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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

X-Factor, Nov. 30 – Celebrating MJ, Not the Scandals

Last week’s elimination on The X-Factor was simply brutal. Losing two acts at once is difficult enough, but to lose Paula’s last group and Leroy Bell was just brutal. I find it really interesting that Simon hasn’t even had an act fall into the bottom two yet. Sooner or later his acts will have to take a hit, as I don’t picture them as the final three or four, or however they will be doing it. And this week, we’ll be losing two more.

The remaining acts will be performing the music of Michael Jackson, just days after Conrad Murray was sentenced to four years for involuntary manslaughter. Paula Abdul is calling herself the only impartial judge with no acts left in the competition. Nicole Scherzinger has lost two, but says she doesn’t plan to lose any more. L.A. Reid has his guys working overtime to stay. Meanwhile, Simon calls this no pressure. He’s apparently not worried. 

Fittingly, host Steve Jones are brought out onstage with dancers gyrating to Michael Jackson music. Marlon, Titio, and Jackie are here for the performances. They walk out onstage, while Katharine, Paris, Prince, and Blanket are in the audience. Katharine says from the audience it’s her favorite show. Wow. That’s some high praise.

Instead of being buried in the middle, Nicole’s remaining act, Josh Krajcik, is up first. When he was a little kid, he’d listen to Michael Jackson, and wore out the records. He thought he was the coolest dude. He recognizes it’s a bit of a departure for him, will be “busting out the guitar,” and is grateful to have the level of confidence back. He got a guitar for Christmas after watching his dad play while growing up. Nicole knows he doesn’t feel prepared, and Simon figures he’ll be nervous for the first week. He takes on Dirty Diana and definitely does Michael proud. He had no reason for his nerves, unless it was because of the women gyrating on either side of him. His guitar playing is good too.

L.A. tells Josh it was cool and believes it was the first time he saw him jump out of his comfort zone. He’s really proud to see it and thinks he landed on his feet. Paula knows some of the best performances come out of the discomfort. He learned how to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. It was a show-stopping performance and he continues to raise the bar.

Taking everything into account, as a spectacle, Simon calls it great. However, Josh was overproduced and got lost in the choreography. It wasn’t him onstage, but who Nicole wants to be. He felt it was his weakest performance so far. Nicole tells Simon that unlike the way he mentors some of his contestants, she and her contestants actually like to take risks on the show. She knows they can feel Michael in their veins. He’s inspiring, powerful, dangerous, and bold, and that’s exactly what Josh was this week.

L.A. introduces his first act, Astro, who will pay tribute to “the greatest entertainer that ever lived.” Last week he was expecting to go home or be in the bottom two, so was relieved to be safe and felt the love that America kept him there. His mom and stepdad taught him to perform when he was a little kid. He loves MIchael Jackson and found him inspirational. This will also have him stepping out of his comfort zone, and Nicole thinks L.A. needs to find a way to push the envelope with him. Astro raps to Black and White, and while it sounds hokey, I really do sense MJ’s spirit coming out of Astro. Paris is tapping her hand to the song in the audience.

Nicole calls it BAAD, and by that she means good. She doesn’t know if it’s her favorite performance, but will say she loves the lyrics he wrote. It’s the first time she felt he really enjoyed himself and had fun. Paula thinks Astro is extraordinary. She thinks his words are important and that he’s influential and inspirational. They say he’s the future, but she also thinks he’s their past and present.

Simon starts off completely disagreeing with Nicole, leaving her unsurprised. This is what someone Astro’s age should be doing. It’s one of the best pop songs of all time, and he made it younger and fit for a new generation. He loved the new hook at the end. He’s so happy the public kept him here as he deserves it. L.A. is proud and hopes the Jackson family is as well. Astro took it and made it his own, yet also paid tribute to a great. Steve tells him it was “dope.”

From the audience, Katharine says she’s very happy and doesn’t miss an episode of the show. She’s so happy to be here to see it in person. Prince explains he and his brother and sister are excited about the Cirque du Soleil Jackson show starting in Las Vegas this week. Paris also loves X-Factor very much.

Simon introduces Drew, with no gimmicks. She explains she’s grown a lot in the competition. When she was little, she was super, super shy. Her parents are surprised she has been able to stand up for herself on stage the way she has. She’s a big MJ fan and finds him super-inspiriational. She’s doing a twist on one of his songs, and is singing from a chair at Simon’s request, while Drew notes MJ would never do that. Simon wants to strip away the craziness and just leave her. Paula, though, would rather see her uptempo and fun. From the chair, Drew sings Billie Jean. It’s slowed down to match Drew’s style. It sounds great, but like L.A. keeps saying, just like every other song she does. And she’s not the first to slow this one down, as I think of David Cook doing it a few years ago on American Idol.

Simon, embarrassingly, is the only one with a standing ovation. L.A. admits to being in a really naughty mood, but does say Drew took the song and made it her own, and while it pains him to say it, he liked it. Nicole acts bored, then says she likes Drew, but the whole chair thing, she doesn’t understand. Drew sounded beautiful, and it’s exactly what she expected, but she thinks Simon is playing it safe with Drew. But she showed range and passion. Nicole just wanted her to “get up from the dang chair.”

Paula feels this was Drew’s best vocal performance, but she takes on Simon for choosing to do nothing visual to pay homage to Michael who was all about the visual. She asks Drew if she ever wants to do uptempo. The teenager nods her head, and Paula asks her for April Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, something. Simon reminds Paula that her acts are out of the competition because of too much dancing. He thinks she’s being disrespectful and that Nicole is talking nonsense. He feels Drew paid homage by sitting and singing more simply.

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