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'X Factor' USA Top 7 perform on Michael Jackson week - Live blog

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The X Factor USA live

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After an intense results show last Wednesday, two contestants were sent home from X Factor USA. However, the competition continues to heat up this week as the Top 7 hopefuls face another double elimination.

With the stakes even higher, who will be able to impress judges Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul and LA Reid? Will the usual favourites stay on top, or will a dark horse emerge as a new star of the show? Stay with Digital Spy from 8/7c to find out!

21:28 And that's it for this week! Tomorrow night, two singers go home and the Top 5 will be revealed. Tune in at 8/7c to find out the results!

Melanie Amaro
21:21 Finally, Melanie Amaro takes the stage, complete with her recently unveiled Caribbean accent. Oh no, she's doing 'Earth Song'! Didn't I say it's a no-go? Ah well - at least it's in good hands with Melanie.

To be honest, I think it was a bad choice, still - it comes off slightly awkward and it seems like more should be happening in stage. She also sounds like she's screaming a bit throughout, which is not really her style. Eh.

LA says that he forgot they were in a competition for a minute and felt like they were at a Melanie concert, calling her "amazing" and "maybe the best of the night". Nicole concurs, saying it's also one of the best performances that she's seen on the entire show. "If that performance doesn't save a small country somewhere, I don't know what will!" she adds. Always one step too far, Nicole.

Paula calls her gorgeous and flawless and says that she "nailed it". Simon couldn't be more proud and says that he couldn't think of a better way to pay tribute to such a great artist as Michael Jackson.

Chris Rene
21:09 Oh snap, it's Young Homie... I mean, Chris Rene! Apparently his grandfather wrote 'Rockin' Robin', giving him a special connection to Michael Jackson. Instead of doing that song, however, he picks up 'I'll Be There'.

Chris is not a singer, but 'A' for effort, I suppose. The vocals are not great, to say the least, but he throws in a little rap and I'm sure everyone will eat it up with a spoon just by virtue of the fact that he's a competition favourite.

Nicole says that Michael Jackson is great because you can always "feel his spirit" and she can feel Chris's spirit, too. Uh, okay. He also congratulates him for stretching himself and sounding better than ever. Paula thinks he "manifests in the heart department". Am I taking crazy pills tonight? She also says that the reason he has issues finding the right songs is because he's an original artist who should be writing his own. That, I'll agree with.

Simon thinks that the arrangement was clever as this was bound to be a tough weak for him, but admits that the vocal was rough and struggled in places. However, LA insists that the performance speaks for itself and dubs him "the truth". Here's some truth: that was not very good.

Marcus Canty
20:58 Marcus Canty (or Marcus Why-Can't-He leave this competition, as I sometimes call him...in my head) is next with a cover of 'PYT'. Oh man, if he ruins this song, I'll cry. And he is ruining it, indeed. :Poor Michael must be rolling over in his grave. It's like a Jason Derulo performance on LSD. No... just no.

Nicole loves him. Why am I not surprised? She hopes that America "recognises and appreciates" the talent that he has to offer. I seriously am baffled and more convinced than ever that she is on some consciousness-altering substance. Unsurprisingly, Paula dubs him "the whole package" and thinks that he's the entertainer of the show. Dear God.

Simon agrees, but says that the problem was that the vocals weren't very good. He likes that Marcus did a backflip, but thinks that he was too out of breath. I don't even know. LA says that it was an "inventive arrangement" of the song and hopes that he gets some votes. Well, that's a ringing endorsement from his own mentor.

Rachel Crow
20:47 Up next, the absolutely adorable Rachel Crow. She has to win this competition, right? Like, that's going to happen? Just nod and agree with me. This week, she's singing 'Can You Feel It'. I feel that she's a bit nervous this week - the poor thing is sorta out tune, almost as if she can't hear herself. Oh, dear. The second half picks up a bit, but something is just... off this week.

LA admits it's the first time he's felt like she wasn't having fun and thinks that it wasn't her best performance. Nicole says that she did a really good job but also says that she didn't feel the connection between herself and what's going on stage. "Normally, you shine to the sun and back but I didn't feel it tonight," she adds.

