'The X Factor' recap: Pepsi Challenges

x-factor-premiere-fox.jpgThe flashback to last week is even more dramatic than usual, with lots of extreme zooms on Drew's leaky eyes and Simon's rage-filled ones after her elimination, and crappy voice-over guy says, "Now! It's! War!" And thus the martial nature of this round is demonstrated by lots of frenetic shots of...rehearsing. Oh, and apparently Astro's down the memory hole. But at least with him and the groups gone, I can stop saying "acts" all the time, now that it's down to just four singers and Chris Rene. They all interview about how much they want to win. Nicole says she stands by her decision to boot Drew, and Simon tells us, "Maybe it is personal. And if they want a war they're going to get a war." And we zoom all the way in on his eye again. Please stop trying to stuff me into Simon's brain, The X-Factor.

After the credits, Steve's on a stage lit like a dance club, in keeping with tonight's dance theme and the DJ duo up onstage. Steve invites us to use the Twitter hashtag #GlovesAreOff, which is just not going to happen in Minnesota in December. Steve talks about how tense last week was for everyone, including himself, and says that he's going to risk asking Simon's opinion on last week, even though "there's no guarantee he'll say anything." Simon snarks that he was really happy, but promises that he's more prepared this week. Steve tells us that each singer will be doing two songs tonight, starting with a "dance hit." As Simon says, "It's gonna be great for some. It'll be disastrous for others."

Simon introduces Melanie Amaro. I'm glad we're not bothering with intro reels this week. Melanie's performing the popular up-tempo club hit "Someone Like You" by Adele. She's dressed like she's in the Matrix and there's a disco beat behind her and extras from Tron: Legacy dancing in front of her, but it's still a little incongruous. Melanie does well with it, however.

L.A. tells her, "The only thing that bothered me about it was that it was really good." Nicole calls her a rock star diva, and Paula's only complaint was that it was too short. That's a common complaint about Paula too, but not the only one. Simon tells Melanie it wasn't karaoke, which is probably the best thing he's ever said to anyone. Steve congratulates her on the uniformly positive comments, gives the voting instructions, and heads to the ads, which seem to be running a little late this week. It seems like we've usually had two or three breaks by this point.