November 16, 2012 at 02:35 PM EST

Anyone who has watched a music competition show has heard the constant, predictable advice judges and winners impart on contestants: “Just be yourself.” That’s a lesson this week’s two eliminated acts from The X Factor learned the hard way. SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP!

But it’s also a lesson that both 18-year-old Jennel Garcia and hip-hop group Lyric 145 claim to have already learned. The problem, they say, is that the competition didn’t give them the room to pursue their own styles. After X Factor’s results show Thursday night, Garcia and the three members of Lyric 145 told reporters that they felt the show’s powers-that-be pressured them to be something they’re not: Garcia got more girly and less rocker; Lyric 145 morphed from rap/hip-hop to hip-hop/pop.

“I should’ve stuck up for myself more,” said Garcia, whose hair went from black to brown partway through the competition, while her songs went from edgy Grace Potter and the Nocturnals to a rockin’ but bright Tina Tuner cover.

It’s a difficult dilemma: To thine own self be true? Or to thine own multi-millionaire, uber-successful mentor be obedient?

Lyric 145’s Jemelle Joseph said the group was initially “on the fence with trusting” Simon Cowell, their mentor, but then decided to take on his advice and suggestions.

Throughout the live shows, which wrapped up their third week last night, judge L.A. Reid voiced his doubts about Cowell’s choices for Lyric 145. Right after they performed a mash-up of “Boom! Shake the Room” and “Gangham Style” at the show taped on Halloween, Reid said, “It sounded like someone put you in a washer, dumped in bleach and took all the soul out of you.” Further down the judges table, Cowell defended his song choice by saying, “To make rappers work in a competition like this, it has to be commercial, it has to be entertaining, and they have to put on a show.”

Reid, who has worked with such artists as Kanye West and Usher, continued to be pretty blunt about Cowell’s direction for Lyric 145. “They were mentored poorly,” he said. “I think [Cowell] really loved Lyric 145, but he was a bit lost.”

As for Garcia, who was mentored by Demi Lovato, both Reid and Cowell supplied their reasoning for voting her off the show on Thursday. Cowell said she “lost her spark and personality,” while Reid said, “I think she’s had a hard time finding herself.”

NEXT: The songs Lyric 145 and Jennel Garcia almost sang, and what they’re doing next

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Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, and Paulina Rubio judge Season 3.
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