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‘The X Factor’ top 7 recap: did you feel it, Michael Jackson?

Rachel Crow could be in danger Wednesday night. CREDIT: Rick Mickshaw/FOX

Rachel Crow could be in danger Wednesday night. CREDIT: Rick Mickshaw/FOX

Who did you like the best tonight? (Pick up to three)

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It’s more than two years since Michael Jackson died, but his music lives on. “X Factor” chose him as a theme, the same one “Idol” did season 8. But there’s nothing wrong with reprising it. M.J. has such a deep playlist of potential songs, he is worthy of the spotlight.

They even brought Michael Jackson’s kids to the show. Unfortunately, they sat stiffly in the audience, looking like they’d rather be playing their Wii at home or texting their friends. Blanket looked downright traumatized in front of the cameras. “It was a well put-together show,” Prince said, with some level of enthusiasm, at the end when Robo-host forced a comment out of him. (My DVR cut off before we got to Blanket’s comments.)

And nobody dared make a tacky Conrad Murray reference.

As for the show, I enjoyed several of the performances, with Drew lifting her game and Melanie elevating what I consider a rather mediocre M.J. song. Josh was not given a good song either and looked a bit absurd with the stripper-style dancers around him. Both Chris and Astro entertained me. Marcus and Rachel fell short. My rankings:

1. Drew 2. Melanie 3. Chris 4. Astro 5. Josh 6. Rachel 7. Marcus

Who will go home: Marcus and Rachel.  Astro is also potentially going home over Rachel. Though the readers of this blog generally hate the 15 year old, the voter pool is likely very different from who reads this.

1) Josh Krajcik (Nicole’s team “Dirty Diana”) – This is one of my least favorite M.J. songs. It has a weak chorus and doesn’t have much in the way of melodic range. But it is a rock song to a degree and Josh is positioning himself in that arena. He does an adequate job with it. The dancers? Distracting, like “Solid Gold” meets the Pink Pony. I am glad he got to show off a little guitar work. “As a spectacle… it was great. However, you were over-produced,” Simon said. “You got lost in all the choreography. This is not you on stage. This is what Nicole wants to be.” Nicole then snipes back that she’s willing to take risks and Simon does not with his contestants. (Snap!)  Grade: B-plus

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2) Astro (L.A.’s team, “Black or White”) – The one M.J. hit that actually included rap is this 1992 cheesy but catchy ditty. He does his own little rap about tolerance.  As usual, he is entertaining and his raps come off clean and thoughtful. The Michael Jackson kids looked nonplussed. “I don’t know if this is my favorite performance by you. But I loved your lyrics,” Nicole said. Simon disagreed: “What I loved is that new hook at the end. I’m glad the public kept you. You deserve to be here.”  Grade: B-plus/A-minus.

3) Drew (Simon’s team “Billie Jean”) – David Cook did a brilliantly grungy version of this song season 7 of “Idol.” This is now the singer-songwriter version. And surprisingly, it works with Drew. She brings her own angst and drama. The way she sits, though, with her knees awkwardly knocked in like that, belies her age.  That was my favorite Drew performance in ages. “You made it your own and it pains me to say this, but I liked it,” L.A. said, stealing Paula’s favorite line. Nicole didn’t get her being stuck in the chair. “You’re playing it safe with Drew,” she said to Simon. Grade: A

4) Rachel Crow (Simon’s team “Can You Feel It”) – She opens oddly out of breath and off key at points. And that afro is not flattering on her. She does it with plenty of her trademark spirit. She sounds better toward the end.  Again, the MJ kids look decidedly unexcited about this. “This is the first time I watched you and didn’t feel like you were having a good time,” L.A. said. “I felt it as much as I could,” Rachel responded. “Normally you shine. I didn’t feel like you felt it,” Nicole said. Grade: B/B-plus

5) Marcus Canty (L.A.’s team, “P.Y.T.”) – He has a good voice for this song but he really doesn’t add much new or interesting to the song. I’ve never found his vocals terribly unique. Nicole and Paula call him the “whole package” but I don’t feel the X Factor. I feel like he’s derivative in so many ways. Simon: “The vocals weren’t very good.” Grade: B/B-plus

