X Factor
Top 8 Perform

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M. Giant: B | Grade It Now!
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The King of Pop is Dead; Long Live the King of Pop

Simon introduces Drew: "No gimmicks, just her," he taunts. Her intro reel is a flashback to L.A.'s contretemps with Drew over last week's song selection, and her parents talking about how shy she was as a kid, and how nervous she is this week about what Simon is making her do. "Trust me," he insists, like he's giving her a choice.

The song is, believe it or not, "Billie Jean," which Drew sings slow, creepy and in a minor key. Believe it or not. Only this time she's sitting pigeon-toed in a chair on a bare stage accompanied by a single piano, so it's a total departure from her usual schtick, right? I have to admit that Drew would be the perfect pop star if we lived in a universe where pop stars were simply hung on the wall to sing like those novelty mounted fish ten years ago.

Simon gives her a standing ovation, and L.A. is going to have to wait through quite a bit of approving crowd noise before telling her, "It pains me to say this...but I liked it." Nicole misses her cue, then tells Drew, "I like you." But she doesn't like the bit with the chair, and accuses Simon of playing it safe with her. As much as she liked Drew's singing, "I wanted you to get up from the dang chair!" Paula tells her it was her best vocal performance, but dings Simon for not having anything visual going on and begs Drew to do an up-tempo song already. Rather than addressing his mentee, Simon responds to Paula, saying, "Too much dancing is why your acts are out of the competition right now." Oh, no he di--what am I saying, of course he totally did. He also says Nicole was talking nonsense and they wanted to keep it simple. They try to argue with him, but unfortunately for Nicole and Paula, Steve's got three minutes of voting instructions and download-flogging before telling Drew she continues to be their most divisive contestant. What a thrill for her.

Simon introduces Rachel, who's quite impressed with the whole Michael Jackson thing. "By the time he was my age he was super-famous and I hope that I'm as successful as him." Good luck with that. Apparently she left tiny Mead, Colorado for L.A. a year and a half ago to become a star. Simon interviews about Rachel's level of determination, which she herself backs up.

And what Simon held back on for Drew's production, he applies to Rachel's with a vengeance, as she sings "Can You Feel It" with herself and the dancers in MJ-esque costumes, and glitter everywhere, and "Seven Nation Army" triangles zooming out from the projection screens throughout. It's all a really big distraction from the fact that this isn't her best singing performance.

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