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X Factor USA Season 1 - Live Shows Recap November 30, 2011

The Top Five

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The sixth round of live shows for X Factor USA took place on November 30, 2011. These are the fifth set of performances subject to audience voting. This recap focuses on the best peformances of the night.

1. Melanie Amaro - "Earth Song"

Melanie Amaro
Courtesy Fox Television

In honor of Michael Jackson's legacy, Melanie Amaro delivered a stunning performance of "Earth Song." Her passion and intensity was riveting. The video spectacle seemed perfectly balanced with the dramatic vocals. "Earth Song" was never released as a single in the US, but the accompanying music video received a Grammy Award nomination. "Earth Song" was Michael Jackson's bestselling single in the UK. It was the Christmas number one of 1995.

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2. Astro - "Black Or White"

Astro
Courtesy Fox Television

Astro delivered his own personal hip hop interpretation of Michael Jackson's "Black Or White." Riffing on the plea to forget about race and color, Astro made the hit youthful and current. "Black Or White" was a #1 hit in 1991 and spent seven weeks at the top. The epic music video starred Macaulay Culkin and George Wendt. It was directed by John Landis who directed the "Thriller" video.

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3. Chris Rene - "I'll Be There"

Chris Rene
Courtesy Fox Television

Chris Rene spoke to the at home audience about his personal connection with Michael Jackson's memory. His grandfather Leon Rene wrote the song "Rockin' Robin" under the pseudonym Jimmie Thomas. The song was a 1972 #2 hit single by Michael Jackson. Chris Rene dug back into the Jackson 5 catalog to perform the group's 1970 #1 hit "I'll Be There." It was one of the strongest showcases yet for Chris Rene's singing talent.

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4. Marcus Canty - "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"

Marcus Canty
Courtesy Fox Television

This performance was not Marcus Canty's best vocal on X Factor USA, but it was certainly energetic and entertaining. The energy level was so high we were even treated to a back flip by Marcus Canty. The song "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" was the sixth top 10 hit for Michael Jackson from the Thriller album in 1983.

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5. Drew - "Billie Jean"

Drew Ryniewicz
Courtesy Fox Television

Drew's vocals remain powerful, but, as pointed out by judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul, the sameness of her performances is starting to get just a bit dull. An uptempo performance from Drew would be very, very welcome. However, this slowed down, idiosyncratic take on Michael Jackson's "Bille Jean" was solid from a vocal artistry viewpoint. "Billie Jean" was the second single from the Thriller album in 1983. It went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent seven weeks there. "Billie Jean" received Grammy Awards for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Male Vocal Performance.

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