Last night's The X Factor began with the show's continued tradition of a group song, which was thankfully performed live after past controversy in the U.K. version of the series over lip synching. Take a quick look:
Then came this week's big surprise as Fifth Harmony was declared safe for next week. They needed this more than any of the other act and Simon, naturally, wasn't even standing behind them. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, we were treated to Britney's reaction, which. was. amazing. Here's the video:
Given the remaining acts, nearly any elimination would have been shocking. Carly Rose Sonenclar, only 13 years old and clearly the most talented. Tate Stevens, bound to be a new country music act even without the X Factor title. And Emblem3, rumored to be Simon's top priority for a record contract. Still, we didn't expect to see Emblem3 sent home. They probably would have stood a better chance in audience voting than Fifth Harmony next week, but it's easy to imagine their fourth-place finish won't matter to their career trajectory. In fact, it could mirror the third-place finish of unstoppable phenomenon One Direction in 2010's U.K. edition.
So what's next as we head in to next week's finale episodes? In the past, the show has brought in high-profile stars for the finalists to perform with, so let the speculation begin and think big. Adele for Carly Rose? Kenny Chesney for Tate Stevens? Carly Rae Jepson for Fifth Harmony?
Our Educated-Guess Rankings
3. Fifth Harmony – Here's your underdog.
2. Carly Rose Sonenclar – We haven't felt the same about Carly's chances the last two weeks, but she's got the highest ceiling of all the contestants. Don't forget, she's the only one who has truly wowed the judges with challenging songs.
1. Tate Stevens – Country music fans continue to turn out for Tate. But will they stay loyal?
1. Did you enjoy Thursday's performances from Bridgit Mendler and Bruno Mars?
2. Did you see the Emblem3 elimination coming?
3. Does Fifth Harmony stand a chance next week?
4. What famous acts would you like to see perform with the finalists?