Thursday, December 1, 2011

X-Factor USA: Tribute To Michael

I found out the night before November 30th, X-Factor was going to do a Michael Jackson tribute show. So, as the uber fan, I could not wait for the show to start. I did missed at least 15 minutes of the show because I was coming home late from work. I did not see when Michael's brothers came on the stage and spoke about Michael. 

Here is a recap of the show -

It's a big week for the Michael Jackson family. IMMORTAL, the soundtrack to Michael Jackson's The IMMORTAL World Tour by Cirque Du Soleil, was released on Nov. 21, and it was Michael Jackson week right here on THE X FACTOR stage tonight!
And, to help celebrate all that the King of Pop's brothers, Marlon, Tito, and Jackie Jackson, took to THE X FACTOR stage to show their love. "It's a special night," said Marlon. "We want to thank THE X FACTOR. We really appreciate it." And, the Jackson family matriarch, Katherine Jackson (a big X FACTOR fan, how cool?!) and Michael's children, Prince, Paris, and Blanket, took seats in the audience to enjoy the night as well.
Talk about pressure! Performing songs by the world's greatest entertainer in front of the Jackson family clan?! Tough!
Josh Krajcik kicked off the night by getting down and dirty with one of M.J.'s naughtiest songs ever, "Dirty Diana." It was a rocked-out, gritty performance, and Josh even whipped out his big…(wait for it)… guitar! L.A. Reid said this was the first time he's seen him step out of his comfort zone. "It was a show-stopping performance," said Paula. "As a spectacle, taking everything account, it was great. However [Boos from the audience], you were over-produced. You got lost in all the choreography. This is not you onstage. This is what Nicole wants to be," said Simon, calling it his "weakest performance so far." Nicole said, "Simon, unlike how you like to mentor some of your contestants, we actually like to take risks on this show." Take that, Simon.
Astro performed "Black or White" with his own original rap about racism that seemed way beyond his mere 15 years of age. Also, dare we say? It seemed like Astro had more fun tonight than ever. Good stuff. "That was bad as in B, double A, D - bad," said Nicole, who also added it's not her favorite performance, but loved his lyrics. She dittoed us in saying she thought he had more fun onstage than ever. Holla! Paula said, "I think you can win this competition." Simon beamed, "I'm so happy the public kept you in. You deserve to be here." And, his own mentor L.A. said, "I'm proud. I'd like to think that the Jackson family is as proud as I am."
Host Steve Jones took a pause to chat with the Jacksons. When asked how they're enjoying the show so far, Katherine said, "I'm very happy. I don’t miss an episode of this show and I'm so happy to be here because I get to see it in person." Paris replied, "Yes, I love the show very much."
Okay back to the performances
Drew, seated in a chair, took "Billie Jean" down to its bare bones in a very intimate, stripped down rendition with no bells and whistles. "I'm in a really naughty, naughty mood, but I have to tell you that you took 'Billie Jean' and you made it your own. And it pains me to say this, but I liked it," said L.A. Reid. Nicole said, "I like YOU," but thought Simon played it too safe with having her sit in the chair. "I wanted you to get up from the dang chair!" she screamed. Paula thought it was her "best vocal performance, without question." However, Paula thought Simon didn't take advantage of the Michael Jackson week, wants Drew to have more fun, and suggests she sings an up-tempo song. Simon replied. "Let me remind you because of too much dancing is why your acts are out of the competition right now… And, Nicole, you're talking absolute nonsense what you said!" Simon vs. Nicole: The battle brews on!
Rachel Crow kicked off her performance of "Can You Feel It" by saying, "Michael, we love you. Can you feel it?" Well, we felt it! And we really felt that sparkly single glove! Thanks, style architect June Ambrose. Finally a glove! L.A "didn't believe that you were really having a great time. It didn't translate." Wow. Boos ensued. Nicole agreed with L.A., saying she didn't feel the connection. More big boos. Paula didn't think the song was a good choice for her. Triple ouch for Rachel. Simon dismissed the criticism by saying, "Well, it's obviously anti-Simon night tonight, Rachel, so I wouldn't take any notice."
Marcus Canty got his groove back after being in the bottom last week with an electric rendition of one of Michael's most danceable songs, "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)." Not only did he dance, but he did a back-flip as well! And, hello? Welcome to the gun show! Marcus revealed some major arm candy in his MJ-inspired black and white vest. "You're the whole package," said Nicole. "What a beautiful homage to the late great Michael Jackson," said Paula. Simon agreed with Paula, but said, "The vocals weren't very good" and that his back-flip was the best part!
Chris Rene revealed that his grandfather was the songwriter who wrote "Rockin' Robin," which became a hit for the Jackson 5 and that his grandpa started the first black R&B record label in the West Coast. How baaad is that? Here's what the judges thought: "I felt your spirit tonight and it was so beautiful," said Nicole. "You manifest with abundance in the heart department," said Paula. Simon didn't dig it: "The vocal was a little bit shaky at the top… I think you're gonna need a lot of support from your hometown." L.A. thought it was a great job.
Melanie Amaro closed the show with one of his biggest hits, "Earth Song," after explaining why her Virgin Islands accent was kept hidden until last week. She explained that as a kid, she was teased for her heavy accent, so she hid it. But now that it's out, she said, "I feel like a burden was lifted." (See last week's In Case You Were Wondering for more on that.) That aside, she delivered a powerful performance that had L.A. calling it "maybe the best of the night." Nicole echoed that and added, "It was one of the best performances I've seen on this entire show." Paula called her flawless! Simon closed with, "I could not be more proud."
To which, Steve Jones replied, "That was epic."
Epic, indeed!
But how did the Jacksons feel?
"I think he would've been very proud," said Katherine at the close of the show.

