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Should 'The X Factor' elimination process be changed?

The "X Factor" elimination process -- with its judge input and save-me songs -- has proved controversial
Oh, the outrage! Poor "X Factor" judge Nicole Scherzinger is being pilloried by the show's fans for dooming Rachel Crow by punting to the popular vote rather than sending Marcus Canty home after Thursday's save-me sing-off. One Show Tracker commenter called Scherzinger a "coward." Sniffed another, "A judge who cannot judge is not a judge." Hollywood Life editor Bonnie Fuller even wrote a furious blog post calling -– in very strong terms -- for Scherzinger's head.

Of course, people complained last week when fellow judge Paula Abdul did render a judgment -– sending Drew home to save Canty -– rather than letting the people make the decision in "deadlock."

Abdul has thrown her support behind Scherzinger, tweeting, "All we can do is the best that we can and you did your best Nicole!" And even Crow has asked the show's fans not to blame Scherzinger for her elimination. "I don't understand why people are taking it out on her," Crow told People magazine. "It's no one's fault." But the controversy -– and the way things have played out -– raises some very real questions about "The X Factor's" elimination process.

One big one was pointed out by Show Tracker reader Audrey Wijaya after Thursday night's sad, strange elimination: "The point of having a save-me-song is to give the bottom two a chance to survive despite the lowest vote. If both did well, it is fair to go into deadlock and let the vote determines who goes home. But tonight, clearly Rachel delivered the better performance, so the judges (or, Nicole) should've done their job and sent home the one who did not do as well. Otherwise, what's the point of having a save-me-song? Just send home the lowest vote each week ..."

Good question. Why does "The X Factor" have a save-me sing-off each week at all? (Apart from the fact that the producers need some way to fill the hourlong results-show time slot and that the performances are often pretty darn dramatic.) Should the judges actually have a say in who gets eliminated? Or should the audience vote alone determine who goes home, as it does on "American Idol," where, once the competition gets rolling in earnest, the judges' only power, when it comes to who stays and who goes, is one measly judges' save per season?

Also, does it confuse matters that the judges are also mentors? I would argue that it does. A judge who has mentored someone in the bottom two clearly feels obligated to vote for that person or act, without factoring in overall performance or the save-me song. (It gets even more complicated when a judge has mentored both bottom-two acts, as happened to Abdul earlier in the season.) As a result, the integrity of the judge vote is fundamentally shaky: Too much rests on the vote of the remaining judges, especially when there is at least the perception that judge grudges and rivalries may affect loyalties and votes.

What's more, the criteria on which the judges are supposed to be evaluating the contestants are unclear. Are they to take into consideration only the save-me song? Or are they to judge contestants on their entire season of work? If they are rendering a judgment based on the save-me song alone, isn't L.A. Reid to blame just as much as Scherzinger for not saving Crow? He seemed truly torn about throwing his support Canty's way Thursday night after a Crow performance he found understandably deserving of praise.

So what do you think, should "The X Factor" elimination process be changed? And if so, how? Take the poll below, and share your thoughts in the comments section.

RELATED:

"The X Factor" results: The final five are revealed

"The X Factor" recap: Summoning the spirit of Michael Jackson

"The X Factor" recap: The top 5 tackle dance songs -- and a twist

"The X Factor" results: Four semifinalists, and a very sad goodbye

-- Amy Reiter

Photo: Rachel Crow, Steve Jones and Marcus Canty on "The X Factor." Credit: Ray Mickshaw / Fox

 
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