This Thursday's "X Factor" results show should have been the least suspenseful one yet. Looking at frontrunners Melanie Amaro and Rachel Crow standing next to Marcus Canty, it was beyond obvious that Melanie would be the final contestant called to safety (along with Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene). And it was equally obvious that when Rachel and Marcus battled for survival in the evening's sing-off, Marcus, who'd been up for elimination the past two weeks ("Bottom two AGAIN???" he semi-chuckled), would get cut over America's sweetheart, Rachel. Right?
Rachel goes home
I cannot even believe I am typing this: In an upset that made last week's controversial and heated Drew Ryniewicz elimination look like NOTHING, another one of Simon Cowell's protégés, the popular and lovable Rachel, went home. And she shouldn't have. And just like last week with Drew, it was all Nicole Scherzinger's fault. I bet now Simon wishes he hadn't fired the original judge who once sat in Nicole's seat, Cheryl Cole.
And I bet Simon is also arranging to have those "Nicole Scherzinger voodoo dolls" he joked about on Wednesday's show become official merchandise available for sale on the "X Factor" website. After what Nicole did this Thursday, I bet they'd sell out in less than 24 hours. I'd certainly buy them for everyone on my holiday gift list.
Rachel sings for survival
This is what went down: Marcus and Rachel were in the bottom two. And before the sing-off even started, it seemed that unless Rachel clubbed a baby seal onstage or something, there was no way the judges wouldn't save her over Marcus. Marcus's "save me" performance of "I'm Goin' Down" by Rose Royce was very good (it seemed he knew was goin' down, so he left everything on the stage one last time), but the song title alone was prophetic, and it was NO match for Rachel's reprise of "I'd Rather Go Blind," which was stunning and actually one of THE best performances of the entire season. This would surely be an easy, easy call. Steve Jones would not have to rush the judges' deliberation this time.
It was no surprise that L.A. Reid voted to save his protégé, Marcus, and that Simon saved his beloved Rachel. Paula Abdul, who was on her feet and in tears throughout Rachel's tour de force, saved Rachel, because apparently Paula is actually more sane and wise than previously assumed. And so...it all came down to Nicole.
And Nicole chickened out. Unable to make a decision due to her supposed attachment to both contestants (ooh boy, did she ever make a scene, big mascara tears 'n' all), Nicole abstained from voting, let it go to deadlock, and thus the lowest vote-getter went home by default. And the lowest vote-getter, incredibly, was Rachel. This was like Pia Toscano getting cut from "American Idol" all over again, except it was worse. Pia was not a 13-year-old girl.
Rachel breaks down
Seeing a child robbed of her dream after giving the performance of her young lifetime would have been heartbreaking enough. But Rachel's reaction to hearing the news was so horrific, I literally had to look away from my TV screen. She bawled hysterically, cried out for her mommy, and even dropped to the floor. She was, as Steve Jones might put it, inconsolable, and her completely unhinged reaction was about two-thousand times worse than the emotional displays by previous underage castoffs InTENsity and Drew. And really, after watching numerous rejected children bawl on live television this season, I am beginning to wonder if "The X Factor" should raise its age limit by a few years. Children this fragile should not be pawns in the judges' cruel games like this. It's too much for them to take, and sometimes too much for viewers to take as well.
When Nicole subsequently slinked onstage to bid the sobbing Rachel goodbye, she was booed in a way that made it clear that she, not Astro or Steve Jones, is now "The X Factor's" ultimate villain. I fear what this means for her lone team member, Josh Krajcik, who is one of the best contestants on this show. Will Simon vote against Josh, should Josh ever land in the bottom two, just to spite Nicole? Will America turn against Josh to spite her? I hope not. But if I were Josh right now, I'd be asking producers if it's possible to switch to Simon or L.A.'s teams mid-season.