Say what you will about Simon Cowell, but he's brought some intriguing changes -- Yay, Demi! Boo, Khloe! -- to the second season of The X Factor.
The latest update adds a twist to the typical bloated elimination episode by not only revealing which singer got the boot, but also how the rest of the votes fell. That's right! On last week's results show, for the first time in reality singing competition show history, we found out exactly how well (or poorly) all the contestants fared. And thus was born what we at TVGuide.com like to call the Rankings of Shame.
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As a refresher, here are last week's rankings from the lowest number of votes to the highest. As the Bottom 2, CeCe Frey and Jason Brock had to sing for their lives, but since the judges were deadlocked on whom to save, the person with the least amount of votes got cut. So long, Jason!
What was the point of revealing how well the remaining singers performed with the voters? We aren't privy to the inner workings of Cowell's diabolical mind, but we are fans of this new transparency and here's why:
Schadenfreude In your leopard-face! Although we'd like to think we're above it, we were glad to see CeCe's catty behavior and arrogance backfire on her. The people have spoken, and they really, really don't like her. Despite what seemed to be a breakthrough moment during the judges' homes round, coach Demi Lovato did her no favors for the live performances by making her a peroxide blonde (unflattering and even less relatable) and reestablishing that fake, animal-print face tattoo because it signaled to viewers at home that a CeCe can't change her spots.
Re-strategizing Cowell was stunned that the cocky but crowd-pleasing boy group Emblem3 only landed in the middle of the pack, while the freaky-fun Lyric 145 placed ninth for the week. Undeterred, he commented that he might change their style a little bit and found the new rankings to be "very helpful." It's refreshing to see a judge who takes feedback well, and we must keep in mind that Cowell did create current Brit-pop sensation One Direction, which consists of individual singers molded into a group on the UK's X Factor. So he knows a thing or two about rebranding. Take note, Lovato!
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Mobilization As with the recent presidential election, the people at home were able to see the immediate results of their votes, and we're willing to bet that many will be encouraged to switch up the rankings in weeks to come. The tween girl voters -- who usually power young All-American male contestants through to the win on American Idol -- didn't seem to have their act together regarding Emblem3's mediocre showing. Perhaps the vote was split among all the amazingly talented female vocalists this year? After all, girl group Fifth Harmony overcame two name changes to land in fifth (how apropos!), while 13-year-old sensations Diamond White and Carly Rose Sonenclar were in the Top 4. Can Emblem3's fans take down those girls? Challenge accepted!
Reawakening Now that the singers can see who their competition really is, we're hoping that will light a fire under them. Even the contenders at the top will see that their perches aren't so steady week to week, and this will inspire less complacency and (hopefully) less ego. Despite the squealing for heartthrob Arin Ray in the studio audience, he barely made a showing in 11th place. The viewers at home recognized that although he's a competent singer, he's nowhere near as technically gifted as his fellow teens. Thanks to his coach Britney Spears, he's coasted through on the strength of his charming smile, but now it's time to focus on the vocal and emotional performance.
Surprise We ain't gonna lie: We were totally stunned that country crooner Tate Stevens topped the list. We knew that country was big in America, but hot damn! Even coach L.A. Reid didn't think any of his Over 25s group were standouts initially and told them so. Guess he was wrong! We're actually looking forward to the elimination shows now because we're getting more bang for our buck. Sometimes it's obvious who will be eliminated, especially this early on, but seeing how the rest did keeps up the suspense and gives us the opportunity to play armchair analyst.
Do you like the new Rankings of Shame? Did any of the results surprise you? Will this encourage you to vote or change how you vote?
The X Factor airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.