X Factor

Simon screws up and gets his way on 'X Factor'

Oct. 18, 2011 at 11:25 PM ET

Ian Derry / FOX /
Simon Cowell made a mistake on "X Factor," but of course, had the power to correct it later.

You know how “X Factor” host Steve Jones made a point of saying that only 16 acts were “guaranteed” a spot on the live shows? Maybe you thought that was a coincidence. If so, you don’t know how Simon Cowell and company work.

In fact, there are 17 finalists that get to the live shows because Simon couldn’t make up his mind. Good to know the new crew is as capable of telegraphing curveballs as the “American Idol” folks are.

Without further ado:

The girls

Simon loves him some Tiah Tolliver. Without him, she doesn’t even make it out of the audition stage. Now she’s one of the finalists. Would she be here if another judge had been in charge of her fate? No way. But she does have a big voice.

He also loves Simone Battle despite her lyric malfunction, as well as 13-year-old Rachel Crow and 14-year-old Drew Ryniewicz. And though he initially rejected Melanie Amaro, he had second thoughts and traveled down to Florida to make her the fifth girl and 17th finalist. The other judges either agreed that he screwed up and deserved another shot, or figured out who signs the paychecks.

The hard-luck loser was Caitlin Koch, who would have fared better with another judge. Jazzlyn Little and Tora Woloshin also fell victim to what was arguably the strongest group.

The boys

L.A. Reid definitely had a vision for what he wanted in his final four boys, and that was “unconventional.”

Brian “Astro” Bradley and Chris Rene made it, which surprised nobody. Marcus Canty also advanced, and has a ton of potential. And in perhaps the biggest surprise, Phillip Lomax gets to stick around. L.A. did tell him he can’t be Sinatra every week, leading to the question of what else the singer can actually do. Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Country crooner Tim Cifers was the most surprising omission, and probably wishes that a different judge had gotten to decide his fate. Among the others, Skyelor Anderson and Nick Voss weren’t ready, and Brennin Hunt didn’t move L.A. Reid like he needed to.

The over-30s

Nicole Scherzinger had the hardest job because everyone here is completely desperate. Nobody thinks they’ll get another chance, and everyone’s fighting to make ends meet. Put it like this: Nobody left Wall Street to audition for this category.

Take burrito-man Josh Krajcik, who said, “Last year I made 12,13, 14 thousand dollars. You worry about: Am I going to be able to make rent? Am I going to be able to put food in the refrigerator? How will I pay for my daughter’s college?”

Or Dexter Haygood, who said he’s essentially homeless and that while others may want to win, nobody needs this more than him. Or Stacy Francis and her extremely unsupportive ex-husband.

Those three got the nod, as did the irrepressible LeRoy Bell. It meant bad news for Christa Collins, Elaine Gibbs, James Kenney and Tiger Budbill, who may be facing foreclosure. Who says being a judge is easy?

The groups

Picture it: You’re a group act. You work really hard and advance past your auditions. You work even harder and make it out of Boot Camp. And then you find out that two of the final eight are former soloists put together by the judges specifically because they think they’ll do well in groups. How mad are you?

Probably pretty mad, unless you’re the Stereo Hogzz or the Brewer Boys. They made the finals, alongside judges’ creations Lakoda Rayne and InTENsity. Because what were the odds the judges would create a group and then toss it out a minute later, like a Pepsi glass filled with Coke?

Going home were Illusion Confusion, 2Squar’d, The Anser and 4Shore. 4Shore said this would be the end of the group, so don’t be looking for a post "X Factor" concert tour.

Live shows start on Tuesday, when we’ll see which judges chose wisely and which will be wishing they could pull a Simon and bring back somebody else instead.

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