Nick Voss was eliminated because he hadn't found his own identity as an artist yet. Skyelor Anderson went home because he was too country and limited himself in the process. And L.A. also sent home Brennin Hunt, the Jared Leto look-a-like who was a big hit with the audience. L.A.'s explanation was a little vague, but the judges were always skeptical of Hunt's over-the-top cheesiness, so it wasn't much of a surprise.
Simon also sent Jazzlyn Little home, partly because she was so self-conscious and also because she had grit during auditions but had lost it and become "too polished off."
Sixty-year-old Leroy Bell easily made it through to the next round. "You have a really beautiful voice, Leroy. Not only are you amazingly talented but you're an amazing artist," Nicole told him.
Video: Leroy Bell's "Judges' Houses" Audition
Both of the groups formed by the judges at bootcamp, Lakoda Rayne and InTENsity, made it through to the live rounds, although both still need a lot of work. Paula saw their potential, and said that she hopes a little one-on-one attention will encourage progress.
When Simon had to choose between Tiah Tolliver and Caitlin Koch, both 20-somethings whom he had hand-picked at auditions, he eliminated Caitlin and sent Tiah on to the next round, because he still believes in her potential to keep improving and become a superstar.
Rihanna asked L.A. to pass along a message to Tim Cifers, "She found that your very humble nature was the most endearing quality and she loved you for that," L.A. relayed, before sending Cifers home and moving Marcus Canty forward.
Video: Marcus Canty's First "X Factor" Audition
Despite calling Elaine Gibbs "one of the most talented singers (she's) ever come by," Nicole sent the vocalist home. Elaine stayed strong and Nicole was the one to cry, telling a crew member, "It's hard because I know that she's being strong but I know that out of every one of those people, she was counting on it the most."
Forty-two-year-old single mother Stacy Francis made it through to the next round, though Nicole warned her that she needed to improve her confidence or she won't last.
The final spot in the live round came down to two contestants: Rachel Crow and Melanie Amaro, both vocal powerhouses and crowd favorites. Simon told Rachel: "I loved your first audition. What I wasn't expecting was how good the others were going to be."
Video: Rachel Crow's First Audition on "X Factor"
When it came down to it, he eliminated Melanie and the show began to wrap, despite ten minutes remaining in the scheduled time slot. As the camera flashed to Simon relaxing in his kitchen, he said, "I think I've made a mistake. I do. An hour ago it felt fine. Now, in hindsight, I can feel it in my gut, I've made a mistake on someone and I've made a big mistake."
In a turn of events that only Simon Cowell could have gotten away with, he hopped on a plane and headed to Florida, where he showed up unannounced at Melanie's house to ask her to rejoin the competition. She, of course, said yes, and the episode ended with Simon saying, "I never would have forgiven myself if I hadn't done this."
Video: Melanie Amaro's "X Factor" Audition
"The X Factor" will continue next Tuesday, when all 17 contestants perform in the live rounds.
Girls: Simone Battle, Drew Ryniewicz, Tiah Tolliver, Rachel Crow, Melanie Amaro
Guys: Brian Bradley, Phillip Lomax, Chris Rene, Marcus Canty
Over 30s: Josh Krajcik, Dexter Haygood, LeRoy Bell, Stacy Francis
Groups: The Brewer Boys, Lakoda Rayne, InTENsity, The Stereo Hogzz