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"The X Factor" results: Cowell outvoted amid intense weeping

Steve Jones and Paula Abdul join InTENsity and Stereo Hogzz on stage on "The X Factor," Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011. Fox

(CBS) When the groups were dancing in front of Paula Abdul's Santa Barbara waterfalls during the audition shows, it was clear that they dripped with mediocrity. It scarcely deserved a gasp, therefore, when it was revealed last night that both of the basement two in "The X Factor" were ensembles.

What does deserve a less than discreet - nay, monstrous - guffaw was that one of those groups, Stereo Hogzz, were described on Tuesday by Simon Cowell as the best band in the world. That was after they'd sung, not before.

Pictures: "The X Factor"

Cowell's precise words had been: "I don't think there's a band in the world right now that's as good as you."

While you digest the luscious ludicrousness of that - and wonder whether the best band in the world could be disappeared from the final 12 - I'll muse a little about the format of "The X Factor" results show.

The fun - if there is some - lies in the two acts being voted bottom by America enjoying a sing-off, after which the judges decide who must go. But the show began with something stunningly novel: all the finalists singing (or, technically, lip-synching) together. This has never been seen before in contemporary television.

In this case, though, with groups aplenty, there was a vast throng on stage. The recording was available for you to download. Water was also available, I hope, for you to sip.

After a less than fizzy Pepsi interlude, we were on to the announcement of the results. The mentors came out with their acts, as if these people needed expert assistance, just in case someone couldn't cope with elimination - or, indeed, success.

One could imagine what great television it might have been should Cowell have been forced to offer mouth-to-mouth to Melanie Amaro, having once already caused her to suffer the shock of banishment.

One by one, presenter Steve Jones announced the names. He repeated several times that this was in no particular order. Someone had clearly been watching "Dancing with the Stars."

All of L.A Reid's boys were soon told they were safe. The jubilation was palpable. In an instant, all of Cowell's girls were safe too.

In the end, Stacy Francis was left standing with Stereo Hogzz and inTENsity. It couldn't be because of her deep propensity for tears, could it? It couldn't be because someone wanted to squeeze a little more drama from her brittle soul, could it?

When she was told she was safe, Francis disappeared into Nicole Scherzinger's arms, while Paula Abdul looked as if she'd just been told one of her dogs needed surgery - or that one of her waterfalls had suffered a blockage.

She caucused with her troops. The bottom two were both her groups, because all the groups were hers. The viewers had offered her a personal slight. Now two of her groups had to engage in mouth-to-mouth combat.

Jones reached for yet another from his pocketbook of clichés. "This is the Final Showdown," he said.

The Stereo Hogzz went for a little Bee Gees. The song was "Emotion" - which was pleasant, in the way that Jones is pleasant. Which is not necessarily a lastingly pleasant way.

InTENsity decided to sing that their lives would suck without us. Sadly, they will soon be able to tell us what that felt like.

Their lead vocals were redolent of a karaoke bar on a Wednesday in Poughkeepsie. It must have been heartening to see Scherzinger clapping along to their singing with rare gusto. Just as it was sickening, moments later, to hear that Scherzinger wanted them to go home.

Oddly, Cowell's vote was to send home the best band in the world. Such drama. All of his fellow judges, however, disagreed - though Abdul emphasized they were all winners. This was before she chose inTENsity. One of the intense girls began to weep. Soon there would be more.

Jones interrupted L.A. Reid, who was trying to soften the blow. He needed a name. This was the harsh drama of show business. Reid brought the final hammer down with velvet inevitability.

Abdul explained: "It's difficult to identify with groups." She had a point.

I find it very difficult to identify with The Pussycat Dolls. I struggle manfully to gain feelings for Guns N' Roses. But there's The Arcade Fire. There's Green Day. There's Queens of the Stone Age. There's Radiohead. There are, in fact, thousands of groups I can identify with. Billions of people seem to relate to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, even though many of their members are either dead or mentally and physically hobbled.

Here's what I've noticed about all those fine groups: they have, startlingly, even less in common with inTENsity and Stereo Hogzz than Hilary Swank has in common with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

Still, next week, Abdul will have a little less to do. There again, because her acts are so lifeless, perhaps she will have a little more.

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