It’s been a rough stretch for Michael Jackson’s family lately, as they’ve continued to deal with the aftereffects of his untimely death, including following the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, who was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in Jackson’s fatal overdose.
But it’s hard to imagine that the singer would have approved of one of the family’s coping strategies, which on Wednesday included bringing Jackson’s children to join his mother and three of his brothers in the audience of “X Factor.” Treated as both props and royalty, they sat through seven singers covering his material, two of whom are going home after Thursday’s episode. And the kids, at least, looked like they’d have rather been at home doing anything else.
At least Paula Adbul knows none of the acts getting voted off will be her charges. Of course, that’s because Lakoda Rayne became the third and final group eliminated when the four women were sent off last week.
“She’s no longer a mentor, but she’s still a rather impressive judge,” said host Steve Jones, who apparently has not been paying attention to American reality TV for the past decade.
At any rate, the fact that two singers of the seven remaining are going home means that at least one of the two male judges will lose one of their three acts. Perhaps both will, if the votes are based on what happened Wednesday.
Simon Cowell, for example, could easily lose Rachel Crow. For the first time in the competition, she didn’t connect with “Can You Feel It,” which the three other judges all noted. She’s so likable that it may not matter, but she’s also the weakest of the three girls vocally and that leaves her in danger.
Drew also got some gentle criticism, but at this point we all have to accept that Simon is going to have her singing stripped-down angsty ballads, and if she wins we’ll get five albums of songs that are exquisite live but cause people to flip the radio dial elsewhere in search of something more up-tempo. Her rendering of “Billie Jean” was superb, the best performance of the night outside of Melanie Amaro’s “Earth Song,” but the difference between the two is that Amaro leaves the audience jumping out of their seats and Drew leaves it slumped in thoughtful admiration.
L.A. Reid, meanwhile, can’t feel very safe about the fates of any of his three boys. Astro’s “Black or White” wasn’t great, and he’s already been in the bottom two once. Marcus Canty was there just last week, and “P.Y.T.” was just his typical performance: heavy on the entertainment, light on the vocals. Chris Rene blew it by choosing “I’ll Be There” -- it would have been interesting to see his take on “Rockin’ Robin,” which his grandfather wrote and the Jackson 5 covered -- and he’ll once again have to count on the supporters he won over in the auditions to carry him here.
Nicole Scherzinger is down to one act, and though Josh Krajcik wasn’t fantastic he did well enough to survive. “Dirty Diana” suited his voice, though it got lost in the background mix at times, and it’s probably enough to keep him around. But if not, at least he’ll always have the memory of singing in front of the bored-looking Jackson clan.
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