X Factor

Paula forced to make a difficult choice in 'X Factor' elimination

Nov. 4, 2011 at 8:44 AM ET

Fox /
Stereo Hogzz may have received praise from Simon, but they still went up for elimination.

On Wednesday night’s episode of “X Factor,” Simon Cowell told The Stereo Hogzz that there wasn’t a band in the world right now as good as they were. It seemed like a gross exaggeration. And in fact, it was a gross exaggeration. But perhaps Simon was making a larger point -- there aren’t groups as good as these guys are, because nowadays nobody much likes groups.

That’s one explanation for the results delivered Thursday, which saw the Stereo Hogzz and inTENsity get the two lowest number of votes from the audience. The judges then had to choose which of the two to send home just as the good part of the competition is getting started.

Poor Paula Abdul. Unlike when she was on “American Idol” and looked shocked and saddened when someone was voted off each week, on “X Factor” the judges leave the results show with blood on their hands. And it was worse for her, since she’s the mentor for the groups. Nothing brings good drama to a TV show in its first season here than by having Paula make a "Sophie’s Choice" about which of her children to save.

Somehow, she ignored the quivering lips of the 10 teenagers and stuck her knife in the back of inTENsity. Nicole Scherzinger and L.A. Reid did as well, which was enough to send them home. The kids, all of whom are between 12 and 17 years old, were predictably devastated, though they still did pretty well for a collection of solo acts that was cobbled together by the judges at the end of boot camp because the rest of the groups weren’t very good.

But ultimately, that was the problem with inTENsity. It was a collection of random singers, one of whom has star power and nine of whom looked like they were trying to remember whether to lead with their right or left foot on each particular dance step. Ellona Santiago stood out both with her vocals and her swagger onstage, and she could win “American Idol” if and when she tries out there. But everyone else looked like Disney extras.

Meanwhile, 24 hours after declaring them the best group around, Simon cast his own vote against the Stereo Hogzz. What happened to that famed British strength and determination, Simon? Now you’re abandoning your favorite group at the first sign of trouble? Good thing you weren’t prime minister in World War II, or there would be a lot more German speakers in London.

As for everyone else, Steve Jones let them know they were safe in “random order.” That meant tense times for Melanie Amaro and Stacy Francis, the last two to get the good news from the host. And since the mentors stood with their charges onstage, we got to see them sweat as well. Or, in Simon’s case, give a death stare to the host until he read the name of the last of Simon’s girls.

Kudos to Jones, by the way, for mastering the Ryan Seacrest dramatic pause between names. No kudos to “X Factor” for recycling the group performance concept from “Idol.” It’s a hot mess most weeks on “Idol” with 12 or fewer singers -- the fact that there were 28 trying to get their choreography straight tonight did not make things more polished.

There will be 10 fewer singers on the stage when “X Factor” returns on Wednesday. That gives Paula Abdul’s remaining two groups just a few more days to figure out how to connect with the audience, or she’ll be out of the competition before Thanksgiving.

Did inTENsity get a fair shake, or did they have disadvantages the other groups didn't? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!


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