'X Factor' Recap: Top 13 Tackle 'Save Me' Songs After Voting Glitch
The season-three finalists take advantage of an unexpected do-over.
Thursday's X Factor was a do-over thanks to a graphics glitch from the previous night. That meant another round of solos from the remaining 13 contestants, all ballads with no bells, whistles or backup dancers.
The final contestants each delivered their "Save Me" song to level the playing field while fans got another chance to vote and send the lowest-scoring singer packing next week.
Judge Simon Cowell confirmed the news via Twitter on Thursday and seemed a bit tickled by the challenge presented by the turn of events.
"It's live TV," he wrote. "You have to deal with it, tough for the contestants though. But you have to dig deep and deliver."
The hopefuls had only 24 hours to prepare their picks, and host Mario Lopez repeatedly reminded the crowd that this was the toughest night of the competition.
Squeezing 13 live performances into the hourlong show resulted in a much quicker pace for the night, so fans got the goods without the usual banter while the judges' comments were short and sweet.
Recently rescued castoff Josh Levi, 15, kicked off the show for a second night in a row and had a solid showing with Rihanna's "Stay."
Rachel Potter, 29, redeemed herself from Wednesday's shaky showing with Martina McBride's "Anyway." It earned her a backhanded compliment from Cowell, who suggested she snuck in a secret twin. "The girl who sang yesterday was horrible and then the girl who sang tonight was fantastic," he said. "The inconsistency is unbelievable, but it's all about song choice because that was really really good … compared to last night."
Potter's mentor, Kelly Rowland, said she is the one to watch. "Right now, she is my favorite in the competition," she admitted after the show.
Rowland also praised Jeff Gutt's rocky rendition of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" as one of the night's best, even though Lovato and Cowell disagreed at the judge's table, calling it "corny."
Ellona Santiago, 15, impressed the judges with David Guetta and Sia's "Titanium" and proved she doesn't need sparkly outfits and backup dancers to get the job done. Her mentor, Demi Lovato, called it "incredible," and Cowell exclaimed, "That was your best performance you've ever done."
Paulina Rubio offered little to the show, and she's making a habit of telling the contenders she loves them, no matter how they do onstage.
Favorite Lillie McCloud, 53, really blossomed during her slow, soulful delivery of Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever?"
"That's what you're supposed to do when you perform," said Rowland. "You're supposed to shut it down like that!"
Rion Paige,13, remained a crowd-pleaser, and her choice of "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga was perhaps the perfect pick. The stripped-down arrangement gave room for her voice to shine and the song's lyrics effortlessly captured the underlying strength that adds to her appeal as someone overcoming a handicap.
So now that America has seen this bunch perform live three times, the elimination should be a no-brainer, right? Who do you think should go home next week?