December 15, 2011 5:34am PT by Shirley Halperin
'X Factor's' Final 4 On Their Semifinal Performances
It’s down to the wire for X Factor’s Final 4, who took the stage on Wednesday night for two numbers each. The theme: a somewhat nonsensical hodgepodge of Pepsi choice votes (Sugar Ray’s “Fly?” Really?) and the contestants’ own free will.
Most left the judging portion unscathed, with the exception of Chris Rene, who Simon Cowell took issue with on song no. 1, saying it was only a 7 out of 10 performance. And Josh Krajcik, whose rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” left L.A. Reid thoroughly unimpressed.
How did the rest of the finalists fare and what was the post-game reaction to their own performances? Read on…
Marcus Canty (“I’ll Make Love to You,” “Careless Whisper”)
“I had to have fun for Rachel [Crow],” said Marcus of semi-finals performances. “She wouldn't have wanted me to come here looking sad - she'd want me to keep fighting.” And fight he did, delivering his most confident performances to date, including a Euro-dance version of George Michael’s 80s ballad “Careless Whisper.” Says self-declared “smooth guy” Marcus: “It was about stepping out and being different. I love the old vibe that ‘Careless Whisper’ had and I wanted to sing it like that but L.A. Reid said, ‘You gotta step outside of that and make it in your own; You can't sound like karaoke. So a dance track came out of that!”
Chris Rene (“Fly," "No One")
His pre-performance package said it all: Chris Rene’s mission was to sing a song that would make his late father proud. He was ready for that. What Chris may not have been prepared for was the emotion that overcame him at that moment. “It just hit me,” he said after the show. “I was thinking about my dad and it was a super emotional moment.” Whatever happens on Thursday, Chris says he’s happy with his performances, especially Alicia Keys' “No One,” on which he played piano. “If I go home, I'm still happy and if I go forward then that means it’s on and I'm gonna lay it down,” said Chris. “I feel really excited about just being here.”
Melanie Amaro ("Hero,” "Feeling Good")
With a little help from her own hero, Mariah Carey, who tweeted Melanie Amaro with a message of support, the Virgin Islands native was able to bring out her inner diva, pull off an effortless performance and even hit one sky-high note. “That's Mariah inspiration right there,” she told reporters, confident that the two “will talk again someday.” Since Melanie’s been sent home before, she’s not looking for a repeat, but whatever happens, she has more than enough accomplishments to be able to say, “that my mom and dad are proud of me.”
Josh Krajcik ("Come Together,” "Hallelujah")
Perhaps the contestant with the most riding on semifinals week, Josh Krajcik didn’t look overly concerned about his frontrunner status or the fact that judge L.A. Reid wasn’t jumping in his seat following Josh’s performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” “LA I completely respect,” said Josh. “He knows music, he’s been in the industry a long time, he's got a lot of success so he must have seen something in that performance, but I couldn’t have done anything more to it, That's the kind of song that you have to feel. It's about introspective despair and longing. It's not about recycling.”
Indeed, after the show, Josh made sure to mention Jeff Buckley’s recording of the song, which is nearly as monumental as the original, and the fact that “Hallelujah” has been sung by several American Idol alums was not lost on him, either. “It's risky,” he said. “But here's the thing: it's a desperate and beautiful love song, I love it and I connect to it, and because it's been done so well by so many different people -- like Buckley's version is hard to top -- the only strategy I had was to try and make it mine, to do a little bit with the melody to make it more Kraj, so hopefully I did that.”