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The X Factor really came together tonight, as the remaining acts performed live before the judges, for one last chance to appeal to the four mentors before either being eliminated or moving on to the next phase of the competition, which gives America the vote.

Tonight’s batch of semi-finalists showed off exactly what makes The X Factor different from American Idol. The diversity among the acts proved to be one of the best things about the episode. Two changes I’d love to see made by next week:

Stop having the judges announce the contestants. It’s awkward and it would save precious time to just have Steve or some faceless announcer do it.

It’s fun that the judges/mentors have a reason to compete against one another, but in some cases, particularly with Simon’s contestants, it seemed like the judges were taking shots at the contestants in an effort to rib each other, which is a bit cold.

Moving on to the performers, here’s how it all broke down tonight...

Melanie Amaro - Age: 19 - THROUGH
Melanie made the gutsy choice to cap off the show by singing “I Have Nothing.” It wasn’t my favorite performance by her, but she’s still one of my favorite performers in the competition. Can’t wait to see what she does next.

Simone Battle - Age: 22 - ELIMINATED
I didn’t love Simone’s “Just be Good to Me,” and based on the judges’ reactions, I wasn’t alone. She’s gorgeous and her voice sounded fine, but her attempts to command the stage didn’t work. It was just too ambitious a performance for her at this phase.

Rachel Crow - Age: 13 - THROUGH
Rachel’s choice to mix “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Baby Baby” not only worked well as a medley, but it showed off Rachel’s youth and maturity all at once. Plus, she’s adorable and she sounded great.

Drew Ryniewicz - Age: 14 - THROUGH
Drew’s done well showing off her range and amazing vocal control by slowing down a song and knowing how to nail a performance without overdoing it. Tonight’s performance of “Flashdance,” much like her previously performed “It Must Have Been Love,” was a fine example of that. I still can’t get over how young she is.

Tiah Tolliver - Age: 20 - ELIMINATED
Tiah’s “Sweet Dreams” was a big production, with funky lighting, and a whole gothy vibe. I don’t think it’s unfair to say she has the weakest voice of the four girls in her category and the flashiness of her performance compensated for that, somewhat.

Astro - Age: 15 - THROUGH
Astro sang Kris Kross’ “Jump Jump” and he nailed it. This kid is fearless. He goes for it and he gets it. I don’t think we’ve seen him falter yet. He’s one of the more obvious choices to go through and one of the people I’m most excited to see progress through this competition.

Marcus Canty - Age: 20 - THROUGH
Marcus sang Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” which proved to be the perfect song to show off his voice and his ability to perform. What’s more, while there were dancers moving around in the background, they didn’t steal the spotlight.

Phillip Lomax - Age: 22 - ELIMINATED
Phillip sang “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees, and it was really hard to tell how he sounded as he was mostly drowned out by the music and the flashy dancers. He seems likable enough, but the performance didn’t sell him well, which is why his elimination was unfortunate, but unsurprising.

Chris Rene - Age: 28 - THROUGH
Chris sang “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” by Rose Royce. The song did more to show off his performance skills than it did his voice, which sounded a bit shaky tonight. Still, he’s a favorite and he’s proven to perform well enough in the past to get a pass for the nerves tonight.

LeRoy Bell - Age: 60 - THROUGH
LeRoy sang Pink’s “Nobody Knows,” and I can’t help but think he sounds just like Michael Bolton. Paula referenced Bolton too, so I might be the last person to make the comparison there. Either way, the voice, mixed with the tattooed arms and trendy outfit that doesn’t make him look like he’s trying to look younger than he is, but does make him look younger than he is, worked. More please.

Stacy Francis - Age: 42 - THROUGH
“One More Try” seemed like sort of a random choice for Stacy, but she sang it well. It showed off her control, her range and her ability to really let the emotion of the song come through in her performance.

Dexter Haygood - Age: 49 - ELIMINATED
Dexter rocked out to a medley of Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” which could have been a mess, but it was fun, instead. Unfortunately, the risk didn’t pay off, and he was eliminated. In the end, I think this really was a case of the competition being way too tough in this category.

Josh Krajcik - Age: 30 - THROUGH
Josh sang “Forever Young” in what was nearly an a cappella performance, forgoing back-up singers or much musical accompaniment, and going with an understated performance that showed off just how strong and easy on the ears his voice is. He was an obvious choice to go through and probably one of the season's frontrunners at this point.

The Brewer Boys - ELIMINATED
The Brewer Boys surprised me tonight with how well they handled their acoustic medley of “Rich Girl” and “Faith.” Can’t say I loved the random girls bouncing around them, but ignoring them, these guys did great. Unfortunately, of the four groups, this was the one to get the boot.

InTENsity also delivered a medley, mashing “The Clapping Song” with “Footloose,” which went together really well. I can see why some people will like InTENsity, but they feel a bit packaged to me. Maybe that’s because we know they are, as each of them auditioned solo and all were grouped together before one of the big cuts. Either way, as L.A. said, they’ve gelled.

Lakoda Rayne - THROUGH
These girl’s sounded great, singing “Come on Eileen,” but it sounded like there were more than four voices at times. Were there back-up singers we weren’t singing, or was I just hearing things? Either way, this was the best they’ve ever sounded.

The Stereo Hogzz - THROUGH
The Stereo Hogzz are a polished group that came into this competition ready for action. Their performance of “Try a Little Tenderness” was well choreographed and showed off their vocal abilities (and willingness to shake up the arrangement to give a classic song a modern twist). These guys are easily the best of the groups right now and among the best in the competition.

Starting November 2nd, viewers will be able to vote for their picks, and Fox is giving us five ways to do that...

1) Twitter (Instructions on that here)
2) Verizon Touch Voting on The Xtra Factor App on Verizon Android devices
3) toll-free calling
4) text messaging for Verizon Wireless customers
5) online at TheXFactorUSA.com. Fans with valid Facebook accounts can also vote at Facebook.com/TheXFactorUSA
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