"The X Factor": Final three compete for $5M record deal

Khloe Kardashian Odom and Mario Lopez and finalist Carly Rose Sonenclar with special guest LeAann Rimes on "The X Factor," Dec. 19, 2012.

"The X Factor" opened Wednesday night with a tribute to the victims of the Connecticut school massacre. Simon Cowell looked into the camera and said they are all deeply saddened by the tragedy. He added their hearts go out to the families, who are in their prayers.

It served as an introduction to "You Are Not Alone," performed by this season's contestants and a children's chorus. The names of the victims were projected behind the singers. The previous night "The Voice" also paid tribute to the Connecticut school shooting victims with a performance of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

Following the tribute, viewers had the chance to watch the three finalists perform one last time before a winner is crowned. And competition is stiff -- it's down to Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens and Fifth Harmony.

"There's no second place. There's no third place. There's only the winner," said L.A. Reid.

"Tonight is what they've all been working for. It all comes down to this," added Britney Spears.

Sonenclar first sang "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone. Her mentor Spears was impressed, insisting they will win the competition. Sonenclar was joined by LeAnn Rimes to sing "How Do I Live Without You," before singing "Hallelujah."

Spears also said Cowell should get out his checkbook -- and start writing a check to Sonenclar. The 13-year-old is one of the standouts of season two of "The X Factor." Her version of "Hallelujah" on Wednesday night even prompted Cowell to tell her she had a very good night.

Stevens took on Randy Houser's "Anything Goes" for his first song. "I'm one performance away from making all my dreams come true," said Stevens. "It all comes down to this." Stevens has been another favorite all season long.

He was joined by Little Big Town for a version of the group's "Pontoon." The country singer sang Chris Young's "Tomorrow" as his final song.

"I'm always proud of you. You consistently come out and deliver," said Reid.

"This has been a fantastic night for talent...I genuinely believe this - in a year's time we're going to be hearing about your record sales," said Cowell.

Meanwhile, Fifth Harmony has been coming on strong in the last few weeks. Cowell gave the group a slight edge, but noted he's biased because he mentored them. "They've always been the underdogs, but they've got some momentum now," Cowell said.

The group kicked things off with a version of Ellie Goulding's "Anything Could Happen" before performing "Give Your Heart a Break" with Demi Lovato. The group's final choice, The Beatles' "Let it Be" was a crowd-pleaser.

"I'm really, really proud of you," Lovato said. "I am more than proud. You're not a group. You're five great singers," added Cowell.

The winner of the $5 million recording contract will be announced Thursday during the season finale on Fox. The two-hour episode, which begins at 8 p.m. ET, will also features performances from One Direction and Pitbull.