Ray Mickshaw / FOX

Steve Jones switched it up Thursday on The X Factor.

Instead of putting the safe contestants through all at once, he doled out the good news in little bits—obviously to draw out the suspense and make those finalists, not to mention the judges, sweat.

So who got to actually enjoy Rihanna's performance tonight? And who did Steve (and America) really stick it to?

Paula Abdul is still in the game—and how! Lakoda Rayne, who Simon Cowell criticized to no end last night, was the second act declared safe.

With no group in the bottom two for the first time, that meant two solo artists had to fill those spots. Unsurprisingly, Stacy Francis was in the bottom two. Much more surprisingly, so was 15-year-old hip-hop phenom Astro.

Even more surprisingly, however, was that Astro turned into quite the sore loser, telling the crowd he didn't think he should have to perform, but that he'd leave it up to his mentor, L.A. Reid.

Well, L.A. obviously wanted him to perform—and then he let him have it.

"This is all about attitude, you know, both of you guys have come a long way, and I've spoken to both of you separately, just about attitude," the veteran producer and songwriter said. "I thought that, tonight, Stacy, you did a really good job. Astro, I thought you came out and you acted a little bit like a quitter, and it upset me. Because you're too talented and you've come too far than to come out and give a lackluster performance after all the great performances you've given.

"Is that fair?" he asked the teen, to which Astro nodded.

After all that, L.A. still stuck with his guy. Nicole Scherzinger, meanwhile, stuck with Stacy.

Paula sent Stacy home, however, and then...Simon let Astro have it. And it was awesome, especially when the audience started chanting, "Stacy! Stacy!"

But in the end, Stacy got the boot because there might be nothing Simon wants more than to see one of L.A.'s seemingly super-promising contestants go down in flames (at a later date, after the drama simmers for awhile).

Stacy looked ready to kill, in our eyes, but she kept her gracious cool, unlike some people.

"I have to take responsibility for the performance that I gave," she said tearfully, referring to last night's choice of "It's All Coming Back to Me Now." "This journey has been really great. I can't believe I'm going home, but somebody has to go home. I have to thank Simon Cowell for giving me a chance, because I'm 42 years old, and he allowed me to sing for the world week to week."

So in addition to Astro, back to sing in the top nine next week are Lakoda Rayne; LeRoy Bell (he's got more than tonight); Chris Rene (reggae, shmeggae); Melanie Amaro (everybody hurts so good, that is); Josh Krajcik (he's the man); Marcus Canty (he's got a piece of America's heart); Drew (the voters don't sweat the slow stuff); and Rachel Crow (she's just too cute to send home).

So, what did you think of tonight's little display of commotion? Sound off in the comments section, please!

GALLERY: TV Spoiler Stills

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