'The X Factor' recap: Semi-Excellent

x-factor-premiere-fox.jpgWant to see a teenager get her heart ripped out all over again? Well, that's what previouslies are for. As a reminder, we're now down to Marcus, Chris, Josh and Melanie who are all trying to get to the season finale next week. Ah, what a sweet phrase that is.

After the titles, Steve comes out onto a stage with the word SEMIFINALS drifting across all the Jumbotrons. He's in a much better mood than we left him in last week. Steve tells us that there will be only three singers (or Chris Rene) going to the finals next week. After bringing out the judges, Steve tells us there's no final showdown this week and no judges' decision, however that works -- it will be all votes. Because that worked out so well last week. And now, it's time for the Pepsi Challenge! Remember when that used to just mean a blind taste test of different sodas? Now it means the final four sing songs that people voted for online. I guess if you own the phrase Pepsi Challenge it can mean whatever you want it to mean. And now it also means an overedited, overdramatic clip package to introduce how scary all the contestants find the very idea of it.

Back from that, Steve asks Simon how Rachel is, after being gutshot on live TV last week. He says he hasn't seen her, but she's "not at the mercy of these two any more," which I guess could mean any of the other three. Steve asks Nicole how she is and Nicole claims that the boos we're hearing right now have only made her stronger. Stronger than the jellyfish she was last week? How hard is that?

L.A. introduces Marcus as the "three-time save me song champion," as though that means anything other than damaged goods. Marcus appears in an oddly-cut three-piece suit, picked out by a spotlight as he sings yet another Boys II Men song, "I'll Make Love to You" while holding a white rose. People on the Internet love Smoove B, after all.