The X Factor's top 12 were an anxious bunch backstage after Wednesday's two-hour performance show, and with good reason: Not one but two talented acts will take their final bows.
"I'm not looking forward to it," admitted country crooner Tate Stevens, letting out a heavy sigh. "It's gonna suck. It's gonna feel like a damn funeral! Hopefully, I'm not one of those people going home."
(Given the raves he earned from the judges on Wednesday for his rendition of Shania Twain's "From This Moment," we're betting last week's top vote-getter will once again find himself near the top of the leader board.)
As far as many of the contestants were concerned, the night's songs-of-the-divas theme would not go down as a highlight of their X-perience.
Arin Ray couldn't hide his disappointment over a technical glitch that marred his performance of Madonna's "Crazy for You." ("I'm gonna kill it," he vowed, should he have to sing for his life on Thursday.)
Meanwhile, Lyric 145 had less than 24 hours to rehearse their coolly-received Katy Perry-Queen mashup after they realized they weren't going to be allowed to perform their original choice: an Aretha Franklin track that they'd hip-hop-ified and added original lyrics to.
"There were so many reasons—technical difficulties, legal difficulties," explained the group's lead MC, Lyric Da Queen. "It was just chaos [and] a lot of pressure. But being that that happened, and we were able to execute the performance the way that we did, I think we're really excited and happy with the outcome."
But it was Beatrice Miller who won the prize for being the night's most outspoken contestant: The 13-year-old singer made no secret of the fact that she—like Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid—wasn't exactly feeling Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," which mentor Britney Spears had chosen for her.
"I don't really like slow songs," said Miller, who finished in 10th place last week. "I listen to Nirvana and Radiohead, not really the divas."
"My song was really boring," she added, "and I've been telling [Spears] that from day one. She just said, ‘Get through it and try to connect with the song.' I don't think it really mattered to her that I didn't like it."
Maybe next week's theme will suit the singers better: We've learned the top 10 will get to choose their own tunes, which, appropriately enough for Thanksgiving week, will be dedicated to people they feel the need to give special thanks to.
A few other noteworthy backstage tidbits:
• Like the red rhinestones single mom Paige Thomas was rocking on her lips? They took a makeup artist two hours to apply!
• Several members of the top 12 were looking forward to meeting Taylor Swift , who's scheduled to perform during the live results show. Stevens, who got to introduce his preteen daughter to One Direction last week, was hoping to be his little girl's hero once again by snagging a T.Swift autograph. Jennel Garcia, who was battling a sinus infection and tonsillitis, vowed to keep a promise to good friend and former X contestant Willie Jones by asking the music superstar to follow Jones on Twitter, while Diamond White was hoping for a little career advice from the six-time Grammy winner: "I wanna talk to her about, like, what is touring like and what's she gone through. She could possibly help me a lot!"
And then there was Emblem 3's Drew Chadwick, who figured he might be able to land a date with the newly single singer. "I'd be down, [even if] she is taller than me," said Chadwick, who admitted to being partial to Swift's song "Teardrops on my Guitar"...which she wrote for a (different) guy named Drew!
• Even the über-confident Emblem3 guys were feeling intimidated by fellow contestant Carly Rose Sonenclar, whose performance of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" had the judges gushing and Reid declaring her the season's likely winner. "How are you supposed to compete with that?" quipped Chadwick, whose group landed in sixth place last week. "She has the most epic voice ever. We're just a bunch of skater dudes!"
• Speaking of Sonenclar, she's nothing if not dedicated to rehearsing anywhere and everywhere—even a bathroom stall!—which is where she could be found (and heard) during one commercial break before taking the stage. "I always have to warm up, no matter where I am," she told us with a sheepish grin. "When you're [backstage], there are cameras on you and there's tons of people—it's just too much. Sometimes, I need to go to a place where it's quiet and have that time to really just focus."
Hey, whatever does the trick!