The X Factor Judges The X Factor Judges

The X Factor had its first live performance elimination show Thursday night, with each judge choosing one of their protégés to send home, narrowing the field down to 12.

The setup for the evening was that each judge designated two of their four contestants "safe," requiring the remaining pair to each perform live to stay in the competition. Unfortunately, the sing-offs were an overall snoozefest, with nearly all the contestants choosing to perform ballads (or at least ballad-ish versions of more upbeat songs) as they faced elimination, so as to truly show off their vocal talents. (For viewers who couldn't experience the excitement of live performances, that meant two hours of adult contemporary shlock.)

Read on to find out which frontrunner was shockingly eliminated.

The X Factor: Which Judges "Failed" Their Protégés for the First Live Performances?

Young Adults, mentored by Demi Lovato 

Lovato named Paige Thomas and Jennel Garcia as her safe contestants, so that left Willie Jones and CeCe Frey to go head-to-head in order to stay in the competition. Frey selected Irene Cara's "Out Here On My Own," while Jones opted for Ray Charles' "You Don't Know Me." Cowell complimented Frey's performance, saying it was markedly better than her heavily makeup-ed dance rendition of Patti Smith's "Because the Night" the previous evening. ("You looked like a clown," he told her.) Spears and Reid also had positive feedback for Frey and apparently Lovato agreed, because she sent Jones home. "I don't want this to stop you because I think you're really on to something," she told him. "I just think that it's not your time right now."

Over 25s, mentored by L.A. Reid

Reid's first mistake was inexplicably keeping Tate Stevens and Vino Alan in the competition, forcing himself to eliminate either Jason Brock or David Correy. Correy offered a stripped-down rendition of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone," which Spears loved but Lovato and Cowell said was overdone and "melodramatic." Brock chose Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time," for a performance Cowell said was "a million times better" than his "horrendous" one the previous evening. However, Simon added that he didn't think either Brock or Correy had what it took to win the competition. Reid admitted that he had "failed" Brock in Wednesday's show by having him perform Jennifer Lopez's "Dance Again," so maybe it was guilt that motivated him to send Brock to the Top 12 over Correy, which drew shocked boos from the audience (and probably some at-home viewers, including this one). Shame on you, L.A.!

Teens, mentored by Britney Spears

Spears kept Carly Rose Sonenclar and Beatrice Miller safe, so Arin Ray and Diamond White were left to face off. Ray went with Whitney Houston's "I Look to You," while White selected Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word." Both received praise from the three other judges, and Cowell in particular said he wouldn't want to be in Britney's position. Forced to choose, Spears made what she called "the hardest decision ever" and eliminated White, who looked shocked when her name was announced but vowed that she would "keep smiling."

Groups, mentored by Simon Cowell

Cowell said he was deciding which groups to keep safe up until five minutes before he made his announcement, which ultimately favored Emblem 3 and Lyric 145 (no surprise there). So the two girl groups — Sister C and the rechristened 1432 — battled to stay in the competition. Sister C offered a rendition of Miley Cyrus' "When I Look at You," while 1432 made the bold choice of performing Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper." "I don't know who that song is by," Lovato quipped afterwards, "but regardless, you did better than the original singer." Cowell apparently concurred. Though he said he could make a case for keeping either group in the competition, Simon ultimately gave Sister C the boot. However, he wisely insisted that 1432 change their name (AGAIN)  and encouraged viewers to submit replacement suggestions to the X Factor website.

Which judges got their picks right and which got them wrong? Who are your favorites out of the Top 12? And what should 1432 rename themselves?