After last week, a little peace on earth and goodwill toward men was definitely in order.
So the X Factor's Thanksgiving-themed show, with the top nine finalists performing inspirational songs of gratitude dedicated to those in their life they feel thankful for, certainly came on the right night.
But with "Astrogate" fresh in everyone's minds and the competition really heating up with the news that two people are leaving tomorrow night, how were the judges supposed to go about their usual business of bashing each other and constructively criticizing the contestants when the top nine were singing about their moms, God and rehab counselors?!
L.A. Reid said it all...
"What am I supposed to say? Am I supposed to criticize that?" L.A. asked a glowing Melanie Amaro after her booming performance of R. Kelly's "I'm the World's Greatest," which was followed by a triumphant, tearful announcement about how happy she was to be on that stage and how thankful she was to Simon Cowell for keeping her on the show.
And it's a good thing L.A. didn't try, because when Paula Abdul's only somewhat negative comment was that Melanie didn't need a choir behind her, Simon called it "a silly criticism" and told her to shut up.
But otherwise, you've really never seen such a lovefest on a show involving Simon Cowell. And the judges sure didn't have any suggestions for who not to vote for tonight.
Rachel Crow, who was born addicted to crack and lived in a crack house with her birth mother, sang to her adoptive parents. She belted out Yolanda Adams' "I Believe" like an artist twice her age, giving her best performance to date. There is no way she can possibly be voted out tomorrow.
Marcus Canty's vocal was from the heart but tonally all over the place—but he dedicated Boyz II Men's "A Song for Mama" to his dear single mama! As L.A. said, how can you argue with that?
Recovered addict Chris Rene started off with a reggae-tinged version of the Beatles' "Let It Be" that appeared to be the weak link in tonight's chain—until he segued into his own tune, "Young Homie," and took it to another level. "You may have helped thousands of people in the same place, to show that with courage and with guts you can turn your life around," Simon told him approvingly.
Lakoda Rayne harmonized, sort of, on Taylor Swift 's "You Belong With Me," which certainly showed off their talents as pretty, likable singers. But then we totally forgot all about them after the next performance. But can you blame us?
Maybe the only thing more touching than Marcus dedicating his performance to his mom was LeRoy Bell singing Sarah McLachlan's "Angels" to his late mother, Janice. Which made it all the stranger that L.A. picked that performance to pick on.
"To me, it wasn't your very best," L.A. said, prompting a vehement counterargument from Simon. "I think you've really made your mark this week," the Brit said appreciatively.
Meanwhile, though L.A. said earlier in the night that he and Astro "had a lot of words" since last week and he expected a turnaround tonight, the audience wasn't in such a forgiving mood: When Steve Jones announced that Astro was preparing to take the stage, the boos were audible among the cheers.
But the 15-year-old kept his cool and did what he needed to do—perform an original rap, which he dedicated to his fans, and then he apologized. More or less. At least he said he would never let his "Astronauts" and hip-hop fans down again. Whether or not that will be enough to get back in the voters' good graces remains to be seen.
Perhaps the judges' belts were getting a little tight after so many helpings of good cheer, however, by the time Drew hit the stage. L.A., who attacks Simon every week after the 14-year-old phenom sings, aimed for the jugular yet again—only this time he misfired, calling Drew's tune, "Skyscraper," an "old person song." Someone alert 19-year-old Demi Lovato!
"I'm sick to death of your pointless, stupid criticism," Simon retorted, insisting, "It's a young girl's song!" (OK, who's ready for pie?!)
At least Josh Krajcik sent everyone home on a mellow—and super high—note, after he dedicated a mesmerizing performance of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" to his young daughter.
"You have the right amount of everything," L.A. told him appreciatively. "You have everything it takes to win this competiiton."
"Josh, that's what it's all about it," Simon added simply.
And with that all said and done, two people (or five, if it's Lakoda Rayne and a solo act) go home tomorrow night, following performances by Kelly Clarkson and Bruno Mars. We do not envy anyone who has to participate in that elimination. Good night!
Who was your favorite singer tonight? Who do you think is going to go home? Did Astro do enough to stay after last week's fiasco? And why doesn't L.A. know what he's talking about sometimes?! Please sound off in the comments section!