After two weeks atop the X Factor rankings and rave reviews from the judges, is Tate Stevens letting his recent success get to his head?
"Really, it feels great," he says of America's votes, "but this week is gonna be tough."
So the midwestern country boy is staying true to his grounded roots, but we had plenty more burning questions for the contestants this week. What's on the menu for Turkey day? Did Demi Lovato's elimination night decision to save Jennel Garcia affect her relationship with Paige Thomas? Read on for answers…
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What do the contenders have planned for Thanksgiving? Several contestants, including Paige, CeCe Frey, Vino Alan and others, have family flying in for the occasion. And while one contestant will unfortunately leave the competition on Thursday ("I don't know if they're gonna surprise us and not cut somebody, that'd be hardcore," suggests Vino), the remaining house mates plan to celebrate on Friday.
How involved were the contestants in choosing their Thanksgiving songs? Very. In a drastic shift from last week, all 10 contestants seemed pleased with their song selection, with many making the final decisions themselves. The mood on set Monday was light, with nary a worry about last-minute changes this week. Don't expect it to last, though! "It's the one week we get to choose our songs, like, ever," said Beatrice Miller. "It's a different experience to be able to pick your song, but not so different with everything else because the producers still pick the arrangement."
What does Britney's team think of her new single with will.i.am, "Scream & Shout"? As of Monday morning, none of the contenders had heard the song yet. But they were plenty excited to listen to the track. "It's pretty awesome," said Arin Ray of the concept. "I'm sure I'm gonna love it, everyone loves Britney Spears songs," added Diamond White. "Will.i.am is such a cool guy and I got to meet him at the judge's house, so to hear a song with basically both of my mentors is gonna be awesome."
What made Beatrice cry on Thursday? "When Lyric 145 got sent home, I was sobbing. I was trying so hard not to cry onstage. Lyric was like a sister [to me], she would always pull me aside when I was upset and give me speeches. And Jennel, because she just turned 18, sometimes she needs a mom figure because her mom can't be here. My mom was always there for her, so she was like a sister to me," said Beatrice.
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After two weeks at the top, is Tate Stevens getting cocky? "Really it feels great, but it's a new week. We're back at zero. It speaks volumes, I can't thank the country fans, I can't thank people who like me enough for putting me in that spot, but this week's gonna be tough. I've heard people sing, so I know some of their songs, and it's gonna be real, real tough. There's gonna be some big songs this week," said Tate.
Why does CeCe Frey think America voted for her? "I honestly thought that after the judges gave me that critique, I'm like 'Well, that's the kiss of death. I'm going home for sure.' But I don't know, I also felt like their comments were really unwarranted so maybe that made the fans go, 'Screw that! We're voting for this girl because she didn't deserve that,'" CeCe said of Diva week.
How does Carly Rose Sonenclar feel about the rankings? "Certain people have taken it more to heart than others have and I feel for them. I understand that it could be hard, but I feel that you should feel ‘I made it.’ I don’t understand why you should be so down on yourself because you still made it through. I get that ‘maybe I’m not America’s favorite right now, but there’s still time to show them that.’ It hasn’t drastically changed anybody, but certain people have taken it to heart," said Carly.
Did Demi Lovato's elimination night decision affect her relationship with Paige Thomas? "When I saw her in my mentoring session I said, 'Before you talk, I want to let you know that I don't hold a grudge. I know you were in a very hard position.' But there's a reason why the other judges maybe thought otherwise and voted differently, so there's no hard feelings. Jennel is absolutely amazing, so it doesn't offend me at all. That does motivate me to work a little bit harder and push for different things to expand myself as an artist," said Paige.
How exactly did Fifth Harmony hook up with American Idol Season 11 finalist Hollie Cavanagh? Ally: "We ran into Hollie at a restaurant, and it was cool because she recognized us. She is so nice! She is very sweet and approachable. She told us to have fun and enjoy the experience. She said she was rooting for us!"
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What advice did One Direction give Fifth Harmony? Lauren: "Liam told us don't forget to have fun with it and never lose the love for what you are doing." Dinah: "Harry told us to be good friends with each other for this to work." Normani: "They are just the most humble people ever."
What did Jennel Garcia's family think about her style change? "At first they didn't like it, but I was happy with it. It made me feel more confident. ... It gave me more of that star quality feeling. I think that is where a lot of my confidence came from -- the whole change," said Jennel prior to her elimination. In the moments following her dramatic exit, she said: "The first thing I'm doing [Friday] is dying my hair black. And I'm taking off the heels because I don't wear heels; I like sneakers; I don't like fancy shirts; I like T-shirts and I don't like brown hair, I like black hair and I am putting yellow in it. ... And I'm telling my parents I'm getting tattoos. I feel like if I'm going to continue in this industry I need to be who I am right up front. "
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@thr.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci