The X Factor is in trouble and I’m not sure if there’s anything that can save it. Last week’s voting screw-up was bad enough, but adding insult to injury were the show’s pathetic ratings. Wednesday’s performance show was the least-watched regular episode ever, and then Thursday’s redo was even lower.

Thursday’s episode of The X Factor had less than 3.7 million viewers and, in the 18-49 demographic, it actually did worse than The Vampire Diaries on the CW. Of Thursday’s 16 new programs on the five major networks, there were only three worse than The X Factor among 18-49-year-olds: Reign, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and The Michael J. Fox Show.

By comparison, the Top 13 results show from last season had 6.3 million viewers and the Top 12 results show from season 1 had 11.6 million viewers.

Perhaps this week, without competition from the CMAs and a special Thursday episode of The Voice, The X Factor can regain some viewers. In tonight’s episode, one act goes home and the other 12 perform before two more go home tomorrow.

The Results

Before getting to ’80s Night, Mario Lopez (in his skinny leather tie) brings out the Top 13 to eliminate one, making their week of rehearsals a huge waste of time.

Carlos Guevara is ELIMINATED!

Wow, good for you, America. He was easily the worst on both nights last week. Paulina Rubio says he had the hearts of all America, which is clearly not true. Now on with the show.

Lillie McCloud

Holy crap, The X Factor is FINALLY admitting that Lillie was a professional who had a single in the ’80s. Kelly Rowland chose Chaka Khan to show off a more upbeat side of Lillie. I know she’s been criticized for being too old-fashioned, but this is an over-correction. She’s rocking some hideous grandmom jeans and the way she bops around the stage makes it look like a woman in her 50s trying to act like she’s in her 20s. It makes me sad and her vocals aren’t as good as usual.

Paulina calls her “multi-facetic” and the judges are nice about how she tried to be current. When asked if she can win, Lillie says she’s a chameleon who can be whatever the judges want her to be. That sounds really desperate and pathetic, like she’s a private dancer, a dancer for money, she’ll do what they want her to do.

Carlito Olivero

He takes on Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” and I’m happy that the dull balladeer is gone. He busts out sexy, cool moves and the whole production is very hip. But the vocals aren’t all that solid and Kelly calls him out for looking strained when he sings and Demi Lovato thought he got lost amid all the back-up dancers. Simon Cowell thinks he’s going home and he does too much dancing. Paulina thinks the only problem is in Carlito’s face. I didn’t think it was THAT bad, but Carlito is definitely failing to fit into the suave box he’s supposed to fit in.

Rion Paige

Rion (who was born in 2000) thinks the Spice Girls are from the ’80s. That’s adorable. She sings Pat Benatar’s “We Belong,” which is a truly awesome song. She’s an odd duck, because there are a lot of remarkable moments that sound fantastic, but it’s not as powerful as I want the whole time, maybe because of her youth. I think this song requires a more physical performance. The judges love her, but Simon thinks Demi hasn’t found the right song yet to tap into Rion’s full potential.

Sweet Suspense

Simon’s style-over-substance girl group is doing “Mickey” because he thinks they’re silly and fun and should sing it like it’s on a movie soundtrack. He’s already plotting their career. For some reason, the whole thing is made to look like a bunch of Disney biker chicks while hot shirtless dudes in leather vests writhe behind them. I do not get this at all, and I feel like even the girls in the group are starting to resent what Simon is making them do. The judges HATE it on every conceivable level. Except Simon, who calls it their best performance ever and the best of the night. Demi chimes in that they’re no Fifth Harmony. This group’s success or failure depends on Simon’s ability to sell ice to Eskimos, because nobody really wants or needs them, but he’s going to make it seem like they’re great.

Tim Olstad

Somehow he’s become friends with Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland via Twitter and is having dinner with her and her boyfriend. He sings Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now),” which is the kind of dull, safe, predictable song I’d expect from him. He’s like the human equivalent of those Chicken Soup for the Soul books with his fantastic voice and inspirational songs that don’t appeal to me at all. Paulina commends him for singing like Tim, which is the kind of idiotic thing she says. Demi and Simon call out how predictable he is and how he lacks the X factor. The weird contemporary dancer also stole the show.

