Wednesday, November 30, 2011

X-Factor Top 7 • Who's Bad?

Michael Jackson Jackson 5
Michael Jackson Michael Jackson

The show opens with two bits of information right away: it is Michael Jackson night, and it is another double elimination this week, and two will go home. Introductions are made, and LA Reid, Nichole Scherzinger, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Steve Jones all settle in. We also learn that three of Michael's brothers, Marlon, Tito, and Jackie Jackson, will be joining the show for the week. They introduce a few very special guests for the night, Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson are there, accompanied by the matriarch of the family, Katherine.

Josh Krajcik is the first up, introduced by Nicole as her lone remaining act. Josh will be playing the guitar, and feels unprepared for his performance. He performs Dirty Diana, from 1988.

After much consternation, he performs, and I am underwhelmed. It wasn't bad, but it was mediocre. His vocals were a bit lost in the din of the performance. I thought it was his weakest to date. That is a shame, cause I like Josh. However, LA Reid and Paula thought he was stretched, and very good. Huh. Simon thought the overall production distracted from the weakness of the performance, which is what I thought. Nicole was all rude about Simon, and I am immediately glad I won't have to listen to her defend any other acts tonight. And while I thought it was Josh's least successful so far, his mediocre is better than the best of a few remaining. LA introduces his first act of the evening, Astro. He says the youngster will pay homage to the King of Pop. Astro opens up rapping centerstage, and soon the music of 1991's big hit, Black Or White is playing.

For me, this is Astro's weakest so far, as it is seems just to be low on energy and joy. Astro was seemingly lost to me. It is just lacking. But I did like the dancer's outfits. Nicole agrees with me, which I find worrisome. Paula and Simon think he is wonderful. LA thinks he is just fantastic, of course. Next up, Simon introduces one of his favorites, Drew. She will be singing Michael's huge hit from 1983, Billie Jean.

She does a slow rendition, much like the one Simon saw David Cook do on Idol a few years ago, which was much like the amazing cover done by the outrageously talented Chris Cornell. Drew is in great voice, I think she sounded better than ever tonight. And I find there is power in the spotlight and and the chair, the simplicity of it. I thought it was great. LA liked it, although it pained him to admit it. Nicole loved her vocals, but hated she just sat there. Paula basically agreed with Nicole, and thought it was her best vocals of the show. Simon scoffed at them both, and told Drew how proud he was of her performance. Bickering between Paula, Nicole and Simon sadly distracted from a wonderful performance. Simon has the next act coming on, the joyful Rachel Crow. She is singing Can You Feel It, tonight, originally sung by the Jacksons in 1981.

Rachel did a great job with the song, which I feared could have sounded dated. She was energetic and bold, although there was one part of the song which seemed a little fumbled, like she might of forgot lyrics or something. LA, Nicole, and Paula all said they loved her, but thought she was not connected to the song. Nicole and Paula both turned it on Simon, which seems like the easy way to criticize the teen without owning the critique. Simon loved her, and thought she did him and Michael proud. LA takes a moment to introduce whom he calls the 'hardest working contestant in the competition,' Marcus Canty. He will be singing P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), the 1983 hit.

Interesting. I feared Marcus would sound dated, but that was hardly the case. It was a great arrangement, but the vocals were lacking. Too much dancing, not enough air for the singing. It was very disappointing to me. I didn't even like the dancer's costumes. Nicole was up first, and exclaims Marcus is a pretty young thing, and that it was great. Paula thinks it was a great homage to Michael Jackson, and that he left it out there on the stage. Sigh. Simon points out the lacking in the vocals, and Nicole attacks Simon, rather than defending the bad notes. Next up, LA introduces his final act of the night, Chris René. He tells us about how his grandfather, Leon René, wrote Rockin' Robin, later performed by the Jackson 5. Tonight, he sings I'll Be There, a hit for the Jackson 5 in 1970.

Wow, that was Chris' best performance of the show for me. Sure, he put in some reggae beats, but it was strong. His rap-break was good, and his voice strong. I was impressed. Nicole loved him, and Paula thought he is heart in abundance. Simon thought the vocals were somewhat weak, and he will need strong support from his fans this week. WTF, Simon? Oh, well. LA thinks he is "the truth." Simon thinks the show has saved the best for last. Melanie Amaro, with her Island accent. She is performing Earth Song, a worldwide hit in 1995.

Melanie lays it down with a big and bold performance, for me the strongest of the night. Indeed, they did save the best for last. She looks fantastic, and blew it up on that stage. And it was unanimous, the judges all loved her too. Simon is particularly proud she would perform so well in front of the Jackson family!

Well, this was an interesting week, that is for sure. For me, Marcus Canty had the weakest performance of the night, and should be going home. However, once again, two will be leaving, so he will not be alone. I would hope Josh stays safe, and presume Melanie is clearly safe. That leaves Chris, Astro, Drew and Rachel fighting for the bottom two. If I were making up the bottom two, I would guess it would be Astro and Rachel, for I thought Chris and Drew were quite good. But I can never be quite sure, and that is why I am gonna be sitting in front of my television tomorrow night to find out for myself!

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