Thursday's "X Factor" results show kicked off with an odd but well-intentioned tribute to the late Lou Reed, as the top 12 crooned a walk-on-the-mild-side version of Lou's classic "Perfect Day." (I suppose "Heroin" would have been inappropriate. But here's a fascinating factoid: Lou had a connection to Simon Cowell's Syco Records empire, as he was bizarrely given a "creative director" credit on the music video for Susan Boyle's "Perfect Day" cover.)
However, it was not a perfect day for Sweet Suspense or Rachel Potter, who were sent home in a shocking and just plain infuriating double-elimination. "America, get it together!" exclaimed Rachel's outraged mentor, Kelly Rowland, upon hearing the news.
The bottom three actually comprised Sweet Suspense, Rachel Potter, and Khaya Cohen. I don't know if, even with the help of a thesaurus, I can come up with enough adjectives to describe just how shark-jumpingly WRONG this result was. This Wednesday, Sweet Suspense and Khaya had delivered their best performances yet, and Rachel had always been one of the strongest overall contestants of this season. As the singers who'd been weaker this Wednesday (Carlito Olivero, Rion Paige, Tim Olstad) were declared safe by host Mario Lopez, Simon, Kelly, and Demi Lovato couldn't resist rolling their eyes in shock/disgust. And I eye-rolled right along with 'em.
Sweet Suspense didn't even get a chance to sing for survival; as the lowest vote-getters of the week, they were automatically sent home. "I can't believe it," said their livid mentor, Simon. "I thought you were fantastic last night. Without being rude, there were worse people than you last night."
Ironically, shortly after Sweet Suspense's elimination, Simon's Season 2 prefab girl group, Fifth Harmony, performed onstage — probably only rubbing salt in the Sweet Suspense ladies' wounds after Demi's "You're no Fifth Harmony" insult from the night before. I think Sweet Suspense were only beginning to gel as a trio (remember, it actually took Fifth Harmony a while before they hit their stride last year)…but unfortunately, viewers didn't see their potential, and didn't give them the time to grow.
Then it was time for the dreaded Rachel/Khaya sing-off. Khaya went first, looking a little rattled as she walked onstage; her sassy confidence from the previous night's "Borderline" performance seemed to have evaporated. But then she belted Solomon Burke's/Joe Cocker's "Don't Give Up On Me," turning it into a heartfelt and quite literal plea to the judges, and she was amazing. Her performance was soulful, gritty, passionate, and as Simon might say, 110 percent believable. Khaya really did seem like she was singing for her life, and after a performance like that, it was hard to understand how this girl ever landed in the bottom three in the first place.
"Khaya has set the bar real high," declared Mario, while Rachel shuddered in her cowgirl boots backstage. Then Rachel tiptoed out and crooned a lovely version of Shania Twain's "From This Moment." However, this lacked the fire of Khaya's bar-setting, gauntlet-throwing tour de force, and Rachel's shrillness at the end hinted at her (understandable) desperation.
But really, there could be no true winner here, only one collective loser: "X Factor's" viewers, who would soon be robbed of a chance to see future performances from one of these talented girls. "I am still beating my head against the wall over this result. This is insane," grumbled a perturbed Kelly, who (jokingly?) voted to send herself home before finally saving her own team member, Rachel.
Of course, Demi voted to save her own protégé, Khaya. Paulina Rubio elected to eliminate Rachel, which left Simon to cast the deciding vote. Simon ultimately made the right choice when he kept Khaya, I think, but he should have never been forced to make this decision in the first place. Rachel totally deserved to be in this season's top 10.
To loosely and somewhat blasphemously quote Lou Reed: You're gonna reap what you sow, "X Factor" voters. You guys really got this one wrong.