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

He comes out in a bedazzled letter jacket to croon "I'll Be There" in hip-hop style. He's a bit off-key, as he usually is when he isn't rapping, but then he throws a little rap in that's almost a relief. Really, Chris, steer clear of the high notes, dude.

Nicole blathers about spirit, and says he sounded the best he's ever sang. Paula also tells him he looks better than ever, and Paula tells L.A. that the reason he has trouble picking songs for Chris is because Chris needs to write his own, hence the success of "Young Homie" on the download hot 100 or whatever. Simon agrees with me that the singing was a little rough and adds that he's going to need a lot of hometown support. L.A. says something vaguely supportive before Steve takes over with the voting instructions and the news that one singer is left to perform tonight.

That would be Melanie, and her intro-reel reminds us how last week she busted out with her Caribbean accent out of nowhere. Melanie interviews (in that same accent) how she tried to cover it when she first came back from the Virgin Islands as a teenager, but last week it just came out. Simon tells us he gave her a song that's one of MJ's biggest hits, but one you normally don't touch. "It could go wrong, but, you know, that's what it's all about. You've got to take big risks sometimes."

Melanie comes out dressed like an extra from Underworld and sings...I'm sorry, I don't know this song at all. Google tells me it's "What About Us," which, obviously I don't know every Michael Jackson song, but until tonight I was pretty sure I was at least aware of the "biggest hits." She sings the hell out of it, of course.

L.A. says it might have been the best performance of the night; Nicole says it was one of the best of the whole show, good enough to save a small country; Paula calls it "gorgeous" and "flawless," and Simon says he couldn't be any prouder, giving a shout-out to all the Jacksons here tonight.

Steve comes out and agrees it was "epic," then gives the voting numbers, launches the montage of tonight's performances, and comes back onstage with the finalists. Which would look like a much smaller crowd if the backup singers and dancers weren't also up there. He declares the voting lines open and reminds us to dial 855 and not 800 or 866. Don't worry, Steve, I won't be dialing 8-anything. Steve says it was his favorite night ever, lets the non-L.A. judges suck up to the Jacksons, and gets a final word from Katherine and the kids. "It's a really well-put-together show," Prince says, and she and Paris both compliment all the performers. Well, verbally at least.

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