After what proved to be a very impressive outing by The X Factor's top 12 last night, the voters had their work cut out for them.
Not only were the contestants' fate in their hands for the first time, but it was hard to pinpoint a weak performance.
Maybe Chris Rene, who didn't kill "Superstar" from top to bottom. Maybe Lakoda Rayne, whose members were dressed for the prom. Maybe LeRoy Bell, who's awesomely talented but sang kind of a boring song.
Did any of these possibilities factor into America's verdict?
Nope, not a whit. And, the judges still had the final say, because the bottom two acts each got to perform one more time.
Between host Steve Jones keeping a militant schedule and demanding an answer from each judge with as little explanation as possible and the fact that some of the singers up there were as young as 12...It was a real bummer to see InTENsity get sent home, 3-1.
Simon Cowell was the one dissenter who wanted to boot the Stereo Hoggz after their unenergetic take on Janet Jackson's "Where Are You Now." InTENsity did their Gleeky best on Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without U," but Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and L.A. Reid thought they weren't up to snuff tonight.
But really, no one knew quite what to expect, seeing as how this would be the first time that Steve Jones was called upon to dole out the bad news.
First off, the top 10 vote-getters were revealed one right after the other, "in no particular order," so no one had to sit and wait while the host discussed each performance one at a time. Until your name is called, you're simply not safe.
And there was only a bottom two, composed—unlike on Dancing With the Stars, say—of the acts that received the least and second-least number of votes.
And, hilariously, because Paula, Simon, L.A. and Nicole are competing against each other with their respective groups, each judge only looks mildly happy for the ecstatic contestants whose names were called but who they are not mentoring.
Yes, it's funny to watch Nicole and Paula clap politely for some and Simon clap downright solemnly for others. (And yet he was still the first judge to leave the stage once all three of his acts were safe.)
Speaking of which, Astro will be back next week, along with Drew, LeRoy Bell, Lakoda Rayne, Rachel Crow, Chris Rene, Stacy Francis, Marcus Canton, Josh Krajcek and Melanie Amaro.
And Paula is down a group.
Are you surprised? Did you think the Stereo Hoggz deserved to stay? Sound off in the comments!