X Factor Singers Pay Tribute to Michael Jackson – in Front of His Kids
Thursday December 01, 2011 01:10 PM EST

Contestants on The X Factorattempted the impossible Wednesday night – trying to capture the genius of the incomparable Michael Jackson ... in front of his children, no less. 

Still, the show's top seven did a mostly admirable job on Michael Jackson night, as Jackson's mother Katherine and his three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, watched from the front row. 

Melanie Amaro, in particular, wowed the crowd and the judges with her show-closing rendition of "Earth Song," with Simon Cowell telling the 19-year-old, "I couldn't think of a better way to pay tribute to one of the greatest artists in the world." 

The judges had somewhat mixed feelings about the other performances, with Rachel Crow doing the Jacksons's "Can You Feel It," Drew delivering a slow, piano-driven "Billie Jean," Marcus Canty giving a spirited, sweaty performance of "PYT," Astro remixing "Black or White," Josh Krajcik rearranging "Dirty Diana," and Chris Rene adding hip-hop flavor to "I'll Be There." 

And all of the singers told PEOPLE afterward that it was a thrill to perform in front of the late pop icon's family. 

"It was a honor," Amaro said. "I feel as though he was there through them, and I felt that he was really proud." 

But there was pressure, too. "Performing in front of Michael Jackson's family is too crazy," said Drew. "I didn't find out until an hour before they were going to be there. Having them in the audience is way scary. It made me feel like I can't mess it up." 

Added Krajcik: "You don't want to not do justice to one of Michael's songs when they are right there watching. It's also an honor to have them there while you are performing. I hope they enjoyed it." 

I watched the performances last night and I thought it could have been better. I am going to post a video of each performance and state what I think about the performance. 

Josh Krajciak

Josh Krajciak performed "Dirty Diana" and I felt that his performance was lukewarm. I had a feeling that Nicole (the mentor of Josh and PSD/Eden's Crush [remember that group?] fame) was going to pick that song for him because of the fact that Josh is a rocker. It was too much going on in the performance. Michael's songs is not something that Josh is comfortable with and if he was going to do a song of Michael's that would best suit him and his style, it should have been "Give In To Me" from Michael's Dangerous album. Josh would have excelled from that song. However, Nicole overlooked that and chose the obvious. Lucky for Josh, he made it through to the final five. 

