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Season ender: Simon Cowell’s much-hyped U.S. X Factor counts on controversy

Austin Photo: Author_Minh Vu
Austin Photo Set: News_Minh Vu_X Factor_Dec 2011_Rachel Crow
Austin Photo Set: News_Minh Vu_X Factor_Dec 2011_Judges

Simon Cowell recently admitted that he was perhaps a bit “too cocky” when he predicted that his new singing competition series, the U.S. version of The X Factor, would smash ratings records when it premiered.

While the show has performed relatively well for FOX, the series hasn’t been able to meet Cowell’s hopeful expectations of beating out his old show, American Idol.

The X Factor premiered to only 12.1 million viewers, compared to the 26 million viewers who tuned into American Idol’s Season 10 premiere.

The show has been able to garner media attention all year, but not because it was a game changer in the world of singing competitions. Before the series even premiered, it made headlines for having to replace a member of the judging panel.

The show had to awkwardly boot British pop star Cheryl Cole while finding a way to introduce Nicole Scherzinger as her replacement. It didn't help that the series had already filmed three episodes with Cole as a judge, not to mention that it had advertised her participation via commercials that aired throughout the summer.

The show later made headlines for a lip-synching controversy during a Top 12 group performance. As eliminations began, judges came under fire from rabid social media fans crying foul about contestants who had been given the boot. One contestant even went on to imply that the whole voting system was rigged after he was eliminated.

Earlier this month, 13-year-old contestant, Rachel Crow, helped the series make its most controversial headline yet after being eliminated from the competition in the most dramatic fashion I’ve ever witnessed on reality TV.

Crow dropped to the ground and sobbed uncontrollably after she learned of her elimination and within seconds, the judges and her mother rushed the stage to comfort her. A creepy, “Mommy, you promised me,” could be heard from Crow during the ordeal.

See the elimination for yourself in the video below — I've marked the time you should start watching.

Meanwhile, Scherzinger was reportedly inconsolable for having created the situation by forcing the decision into a deadlock, and she was met with boos from the audience, which you can see at around the 7:45 mark. Scherzinger couldn’t make up her mind on who to save between the bottom two, so she relied on America’s votes to make the decision for her. And America didn’t vote for little Rachel.

I can only imagine how much the producers loved every minute of the over-the-top drama that unfolded right before their eyes. With Thursday's season finale, I’ll be interested to see the ridiculous lengths that X Factor will go to in order to keep riding their wave of controversy as long as they can. You can bet that footage of Crow’s elimination will somehow make it into the cheesy “let’s take a look back at X Factor this year” montage.

The X Factor’s two-hour season finale airs Thursday on FOX at 8/7c.

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