Simon’s next protégé is up, Rachel Crow. She thinks Michael Jackson had the X-Factor, and notes by the time he was her age, he was super-famous. She hopes for the same for herself eventually, yet she’s from a tiny town in Colorado. Her mom brought her to L.A. a few years ago to chase her dream. She knows everything Rachel sets her mind to she does. Simon sees a determination and ambition in her that he’s never seen before. MJ’s music is challenging, but she thinks she’s up for it, and hopes she makes him proud. She sings Can You Feel It,, and from the first few notes, it’s obvious this song is perfect for her. This girl needs big songs to fit her personality, and this hits the mark.
L.A. tells Rachel it’s the only time he watched her and didn’t believe she was really having a great time. It didn’t translate, even though he loves her. It wasn’t the best he’s seen her. She responds and says she felt it the best that she could and loves MJ, so she tried to do the best for him as she could. Nicole tells “Pumpkin” she did a really good job, although she didn’t feel the connection between her and the stuff going around her on the stage. Normally she shines to the sun and back, so she wasn’t sure she felt it.
Paula absolutely adores RAchel, but does say the song didn’t give her justice as far as how serious of a singer she is. She transcends generations, and it’s time to get back to what she wants to do. Simon calls it “Anti-Simon” night, so doesn’t think Rachel should take any notice. What he loves about her is that she always puts on a show. She looks like a pop star and is having the time of her life. Luckily, “Squiddly, Diddly, and Whatever” don’t vote.
L.A.’s next act, Marcus Canty, is up, after just barely surviving last week. For the first time, he felt like he was fighting for his life, and found it incredible to survive. His mom finds it a good thing, as now he knows what it feels like. The first time Marcus heard MJ, he loved him. He loved his performance skills and was so entertaining. Marcus would fall on the floor, though, trying to do his spin. L.A. thinks he’s ready for a comeback, and Marcus knows he needs to go out there and “Kill it.” He sings PYT (Pretty Young Thing), and he’s flanked by hot women again, although this time he’s not looking up their skirts. It comes off a little shallow, and I think he’s a much deeper performer than that. But, he kills it at the bridge with a flip.
Nicole loves Marcus and hopes America recognizes and appreciates him for who he is and the amazing talent he is and all he has to offer, and the spirit and hard work. He’s the whole package. Paula tells Marcus it was a beautiful homage to MJ, and the look on his face, the perspiration and exhilaration, shows he left it all out there. He’s the whole package, and that’s what you need to have the X-Factor. He is the entertainer of this show.
Simon agrees with everything Paula just said, but notes the vocals weren’t that good. The problem is, when you do a routine that involves a backflip, you’re gong to run out of breath. When he hears it back at home, he thinks the vocals will be lacking. L.A. compliments the inventive arrangement and hopes the flip ends up flipping him some votes.
The final guy, L.A.’s Chris Rene, is up. He was excited to hear it was Michael Jackson week, as his family has a connection to him. His grandfather was a songwriter and wrote Rockin’ Robin that The Jackson Five ended up singing. He shows L.A. some newspaper clippings about it. Sister Gina, who also got to L.A. with the auditions, refers to the songwriting and singing that’s in their blood. Simon explains Chris isn’t a singer like MJ and has a really risky song choice. Chris knows it will challenging, but says he’s ready. He sings a medley of Justice and I’ll Be There, and misses the notes a few times, and it kills me to say it. He makes up for it with so much heart though. What he should have sung was Man In the Mirror. It would have been so fitting for his journey.
Nicole tells Chris that what’s so amazing about MJ is that you always feel his spirit through his music, and she felt Chris’ spirit tonight. It was so beautiful, and she loved him and his fresh spin with the clean cut look. She thinks he sounded the best he ever has. Paula tells him he looks the best he ever has, and he “manifests in abundance in the heart department.” He not only connects with the mind, he connects with the public. She thinks the reason why they have a tough time finding the right song for him is because he’s a writer who writes songs for himself, pointing back to the 10 million people downloading Young Homey. She can’t wait for him to have an album out so that she can buy it.
Simon questions “manifests in the heart department,” then goes on to say he thinks he’ll have a tough week. While L.A.’s “Fugees” take on the song was clever, Simon thought the vocals were a little shaky in the beginning, until the rap kicks in, and he kind of felt it in the end. L.A. feels the performance speaks for itself and knows Chris knows he is the truth.
Last up is Simon’s last artist, Melanie Amaro, as he explains he saved the best for last. Simon mentions the accent Melanie brought out last week that none of them knew she had. She explains her accent was so strong when she first came to America, that she was made fun of, so she felt she had to hide it. It just came out of her last week, and Simon thinks that gives her the freedom to be the amazing singer she is. It’s a big deal for her and could go wrong, but he knows he needs to take risks sometimes. She sings Earth Song, and it’s 100% exactly what she should have been singing. It’s like Michael wrote it just for her. However, unlike Simon, I don’t see it as risky for her.
L.A. is the only one to not give a standing ovation. However, he admits he forgot for one second they were at a competition, and thought they were at a Melanie Amaro concert. She was amazing, and maybe the best of the night, although he’s sure it had nothing to do with Simon. Nicole calls it not only the best of the night, but one of the best of the entire show. If that doesn’t save a small country somewhere, she doesn’t know what will.
Paula calls it simple. It was flawless, and Melanie is gorgeous up there. She nailed it. Simon could not be more proud, and for all of them, the fact the Jackson family is sitting there, he can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to one of the greatest artists in the world. Melanie was “amazing.”
It was a good night, but I think it could have been better. L.A., for all his prowess in the music business, isn’t that great at guiding talent, even if he is great at singing talent and as a songwriter himself. He completely missed the mark with Chris this week, and hopefully it won’t send him home. Michael Jackson was all about encouraging people to see the best in themselves, and that’s exactly what Chris has been doing. He was also all about helping kids, so Rachel and Drew should have had songs reflecting that, or what he was singing when he was their age. Drew definitely shouldn’t have been singing a song disputing the parenting of a child.