X Factor

'X Factor' judge's teary indecision leads to controversial ouster

Dec. 9, 2011 at 8:46 AM ET

Fox /
L.A. Reid embraced his duty as a judge by congratulating Marcus Canty, but Nicole Scherzinger had a harder time of it.

The duties of a judge are simple. Two or more sides present their case, and the judge renders a verdict. It’s basic information that most folks learn either in civics class or from watching “The People’s Court” reruns.

Nicole Scherzinger did not get that memo. Faced with a choice she did not want to have to make on Thursday, the “X Factor” judge acted a lot younger and less mature than the 13-year-old girl whose fate was in her hands.

This heart-rending dilemma was whether to send home Marcus Canty or Rachel Crow. Canty was among the bottom two vote-getters for the third week in a row, while this was Crow’s first time in danger.

One would think that a judge on the fence could say, “Marcus, I think you’re awesome and you have a future in music, but the audience clearly isn’t catching your vibe, so I’m going to send you home.” And Canty, who looked like he was expecting no less, would have smiled, thanked everyone for the opportunity and walked off into the sunset.

Or she could have said, “Marcus, I truly believe in you, I think you’re very close to breaking through, and I’m sorry Rachel but I have to send you home.” And the audience would have booed, but at least a decision would have been made.

Nicole did neither of those things. Instead, she sobbed and moaned and said she didn’t want to decide. Finally, Rachel told her, “Please don’t cry. It’s OK. I’m good with anything.” Which is pretty much the reverse of how you’d expect the dialogue between a grown woman and a teenage girl to go.

Ultimately Nicole finally decided not to render a verdict at all, punting the issue to a higher court. She voted to send Rachel home, but solely because that would send it to deadlock, which meant that the singer who had gotten the fewest number of votes would go.

Let’s review. Nicole is, technically speaking, a judge. Her role is to offer pithy comments after the performances and then take a stand on who should go home. If she’s not going to do that, Steve Jones might as well call up a random audience member to take her place. Heck, Paula Abdul has managed to dry her tears long enough to cast her ballot every week, and she even had to vote against one of her own acts once.

But the non-decision was made, and since Crow got the fewest votes, she was sent home. Her famous poise left her temporarily as she collapsed in sobs and acted like a typical teenager who just had her dreams shattered because some adult wasn’t strong enough to take a stand. But eventually she got up and once again said all the right things. “I hope this is not my ending. I know it’s not.”

Simon Cowell assured her it wasn’t. “Like I said the first time I met you, we’re going to be hearing a lot more about Rachel Crow. I promise you that.”

There’s little doubt he’s right, and Crow’s a good bet to make it big as an entertainer. She’s a Disney Channel hit waiting to happen. But thanks in part to Nicole’s abdication of responsibility, she lost her chance to start off her career with a $5 million record deal.

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