The X Factor USA contestants were stunned on Wednesday's show (November 30, 2011) after Michael Jackson's children and family made a surprise appearance as part of a tribute evening to the late pop superstar. Prince Michael, Paris and Prince Michael II, joined their grandmother Katherine and Uncles Jackie, Tito and Marlon on the singing contest and scrutinized the contestant's every move.
Most of the singing hopefuls, including Rachel Crow and Chris Rene stayed true to Jackson's original hits and were rewarded with moderately positive feedback, but it was the young singer Astro who took a risk and chose to rap over the chorus to 'Black or White'. It ultimately paid off and with Michael's children watching on, judge L.A. Reid told him "I like to think that the Jackson family is as proud as I am of you, because that was truly, truly amazing". Astro's attitude has previously been called into question by Simon Cowell, but the New Yorker is emerging as a genuine contender for this year's show. Unfortunately, Josh Krajcik's rendition of Dirty Diana was accused of being "overproduced" by Cowell but he later told People magazine, "You don't want to not do justice to one of Michael's songs when they are right there watching. It's also an honor to have them there while you are performing. I hope they enjoyed it". The performance of the night went to Melanie Amaro - her version of Earth Song brought a tear to Katherine Jackson's eye, and the X factor starlet said afterwards, "It was a honor.I feel as though he (Michael) was there through them, and I felt that he was really proud".
It was a surprise appearance from the Jacksons, given Dr Conrad Murray was sentenced to the full 4 years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson just a couple of days ago.