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‘X Factor’ Contestant Dexter Haygood Claims His Elimination Was Rigged

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

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Dexter on 'The X Factor'

The "X Factor" live voting rounds haven't even begun yet, and already the show has come under fire twice this week. First contestant Stacy Francis was accused of lying about her professional experience, and now top 17 contestant Dexter Haygood, who was cut by his mentor Nicole Scherzinger last Tuesday, is claiming that his elimination was rigged.

Dexter tells Billboard this week that he asked to be let go from the show because he was unhappy...a claim that at first seems hard to believe, considering how badly he wanted to be on "The X Factor" in the first place. (The 49-year-old, formerly homeless rocker, who sang lead for the major-label funk band Xavion in the '80s before falling on tough times, frequently sobbed about how desperately he wanted, and needed, this big break.) But considering that Nicole forced him to sing a cringeworthy Britney Spears/Katy Perry medley last week, and a cover of Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" the week before, it's understandable why the old-school rocker might have been so displeased.

"Can you imagine Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, James Brown, doing [the 'Crazy in Love' chorus] 'uh oh uh oh uh'?" Dexter rhetorically asks Billboard. "I'm not sure why they wouldn't let me be me." Dexter further explains that he was annoyed by the producers' constant focus on his sob story, saying: "I was treated more like a character than an artist. This is TV, they want a good story, you know? But they took that and I didn't get a chance to be an artist. I was doing things I would never do."

Dexter says he was given the option to leave the show, after speaking privately with Nicole, who went to producers with his concerns, and he readily accepted. "[The producers] took the opportunity to cut me, to let me just fly and do things the way I want to do them." Subsequently, Nicole sent him home last Tuesday, he says.

Ann-Marie Thomson, global head of media for Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment, outright denies Dexter's story. "There's no truth in this at all," she counters. "Dexter always said he was very happy with everything leading up to last week's show and he had no conversation with either Nicole or producers to the contrary. In fact, it was the opposite: He was always very positive about the song, the show, and his performance."

Dexter's claims that he already knew he was leaving seem plausible if you consider that the night he got cut was the one time that he didn't break down in sobs on the show--when many viewers would've assumed he would have been utterly crestfallen over his elimination. And Dexter seems in good spirits now, saying he appreciates the exposure "The X Factor" gave him, which may lead to a full-fledged Xavion band reunion. He also says he may appear on "The X Factor's" finale, although it's unclear if this Billboard bombshell will burn a bridge with the show. But for now, Dexter has only nice things to say about the judges, including Nicole: "They understood me, even though they couldn't give me what I wanted."

If Dexter's claims are true, I feel bad for the guy. While I frequently questioned if he belonged in this competition, I'd never questioned that he was a dyed-in-the-denim rocker, through and through, and I was flummoxed by the choice of silly pop songs he was forced to sing; it seemed like he was being set up to fail anyway, regardless of whether or not he wanted to quit. He should have been allowed to show his true colors during his time on the show, however brief that stint may have been. Still, I really wonder if he would have voluntarily walked away from such a huge opportunity, under any circumstances. It's pretty hard to believe.

Do you believe Dexter? And if so, do you think his confession, along with the Stacy Francis scandal, will hurt "The X Factor's" credibility as it goes into the crucial, fan-supported live rounds? Or is any publicity good publicity, in this Kardashian-fueled TV age? We will see when the votes, and the ratings, are tallied this week.

Related links:

Other contestants' pro pasts

Stacy Francis sings for Tom Cruise

Simon Cowell reveals why he's not on Twitter

Experts debate the show

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