6) Chris Rene (L.A.’s team “I’ll Be There”) Interesting trivia: his grandfather wrote “Rockin’ Robin.” Small world!  I appreciate that Chris can sing as well as rap, unlike Astro. He’s grown on me over the weeks. I like his heart. The 25 back-up singers do swallow him up. His rap interlude though was not one of his better ones. But overall, I felt his performance. Grade: A-minus

7) Melanie Amaro (Simon’s team “Earth Sing”) – Melanie with that frizzy hair and that Elvira-ish outfit? Not so good.  Her trouble many weeks has been not connecting with the lyrics. I’m still not sure if she’s got that down but she can really sing the heck out of one of M.J.’s lesser songs. It was powerful. “Not only the best of the night but one of the best performances I’ve seen on the show,” Nicole said. Grade: A-minus

For a bonus, here’s video of the Jackson kids, who made an appearance at the show.

187 comments Add your comment

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
8:08 pm

Ah, home sweet home. Quite a coup for XF with Paris, Prince and Blanket in the house tonight.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
8:16 pm

Considering that Josh thought he was unprepared…it’d be difficult for anyone to do much better tonight.

Seth T.

November 30th, 2011
8:17 pm

Josh’s support cast got dirty Dianna alright, doubt that he needed that though – but hit a metal edge.

Harriett

November 30th, 2011
8:17 pm

I did not like that song for Josh

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
8:19 pm

The Jackson family must have a deal with Fox. Idol is using the Cirque du Soleil show for the end of Hollywood week with everyone remaining at the end of the week singing Jackson songs.

Seth T.

November 30th, 2011
8:23 pm

I agree with Simon on this one, that the act was “overproduced”. He has a good full rock-edge type of voice, and the dirty dancers hurt the performance more than it helped.

Seth T.

November 30th, 2011
8:27 pm

The Astro performance has a puzzling costume look to it. Can’t understand a lot of the words, but a good theme for the song.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
8:27 pm

I’m not a fan of the little rapper boy but this was really bad…I only caught a few words and he didn’t sing a Jackson song. He talked a bunch of unintelligible words to a Jackson song playing in the background.

Seth T.

November 30th, 2011
8:37 pm

Steve Jones doesn’t even do real well in the cross-selling of the other shows and record releases they are linking with.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
8:38 pm

I am very confused by Drew singing Billie Jean

Squishy

November 30th, 2011
8:39 pm

I’m officially ready for Drew to leave the show…

Seth T.

November 30th, 2011
8:39 pm

Drew doing Billie Jean?????????????????

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
8:40 pm

I really liked that version of the song but I’m still confused.

Seth T.

November 30th, 2011
8:41 pm

If you listen to the words ———- ?????? Plus there was no real dynamics to the song.

Squishy

November 30th, 2011
8:45 pm

Drew reminds me of that artist Paula Cole – and that song “Where have all the Cowboys Gone”…. that’s not where the similarities end though – I’m also over Paula Cole and her one-hit wonder…

karen

November 30th, 2011
8:47 pm

I liked the simplicity of Drew’s song. This is the first song the singer was actually the focus of the performance. With all the others it has been flashing lights, dancers, and overly loud music. I really enjoyed it.

Pitchy

November 30th, 2011
8:49 pm

Good evening!

Didn’t care for Astro, but I liked most of his words. Josh did great. I had no idea that was Billy Jean she was singing. I thought it was Ben when she first started.

Did anyone catch that the host didn’t ask Blanket how he liked the show? I don’t think I’ve ever heard him speak. To me, he has a lot of Michael Jackson’s features out of any of them.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
8:49 pm

I enjoyed it, too, karen but I still the the song was an odd choice. I thought she sang it really well. I would love to have seen Josh do that song sitting in that chair

Pitchy

November 30th, 2011
8:50 pm

Dang, Rachel Crow is so much better than this song!!!! What were they thinking?

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
8:51 pm

Don’t like Rachel’s song and she seems out of breath and a little off the beat.

Rodney Ho

November 30th, 2011
8:52 pm

Sorry, I’m 25 minutes behind. Just about to watch our favorite rap-boy Astro.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
8:53 pm

The anti-Seacrest is playing rude timekeeper again tonight.

Seth T.

November 30th, 2011
8:55 pm

Simon also way “overproduced” Rachael’s performance. She was not spot-on in the vocals, but was entertaining in her youthful enthusiasm.

