Somehow, these are The X Factor semifinals; somehow, Astro, Drew and Rachel Crow aren't in them, and somehow Marcus Canty and Chris Rene are. Somehow, Steve Jones has managed to keep up his human-being impression with only a couple glitches; somehow, L.A. Reid's lost his edge, Nicole Scherzinger's picked up selective whining, Paula Abdul's become Most Improved, Talent-Competition Division and Simon Cowell continues to get away with whatever he wants to. (That's not really "somehow," we know.)

Last night brought us two songs each: one was the no-longer-error-ridden Pepsi Challenge choices, which were neither challenging nor, considering Come Together" mentions Coca-Cola, particularly Pepsi-friendly, and the standard mentor's choice for the contestants, which at least were free of "Happy Feet" sabotage like singing shows past.  Last night, we formed our gut grades on the final four into an Instant Report Card.   Read on for our semi-final Power Rankings, and be sure to check back next week for our even more comprehensive season's end version!

For L.A. RUDE (ZING!) Nicole SCHERZYFACE (BURN!), and our far less childish commentary, click NEXT.

For our top two judges, and Melanie Amaro, in no particular order, click NEXT.

3.Simon Cowell: Swapped out blaming Drew's elimination on a chair to blaming the Rachel Crow donnybrook on Paula and Nicole, not on America's votes. He's still the only judge to consistently judge. Remember when we used to put L.A. Reid in this spot?

2.Paula Abdul: That said, while Simon's the only judge to judge, Paula's the only judge lately to show smarts, rather than sniping. Whether you thought arranging "Hero" in a minor key constituted changing up the song, at least Paula noticed. And all of Nicole's quote machinery didn't produce anything like this, to Josh: "You attack our souls. You get into us." Musically knowledgeable and a consistent way with words? Sounds like top-judge material to us.

1.Melanie Amaro: The sole remaining woman in the competition, which isn't a good sign. (When the top 12 came out, would you have guessed two boys would be in the semis?) It's an even worse sign that, despite Simon's sighing about unimaginative Mariah and Whitney songs, she keeps getting unimaginative Mariah and Whitney songs. And a third worse sign: the peanut gallery still hasn't decided whether she's showing too little personality or too much. In other words, she can't win. Except she's Melanie Amaro, so maybe she can win--win the $5 million contract, that is. The final is next week. All she needs is one kick-ass song choice for her to slice through a season of goo. Otherwise, Chris Rene will win. Think on that, Simon.