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'X Factor' Promises Superstar Duets for Finale

Justin Bieber, Pitbull and Ne-Yo also to perform

December 20, 2011 12:00 PM ET
X Factor
Chris Rene and L.A. Reid attend 'The X Factor' Press Conference at CBS Televison City in Los Angeles.
Mark Davis/Getty Images

The X Factor made its U.S. debut with a glamorous Hollywood premiere this past September, and the show plans to wrap its first season with the same red-carpet flair. Before the final competitive performances on Wednesday and winner's reveal on Thursday, the four judges – Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul and LA Reid – and three finalists – Josh Krajcik, Melanie Amaro and Chris Rene – gathered on the show's soundstage to meet the press.

There were few revelations during yesterday's roughly half-hour Q&A session, with news being limited to previously reported appearances by Justin Bieber, Pitbull and Ne-Yo on Thursday's episode. Simon Cowell did note that all three contestants will perform duets on Wednesday with superstar acts, but negotiations are still ongoing and those acts won't be revealed until the day of the show.

The rest of the interview was devoted largely to recapping the first season and any mistakes made by the performers. Cowell admitted a few, including being too British and changing his mentee Amaro's final song because he needed to think "more American." He also explained, "I came here probably a little too cocky, but I'm cocky by nature." Still, he predicted this week's showdown to be "the greatest finale ever, in terms of talent," insisting that no one can predict what will dominate between the huge voice of Amaro, the charm of Rene and the rock prowess of Krajcik.

Reid also sung the praises of the final trio, saying, "I’m really proud of the top three. They’re all amazingly talented and unique in their own right. They have a distinct competitive advantage: big on talent and loads of charisma.”

The finalists seemed relaxed on the eve of their opportunity to win a $5 million recording contract – perhaps due to the fact that, as one journalist rightly pointed out, it seems very likely that all three will get to make records after the show. Asked about which style of records they would put out, Amaro said it would be big ballads and dance songs. Krajcik talked about a versatile blend of "a big rock song, a soul song, a ballad," saying, "That's what makes an interesting record." And Rene offered that his debut would be "hip-pop, rock and soul; so many different things," then concluded, "All the albums we three would do would be very different. I can't wait."

Despite the contestants' levity, there was some clear tension between the judges. Cowell took a dig at Scherzinger where he said, "If everyone had done their job properly that week, the judges should have saved her," over the infamous deadlock that led to the departure of Rachel Crow. Still, the contestants' jabs remained in fun: Amaro got in the best line when, in response to the question of which song delivered by a competitor that she would have liked to sing, she quipped, "Young Homie," the Rene original he sang at his audition. "I would've tore it up," she said, laughing.

She got in the final word when host Steve Jones brought out envelopes for the contestants containing the numbers one, two and three. Picking one, she got to select her placement for Wednesday and, with a smiling Cowell by her side, she chose to close out the show. Now we'll just have to wait until Wednesday to see who her duet partner will be.

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