'X Factor': Elimination Sends 3 to Finale
'X Factor': Elimination Sends 3 to Finale

Simon Cowell Critiques Fellow Judge Nicole Scherzinger's Song Performance

With the "X Factor" finale just around the corner, the remaining four contestants faced their second-to-last elimination last night. There were no "save me" songs and no judging: the decision was made by America's votes alone. Each judge (with the exception of Paula, whose groups have been gone for weeks) sent one contestant through to the final round, while L.A. said goodbye to one of his boys.

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The show opened with a group performance of Blackstreet's "No Diggity" and Tears For Fears' "Shout" -- the most bizarre mash-up to air on Fox since "Glee" tried to put together the "Thong Song" and "I Could Have Danced All Night." The remaining contestants, Josh Krajcik, Melanie Amaro, Chris Rene and Marcus Canty, sang together, and it was lucky for them all that no one was being judged on the song choice.

Video: Marcus, Chris, Melanie and Josh, "No Diggity/Shout"

One drawn-out montage of the Wednesday night performances and what felt like a half-dozen commercial breaks later and Florence + the Machine was "live" on stage, singing her new song "Spectrum." Although coincidentally -- and quite suspiciously -- the Grammy nominee was also across the country performing in New York at the exact same time.

Video: Florence + the Machine, "Spectrum"

The judges took a few minutes to talk about each contestant, with Simon calling Josh "the one to beat" and Nicole saying that Melanie's "voice is limitless" and she "makes it all look so easy." Simon also discussed Marcus Canty -- three-time elimination survivor -- saying, "What I like about Marcus is, three weeks in the bottom but he hasn't once sulked or complained. He comes back and it's like he's won the show every time."

The first round of results followed, sending both Chris Rene and Melanie Amaro through to the final round. With Marcus and Josh still up for elimination, Marcus told the audience, "I just want America to give me a chance. I just want to win like everybody else," before going backstage to prep for his fourth possible elimination.

But before the final result could be announced, there was one more celebrity performance, this time by someone very familiar to everyone on "X Factor." Because apparently they couldn't find anyone else to perform (and she wanted to plug her new song) the second celebrity performance was "X Factor" judge and mentor Nicole Scherzinger, with the debut of her latest single, "Pretty."

Video: Nicole Scherzinger, "Pretty"

When her song was finished, host Steve Jones asked Simon to judge Nicole, and America collectively held its breath, waiting for a deliciously sarcastic reaction. Rather than fueling his fued with the former Pussycat Doll through criticism, Simon decided to evaluate his fellow judge as if he were Nicole himself -- because he was sitting in her chair, after all. "I believe in you; you believe in me; you transcend the universe; God is smiling on you; life is a waterfall and you are the ultimate rainbow," he said, pretty much nailing her judging style.

Finally the results were in and it was announced that Marcus was eliminated, while Josh would continue on to the finale round. Rather than falling to tears, รก la the last two eliminated contestants, the 20-year-old performer kept a smile on his face, saying to the camera, "Just trust me, this is not the last time you will see Marcus Canty."

Next week one of the remaining three contestants will walk away with a $5 million recording contract. Justin Bieber tweeted that he would be on the "X Factor" finale, the night after the contestants' final performances air on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. EST.

Did you think Marcus deserved to go home? Who do you think should win it all?