The X Factor/Jennel Garcia (CR: FOX/Ray Mickshaw)Tonight’s installment of The X Factor, which featured Taylor Swift performing her latest single “State of Grace,” was a rather unpredictable affair.  The biggest news was CeCe Frey, tagged as this season’s most unlikeable singer, was nowhere close to being eliminated.  In the end, it was Lyric 145 and Jennel Garcia who said their goodbyes.

As much as I dug Lyric 145’s energy, chemistry, and stage presence, their elimination from The X Factor wasn’t a complete surprise.  This season is truly all about the singing, and although hip hop is near and dear to my heart, group acts have had a pretty tough run on the show (remember InTENsity’s rather early exit last season?).

Actually, strike that.  It’s not just about the singing – drama also plays an important role.

Simon Cowell has been severely critical of Demi Lovato’s mentoring of Garcia, the 18-year-old spitfire who wowed the judges during the audition rounds with a sexier than thou rendition of “If I Was From Paris.”  With her curly hair and sassy delivery, Garcia continued to impress at boot camp with her saucy take on Gavin DeGraw’s “Sweeter.  When she made it through to the live rounds, she had a complete image makeover thanks to Lovato.  Her flirty pop swagger had been replaced by a rock chick who belted out “Home Sweet Home” and “I Love Rock N Roll.”  Cowell absolutely hated the new look, and although he praised Garcia this week for her performance of “Proud Mary,” the damage had been done.

Credit goes to Demi Lovato for having a hands on approach to CeCe Frey, Paige Thomas, and Garcia. Lovato has proven that she truly cares about nurturing the artists under her wing.  But putting Garcia in that confident rocker box really didn’t do the singer any favors.  During boot camp, Garcia did a shaky yet evocative version of “Landslide,” and that sensitivity and nervousness is one of the traits which makes her such a likable and emotive singer.  That tenderness is hard to drum up when you’re performing showstoppers, and even though this was Divas week on The X Factor, doing a song that contained the emotional resonance of Hoobastank’s “The Reason” would have been a far better choice than “Proud Mary” (Garcia performed “The Reason” tonight, when she went up against Paige Thomas for the final elimination round).

But nobody’s perfect, and no one can fault Lovato and Garcia for simply just going for their shared vision.  Lovato’s candor and self deprecating sense of humor are all welcome additions to the show, and she is a huge reason why The X Factor is much stronger this season.  The level of talent is also superior, and even though it’s a two person race to the $5 million (Tate Stevens and Carly Rose Sonenclar), Jennel Garcia left way too soon.

Garcia talked to reporters after her elimination, and we have her quick reaction on leaving The X Factor. “I learned that the littlest thing can make you the most confident person in the world,” said the singer.  “Just the smallest things can make you so happy.  That is what’s hurting me the most – these people are amazing.  I love everybody here, and I’m going to miss everyone.  But you know, the smallest things mean the most, and I’ve learned that about myself.”

Click on the media bar below to hear Garcia give her thoughts on Demi Lovato as a mentor:

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Demi Lovato talks about being getting attached to the singers she mentors.  Click on the media bar below to hear Lovato:

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As for Lyric 145, the plan is for the group to stay together.  Click on the media bar below and listen to Lyric Da Queen talk about the group’s future:

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So do you think Lyric 145 and Jennel Garcia were the right choices?  Should Paige Thomas have gone home over Garcia? Tell us what you think!

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi (Twitter: @Gsrisavasdi)