One Direction Xfactor
Credit: Fox
Simon Cowell, American Idol

WARNING! SPOILERS FOLLOW! After boy band extraordinaire One Direction performed twice inside The X Factor‘s Xanadome to promote their new album Take Me Home — and their fans’ piercing screams effectively liquified my eardrums — they happily bounded backstage to speak with the press, along with judges Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, and Demi Lovato, and co-hosts Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian Odom. Judge L.A. Reid skipped almost all press — though it was unclear whether he was licking his wounds from the loss of contestant Jason Brock or celebrating that his other two contestants Vino Alan and Tate Stevens came in third and first in the vote tally.

Speaking of that vote tally, the decision of The X Factor to reveal the voting order — seemingly for the first time in American reality competition show history — was topic A for most everyone. That is, when they weren’t basking in One Direction’s youthful vigor. Here are the top nine highlights of what we learned backstage:

One Direction are crack interviewers. Well, Niall and Harry are. Well, not really. The really blonde one (i.e. Niall Horan) and the flopsy haired one (i.e. Harry Styles) crashed Khloe Kardashian Odom’s interview with press backstage. Niall told the co-host that her “presenting skills are very good,” and then Harry lobbed a softball question at her, asking what she thought of One Direction’s performances on Thursday night’s results show. “They were kind of s—ty,” she joked (joked! totally joking!), “but what are you going to do?” Burn.

After the co-host had left, the two bandmates turned the interview on each other. “You’ve got Khloe Kardashian, um, Odom’s lip marks on your face,” Niall observed of Harry. “How do you feel about that?” Harry rubbed his cheek. “I feel like I’m in an episode of the Kardashians,” he said, wincing. Boom. Payback.

One Direction isn’t afraid to bite the hand that feeds them. Well, Harry isn’t. As official evidence that The X Factor can, in fact, produce viable music superstars, the band has been touring various international iterations of the series, performing on The X Factor Italy and The X Factor Sweden last week. “But performing in front of Simon again was a bit strange,” said Niall, “because we hadn’t performed in front of Simon since the final of The X Factor the year we were on.” Added Harry, “He looks a lot older this time.”

Simon, for his part, was happy to see just how far the band had come since he’d masterminded their creation two years ago on the UK version of The X Factor –– especially bandmate Zayn Malik (i.e. the posh one). “He was the shy one,” explained Cowell. “In fact, he nearly didn’t make it on one of the boot camp days. I had to drag him from the back of the auditorium and say, ‘You are going to do this,’ because he was about to walk out, he was so shy. To see him [now], it’s a big difference.”

One Direction still watch X Factor. Well, Harry does. Asked about Emblem3’s homage to them on Wednesday night’s show, Harry made clear he had actually bothered to watch it. “I think the mash-up worked really well,” he said. “As you saw, they were high up in the vote. All is well. They looked like they just have fun up on stage, and that’s what people want to see.” And Niall? “I don’t know what the question was, but I agree with Harry.”

But there’s another act on X Factor that is tops on Harry’s speed dial. “I had a big phone bill voting for Beatrice Miller,” he said. “I think she’s wicked. She’s, what, 13? And she’s the coolest voice, and a really nice girl.”

The vote tally surprised everyone. Speaking of Emblem3, to a person, everyone at X Factor — well, save L.A. Reid, who skipped most press interviews — expressed shock that the SoCal trio only came in sixth in the final vote tally. “I suggested [revealing the vote order] about three or four weeks ago,” explained Simon. “[It] is the one thing everyone wants to know, including me, every week: Who won [the vote]? I said, Why don’t we just tell everyone, and see what happens? At first, everyone was like, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ I said, ‘You can do it.’ I think it’s changed the dynamic of the show now. Particularly for me, because I thought our acts were doing much better than was revealed tonight. So we have to change a few things up now….When the UK show finished [in 2010], we published the results of the vote. I thought One Direction was winning every week. We never won a single week. Now, if I had known earlier on, I might have changed something.” (For the record, Cowell insists he had never before known the weekly vote tally of the show he created and executive produced.)

But don’t count on unprecedented reality competition show transparency to be a regular thing. “This is something we’re going to consider week on week, whether we do it or not,” Cowell said. “We can always bring it back in. But I think certainly this is the right thing to do this week, because now we know where we stand.”

Demi Lovato doesn’t know exactly what she’s doing, you guys. “This is my first time mentoring,” said Lovato. “I don’t know exactly what I’m doing.” She was clearly reeling from learning all three of her acts landed in the bottom half of the vote tally. “I do think I need to think about what Simon said and take it into consideration. Obviously what I’m doing isn’t working, and it’s still an opportunity for me.” So what could she change? “Maybe we just have to consider some different options and reevaluate what we’ve put out on stage and maybe take it down a notch.”

Bringing Diamond White back was Simon’s idea. After watching back last week’s results show, Cowell said he realized White had been better than Arin Ray. “Being a producer, sometimes you get to change the rules,” he said with a grin. And how did Britney Spears feel about the decision? “There was just an angelic appeal about her,” she said. “There’s something, a je ne sais quoi thing that I can’t explain. When we had to vote her off the show, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’m glad we got her back.”

Britney seems to prefer to not know what in French. Asked why she would miss Jason Brock, Spears said, “I just felt like there was a charismatic bond, like, on stage with Jason that I have for some reason. There’s just a je ne sais quoi thing that I can’t explain. It’s just one of those things; something you prefer. That’s why I liked him.”

Mario Lopez can take a messy tinkle. “I had to go to the restroom, and I made it back [to the stage] with maybe four seconds [to spare],” Lopez said. “I had to check my pants, make sure I didn’t pee myself.” Immediately after saying these words, not even the power of Lopez’s impossible dimples could hide the dread that washed over his face, as he imagined all the urine-themed headlines his words could spawn. Don’t worry, buddy. Your fellow co-host jokingly called the Biggest Boy Band in the World “s—ty,” so your safe from at least one embarrassing headline. Instead, you get to wrap this behind-the-scenes report up. Don’t forget to flush!

Read more:

‘The X Factor’ performance night recap: Feed the Birds

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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