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    The X Factor Elimination: A Major Upset or Business as Usual?

    The X Factor, Top 4, Josh Krajcik, Melanie Amaro, Marcus Canty, Chris Rene Frank Micelotta / FOX

    Nicole Scherzinger had no reason to fret tonight—the elimination was entirely out of her hands.

    Only the fans' votes counted toward which three contestants made it into The X Factor's final round next week, no input from the judges necessary.

    And based on what happened last week, we couldn't just assume that the competition's "three-time bottom-two champion," as L.A. Reid kept putting it yesterday, was just going to disappear into the night.

    MORE: Live at X Factor: Who's Laughing at Simon? Who Wants to Be on Family Guy?

    Or, we could have assumed that and been right.

    Sure enough, Marcus Canty's surprisingly long run on the show ended tonight, sending a sigh-of-relief-blowing Josh Krajcik into the finale next week alongside Melanie Amaro and Chris Rene.

    "Why you looking sad, Steve? It's all good, man," Marcus laughed with host Steve Jones. "Trust me, this is not the last time you will see Marcus Canty."

    MORE: X Factor final four sound off on Rachel Crow's elimination

    When asked how it felt to get so close, though, the ever good-natured Marcus said, "God blessed me so much, being here on this competition. I gave it my all and at the end of the day, that's all you can do. I love America. Thank you to all of my supporters. To my family back home, I love y'all, don't cry. You're probably all cryin'. Relax, we're gonna get it through."

    "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little sad," L.A. Reid told the young man. "I'm really connected to Marcus. He's amazing. I'm not happy to see you go. I know you're a major star and a great singer...You'll continue to do great. You have my support."

    But L.A. still has Chris, who brought it in round one last night with Sugar Ray's "Fly" but then stole it in round two with Alicia Keys' "No One." He was the first contestant to get the good news, and he was followed by safe-bet front-runner Melanie, who hasn't hit a bum note yet.

    Can you believe we've come this far?!

    Next Thursday, Melanie, Chris or Josh will be crowned the winner of the premiere U.S. season of The X Factor—and take home a $5 million recording contract and a spot in a Pepsi commercial.

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