The X Factor USA 2012 bade a sad good-bye to two more finalists on Thanksgiving, leaving just eight hopefuls to contend for the $5 million grand prize.
But before the big reveal, the still-intact top 10 hit the stage to perform a tune alongside the choir from Bancroft Middle School, who benefited from a music room makeover orchestrated by the show and Best Buy.
Following a break, show hosts Khloe Kardashian-Odom and Mario Lopez revealed the identity of the contestant who received the fewest votes, 17-year-old Arin Ray, and he became the night's first cast-off. Teens mentor Britney Spears told him to "take this as a learning experience" and predicted America would be seeing more of him in the future. He seemed to take the news in stride.
Up next, Cher Lloyd, the mega spunky, mega successful international superstar who got her start on the UK version of the show, took the stage to perform her new single "Oath" alongside Becky G.
With the fun stuff out of the way, mentors Britney, Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato and LA Reid and their hopefuls took the stage to find out who'd be singing for their lives. Saved—in no particular order—were Diamond White, Vino Alan, Carly Rose Sonenclar, Fifth Harmony, Tate Stevens, (a clearly stunned) Paige Thomas and Emblem3. Left to sing for another chance at the grand prize were teen Beatrice Miller and young adult CeCe Frey.
Beatrice looked devastated to be in danger, while CeCe, already a bottom two survivor, remained outwardly composed. CeCe tried to hug Beatrice, and the two headed off stage. Simon promised to make the decision based on the sing-off, and nothing more.
Up first was CeCe, who walked confidently to her place centerstage, dressed in a black and red dress and black strappy heels. She turned in a stirring —though not completely pitch-perfect—version of Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You". She seemed to oversing it at times, but it was obvious how much she wanted to stay in the competition. She fought hard.
Beatrice, dressed in her signature mish-mash style, was far less composed as she squeaked out "White Flag". She cried harder and blew a kiss to the audience after finishing the number. CeCe joined her on stage once again and embraced Beatrice as they awaited the mentors' decision.
Predictably, Demi chose to send Beatrice home, while Britney put CeCe on the chopping block. The more impartial LA called it "a very, very tough call" but ultimately named Beatrice as his choice for elimination. Simon thought for a moment before addressing Beatrice, telling her "I liked you from the beginning but I think this is getting too much for you", though he also noted CeCe had been in the bottom a lot. Ultimately, he said he didn't think it was Beatrice's time, and sent her packing. She cried hard, and honestly answered "no" when Khloe asked if she was all right. Brit told her "you are so young, you have so far to go" and "you're a true star in my eyes". In parting, Beatrice told her sisters she loved them and that she was sorry.
But that wasn't all for the results show. Following one final break, Mario and Khloe revealed the week's rankings. In order from eighth to first, the contestants finished as follows: CeCe, Fifth Harmony, Paige Thomas, Diamond White, Emblem3, Vino Alan, Tate Stevens and Carly Rose Sonenclar. Carly Rose looked delighted to snag the top spot from Tate after two weeks in second place, and Tate gave her a congratulatory hug.
It was surprising to see Paige avoid the bottom three, given that her Thanksgiving week performance wasn't very good. It was also surprising to see Fifth Harmony fall to seventh place and narrowly miss the sing-off. They sing together like they've been a group for years and deserve to advance over at least a handful of other finalists.
The X Factor USA resumes November 28 with more performances by the top 8.