Night Before Big Decision, Simon Says Melanie 'Should Be the Winner'
With a $5 million decision hanging over the contestants' heads, the pressure during the final "X Factor" performances was on for Josh, Chris and Melanie. Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne and R. Kelly were on set today, as each finalist took the stage with a celebrity musician for one of their two finale songs.
Simon predicted that "this is going to be the closest final we've ever had," and the show kicked off with host Steve Jones asking fans to use a rather harsh hashtag, #NoPointsForSecond, to tweet about the show.
Josh Krajcik was first up, dueting with Alanis Morissette on her hit "Uninvited," which she said was the perfect song for him, because "he's a very soulful man." L.A. posed quite a challenge for the other contestants with his comments for Josh, saying "Wow, that was surreal. I mean, it was such a natural pairing. This is going to be a long night, because we just started at the top." Simon only gave his performance an eight out of ten, telling Josh he looked "a little bit intimidated at the beginning."
Video: Josh Krajcik and Alanis Morissette, "Uninvited"
Officially eight months sober, California boy Chris Rene was joined on stage by emo pop princess Avril Lavigne, singing and rapping her hit "Complicated." It was a strange pairing, but somehow it worked, especially when Chris kicked off a rap verse. Nicole said that his performance was "a little shaky," but Simon and L.A. both thought that the song could easily be a hit single. "That could be a record that we could release tomorrow and it would be a No. 1 hit," L.A. told Chris.
Video: Chris Rene and Avril Lavigne, "Complicated"
Melanie Amaro's duet with R. Kelly, on his "I Believe I Can Fly," was easily the best match-up of the night, sounding more like a concert performance than a talent show set. R. Kelly, who had never before performed the song as a duet, said that Melanie is "unbelievable," and he "has no doubt in [his] mind that this girl is on her way to the moon." The only criticism came from L.A., who thought that Melanie was overshadowed by her star partner, to which Simon called him "Grumpy" and retorted, "that is what's called 'showing respect' to the person you're singing with."
Video: Melanie Amaro and R. Kelly, "I Believe I Can Fly"
Between the duets and "$5 million song" round, the cast of Cirque du Soleil: Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour performed onstage along with the three finalists, who sang Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us."
The show moved quickly to the last round, finally ditching the gimmicks and high production values to focus on the artists' voices. For Josh's final performance, he sang the classic "At Last," made famous by Etta James. He did what he does best on this song, singing soulfully behind a guitar and a spotlight, without any backup dancers or fireworks. "You are such a rockstar," L.A. told Josh. "You made it yours, you took your guitar and made it your own and that is what stardom is all about." Simon said that tonight will be a very close call and he liked that Josh "took a risk" by playing guitar rather than piano.
Video: Josh Krajcik, "At Last"
Chris's final performance came full-circle, as he returned to the original song that brought the judges to their feet at his audition. Throughout the entire competition, his own "Young Homie" remained his strongest song, and he improved miles on that first performance tonight. Paula was out of her chair, shouting, "Chris you are magic. You make everyone fall in love wiht you." Simon told Chris, "that was your $5 million song" and told the 20-something performer how proud he is that Chris was able to keep his promise to the judges and stay sober. "Not only are you a man of your word, you are a brilliant performer and you are a true gentleman and a really nice guy."
Video: Chris Rene, "Young Homie"
Melanie had the final song of the night, also returning to her audition performance to sing Beyoncé's "Listen," as powerfully and passionately as she did the first time. "That was the Melanie that I love right there," L.A. said. "That wasn't a $5 million performance -- that was a $50 million performance." Simon said that based on her performance tonight, "you should be the winner of 'X Factor,' because you are going to represent this country to the world.'
Video: Melanie Amaro, "Listen"
With a life-changing recording contract and Pepsi commercial on the line, the three contestants have less than 24 hours to wait before finding out who America has chosen as the winner of "X Factor." It has been revealed that Justin Bieber, Leona Lewis, Pitbull, Ne-Yo, 50 Cent and Stevie Wonder will appear on tomorrow night's finale episode, airing at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.
Who do you think will win the $5 million and who do you think should win? Let us know in the comments below!