Simon Cowell, American Idol

WARNING: Stop reading immediately if you don’t want to know who was kicked off of last night’s episode of The X Factor. For everyone else, read on to hear what the judges, minus the absent L.A. Reid, had to say about the controversial elimination:

A visibly shocked Nicole Scherzinger was booed off stage when Rachel Crow became the latest victim of America’s vote. [Click here for Annie Barrett’s recap.] The 13-year-old songstress stunned the crowd with her powerhouse rendition of “I’d Rather Go Blind,” but ultimately lost to Marcus Canty when the indecisive Scherzinger purposefully threw the vote to a tie. “I wasn’t going to be the one to send anyone home,” she explained backstage after the show. “I was going to leave it up to America.”

Scherzinger, along with fellow judge Paula Abdul, received death threats when a similarly controversial elimination knocked out fan favorite Drew Ryniewicz last week. Some feel that Scherzinger only eliminated Ryniewicz, who also faced off against Canty, as a competitive move against Simon Cowell. Her decision to tie last night’s vote was equally ill-received, but Cowell swears that her heart was in the right place. “I genuinely know that Nicole didn’t do this to be mean, or to mess around with someone,” he said. “I think she genuinely thought it was the decent way to let Marcus go. I watched her face at the same time I saw Rachel — she was completely and utterly devastated. She was attached to both of them. No question or doubt, if she thought Rachel would have been the bottom, she would have gone the other way.”

All of the judges fended off questions about Scherzinger’s responsibility to vote for the superior act, swearing that she felt her actions would have ultimately led to Canty’s elimination anyway. “Let’s be honest here — I’ve gotten Marcus’ back every week he’s been in the bottom two,” Scherzinger said. “This is his third time in the bottom, and Rachel’s never been in the bottom. The probability was that America would have sent Marcus home.”

Abdul reminded reporters of Leroy Bell’s elimination two weeks ago, when Cowell also made the decision to send the vote to a deadlock — again, to the benefit of Canty. “Why would it be okay for Simon to do it, but not Nicole?” she asked. “All of us take our jobs very seriously. It’s ridiculous to think it’s spiteful, and that someone would do something to get back at Simon. Let’s be realistic, here. It has nothing to do with that.”

Cowell agreed, and noted that there would definitely be a silver lining for the perpetual crowd-favorite Crow. “She’s a 360 artist,” he said. “I’m actually convinced that she’ll end up on Nickelodeon or Disney… We saw it happen with Jennifer Hudson. If you’ve got talent, I always say, everyone will support talent. They’ll support tenacity.”

His words for Canty were not as promising. “I don’t think he’s going to win,” he said. “I think it’s quite clear that it’s down to three people now. Melanie [Amaro], Josh [Krajcik], and Chris [Rene]. If you’ve got Melanie versus Josh in a final… then we’ve suddenly got a fight on our hands. That’s what I’ve always dreamt of — judging a show where you haven’t got an obvious winner.”

Scherzinger was still visibly shaken two hours after the show ended, but she told reporters that a conversation with Crow had dried up some of her tears. “I feel better now, because Rachel consoled me,” she said. “She freaking came into my room and we talked. She said, ‘Everything is going to be okay.’ I said, ‘You know how much I love and adore you. I’ve always believed in you from the second that I saw you. I’m so sorry that all of this happened like this, but I didn’t send you home tonight.”

Episode Recaps

Simon Cowell, American Idol
The X Factor
Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, and Paulina Rubio judge Season 3.
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