Somewhere over at Fox HQ, Simon Cowell is probably punching a wall, ordering that several Fox employees be fired, and/or going into cardiac arrest. Because on Wednesday night, a rained-out baseball game delayed, then suddenly interrupted, and then totally preempted, the most important episode of this "X Factor" season so far. This was not the first time that baseball had ruined Simon's plans--last year, an "X Factor" episode was postponed due to a game--but that was just a Judges' Houses episode. This time, it was the all-important reveal of the top 16 contestants (the ones who will compete on the live shows), and it was the series' cliffhanger episode before the show goes on hiatus until November 1 for the World Series. (Wow, Simon must REALLY hate baseball by now.) And the interruption came at the worst moment possible.
So at 8pm on Wednesday, confused fans tuned in and saw a rerun of "Ben & Kate," not "The X Factor" as advertised--because Fox's telecast of the NCLS baseball game had been stopped at the bottom of the seventh inning due to rain, and the network was therefore in a holding pattern. But then, at about 8:40pm, "The X Factor" finally did begin, and the crisis seemed averted. Britney Spears announced her final four team members, followed by L.A. Reid's picks for the Over-25's, and then Demi Lovato began making her choices for the Young Adults. And then there was a commercial break, preceded by a teaser showing fan favorite Jillian Jensen, who had yet to learn her fate, sobbing uncontrollably. It was hard to tell if Jillian was crying out of joy or sorrow, and so viewers waited with bated breath to learn what had become of Jillian and the rest of Demi's contestants.
And then Fox came back from the break...and started airing "The Mindy Project," with no explanation. And then Fox switched back to the baseball game. And then came the announcement that the rest of the "X Factor" episode would not be shown, and that the full episode would instead air NEXT Tuesday.
"IS THIS A JOKE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! It won't be aired until next tuesday!??!!?!??!!? IS THIS A GOD DAMN JOKE?!?!?!?!" tweeted Jillian when this all went down, voicing the shocked sentiments of her many equally irate fans. Jillian's teammate Paige Thomas, whose segment also had yet to be shown, also tweeted: "WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW!!! SOMEONE HELP ME B4 I PASS OUT FROM ANXIETY AND BUILT UP ANTICIPATION!! WHERE IS THE SHOW? Ok seriously is this a joke? What is going on? Am I being punk'd? My stomach is literally in a knot!"
But Simon Cowell worded it best on his own Twitter: "Have no idea what is happening to the schedule tonight. Have heard the whole episode will be shown next Tuesday. Sorry. It what's known as a total f up."
F'ing things up even more now is the fact that Tuesday's rescheduled broadcast will go up against rival show "The Voice," which is sure to kill "The X Factor" in the ratings. (With another baseball game airing on Thursday, another presidential debate airing next Monday, the World Series starting next Wednesday, and the weekend apparently not being a good option, next Tuesday--at 7pm, not even 8pm!--was the only timeslot left for the rebroadcast. Personally, I think Sunday night, a night when many people tend to tune in to Fox anyway, would have been a smarter option.)
Making matters much worse was the fact that most of the top 16 announcement episode still aired this Wednesday on Canada's CTV. While CTV did switch in the last few minutes to an "X Factor" repeat, only the fates of three remaining contestants--groups LYLAS, Sister C, and Playback--were still up in the air, and every other result had already been shown. So diehard U.S.-based "X Factor" fans, who may have tuned in to Fox next Tuesday, now already know most of the results. After all, spoilers are impossible to avoid in this digital age.
Speaking of spoilers, thanks to the more baseball-resistant Canada, a nation clearly with its TV priorities in the right place (ha), we do know for sure 14 of the 16 contestants who made it through. (WARNING:DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOU ACTUALLY PLAN TO STAY OFF THE INTERWEB AND WAIT UNTIL NEXT TUESDAY TO FIND OUT THE RESULTS...)
Jillian, sadly and surprisingly, did not make it...but considerably less sadly, neither did Nick Youngerman, a novelty rapper at best whose covers of "Tik Tok" and "Ice Ice Baby" were pure frat-party karaoke. As for the contestants who did make it onto Demi's team of four, it made sense for Demi to keep rocker-girl-next-door (and Jillian's BFF) Jennel Garcia, one of the coolest contestants and most dynamic performers of the season, along with country singer Willie Jones, whose off-the-charts likability (and lack of Season 2 competition within the country genre) could take him very far. And while formerly leopard-faced (some might say two-faced) villainess CeCe Frey certainly doesn't possess the likability of Jennel or Willie (or of Jillian, for that matter), she certainly can sing, and she started to win me over on last week's episode, so I also understood Demi's decision to put CeCe through. But honestly, I would have given Paige Thomas's spot to Jillian instead. Paige started off strong on the show--hers was the first televised audition of the season, and she greatly impressed--but she started losing momentum almost immediately afterwards, to the point where I was kind of surprised that she even advanced to the Judges' Houses at all. If Paige wants to prove to "X Factor" viewers that she deserved a spot in the top 16 more than Jillian did, she is really going to have to bring it on the live shows.