Khaya Cohen

Demi offers some interesting advice that Khaya can’t be all artistic and true to herself, she needs to go big every time or she might go home. Hmm, did the judges see the leaderboard from last week and know something that we don’t about how low Khaya’s support is? I’ve been critical of her, but I actually love this performance of Madonna’s “Borderline.” It’s fun and sassy and highlights her wonderful tone. The judges rave about how much she’s growing and even Simon likes her now.

Restless Road

We see the boys playing football in the parking lot, because Simon is trying to sell an image. They perform “Footloose,” and I wish they were better singers. This country boy band idea is a great one and it could be huge, but I think Simon jumped the gun and just slapped together whatever three guys he could find instead of waiting for genuine talent worthy of this group. The performance is fun but the vocals are just average. Demi is worried that Colton is becoming the star.

Rachel Potter

She sings Heart’s “Alone,” which is one of my favorite songs ever. I don’t understand this. The sweet country singer is gone and now she’s just rocking. It’s very confusing, and I don’t like the screeching at the end. The judges love her, but Simon is right to point out that this performance didn’t sound or feel like a country artist. Inconsistency is still her biggest obstacle.

Ellona Santiago

Demi violates her own rule by giving her a Whitney Houston song. This arrangement of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” is just awful. I can’t explain in words how much I loathe this cover. Ellona’s voice is solid and her performance is great (except for when she slips and falls, but gets up right away), but the arrangement is just so terrible. Simon wants her to do less choreography and more singing, because she has a lot of talent. He’s right, as always.

Josh Levi

Paulina still mispronounces his last name (like a levee instead of the jeans). He does Paula Abdul‘s “Straight Up.” The white outfit and green lasers make it look like he’s trying so hard to be Usher. I find that Usher wannabe vibe distracting, but I think the arrangement and performance are cool. He clearly has star potential, though, as Simon says, he has some work to do on his vocals. I can’t decide if Paulina’s insistence that the vocals were great is an attempt to get votes or if she truly believes it, but if so, then she’s a terrible mentor. Nothing she says is ever constructive or critical.

Jeff Gutt

The sensitive single dad rocker has insomnia because he only has $1 in his bank account. Man, the show is really trying to convince the audience to vote for this guy. He does “(I Just) Died in Your Arms,” which is such an ’80s song. He’s found the sweet spot and is now just reliably delivering every time. He clearly has so much more experience singing and working a stage, because he’s leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else in terms of performance. This is the first song of the night where I felt like he wasn’t competing, he was just putting on a show. Simon wants him to do something outside the box to really make an impact. I think Simon’s comments tonight aren’t really about the contestants, they’re actually insults for the other mentors. His megalomania makes him wish he could mentor Rion, Ellona and Jeff because he knows they could all win with better direction.

Alex and Sierra

They do Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.” But, of course, it’s nothing like the original. It starts acoustic and soft, and just when I want it to start rocking, it does. For me, this is the best they’ve ever been because it had layers and dynamics. Demi is a bit critical of the set-up, but Simon fights back that he doesn’t like doing the same thing every week. Simon adds that they were a bit off the melody, which I missed because I thought it was great.

Hilariously, they’ve done away with the recap at the end, probably to avoid another graphic error. Mario asks each judge what the highlight was, and the three female judges say their own categories, but Simon throws everyone for a loop by saying Josh Levi. Kudos to Simon, because he earns a lot of credibility from viewers when he’s willing to praise other categories and criticize his own.

Tomorrow night, two acts go home and we get performances by Selena Gomez and Fifth Harmony. Also, if you’re playing BuddyTV’s X Factor Fantasy TV to predict who gets eliminated, you’ll have to make new picks for tomorrow’s episode between midnight on Wednesday and noon on Thursday. My first instinct is that Tim, Carlito, Lillie and Sweet Suspense should be the most worried.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.