Squishy

November 30th, 2011
8:58 pm

Sorry – the best thing about Rachel Crow’s performance this week was the Victoria’s Secret commercial that played at the break… these are tough songs, for sure.

karen

November 30th, 2011
9:00 pm

Deirdre, I would love to hear Josh do a tender song with the kind of emotion he showed when he sang at Nicole’s house. I don’t remember the name of the song he sang, but I do remember I was blown away.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
9:02 pm

OMG…where is Marcus…I can’t see him for all the effects! This is like one of those Vegas shows that are off the Strip and people go to because they can’t afford the big shows.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
9:03 pm

And seriously, next week could they hire some female dancers who don’t look like they were hauled out of a nearby strip club?

Squishy

November 30th, 2011
9:05 pm

I’d like to see one contestant & one judge voted off – send Nicole & Drew home this week!

Next week, they should get rid of Astro & the Anti-Seacreast….

Seth T.

November 30th, 2011
9:06 pm

I can hardly believe how “over-the-top” some of these flashing light stage shows are. Canty’s performace is not impressing anyone watching here, and Paula is way off-base with her cheerleader comments..

Pitchy

November 30th, 2011
9:09 pm

Had to laugh at the anti-Seacrest, Diedre…he doesn’t have much of a personality.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
9:10 pm

Chris’s gramps wrote Rockin Robin????? Wow!

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
9:11 pm

Pitchy, as far as I can tell, he doesn’t have ANY personality.

Seth T.

November 30th, 2011
9:11 pm

As some of the regular blog contributors have said in the past – Host Steve Jones, the massively over-done stage effests and leaving some of the better talent at the gate before the top 12 — has made for a dissappointing top 7 performance night.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
9:12 pm

Chris was so impressive during his first audition and has not approached that kind of performance since then.

Pitchy

November 30th, 2011
9:13 pm

I think he has the best performance thus far this evening, but none have a 5M draw….

Squishy

November 30th, 2011
9:13 pm

I’ve never noticed this before but do the dancers/backup performers wear the same costumes for the entire show every week?

Wardrobe must be short on white-sequence gloves… Poor planning!

Pitchy

November 30th, 2011
9:14 pm

:lol: I was being nice, Diedre, but I do agree..

Seth T.

November 30th, 2011
9:14 pm

I have not been a fan of Chris Rene, but did like his song choice and arrangement tonight. He did well – surprisingly well.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
9:15 pm

Paula just hit the nail on the head about Chris….he writes music that works for him…he’s not a cover artist.

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
9:18 pm

What will Melanie sing beautifully?

Squishy

November 30th, 2011
9:21 pm

If I were picking songs, I think I’d pick “I want you back”… though that’s a Jackson 5 song so not sure it would qualify….

Or Rockin’ Robin…

Rodney Ho

November 30th, 2011
9:22 pm

I’m now about 10 minutes behind. I have never been all that impressed with Marcus Canty. He really lacks any uniqueness to me and his vocals are subpar to boot.

Pitchy

November 30th, 2011
9:22 pm

She’s going to blow this out the park….NO DOUBT!!

Pitchy

November 30th, 2011
9:24 pm

BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE EVENING…

Squishy

November 30th, 2011
9:26 pm

You said it, Pitchy! Vote for her – do it! But don’t do it until the end of the show…

Deirdre

November 30th, 2011
9:28 pm

1. Melanie. she just shines.
2. Drew loved this version of the song and the way Drew sang it
3. Chris he was almost the Chris we saw during the auditions
4. Josh he got over=produced and the song wasn’t great for him but he’s still better than everyone else
5. Astro..yawn
6. Rachel out of breath and poorly sung
7. Marcus needs to go home now

Pitchy

November 30th, 2011
9:30 pm

Out of everyone’s performance, what a travesty to what they did to my spitfire, Rachel Crow.

karen

November 30th, 2011
9:31 pm

Who in the he## cuts Prince’s hair. Is he sporting a mullet? Hilarious, and spit out that gum boy.

Jubie

November 30th, 2011
9:39 pm

I don’t know about Drew. She just sounds the same, every song she sings to me.

Pitchy

November 30th, 2011
9:40 pm

Forget about Prince, Blanket is interesting because he always looks scared and confused.