One left to go: Melanie Amaro, who Simon cut loose and then brought back into the competition after he realized his mistake. She's all glammed out as she effortlessly sings "I Have Nothing," with a production that's limited to fancy lighting. Great job from her again, big surprise. When she's done, and the crowd is going nuts, Steve has to tell Simon to quit encouraging the crowd to cheer for her so L.A. can speak. L.A. says Simon saved the best for last, and she nailed what was a predictable song choice. Nicole and Paula are both grateful that Melanie's still on the show. Simon just says she's great, "but I now have to make the hardest decision I've ever made." Has Simon not made many hard decisions in his life?
Steve sends her on his way and asks Simon what he's thinking. Simon says he wish he didn't have to do this; he's got four people he wants to go through and claims he hasn't made up his mind yet. Steve says he'd better hurry, and all five Girls are soon standing on the stage again. Steve asks for the name of the first person. Simon says this is the easiest decision he's ever made in his life, meaning he must have decision-bends or something right now, and names Drew. She screams in excitement. Simon says that his second choice is based on America and his gut (don't lump us together, dude), and he gives the second spot to Rachel. Only one spot left, and it's between Simone, Tiah, and Melanie. The audience has a clear choice, chanting Melanie's name. "This may come as a surprise," Simon says, and adds that after tonight, he believes the person he's about to name could win the competition: Melanie, of course. So that's Tiah and Simone out. Glad to see Simon finally pulled his head out of his other head. Tiah gives a gracious speech, thanking them for the opportunity and promising to use the criticism she's gotten, while Simone, classy to the end, plugs the music video she's releasing tonight. Off they go.
Steve brings out the rest of the finalists to join Drew, Rachel and Melanie, and tells us they'll sing live for our votes next Wednesday (The X Factor is a moving target, y'all!) before making a hasty sign-off that mercifully does not include the words, "Jones out!"
M. Giant is a Minneapolis-based writer with a wife, a son, and a number of cats that seems to have settled at around two. Learn waaaay too much about him at Velcrometer, follow him on Twitter, or just e-mail him at m.giant[at]gmail.com.