"This is for that special lady," Marcus Canty murmured as he emerged into the 'X Factor' spotlight tonight. Whoever that "special lady" is, here's to hoping she doesn't side with Simon Cowell.

Clad in a sharp suit and clutching a single rose, Canty sang 'I'll Make Love to You' by Boyz II Men. Backed by dancers and white smoke, the ever-classy Canty was still the star of this show. While his vocals were predictably strong -- the man can sing -- his actual performance was hotly debated among the judges.

"You are bringin' sexy back," over 30s coach Nicole Scherzinger said. "Even though you're getting all these girls excited out here, you still do it in a classy way. You look like a gentleman."

Paula Abdul agreed with Scherzinger. "You always give 150 percent," Abdul gushed. "You are the entertainer of this group."

As with almost all of Canty's previous performances, there was one dissenting voice -- and you can probably guess whose it was. "You sounded well," Cowell said. "My only issue is, your mentor is responsible for the staging," Cowell continued carefully. "With the rose, the zombie dancers -- it didn't fit. It felt like you were trying to do all these weird things at once, and it felt very corny."

Canty's mentor, L.A. Reid, was quick, tactful and charming in his defense of his protege. "It takes great taste to know great taste," Reid said, grinning. "You did a great job. I could not be more proud of you. You're a three-time 'Save Me' song champion," Reid said pointedly. "And you're still here."

How 'bout some aloe for that burn, Simon Cowell?

Watch Marcus Canty Sing 'I'll Make Love to You' on 'X Factor'