Pepsi Challenge songs!

Team L.A.: The Boys

Marcus Canty

Marcus's Pepsi Challenge song is "I'll Make Love to You". It's not nearly as good as his save-me song was last week, but it's okay. Simon accurately called the staging distracting and corny, while Paula and Nicole continue their gushing adoration. For his second song Marcus performed "Careless Whisper" and Simon declared it "horrific". Can Marcus "battle" his way out of the bottom two again? Because he's headed there.

Chris Rene

Rene performed "Fly" by Sugar Ray for his Pepsi Challenge song, and as usual when Chris isn't performing his own material there is something missing. Paula and Nicole, unable to hand out real criticism, focus on telling Chris how great he looks. Simon compliments the song choice but says it fell flat on execution. Rene tackles "No One" by Alicia Keys for his second song, on which the judges all agree he sounded better.

Team Simon: Melanie Amaro

The general Internet consensus is that Melanie Amaro should win the competition, and her Pepsi Challenge rendition of "Hero" by Mariah Carey certainly supports that idea, insofar as Melanie has a great voice. But the show isn't The Voice Factor, it's The X Factor, and to me Melanie is a little boring. But I don't listen to a lot of Mariah Carey, so I'm not her target audience. Song #2 on the other hand, made me sit up and take notice. Amaro performed "Feeling Good" and you could tell she did--she sang the hell out of it. The judges loved it, and it was absolutely the best all-around performance of the evening.

Team Nicole: Josh Krajcik

Nicole and Josh's close bond baffles me, and she seems like the worst mentor for his kind of music, but somehow they make it work more often than not. Krajcik's Pepsi Challenge song was "Come Together" and his second song was "Hallelujah". Josh was strong on both songs, but the second was the showstopper and the judges enthused over his performance.

It is hard to imagine a Final Three without Josh and Melanie, so I think Marcus and Chris will be competing for the third slot on tonight's results show. Any thoughts on what the Final Three has in store? Leave them below.

The X Factor results show airs tonight at 7 p.m. CT on Fox. Watch video excerpts from last night's episode online.

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