Last night on "X Factor," with elimination looming, it wasn't the contestants cracking under the pressure, it was a judge. Two of Paula's  groups landed in the bottom again, and the mentor was forced to play judge and choose between her contestants for the second week in a row.
Before eliminations began, the remaining 11 contestants took the stage to perform Swedish House Mafia's  "Save the World (Tonight)." Luckily there were no lip-syncing mishaps this week -- like when Leroy Bell's voice started before his mouth opened last week. The group set was followed by celebrity performers singing their latest singles, Willow Smith  ("Fireball") and Jessie J  ("Domino").
Video: Group performance of "Save the World (Tonight)"
Soon it was time to see who would be going home, and host Steve Jones began to drag out the eliminations, announcing who was safe one by one with several dragging commercial breaks between. Nicole's  acts -- Stacy Francis, Josh Krajcik, Leroy Bell -- were the first to all be safe, followed closely by Simon's  girls -- Drew, Rachel Crow and Melanie Amaro. L.A. Reid's boys, Marcus Canty and Astro also made it to next week. With only Chris Rene and both of the groups left, things were not looking good for Paula's category.
Video: Willow Smith, "Fireball"
Finally Jones announced that Chris Rene was safe, and once again Paula had two groups in the bottom two. Stereo Hogzz survived last week, beating out teen group InTENsity in the survival round, but now they faced elimination again, this time against the four ladies of pop-country group Lakoda Rayne.
Video: Jessie J, "Domino"
During Wednesday's performance episode, L.A. Reid praised Lakoda Rayne for finally deciding between pop and country -- they chose country. But during their survival performance, they backtracked, singing Jordin Sparks'  "No Air," featuring Chris Brown . The girls' nerves showed, but it was one of their weakest performances yet.
Video: Lakoda Rayne, "No Air"
Stereo Hogzz followed with Michael Jackson's  "You Are Not Alone," but they didn't offer much competition for the girls. The group has been lacking the punch and personality they displayed early in the competition and during the first live show with "Rhythm Nation," back when Simon said "I don't think there's a band in the world who are as good as you."
Video: Stereo Hogzz, "You Are Not Alone"
It came down to voting and after pointing out how much both groups had struggled, L.A. Reid voted to send home the Stereo Hogzz. Nicole also sent home the Hogzz, because she's "all about female empowerment." What a good reason to crush the guys' dreams, Nicole.
With three minutes left in the show, a choked up and teary-eyed Paula refused to vote for either team. Although you would think she knew what she was signing up for -- 10 years of "American Idol" and all -- she didn't want to be responsible for sending either group home.
As awkward as he is abrasive, host Steve Jones was really putting the pressure on Paula to follow "the rules," even when Simon defended her right not not vote. Jones said that if she refused to vote, Stereo Hogzz would be eliminated by default. In order to give Stereo Hogzz a fighting chance -- and to ensure that Simon had to make the final decision -- Paula voted for Lakoda Rayne. All the drama was for nothing, because Simon voted to send the Stereo Hogzz home and that was the end of it.
"X Factor" returns next Wednesday, when the remaining 10 contestants perform for their chance at a $5 million recording contract and iconic Pepsi commercial. With only one group in the competition, next Thursday's elimination episode will be the first time a soloist lands in the bottom two.
Do you think the judges made the right decision? Who do you think will go home next week? Let us know in the comments below!
- News