Tonight, our Lucky 7 to perform the songs of Michael Jackson, while the slightly-less-lucky Jackson family has to sit in the audience and watch and occasionally offer awkward commentary. Fun for everyone! Let’s see how it goes down.
Josh Krajcik, “Dirty Diana”
Josh explains in his pre-song package that Michael Jackson is a departure for him, stylistically. He’s brought his guitar to try and make the song more “him,” although he... just has it strapped on his back. Ooookay! This is a pretty good song choice for Josh, although the execution isn’t as good as you’d hope. There are dancing girls in white men’s shirts, if you’re into that sort of thing. “You landed on your feet, my man,” L.A. tells him. Paula calls it a showstopping performance, but Simon says Josh was overproduced and got “lost in all the choreography.”
Astro (Brian Bradley), “Black or White” (Sort Of)
Okay, so Astro isn’t so much covering “Black or White” as sampling it. The verses are an Astro rap about, like, world peace and stuff, and the dancers behind him are in kilts with Russian-looking hats and face veils... like they’re supposed to represent all cultures or something maybe? The lyrics are pretty good when we can catch them. “I look at the world like a Crayola box, so forget about colors, just rock,” is a line we liked. Nicole tells him he’s “bad” as in good, Paula tells him he’s the “past, present, and future,” and Simon tells him he’s glad the public kept him.
Drew Ryniewicz, “Billie Jean”
L.A. and Paula want Drew to do something different and maybe uptempo. So, of course, she’s doing a very stripped-down version of “Billie Jean,” while sitting in a chair. Remember when David Cook sang the absolute hell out of this song on Idol? Damn, that was good. Anyway, Drew is doing a great job, but it’s just the usual Drew thing. Haunting and sweet-voiced, you know. Plus this song is a little odd coming from a teenage girl? “It pains me to say this, but I liked it,” L.A. admits. “I like YOU,” Nicole says, but accuses Simon of playing it safe with Drew. “This was your best vocal performance, without question,” says Paula. Holy guacamole, Drew looks tiny next to Steve.
Rachel Crow, “Can You Feel It?”
Rachel’s wearing a single glove, aw! She’s also rocking a silver sequined blouse, and her backup dancers all look sort of futuristic. This performance is in no way designed to show off her vocal ability, and the overall effect is cute, but not particularly impressive. “It didn’t translate... that wasn’t the best I’ve seen you,” L.A. tells her. Rachel says she felt it the best she could. “Normally you shine all the way to the sun and back, but I didn’t feel that you felt it,” Nicole says. Paula agrees with them, and Simon pretty much accuses the other judges of all just ganging up on him or something. Except they were right, so, whatever!
Marcus Canty, “P.Y.T.”
Everyone’s sporting some MJ-inspired military outfits, which so far is the best part of this performance. Marcus sounds a little... nasal? It’s okay, but he’s a better singer than this. On the plus side, his arms look really good, so he’s got that going for him. Oh, and a standing back tuck! (That’s a hands-free backflip for those of you who were never gymnasts or cheerleaders.) Pretty fancy stuff. “I love you, PYT... I hope America recognizes and appreciates you,” Nicole says. “What a beautiful homage to the late, great Michael Jackson,” Paula tells him. “I don’t think the vocals were very good,” Simon says. “That flip you did, I hope it flips you into some votes,” L.A. says.
Chris Rene, “I’ll Be There”
Chris’s grandfather wrote “Rockin’ Robin,” which was recorded by The Jackson 5. That’s pretty awesome. The performance is less awesome. The thing about Chris is that he’s kind of charming, and he’s a pretty good rapper and he seems like a nice guy, but his actual singing isn’t so hot. There are a lot of bum notes. Sorry, dude. Nicole, however, felt his spirit. “You manifest with abundance in the heart department,” says Paula, whatever that means, and blames his inability to find the right songs on the fact that he’s a writer. “The vocal was a little bit shaky at the top,” Simon says, and adds that Chris will need a lot of support from his fans. “You know you are the truth,” L.A. says.
Melanie Amaro, “Earth Song”
Whoa, Melanie looks hot! Her hair’s kind of big and curly and she’s in a streamlined black outfit and she looks great. The stylists have done an incredible job making her look like a pop star, and as always, she sounds fantastic. “For one second I forgot that we were in a competition and I thought that we were at a Melanie Amaro concert,” L.A. says. “It was one of the best performances I’ve seen on the entire show... if that performance doesn’t save a small country somewhere I don’t know what will,” says Nicole. Paula calls the performance flawless, and Simon adds that he couldn’t think of a better way to pay tribute to one of the greatest artists in the world.
Tomorrow night, another double elimination! People likely to be in trouble: Chris Rene and... Marcus Canty? Astro? What do you think?
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