X Factor USA 1.19 – Top 7

We’re down to the Top 7, so all the riff-raff must finally be gone and we’re going to get some amazing performances  here on Michael Jackson week, right? Right?? Oh, just let me dream. 

We start the festivities with a herd of dancers (who aren’t quite as good as MJ) prancing around Steve (who isn’t quite as good as Ryan). So the universe is still balanced, all in all. We also get to see a montage of Michael in his glory days, reminding us that whatever we watch tonight, it’s going to be a pale shadow of the King of Pop. And considering MJ’s unsettling colouring, that’s saying something. I’m talking about when he was alive, to clarify.

Here come the judges and don’t they look – oh my dear lord, Nicole’s breasts are the newest wonder of the world, as voted by me. If her neckline were any lower, we’d be recapping Boardwalk Empire. Paula’s neckline, meanwhile, is right up to her chin, lest her cleavage suffer from self-image issues. Simon’s chest hair is impervious to it all.

Speaking of Paula, we find out that even though she’s no longer a mentor, she’ll still be a judge. Thank goodness, otherwise how would she earn that massive paycheque they’re giving her every week? As it is, she’s making, like, $47,000 a second.

As a big surprise, we find out that three random Jackson Brothers are here to say hi, and even more exciting, so is MJ’s mom and three kids who are watching in the audience. The kids are a child psychologist’s wet dream, with the two oldest blankly accepting Steve’s massive ass-kissing, and the youngest — creepy-eyed “Blanket” — just a couple of years away from his first TMZ headline. But enough about the audience – on with the show!

Do not want X Factor appearance!

Josh Kracjik / Dirty Diana: Josh was nervous this week and it shows. The lights and smoke and cage (!) can’t hide his awkward fear-based performance, and although the arrangement is pleasing enough, it seems like vocally he’s always half a beat behind the thumping bass. Beforehand he talked a lot about how glad he’d be to have his precious guitar with him on stage, but then he didn’t play it until the very end of song anyway. His raspy sex voice is full throttle, but the lowest notes of the song, of which there were many, make it pretty much disappear into the background vocals. Simon complains again about there being too much spectacle. When the other judges do it, it’s spectacle. When he does it, it’s risk-taking. Simon, you hypocritical man-god, you.

Astro / Black or White: Astro was so thrilled not to be in the bottom two last week that this week he’s practically giddy with relief. He doesn’t “sing” this song (of course), but he does use it as the canvas for a pretty kick-ass original rap. I really enjoy it, and the Scottish/Russian/I Dream of Jeanie dancers backing it up give it that extra oomph. For the first time, Astro seems to not just be grimly competing, but actually having fun. I do wonder about the thing around his wrist. I realize it’s an edgy accessory, but what IS it? Mork’s suspender all wrapped up? You got me.

Drew / Billy Jean: Simon is never, ever going to let her sing an upbeat song, is he? Billy Jean gets slowed down to moody molasses, which is good, but did I mention slowww? Yet again? Also, David Cook did it better, lo those many years ago. There’s no way to gender-bend these lyrics, so poor 14 year old Drew has to deny being the dad of that kid who is not her son. I for one believe her. The judges like her, even LA, who makes even his compliment as sour as lemons. Nicole seems to have a personal vendetta against Simon this week, which takes away from whatever serious criticisms she may have. Like me, Paula is desperate to have Drew lighten up. Simon is quite the asshole about it all and tells Paula her opinion is what made all her acts get eliminated. Mean, mean, mean…and untrue.

Rachel Crow / Can You Feel It?: Simon is immediately spanked, because he’s chosen the wrong freaking song for Rachel, and it’s HIS FAULT. It’s sort of hilarious because honestly, when it comes to this performance we can’t feel it. Maybe I’m hard to please, but this song wasn’t famous (or good) enough to make an impact today. And I find Rachel’s ‘fro to be distracting. Is it just me or is it getting bigger every week, like a nuclear mushroom cloud? As always, complaining aside, I love the tone of her voice. The judges don’t agree with me and that’s okay, but does Nicole have to call her “Pumpkin” to soften the blow? It’s insulting as hell. Simon takes it all so very personally and calls his fellow judges “Squiddly, diddly, and whoever” because he can’t think of a third scathing nickname. Ha! I’m a little bit scared for Rachel this week, but hope people vote for her on what she’s accomplished overall. Simon has wandered much too far away from the cheery pop songs she sang in the first weeks. Yes, she can handle more mature songs…but should she every single time? Hello, 14 year old girl?

Marcus Canty / P.Y.T.: The fact that Marcus Canty is a PYT himself is no longer enough to make me like him anymore. Not that I’d ever let myself be swayed by looks, because this is the music business, yo, and singers are judged on talent alone. Heh, just kidding. Anyway, Marcus has dancing girls, lights, costumes, props, and does a freaking backflip, all in the name of distracting us from the fact the boy can’t sing very well. Don’t get me wrong – he’s charming and entertaining and eager to please, but he sounds like a squeaky door that just ran a half marathon.

Chris Rene / I’ll Be There: Yikes. I had wondered if Chris doesn’t come right out and sing because he isn’t very good, and this week I find out for sure.  He’s not very good. He breaks some of those high notes like they’re on the rack being tortured, and you can tell from his face as he finishes that he’s well aware of his shortcomings. This doesn’t stop the judges from slobbering all over him, mind you. What Chris is, I want to point out, is really, really hot. He seems to have gotten hotter every week since we started. If he can’t make it as a rapper or what have you, he could totally be a model and put those amazing cheekbones to good use. In other news, Chris’s grandpa wrote the song Rockin’ Robin. I don’t know why that tickles me so much, but it does. I love that song! And I’m so glad Chris didn’t sing it this week!

Melanie Amaro / Earth Song: Am I totally out of it that I barely remember this song? Well, it doesn’t matter anyway, because Melanie knocks it out of the park. It all comes together for her this week: her talent, her looks, and at long last her confidence. I’m with LA (whaaaat?), that it was like being at her concert instead of a talent show. It’s true that her tone isn’t as distinctive as, say, Drew, but nobody can touch her in sheer vocal ability. And her new-found accent is rather fetching if I do say so myself.

Should Go Home: Marcus and Chris

Will Go Home: Marcus and Josh (that’s RIGHT I went there!)