And so, as the final 16 shrank to the top 12, we said goodbye to four talented acts on "The X Factor" on Thursday night: Demi Lovato cut Willie Jones from her Young Adults team. Reluctant Over 25s coach L.A. Reid sent David Correy packing. Britney Spears bid adieu to Diamond White. And Simon Cowell told Sister C they'd reached the end of their harmonic "X Factor" journey.
The audience had no say in the matter, of course. The eliminations were made by the judges, who each sent their two favorite team members straight to the top 12 and then listened to the other two sing for the remaining team slot. Some of the performances were impressive, some overwrought, and others dull, but, team by team, the show managed to complete the job of reducing the talent by a full 25% to head into the audience-voting rounds.
So did the judges get the eliminations right? Well, yes and no. They were almost invariably spot-on with their top two. Lovato was right to send Jennel Garcia and Paige Thomas straight to safety, if only based on the previous night's performances. But I would have much rather seen the dead-eyed, abrasively ambitious and now cannily (falsely?) emotional CeCe Frey go home than the warm, humble and real-seeming Jones. After Frey ripped into Irene Cara's "Out Here on My Own," the favorable winds were already blowing her way. Reid expressed confidence that Frey had "just saved" herself. Jones sang Ray Charles' "You Don't Know Me," and well, but you could tell from the look on Lovato's face that he was a goner. And then she made it official.
Goodbye, Willie Jones. We'll miss your low, rich voice, your flattop and your good manners. Please don't give up. You'll sing your way out of Shreveport yet.
Reid also saved the right two -- Vino Alan and Tate Stevens – leaving David Correy and Jason Brock to duke it out for the last spot. Correy gave an impassioned performance of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone," but Lovato and Cowell were highly unimpressed. Brock, meanwhile, turned in a static but solid rendition of Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time." Cowell damned both performers by telling Reid, "You're asking me to judge two horses who are coming in last in a race," adding he didn't believe either singer could win, but did think Brock had improved. Reid rightly responded that Cowell's comment was unnecessarily mean. Then he sent Correy home, handing Brock a surprise victory. (I, for one, figured Brock was a lock for elimination after his strange performance and cheeky moment with host Mario Lopez on Wednesday night.)
Spears saved Beatrice Miller first, and then Carly Rose Sonenclar, startling even Miller, who clearly considers Sonenclar one of her chief rivals for the "X Factor" crown. That left Diamond White and Arin Ray to sing for a top-12 slot. Ray sang Whitney Houston's "I Look to You," dully, I thought, but the judges went crazy over it. "I think for you to leave the competition now would be a huge mistake," Cowell said. Then White sang Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" with beautiful tone, control and power, prompting Cowell to reconsider, saying he'd decided that, in fact, White should be the one to continue in the competition. It was Spears' call to make, though, and she chose … Ray, sending White home. Aw. But she'll surely have a bright future.
That left Cowell's groups. His team going forward would include Emblem3, who do seem to have a shot at One Direction-esque, tween-driven fame, and Lyric 145, whose energy is infectious. The two remaining acts – both girl groups – would vie for Cowell's blessing. Sister C sang a gorgeously harmonic version of Miley Cyrus' "When I Look at You," but, alas, still didn't seem to be able to connect well with an audience. Then all-girl Frankengroup 1432, formerly the Lylas, sang Lovato's hit "Skyscraper," prompting her to generously tell them they'd done it "better than the original singer." Cowell seemed genuinely torn, but said he had to make a decision with his head, and his head apparently told him to give the insta-girl group a chance. He saved 1432.
But he didn't save their name, which really is a dud. Cowell announced he'd be taking suggestions for a new name for the show-created group. So if you have any ideas …
What did you think of the judges' decisions? Anyone you're particularly sad to see go?