Halfway through X-Factor’s live results show, judge L.A. Reid took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the process.
“There’s nothing easy about these decisions,” tweeted the Epic Records chairman, who made one of the most shocking eliminations of the night.
Reid has a point. Simple decisions--like a group name--are too hard for the X Factor team, as even Simon Cowell is so pained by the LYLAS name change to 1432, he wants the public to create a new moniker, STAT.
While Wednesday night’s show was a blend of bizarre styling choices--Paige Thomas resembled Pinhead of Hellraiser fame, CeCe Frey was inexplicably sculpted into a Ke$ha clone, Jason Brock looked like a poor-man’s Adam Lambert with a questionable purple bowtie, and Willie Jones should never wear gold chains—Thursday night was slightly tamer, with host Khloe Kardashian wearing a shorter, less (ahem) sheer outfit.
The mission facing the judges to eliminate two acts from their teams was understandably a daunting one, as Britney Spears said with one of her pained expressions.
“They're like my children, so it's going to be very hard to choose which one of my children will go home," she said.
The final two acts of each team were then left with the unpleasant task of “singing for their survival.”
When it was all said and done, some decisions were easily predicted, while two vocalists who seemed ready for prime time in front of American voters were sent home.
For added spice, the show filmed some very entertaining backstage drama--specifically between Demi Lovato and LYLAS-1432. Cowell was clearly ticked off with Lovato for her harsh commentary on Wednesday night, but Lovato stuck to her guns (with the girls surrounding her): “I am not going to apologize because it is criticism.”
Lovato seems to be relishing the role of critic, whereas Spears is becoming X Factor’s equivalent of departed American Idol judge Steven Tyler, with her oft-repeated critique of “amazing.” We guess “amazing” is the new “beautiful” in reality-judge land.
So who survived, and who will return in a triumphant glitter explosion?
In the Young Adults (17-24) category, Lovato, in her quest to find star quality “in their eyes,” made her choices in quick succession, first retaining the saucy Thomas (rocking a Lady Gaga-esque hat) and power-ballad rocker goddess Jennel Garcia, who sweetly told host Mario Lopez, “I am so happy but my two best friends are still up there.”
This left Frey and Jones alone on stage to duke it out. Frey dropped the gaudy dance routines and performed a sweetly understated version of Irene Cara’s “Out Here On My Own” (a song Reid said he wasn’t familiar with, but fans of the film, Fame, know quite well). Cowell preferred this CeCe better than the one he said “looked like a clown” the previous night.
Jones chose a cover of the Eddy Arnold classic, “You Don’t Know Me”(also peformed by Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and countless others). Although the song was perfectly in Jones’ zone, Lovato made the correct choice to stick with her original girl crush, Frey.
Yes, I know there are many CeCe haters out there, but I think this girl got a bad rap in early editing, and her embrace of Jones while apologizing over and over that she was “so sorry” Lovato picked her over him was legit. My hope is she is properly styled next week and she is not assigned an over the top pop number flanked by cheesy dancers when it’s time for voters to light up the phonelines.
Lovato, interestingly enough, approached the stage to give Jones a pep talk, encouraging him to find his voice, that he is “onto something” but his “time is not now.”
Reid had a harder time with his Over ‘25s category, which he continually lets viewers know he was not thrilled to mentor. However, he has had a change of heart.
While admitting that he failed Brock with the choice of “Dance Again” by Jennifer Lopez, Reid felt all of his acts “did great.”
His first save, and it was the correct one, was Vino Alan, who reported that his crush on Spears was “officially over,” considering she called him boring and “hasn’t been responsive to anything I’ve done yet.” Maybe he’ll get a chance to hit her one more time next week, but please, Vino, no more Nickelback.
Reid then chose country-crooner and doting father Tate Stevens, who said he is ready to go home to his kids but not to pouring asphalt. Stevens is a real salt-of-the-earth performer, with beautiful eyes and a charming presence. The choices of Alan and Stevens were essentially no-brainers for Reid, while he left the tattooed, mohawked David Correy and “Mr. Entertainment” Brock to fend for themselves. Reid at one moment nearly forgot Brock’s name--not a good sign.
Correy chose to deliver a slowed-down, melodramatic performance of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” but Lovato wasn’t feeling it.
“I didn’t like the rendition of the song,” she said. “It was too forced, and I felt I was being screamed at the whole time.”
Brock went with “One Moment In Time,” Whitney Houston’s monster ballad from the Olympics. While Brock is no Adam Lambert (really, who is?) Cowell said he enjoyed the performance more than the mess he witnessed Wednesday night. However, he did get in one big dig before Reid rendered his decision.
“You’re asking me to judge two horses last in a race,” he said. “I can’t believe these guys based on these performances can win.”
While Reid fought back that Cowell was being “mean,” he sent Correy home in a shocking move. Our guess is he felt guilty for Brock’s performance, and wanted to redeem himself with his vote.
Spears really is like a proud mother mentoring her teenagers, and appeared genuinely uncomfortable making a decision whom to keep and whom to send home.
Luckily for her, the audience made it really easy, chanting quite loudly for 13-year old Carly Rose Sonenclar.
Clearly, Spears has a soft spot for Jersey-girl Beatrice Miller, who she enthusiastically introduced Wednesday night, crimped hair and all. She first announced Miller’s name, and then gave the people what they clearly wanted: Sonenclar.
“This is amazing, but it’s weird to have everyone scream for Carly and she chose me,” Miller told host Mario Lopez backstage.
That left former InTENSity group member Arin Ray and perky Diamond White left to sing for their suppers. This was a toss-up, because Ray already had his heart broken by X Factor last season and White is the singing equivalent of Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas. Sending her home kind of felt Un-American, but unfortunately her beautiful vocals on “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word” by Elton John was no match for Ray’s “I Look To You,” the second Houston song of the night.
White, ever the cutie, shouted, “I still love you, Britney” as she said her farewells. Her plucky spirit will be missed.
Finally, Cowell’s Groups category were called to the stage, and despite a tuna fish sandwich malfunction (he was vomiting before the show because he ate a bad one), a fully clothed Drew Chadwick emerged with his group, Emblem 3, to learn their fate.
Seriously, did anyone believe Cowell when he said he hadn’t made his decision yet? He told America to “remember this night” after Emblem 3 closed out the Wednesday night performance, and called them his “boys” backstage (the show gave us a shot of the group's Grammy-nominated father, Bill Stromberg, in the after-performance footage). Cowell sees dollar signs and a chance to win, so of course he kept them, and they promptly bum rushed the front row to high-five adoring fans.
The other obvious call was the choice of Lyric 145, perhaps the most exciting act in the competition. Lyric Da Queen already looks and acts like a star, and this is a group that should do very well in the upcoming weeks.
Left to fight it out were country act, Sister C (in a cute moment, Reid referred to one of the sisters as “middle C” as he doesn’t know their names yet) and 1432. The backstage footage revealed that Sister C was sabotaged by a stage-crew error—they were supposed to have stairs, and this omission threw them off their game. They recovered quite well on Thursday with the Miley Cyrus ballad, “When I Look At You,” while 1432 stuck it to Lovato with a harmonized cover of “Skyscraper.”
“I don’t know who that song is by, but you did better than the original singer,” she said.
While Cowell tried to change the show’s rules by trying to end on a positive note revealing who he chose to save, Lopez shot him down with a smile, informing the salty Brit to stick with the script. Defeated, Cowell sent Sister C, who Reid believes can fill a hole in the marketplace.
Viewers were left with a homework assignment: rename 1432. How about Lakoda Rain, 2? Just kidding. What will you pick, and who are you voting for next week?