Rapper Astro

Astro performed an original rap to the pop classic "Black or White" and I loved it! This was my favorite performance of the night. Each night that Astro performed on the show, he always performs the best that he can perform. He did not disappoint last night. I loved the way he truly listened to the song and understood what Michael was trying to state in the song. Astro got it very well. However, sadly, he did not make it to the final five and was voted off. I was not happy when he was let go. SMH. 

Drew Ryniewicz

Drew performed a calmer version of Michael's uber classic song "Billie Jean". In my opinion, it was OK. It was not great but it was not bad either. Her vocals and the way she sings in general annoys me. Maybe because I expect all singers/vocalists to sound like they are singing and not cracking their voices when they sing. I felt that Simon should have given her another MJ song to sing like "You Are Not Alone" or "Gone Too Soon". A song of Michael's that would have been good for her vocals and her singing style. Sadly, Drew was not chosen to be in the final five. 

Rachel Crow

Rachel Crow sang/performed the Jacksons hit song "Can You Feel It". *sigh* I felt this was her worst performance ever. This song did not do her any justice. I was not feeling her performance at all. Rachel is a very talented child but she was given a terrible song choice. The song from Michael's that she could have sing was "I Wanna Be Where You Are" or any song that Michael sang when he was Rachel's age - 13. Even though, in my opinion, it was not her best performance, she made it to the final five. 

Chris Rene

Chris Rene performed "I Be There" from the Jackson 5 and I never was a fan of Chris. I did not like his version of this song. I thought it was corny. Sadly, he made it to the final five. 

Marcus Canty

Marcus Canty performed the classic Michael song "P.Y.T" and I thought it was boring. I was not feeling it at all. I like Marcus but his performance was not the business. I think he should have performed "Bad" or "The Way You Make Me Feel". Anyway, regardless of what I think, Marcus made it to the final five. 

Melanie Amaro

Melanie Amaro sang the MJ classic "Earth Song" and to be honest, as much as I really like Melanie and I believe will when the show, I was not liking her performance. Her amazing vocals saved her performance. Let's face it, singing any MJ song is a challenge and she did a very good job - no - she did an excellent job in the vocal department. Melanie, of course, made it to the final five. 

Overall, I support any tribute that these types of shows do on Michael because Michael was the definition of an entertainer, performer, musician and vocalist. However, I want to be honest for a minute. If you have noticed, this week is a big week in the MJ legacy department.  On Tuesday, Conrad Murray was sentenced and days before the sentencing, the Immortal Tour soundtrack was released. This weekend, the Crique de Soleli Immortal Tour comes to Las Vegas and the Michael Jackson Fan Fest will be in Vegas as well. All of this heavy promotion is coming from the Michael Jackson Estate. When I was watched X Factor last night, like I do every night, I noticed something different. When the camera went to Michael's mother Katherine Jackson and she was talking about her son, I saw a familiar face and it was John Branca sitting right behind Katherine. Everytime I see Katherine smiling or the children, I smile, but my smile turned into an angry look when I saw Branca's face. It was totally the ugh factor for sure. 

Also, I noticed that Michael's children seemed to be not into the show that much. It could be various reasons - 

* They probably did not like the performance. 
* They were probably forced to come because the show was doing a tribute to their father. They probably prefer to watch the show at home. 
* They can't see the point of watching amateurs perform their father's songs when they were raised by the very person and have seen greatness. 

Or it might be that they were camera shy. Who knows? 

Michael in 1988.



Articles - 
Recap of X Factor - Michael Jackson week

"X Factor contestants pay tribute to Michael Jackson- in Front of his Kids",,,20550030,00.html

Video -
The performances are from 

Picture - 
Picture of Michael from 1988 from m personal harddrive