On Tuesday night, during a special partial "X Factor" rebroadcast--after last week's final Judges' Houses episode was disastrously preempted, much to Simon Cowell's chagrin--this season's top 16 were finally announced. But to the shock of viewers who hadn't already seen last week's Canadian spoilers, fan favorite and early frontrunner Jillian Jensen was not among those (bitter)sweet 16.
Jillian was the bullying victim/Demi Lovato fangirl with the "Stay Strong" tattoo who sobbed throughout her emotional audition of Jessie J's empowerment anthem "Who You Are" back on "The X Factor's" Season 2 premiere...and when an also-sobbing Demi rushed onstage to embrace Jillian, while even Simon observed the scene through uncharacteristically misty eyes, it became THE most talked- and tweeted-about moment of the season so far. But this week, Demi and Jillian were crying for a very different reason, when Jillian was cut during the final Judges' Houses rounds.
"I don't see this being the end," Jillian said with a previously unseen amount of confidence earlier in the episode, before Demi announced her controversial cut. And even after Demi told Jillian she was going home, Jillian's best friend on the show, Jennel Garcia (who had already made it through), eavesdropped, heard Jillian's sobs, and said optimistically, "I'm almost positive that's a good cry."
So everyone was crying. Jillian was crying. Demi was crying. And Jennel seemed almost more distraught than either of them, once she found out that Jillian's cry had not been a good one after all. And you know, I completely understood why Jillian and Jennel were so stunned and upset. Why Demi didn't give either CeCe Frey or Paige Thomas's spot to Jillian was the one thing I did not understand. After all, Jillian had seemingly done nothing during her Judges' House time to slow her momentum or change Demi's mind (her "Gravity" performance had been solid). Meanwhile, Paige's shaky Judges' House performance had been utterly underwhelming, and though CeCe's Judges' House performance was good, her first audition had been extremely off-putting, and it didn't seem like she'd quite learned how to keep her ego in check since then. (She'd cheekily covered LMFAO's "Sexy And I Know It" at the Judges' Houses, which Demi sternly told her was just "too much.")
I can only assume that Jillian's elimination was just a ploy by producers to create a dramatic TV moment. But it was a dramatic TV moment that was supposed to air last week, of course, and was therefore probably watched by far fewer people than Simon and Fox had intended or assumed. So this was a lose-lose situation for everyone involved with the show.
So anyway, now we have, for better or worse, our full top 16 that will move on to the live shows. Along with the Teens and Over-25's picks announced last week, at least on the East Coast (on last Thursday's aborted broadcast), this week we learned who made it through in the Young Adults and Groups categories. The only other surprise--this time a pleasant one--was that Simon put his massive ego aside for once, realized that his master plan to manufacture an American One Direction had gone very awry, and actually eliminated his prefab boy band, Playback.
Below is the complete top 16 list, with each team ranked by my personal preference. They'll all be back on the airwaves November 1 to compete live for the first time (assuming there are no additional preemption fiascos), so see you then.
TEENS (mentored by Britney Spears)
Carly Rose Sonenclar
YOUNG ADULTS (mentored by Demi Lovato)
OVER-25's (mentored by L.A. Reid)
GROUPS (mentored by Simon Cowell)