X Factor Judges

Ray Mickshaw / FOX

On a night when The X Factor contestants performed songs that had hit No. 1, the Top 8 hoped they'd done enough to propel themselves to the top of the voting charts. 

Backstage after the show, Emblem 3 was feeling confident their energetic take on The Monkees' "I'm a Believer" was a hit. "We're trending worldwide on Twitter!" exclaimed Keaton Stromberg. Not even judge Demi Lovato's harsh critique—she said the trio had "lost their spark"—could dampen their spirits on this rainy Los Angeles night. "I think she just misses our first performance of our original song," said Keaton's bro, Wesley. "She sees us all the time playing our guitars backstage, and she wants to bring that out. She wants us to do a little more of what we really do naturally."

And, for the record, the guys are eager to do more of their own original music as well. It's mentor Simon Cowell who won't let them—at least not yet—according to Drew Chadwick. "He plays it safe," said the oft-shirtless singer. "Super safe. We gotta get the perfect arrangement and song, and we look forward to the opportunity. We're more than just [a boy band]. We're real artists. We are! It's easy to get the girls [as fans]. We wanna get the guys, too."

Country balladeer Tate Stevens was grateful to his mentor, L.A. Reid, for letting him take a risk and perform an uptempo Keith Urban tune. While the performance earned raves from most of the panel, Simon wasn't a fan of Tate's moves and begged him not to dance, like, ever again. Stevens' good-natured reaction? "What are you talking about? I'm a dancing machine!" he said backstage with a laugh. "I didn't mean to be dancing, but it just [felt] good. It was a lot of fun.

"I wanted it to be like you were at a Tate Stevens concert, not like you're at The X Factor," he continued. "That's what I hope came across over the TV."

Meanwhile, frequent bottom-two dweller CeCe Frey was doing her best to put on a brave face, even though her take on "Lady Marmalade" had prompted Simon to declare, "Pack a suitcase." Greeting reporters, the singer exclaimed with a laugh, "I'm still here!" Still, CeCe did admit that the judges' harsh critiques stung, especially since she felt like her Marie Antoinette-inspired performance had gone off "without a hitch."

"These judges just can't give me a break to save their life," she said as she nursed a torn ligament in her right foot. "I think at this point they just enjoy picking on me. If they ever give me a compliment, it's [back-handed]. I never know if I should say 'thank you' or 'screw you.'"

Fifth Harmony's Ally Brooke had considerably kinder words for Simon, considering the support he'd offered after the heartbreaking loss of her grandfather this past week. Getting through the group's performance of Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" took every ounce of her inner strength, she said: "It's just been the hardest thing I've ever gone through. I was fortunate enough to talk to my grandfather the night before he passed, and he told me everything was gonna be ok. That's what's kept me going. No matter what, this was my best performance because I did it for my grandpa. I know he's proud of me."

Two more acts will go home Thursday night. Who do you think they should be?

OMG moments from The X Factor

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