"X Factor" was a show of firsts Thursday night (Dec. 1), as both L.A. and Simon lost their first contestants in the Michael Jackson week double elimination. Paula has no groups left and Nicole has only one contestant (Josh Krajcik) still in the competition, but until now, neither male judge had seen any of their contestants sent home by America's votes -- and none of Simon's girls had even landed in the bottom two.
The Michael Jackson theme continued from Wednesday night with a Thursday group performance of "Man In The Mirror." It was a classy tribute, with black-and-white footage of the King of Pop on screen behind the performers. Following the group performance, it was announced that next week, with only five acts left in the competition, each will perform two songs, one of which will be voted for by America via the "X Factor" website.
Video: Group Performance, "Man In The Mirror"
But two of the performers onstage for that announcement would not go on to see next week, so host Steve Jones got right in to the nitty gritty of eliminations. The first three performers to be safe were Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro and Rachel Crow. The other four singers were left to stew as guest performer Tinie Tempah took the stage to perform his hit single "Pass Out." And of course, the audience at home had to sit through two more commercial breaks before hearing who would be eliminated first.
Video: Tinie Tempah, "Pass Out"
The news came as little surprise: Astro was headed home and Josh Krajcik was safe. Marcus Canty (in the bottom for the second week in a row) and Drew would have to sing for their survival. 14-year-old Drew is the first of Simon's girls to ever face elimination, and she alternated between being teary-eyed and sobbing for the rest of the show.
Drew sang Roxette's "Listen To Your Heart," while Marcus performed "Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)" by Gladys Knight & The Pips. Both acts were shaken and emotional, singing for the judges' salvation more than any other survival song this season.
Video: Drew, "Listen To Your Heart"
The first judge to make a decision was L.A. Reid, who of course chose to save his own contestant, Marcus. Although he told Drew, "I've always believed in you and I've always believed in your talent. … The truth is I'm very torn here."
Simon was faced with an equally tough decision, but also chose to save his contestant, Drew. But in a shocking turn of events that may signal the end of the world, Simon actually admitted that he had done something wrong. "The fact that Drew is in this position is completely my fault. I take full and total responsibility. … I shouldn't have chosen that song; it was too slow. I should have listened to the others and I'm begging these two to give her a chance," he said, gesturing to Nicole and Paula.
Video: Marcus Canty, "Neither One Of Us"
How can anyone say no to an apology from Simon? It only happens once in a lifetime. But somehow, Nicole managed, because she voted to eliminate Drew. (Although she was crying as much as the young contestant when she did it.) She told Drew, "I know that I've been really hard on you the past few weeks, Drew, but thats only because you're one of the best and I believe in you so much. Your voice is one of the best in the competition no doubt and you did an unbelievable job on your save me song." But apparently that wasn't enough.
Paula, the only judge without any contestants to sway her biases, said, "This is a save me song and it has to move move move me," and sent Drew home. With three votes against her, Drew was out of the competition, and Simon leapt out of his chair, furious.
The girls were weeping, everyone was hugging and Simon refused to say a word, despite Steve's prodding. Finally, the disgruntled host threw up his hands, muttered something to himself and walked off, clearly annoyed, giving up on getting comments from anyone. Watching Drew sob on stage made it clear why "American Idol" doesn't air until after the new year; seeing someone's dreams crushed so close to the holidays is just depressing.
Do you think Drew and Astro deserved to go home? Who should have been eliminated instead? Tell us in the comments below.