November 05, 2013 12:40pm PT by Cortney Wills
'X Factor' Celebrates Top 12 Finalists With Lavish Affair
X Factor judges Simon Cowell, Paulina Rubio, Kelly Rowland and Demi Lovato were in good spirits as they hit the red carpet alongside the Top 12 contestants on Monday to talk up their season at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Rowland and Rubio chatted inside Bazaar where tables full of hors d'oeuvres and desserts attracted the excited partygoers. Staff served up cool creations like cotton candy mojitos and sliders to the room full of industry insiders, reporters and show hopefuls.
From the looks of the crowd, this batch of contestants gets along great and they gushed about each other and the whirlwind experience all night long.
Ellona Santiago,17, was feeling good after a tough week that included squeezing in her SATs before a studio session with her mentor, Lovato.
"It's crazy. I woke up at 6 a.m. and took my test and right after that I went to record with Demi. I had a moment where I wondered if I could really handle this," she admitted. "Apart from my dream of being a singer, education is so important for me. She gave me advice and told me to push through it because in the long run it will benefit me."
Lillie McCloud, 54, was particularly excited about this week's theme, Motown. "I honestly wanted to do something fast because I've done a lot of slow songs," she said. "This week I'm singing 'All Is Fair In Love' by Stevie Wonder. I love that song because I feel like love is so complicated and every time I sing that song I want to send a message."
Rowland said she was super surprised by last week's elimination and expected more from girl group, Roxxy Montana.
"I was so pulling for them but I have to be honest. I think those girls are incredibly talented and I love their background and that they were raised in church but, they didn't do the best that they could have that day. Especially when it's compared to their first audition," she said. "It was really sad for me to see them go. I wanted to see them there."
She also admitted she was sad to see Josh Levi,15, get the boot after his version of Rihanna's "Only Girl In The World" failed to earn him a spot in Rubio's top three.
"I was really, really shocked when Josh left because he is just incredible. He really truly is," she said. "I love that kid. He's probably my favorite from the Boys category."
Now, she's focused on getting her team, the Over 25s, to calm down and stop over thinking themselves.
"I want them to take it in, download whatever they can learn and and keep it moving. I don't want them to over think everything because then they get onstage and they're thinking while they're performing and then the audience is thinking," she said. "I just want them to be and have fun. That's what we're supposed to do as artists."
Who will be victorious during Motown Week? X Factor airs Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m.