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'X Factor' USA Top 4 perform in semi-final: Live blog

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The X Factor USA live

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My, how the season has flown! It's time for The X Factor USA's semi-finals and it's down to Melanie Amaro, Josh Krajcik, Chris Rene and Marcus Canty. With only four hopefuls left, the competition is really heating up to see which three will earn a place in next week's finals and whose dream will be cut short.

Who will impress judges Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger, LA Reid and Paula Abdul? Will Nicole live down last week's controversial decision to send the vote to deadlock? Will Paula be coherent? Stick with Digital Spy live from 8/7c to find out the answers to these questions and more!

21:29 Well, that's it! Who will make it into the final? Join us on Thursday at 8/7c to find out!

21:20 Come on, Josh, take us home. He covers Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' - an obvious choice, but it's Josh so I'll let him get away with it. And he does a lovely job with it, too. It's quite simple, just him and a piano and damn good singing. I can't fault him for it.



LA says that he's a "huge fan" of Josh's but thinks that it "lacked excitement". He advises Josh to stop looking back at where he came from and start looking at where he can go and to believe in himself. Paula is in tears, of course, saying that Josh opens up his heart and gives himself to the public. "I've never seen a contestant quite like you, Josh, and what you did tonight... you're the one to beat," she adds, calling it "beautiful and brilliant".

Simon has to be honest (of course) and agrees with Paula, applauding him for coming out with a great song and singing it sincerely and with great emotion, saying that it most likely put him into the final next week. Nicole loves the "simple truth" of his "beautiful prayer", calling him a "gift" to everyone and describing it as "breathtaking". You know how she gets, guys.

Melanie Amaro
21:09 Up next, Melanie takes on Nina Simone's 'Feeling Good'. It's a slightly rockier version of Michael Bublé's take. I love Michael Bublé - he was great on X Factor UK last week. Speaking of which, how amazing are Little Mix?

Oh, sorry, Melanie's singing. I don't know what else to say about her. She's got an absolutely brilliant voice but for some reason, she just bores me to tears. She sings her heart out, but I just don't feel anything about it. But, you know, I seem to be in the minority there. Also, her ending note is a bit Mariah Carey - surprise, surprise.

All of the judges give her a standing ovation, with LA saying that she's the "greatest female to ever grace this stage". Considering it's the inaugural season, that doesn't necessarily mean much, but he says that she has everything it takes to succeed and that she killed it. Nicole calls it her "freedom anthem". I'll leave it at that.

Paula applauds her for "letting go" when she's on stage, admitting that it "feels good". Simon claims that she's the reason why they brought the show to America as she was a bit of an underdog. Melanie doesn't seem fazed by the praise, though, and instead gets distracted by pointing something out to LA.

20:57 Chris Rene's second song is Alicia Keys' 'No One' - he plays piano in the centre of the stage and while he's not the best singer, you can tell he's really trying. Halfway through, of course, a hip-hop beat kicks in and he gets up to move around the stage and add some of his own personality into the track. The vocals get progressively worse, I'll admit, but I think I've nit-picked enough tonight and should try to be nice. It could be worse.



Nicole has to "keep it real" with him and says that it was tough to watch him take on Alicia Keys since he doesn't have a great voice, but adds that his "spirit transcends across the universe" and you believe, I believe, everyone believes, something about believing, something about how he "ain't trying to be nobody else", etc. Paula is similarly mystical tonight, praising him for his superstar performance.

Simon thinks that he "delivered big time" with this performance and says that he may be the dark horse in the competition. LA is really proud of him, saying that "stardom is about lovability" (uh, no it's not, but whatever) and that he definitely has what it takes to be a star.

Marcus Canty
20:46 It's time for Marcus's second song, but not before we're treated to a video montage of how he had to "dig deep" after falling into the bottom two yet again last week. In any case, he's singing a dance version of George Michael's 'Careless Whisper'. I so want to hate this, but... I actually don't. In fact, I quite like it. It's a new and different spin on the song and suits his voice, so I'll admit it - I enjoy it.

Nicole says that it was an "unexpected song" but loves that he "did his thing" on it and the fact that it kept growing and had such a crazy production to it. "To me, you're already a champion and a winner," she adds. Does that mean he's going home? Paula loves the contemporary spin he put on the track as well and applauds him for a really great job.

Simon respects him for constantly making a comeback but calls the performance "horrific", saying that it was "a joke" and reminded him of being in a 1980s Las Vegas club and calling it "as bad as I've ever seen". LA doesn't know what to make of Simon's criticism though, and starts babbling on (once again) about how he "comes back swinging" each time. Change the record, mate.

