One Direction performs live on "The X Factor." (Ray Mickshaw/ FOX )
"The X Factor" results show Thursday packed an even bigger surprise than the return of Diamond White to the competition the previous night. No, I'm not talking about the fact that Jason Brock was sent home and that CeCe Frey had joined him in the bottom two; those results were hardly jaw-droppers. Nor am I referring to the fact that the judges "deadlocked" on the elimination decision and left it for the audience vote to decide; that seemed fairly straightforward. Nor was it unexpected that One Direction, the startlingly successful "X Factor U.K"-created boy band, would perform not one but two of their songs; that had been announced days before.
The first real shocker of "The X Factor" season? The show spelled out precisely how the contestants had ranked, based on audience votes, and laid it all on a leaderboard. Mario Lopez noted such a sausage-making revelation was essentially unprecedented on TV-singing shows, presumably to preserve suspense.
So why did the "X Factor" show its cards? Have the producers given up on suspense? Do they think people will become more engaged in the voting process if they know where their favorite is ranked? Who knows, but the revelation ultimately felt a little disappointing, as if we had eaten all our candy at once, only to realize we had no more candy.
Which is not to say it wasn't sort of tasty while it lasted: Who would have predicted insta-girl-group Fifth Harmony would rank higher in viewers' estimations than the other two groups in the competition, Lyric 145 and Emblem3, with whom the judges are in love? Or that L.A. Reid, who for weeks did nothing but complain about being saddled with the Over 25s, would have two team members – his entire remaining team – in the top 3? Or that the Young Adults would be ranked so low-to-middling? Or that Diamond White, who last week had been sent home, only to be called back, would far outrank two of her fellow Teen contestants and come in at No. 4?
Actually, that last one may have been entirely predictable. Here are the top 12 rankings:
12. CeCe Frey 11. Arin Ray 10: Beatrice Miller 9. Lyric 145 8. Paige Thomas 7. Jennel Garcia 6. Emblem3 5. Fifth Harmony 4. Diamond White 3. Vino Alan 2. Carly Rose Sonenclar 1. Tate Stevens
"Obviously people in America don't get out a lot," Stevens quipped, upon learning of his No. 1 status.
More obvious is that people in America like country music – not to mention vocal talent and emotional accessibility, which, surveying the list, appears to have outranked flash and dazzle and big production numbers in voters' estimations.
It'll be interesting to see, as the competition continues, if these rankings shift much, or if the eliminations just make their way methodically up the leaderboard, one by one, week after week.
In the meantime, so long, Jason Brock. I'm sorry to see you go, if mostly because it means CeCe Frey is sticking around for another week. But also because you seemed like a genuinely nice guy, as surprised as anyone that you'd made it as far as you had.
"I did it for the gays and Japan," Brock announced, with self-amused defiance. He'd head back to San Francisco, he said, but perhaps parlay his flash of fame into something exciting – "maybe a TV show!"
Wait, isn't that what he was just on?
Are you sad to see Brock go? And do you like knowing the contestants' rankings?