TV Pick of the Week: X Factor USA and X Factor Australia

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Apart from bubbly pipsqueak Rachel Crow, whose elimination a few rounds ago was a tearful and emotional explosion, it's safe to say the best performers in the competition have made the final three in X Factor USA.

With silky smooth singer Marcus Canty getting the nudge last week, that leaves posturing bad-boy-done-good Chris Rene, gravelly crooner (and sometime rocker) Josh Krajcik, and the towering voice of Melanie Amaro to battle it out in this week's final two episodes.

On tonight's episode, the day after it screens in the United States, the remaining acts will perform their final numbers and then the two-hour results show screens on Friday.

Amaro is clearly the best singer, wrapping her tonsils and a heaving set of lungs around songs by everyone from R.E.M. and Adele to Whitney and Mariah.

And remember, she was the one who series creator, judge and mentor Simon Cowell let go - only to have second thoughts and make a special trip to her home to ask her to rejoin the competition.

The only question mark hanging over her is whether she can dance and move like a true pop star.

Krajcik, too, has a powerful and unique voice, although his unkempt look - even if he has sharpened up over the course of the competition - doesn't quite have the X Factor.

Of the three it's Rene who is the weakest performer. Yet in the past few weeks he has shown he's not just a one-trick rapping and posturing pony.

He gave a sweet and soulful version of Alicia Keys' No One and he also sang an original song a few weeks back.

Plus, Rene's back story - he had a rough upbringing and has been sober for 18 months - has inspired a groundswell of support among the American public.

It's not just a competition for the contestants - the judges have their own reputations on the line, too.

And while poor old Paula Abdul's groups were ousted early on, Cowell, L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger are still in the running for bragging rights.

Meanwhile, wannabe pop stars from across the ditch will sing their hearts out when X Factor Australia returns on Wednesday.

The competition, which finished in Australia at the end of November, will screen four nights a week from Wednesday to Saturday at 7.30pm on TV3. The last Australian version of the show screened here in 2010 and was won by Altiyan Childs.

This time round it will once again be hosted by Luke Jacobz, and joining judges Guy Sebastian and Ronan Keating will be former Spice Girl Mel B and Aussie celeb Natalie Bassingthwaighte. The first episodes take in the whistle-stop tour of Australia on the audition trail.

Picks of the week

When: Tonight and tomorrow, 7.30pm
Where: TV3
What: Sing for your life

When: Wednesday, next Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 7.30pm
Where: TV3
What: The auditions from Downunder

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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