Was Rachel Crow’s ‘X Factor’ Elimination Really Paula Abdul’s Fault?

Last Thursday, judge Nicole Scherzinger displaced Astro as "The X Factor's" enemy number one when she controversially let the results-show verdict go to deadlock, with dire and unexpected consequences. Not wanting to be the bad guy and send home the sweet Marcus Canty (clearly the lesser performer in that night's sing-off, and presumably the lower vote-getter of the week), she let the week's elimination decision be decided by public vote...and was shocked when America's sweetheart, Rachel Crow, actually went home as a result. Nicole's tactic backfired big-time, and she ironically became "the bad guy" after all. Within minutes of the shocking result, her Twitter and Facebook pages were besieged by hateful comments and even death threats.

But now TMZ is claiming that Nicole was not the only "bad guy" on the panel that night, and that Nicole was only following the advice of fellow judge Paula Abdul, who supposedly told her to "let it go to deadlock" in the first place. Evidence of this fateful exchange is allegedly provided by a new sweetened-audio clip of the judges' deliberations that night.

Honestly, the video seems a little sketchy--even when squinting while watching it, it's difficult for me to tell if Paula's lips are definitely moving as she addresses the flustered Nicole. Paula herself actually quite emphatically voted for Rachel last Thursday. And this Monday night when the "X Factor" judges were guests on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," L.A. took some blame, telling Jimmy, "I definitely encouraged [the deadlock], for the record." Jimmy also grilled Paula outright about the TMZ video, asking if it is true that she advised Nicole to abstain from voting, to which Paula merely stammered: "That's not how...that's how [TMZ] interpret it."

Then Paula walked offstage in mock-anger when Jimmy, referring to another, much less controversial deadlock of the season, between her groups Stereo Hogzz and Lakoda Rayne, told her: "Paula, your [contestants] deserved to go!" Oh snap...

What do you think? Was Nicole just following Paula's well-meaning but misguided advice? Whether or not the deadlock decision was entirely Nicole's, or if she was influenced by Paula, L.A., or anyone else, clearly it was an unpopular decision with big ramifications for the show. But according to Nicole's damage-controlling "Kimmel" interview, Rachel may possibly already have a deal with Disney, so Rachel will likely be OK. As for Nicole's career, I'd suggest that in the future, she make her voting decisions on her own.

Related links:

Backstage interviews with the top 4

Little Mix become first group to win "X Factor U.K."

"X Factor USA" cast photos

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