Demi's fellow judge, Britney, faced some especially tough decisions on Wednesday with her Teens, arguably the strongest category on the show. It was a little shocking that Britney opted to eliminate the two most Bieber-esque (read: potentially girl-vote-garnering) boys in the category, cheeky rapper James Tanner and floppy-haired moppet Reed Deming. But it was a relief that she decided that there was room on the show for both Beatrice Miller and Carly Rose Sonenclar, somewhat similar 13-year-olds with old souls, and for at least one boy, Season 1 InTENsity singer-gone-solo Arin Ray, also an amazing young talent. Britney's one (relatively) weak link now is Diamond White--another contestant who started off with a fantastic audition but then backslid in the Boot Camp/Judges' Houses rounds. However, the in-the-rough Diamond still has a lot of potential, and with a final foursome like this, it could very well be Britney's competition to lose this season.
And then there were L.A.'s underdogs, the Over-25's. L.A. never wanted this motley crew in the first place ("It's not a secret that this is not my favorite category," he grumbled Wednesday, rudely), but for a man so seemingly uninvested, he did for the most part make the right calls this week. Much to my delight, he kept Elton-esque, glitter-exploding showboater Jason Brock, who I am sure will make the live shows all the more exciting, and 40-year-old face-tattooed rocker Vino Alan, whose brooding bad-boy persona is sure to court that all-important cougar vote. David Correy was an obvious choice given that, at age 26, he is L.A.'s youngest and therefore, at least hypothetically, "hippest" contestant. (David was actually the first one L.A. put through.) On the other side of that spectrum was 37-year-old country traditionalist Tate Stevens, not hip by any means...but L.A. is a businessman, and he must have realized that America is currently buying what Tate and Epic Records could soon be selling--and that with only one other solo contestant, Willie Jones, representing the country genre in Season 2, Tate could easily corner the country-fan demographic. I personally would have put smooth soul crooner Daryl Black, one of the show's purest voices, in Tate's place. ("I really respect L.A., but today he made a mistake," Daryl said--and I agreed.) But I suppose Daryl is more the type who goes far on "The Voice," not "The X Factor." I'll just count my blessings that the loathsome oversinger Tara Simon, despite all of her aggressive efforts, failed to make L.A.'s cut. She claimed, "He just got rid of someone who could have been a Kelly Clarkson...that's his decision to live with." Oh, I think L.A. will live with it just fine. I know I will.
As for Simon's Groups, before the Canadian broadcast was shut down in a panic, we did find out that trio Lyric 145 (the combination of rapstress extraordinaire Lyric Da Queen and zombie-eyed hip-hop duo ONE4FIVE) and skate-park brats Emblem3 had made it through, and that Dope Crisis had, unsurprisingly, been cut. Simon's prefab girl group LYLAS seem like shoo-ins for one of the two remaining mystery spots, but who will snag the other spot--Season 2's other prefab group, boy band Playback, or country-crooning family act Sister C? I'd prefer the latter, but I think Simon will keep Playback due to his massive ego and inability to admit that he made a mistake when he put those boys together. Plus, we all know that Simon has never been a big fan of country music.
So there you have it. For you south-of-the-Canadian-border superfans who still want to see (not just read about) all of the reveals, or who are particularly keen to find out what happened with the Groups, tune in next Tuesday. Otherwise, "The X Factor" will return, live, after the World Series, on November 1. The long break and this week's disaster are sure to hurt the series' momentum, but maybe the time off will give all of the top 16 the time needed to hone their craft (and maybe give Simon some time to cool down, because he must be pretty heated right now). In the meantime, here's a cribsheet of the four teams as we know them, with each team ranked from my personal favorite to least favorite:
TEENS (mentored by Britney) Beatrice Miller Carly Rose Sonenclar Arin Ray Diamond White
YOUNG ADULTS (mentored by Demi) Jennel Garcia Willie Jones CeCe Frey Paige Thomas
OVER-25's (mentored by L.A.) Jason Brock Vino Alan David Correy Tate Stevens
GROUPS (mentored by Simon) Lyric 145 Emblem3 + two more TBA