Paula adores her but insists that the song didn't do her justice and encourages her to get back to doing what she likes to do. However, Simon thinks it's "anti-Simon week" and advises her not to pay too much attention to what the other judges have to say as she always puts on a fantastic performance.

Drew Ryniewicz
20:34 Drew Ryniewicz is up next, and she's singing 'Billie Jean' - a very 'Drew'-style cover, if you know what I mean. Piano and voice only, spotlight, crooning... Oh, sorry, I fell asleep for a second! Only joking, but I just wish we could see her do something different for once. The vocal is close to perfect, I'll admit, but I just feel like I've seen this performance a hundred times.

LA is "in a naughty mood" (has nothing to do with anything, but whatever) but admits that he liked it, praising her for making the song her own. Nicole likes Drew but thinks that "the whole chair thing" is something that she doesn't understand. She thinks that it sounded beautiful and was exactly what she expected but criticises Simon for "playing it safe".

Paula calls it her best vocal performance without question - agreed. However, she thinks that Simon should have added something more "visual" on stage when paying tribute to Michael Jackson. Simon retorts that the "visual" aspects of choreography are what got Paula's artists out of the competition. He believes that she sang the song beautifully and did a fantastic job.

Brian Bradley/Astro
20:22 Next, Brian 'Astro' Bradley gets his turn to take on the King of Pop, performing an original rap over the music for 'Black or White'. The camera flashes quickly to the Jackson kids, who seem slightly unimpressed until they realise that they're on screen and start to clap along.

It's pretty good - Astro is clearly incredibly talented, but I notice when he's on stage, I pay more attention to the energy than to any of the words coming out of his mouth. I don't think I could tell you a single one I could tell you from this week's, besides the title of the song itself.

Nicole calls it "bad" (in a good way) and says that while it's not her favourite performance of his, she did love the lyrics and the fact that he enjoyed himself and had fun on stage. Paula agrees, dubbing him "extraordinary" and saying that he is inspirational and is "not only the future, but the past and the present". Okay, Nicole has shared whatever she's on.

Simon disagrees with Nicole, saying that Astro made the song younger and fit for a new generation. He also loves the hook of the track and is glad that the public voted to keep him in. LA is proud of him and hopes that the Jackson family is, too. Way to put them on the spot, man.

Josh Krajcik
20:11 First up is the love of my life (okay, of this competition), Josh Krajcik. While he performed on the piano last week, this week he's picking up the guitar for a rocky rendition of 'Dirty Diana'.

It couldn't be further from the original, but as is the mark of any great musician, it absolutely works. He's just ready to go out and be a rockstar already - being in this competition seems like small potatoes to the potential he has.

LA thinks it was "cool" and admits that it was the first time he's seen Josh step out of his comfort zone and is proud to see him do it. "I know it was a struggle, but you landed on your feet," he adds. Paula praises him for continuing to "raise the bar" and says that the best performances come from pushing the envelope.

Simon thinks that it was great "as a spectacle", but insists that it was over-produced and that he got lost in the choreography. He also blames Nicole for making the production what she wanted it to be. However, Nicole fires back, calling Josh's performance "bold and courageous", and saying that they felt Michael Jackson "in their veins". It's too easy, guys. I won't even go there.

20:06 Marlon, Tito and Jackie Jackson show up! They thank the audience for paying tribute to Michael. Even Michael's mother Katherine is in the audience, along with the late singer's children, Paris, Blanket and Prince. Can't half tell who their father is, can you?

20:03 The energy in the studio seems to be tense tonight - even Simon has been tweeting throughout the week about just how nervous each of the judges and their acts are for this double elimination. I guess that doesn't so much apply to Paula, who is no longer a mentor after losing her final group in the insufferable Lakoda Rayne last week.

20:00 And we're off! It's Michael Jackson week. Can the Top 7 do justice to the King of Pop? Will they absolutely murder some of his biggest hits? All I know is, no one should do 'Earth Song'.

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