There is very little doubt at this point that Melanie Amaro should win X Factor tonight. Last night, she went up against the other two finalists, Josh Kracjick and Chris Rene, in what was a very entertaining season finale.
The truth is, as fantastic as Melanie is, and has been all season, all three contestants appeal to very different groups of people and if the voting blocs go certain ways, who knows what might happen. That aside, Melanie should win handily.
Before I recap last night’s show, I would like to propose a new drinking game for next season. This is not unlike the drinking game for CSI Miami where every time Horatio Caine takes off or puts on his sunglasses, you take a drink. It is also very similar to the American Idol drinking game where every time Randy Jackson says “Yo Dawg!” you pick up your glass. This game involves all of the judges. Every time one of them says they are proud (or any iteration thereof) of a contestant, your favorite beverage goes down the hatch. You should be well lubed by the end of the show. I counted 5 times last night, in a 90-minute show, for three contestants. I know that there have been episodes when we have heard this spouted nine times or more between them. Just something to think about.
The first half of last night’s finale featured the contestants singing duets with some pretty famous folks, and the pairings were interesting, to say the least.
Josh started things off singing Uninvited with Alanis Morissette, and although he was certainly shaky in the beginning, by the middle he settled down nicely. They sounded good together, but a little forced.
Chris was up next, singing Avril Lavigne’s Complicated. Then he hilariously says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… Avril Lavigne!!” Well, I’m really not sure that this was the moment any of us have been waiting for, but we’ll let him roll with it. He was in the moment. This is really what I meant by interesting pairings. They have an intriguing mix, with Chris rapping the chorus in between Lavigne’s verses. They play off each other nicely. Both LA Reid and Simon Cowell tell him that they could put it on the radio tomorrow.
Melanie was next, singing I Believe I Can Fly with none other than R. Kelly himself. Of the three, this was the best duet. It was certainly the most natural and they took from each other as much as they gave to each other, which is what you’re supposed to do in a duet. The song wasn’t even in her natural register and she still rocked it. I will say that Kelly overshadowed Melanie in one of his runs, but the man can sing. I really don’t think he can help himself. For her part, she can sing too, and she did, going toe to toe with him through most of the song with no fear or trepidation. If they are looking for a duet to put on the radio and make a hit, they should look no further.
Josh’s second song was a beautiful rendition of Etta James’ At Last, very similar to his original audition version but with much more soul. After all, he’s much more seasoned at this point. There he stood atop a large staircase, a man with his guitar. Totally void of all the crap that’s been surrounding him the past several weeks. This is where Josh shines, when it’s just him, his instrument of choice, and the microphone. And he doesn’t disappoint here either. Not for a moment. Nicole continued her craziness with this, “I’m honored to be a part of this journey with you. Music believes in you.” In a way, I hope the rumors of her going to UK X Factor or replacing fired Steve Jones as host (he won’t be returning) are false. I will sort of miss her crazy comments. I spend hours trying to figure out what she’s saying.
It should be no surprise that Chris sang his self-written personal anthem, Young Homie, last night. He was celebrating 8 months of being sober, and for that we should all stand up and applaud him, no matter how he does in this competition. Like Josh’s song, we first heard this during auditions and it was soul stirring. Knowing that he sang it now in celebration of such a milestone made it that much more special and heartwarming. Plus, like Josh, Chris has had several months of live stage experience in front of millions of people under his hat since the last time he sang it, and it showed. While his vocals still aren’t great, his ability to connect with an audience is. Even if he doesn’t win tonight, and he likely won’t, he will be just fine. He is an exceptionally talented young man.
And that brings us to Melanie. She only came out and sang her way to what is more than likely a $5 Million contract. While I’m pretty sure she had it in the bag before last night, I think she sealed it up with her performance of Beyonce’s Listen. We heard her sing this several weeks ago, during her personal transformation, and it was very good. Last night, it was something far better than very good. Back then, the person singing it was still unsure of herself, still not convinced of who she was and what her capabilities really were. The young woman who sang that song last night had little doubt or who she was or where she was headed. What a difference a few weeks makes.
But, as I stated earlier, all three appeal to very different audiences. So, no matter what happens tonight, $5 Million contract notwithstanding, all three are extraordinarily talented and all three will be just fine. We certainly haven’t heard the last from any of them.
Now, set up the shot glasses for that drinking game we talked about. We can start tonight as a test run.