The X Factor USA was all about the King of Pop this week as the top 7 contestants took on the songs of Michael Jackson.
The pressure was on for the remaining acts since everyone wanted to do the late singing legend justice during his theme night. The pressure was made even greater since they’d be performing in front of his family. Michael’s brothers Marlon, Tito and Jackie Jackson were all in attendance as well as his mother Katherine and his three children Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket.
With a musical discography as wide as MJ’s, the contestants had a lot of great songs to choose from. Even still, song choice would still be a factor and sour note for some of the hopefuls.
Here how it all went down:
Josh Krajcik: Josh typically gives knock-out performances but his arrangement on MJ’s “Dirty Diana” was very strange. The original version would have been great for Josh’s voice but alas, he’s stepping outside his comfort zone and some of the judges really liked it–and his vocals were still excellent. “I know it was a little struggle because it wasn’t comfortable but guess what, you landed on your feet my man,” L.A. Reid said in praise of the performance. Simon Cowell on the other hand didn’t care for the “over-produced” stage antics and production.
Astro: Astro performed a rap over MJ’s “Black And White” and honestly, it was just a little “blah.” While there was really nothing bad about it, there was really nothing spectacular about it either. Nicole seemed to agree. “I don’t know if this was my favorite performance by you,” she said while shrugging off boos from the audience. “I will say, I loved the lyrics that you wrote.” Paula Abdul swooned over it though. So did Simon and his mentor L.A..
Drew: Drew took on Michael’s classic “Billie Jean” and she gave it a rather emo spin. The tempo was slowed down and all of the stage props were stripped away for a performance of just Drew in a chair singing. Not to say that slow versions of the song couldn’t work (American Idol’s David Cook anyone? Flawless!) but for an artist who has done a slow song pretty much every week of the competition, MJ week would have been a great time to mix it up. She managed to impress her toughest critic though: “You took Billie Jean and you made it your own,” L.A. said. “And it pains me to say this but I liked it.” Nicole liked it but she feels like Simon is playing it safe with the singer and she really wanted her to get up from the dang chair!
Rachel Crow: Little Rach looked absolutely adorable as she performed the Jackson’s hit “Can You Feel It.” Shame we were feeling that there was a little something off about the performance. Some of the judges took notice too. “That wasn’t the best I’ve seen you,” L.A. said. Nicole agreed and chimed in with some (rather incoherent) criticism of her own. “I didn’t feel the connection between you and what the world that was created around you going on stage.”
Marcus Canty: Marcus did his best imitation of Jason Derulo on a dance-infused rendition of Michael Jackson’s “PYT (Pretty Young Thing).” It was entertaining to watch but not as pleasing on the ears as Marcus hit some sharp notes. The judges loved the performance but Simon pointed out just how much Marcus’ vocal performance suffered by the heavy choreography. L.A. didn’t seem to mind. He hopes Canty’s back flip will flip him into some votes.
Chris Rene: Chris performed what sounded like an early 90′s hip hop version of the Jackson 5′s smash “I’ll Be There” for his MJ theme performance. In typical CR fashion, the rap verse was much better than the parts where he’d sing. Most of the judges liked the performance. “You sounded the best you ever sang,” Nicole said. Paula followed with a similar sentiment. Simon, however, feels Chris will need a lot of votes from his hometown to survive this week. Mentor L.A. Reid isn’t worried though. “I think the performance speaks for itself. You know you are the truth,” he added.
Melanie Amaro: With a night filled with so many so-so performances, someone had to truly bring it home right? Looks like they saved the best for last as Melanie got on stage and absolutely slaughtered (in the good way) MJ’s beautiful “Earth Song.” She was pitch-perfect and hit some of the biggest notes just flawlessly. “You were amazing and maybe the best of the night,” L.A. said. Forget best of the night, Nicole thought it was one of the best performances in the competition so far. Simon says he could not be more proud of his act.
Predictions: We might just be saying goodbye to Marcus Canty and Chris Rene in the double elimination.