Josh Krajcik
20:37 Finally, Josh Krajcik gets his chance. What in the world is wrong with you lot? It's another Beatles song - 'Come Together' tonight. Sigh. Josh is incredible so I can't slag him off, especially since he didn't choose this, but if I never heard him do another Beatles cover, I'd be just fine with that. He is absolutely smashing it, mind - he really can't do any wrong on this show, it seems. Also, on a more shallow note, he seems to have slimmed down quite a bit and had a haircut, as well.

LA "actually enjoyed it" and says that it was his best performance in a few weeks, adding that he's one of the best in the competition and someone who could actually win. Paula says that when he sings, he not only affects souls but "attacks" them. She also says that the industry is not just about selling records but concert tickets, confessing that she would pay anything to see him perform live.

Simon dubs it an "honest" performance and agrees with LA that he's made a major comeback. He also says that it would be a shame if Josh doesn't make it to the final next week and is happy that there were no dancers or big productions. Nicole loves that he's never rehearsed and instead always comes on stage "living and breathing fire". So... Josh is a dragon, then.

20:26 Melanie Amaro's Pepsi Challenge song is Mariah Carey's 'Hero'. Seriously, people? I feel like I'm watching this girl do the same performance week after week. Granted, she's got a great voice, but this is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Is this because Mariah's been tweeting her? Simon said before she came on stage that they put a "twist" on the song, but I'm not hearing it. It's so standard - save for the late entrance of a choir - that I'm nearly asleep.



LA calls it "really, really good" (his standard compliment) and says that he can't criticise the song choice, despite how predictable it is. However, he adds that he didn't feel her usual passion for the song. Nicole loves the song choice and the message behind it, as it's fitting for her to sing. Then again, Nicole probably won't say an ill word against anyone for fear of a repeat of last week. "You've grown into the woman that you are," she adds. Well, I'd hope so.

Paula calls her voice "impeccable" and inspiring. She's also invited Walter Afanasieff, who wrote 'Hero', to be in attendance. However, she adds that taking the major chords to minor ones took away the uplifting message of the track. Simon says that it wasn't karaoke - unlike Marcus's first performance - and that she put her own stamp on it. Uh, I don't think so, but whatever. "That was bloody fantastic!" he adds.

Chris Rene
20:16 Up now, it's Chris Rene. Unfortunately, his Pepsi Challenge song isn't 'Young Homie' (won't you be sad when I can no longer beat that dead horse?), but instead... Sugar Ray's 'Fly'. Clearly, America has an amazing sense of humour. IIIIIIII just wanna flyyyyyyy! I remember this song! Sorry, can't type, busy clapping! I almost want to cover my eyes, I feel so embarrassed for him. On the other hand, he's doing a great job with it.

Nicole loves that he "makes us feel good" onstage and off. She also half-heartedly chants (says) his name and congratulates him for looking like a million dollars. Paula disagrees, saying that he looks like "$5 million, after taxes". Watch out, we've got a stand-up comedian here! She praises him for having so much to share with the world and tells him to keep sharing his gift.

Simon thinks that voters picked a great song for him but admits that the vocal wasn't that great. He advises Chris to come out next time with a lot more "conviction and focus". LA says that he looks like a major star and applauds him for his growth and tells him to keep doing what he's doing.



20:08 Listen, I try to "see God in everyone", as they say, but I find Marcus Canty insufferable. He's first up with Boyz II Men's 'I'll Make Love To You'. He screeches through it in a register fit for dog hearing. He should have gone home last week, without a doubt. He can't stay on a note and the whole production is just... no. No doubt he'll be out tomorrow night.

Nicole says that he's "bringing sexy back" (insert eye roll here) and thinks that he looked like a gentleman and stayed classy. Paula says that she can always count on him to give 150% and praises him for never letting anyone down and always giving a solid performance.

Simon thinks that he performed well despite the fact that he didn't choose the song, but thinks that the staging, zombie dancers and rose didn't fit because it combined too many weird things at once, deeming it "very distracting, very corny". He also wishes that the song was changed more. LA insists that "it takes great taste to know great taste", whatever that means, and loves him for continuing to fight.

20:07 Oh dear me, Nicole's got nothing but "love and light" tonight and apparently all the boos from last week have made her stronger. She raises the roof a little and seems to be trying a little too hard to convince us she's okay.

20:05 The judges are out, though apparently they're pretty useless since this week, they have no say in who stays or goes and it's based entirely on public votes. As the first round gets started, it's the Pepsi Challenge songs up first!

20:03 Steve's giving us a maths lesson - there are four people here and only three spots in the final. I'm not an expert, but sounds like one person might have to go home! He also reveals that tonight, one of the two songs sung by each contestant will be one of the Pepsi Challenge songs, picked by viewers. That was supposed to happen last week, as you might remember, but some sort of technical difficulties arose.

20:00 And we're off! Of course, we kick off with a recap of last week's events, including the stick Nicole's gotten this past week for the whole Rachel debacle. Who do you want to win? It's gotta be Josh for me, especially now that Rachel's gone.

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