It may have been one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in recent reality-TV memory. And while the sight of 13-year-old Rachel Crow collapsing into sobs and calling for her mommy made for great TV, it's also likely the reason "X Factor" is alone among major American singing competitions in allowing such young contestants.
When MTV News' Jim Cantiello caught up with the remaining semifinalists on Monday, he asked Chris Rene, Josh Krajcik, Marcus Canty and Melanie Amaro what they said to Crow on elimination night and how they're handling the aftermath of her ouster.
"I was just telling her that she really cannot give up, because she's an amazing singer," said soul-diva-in-the-making Amaro, who was one of the first to embrace Crow onstage and console the tweenager. "She's only 13, and she can sing like that? She has a big career ahead of her. She really has to continue to work hard and do what she loves."
Cantiello also unraveled the mystery of what Crow was saying to Amaro after their embrace, when the pint-size belter gestured emphatically to the only remaining female in the competition. "She said to me, 'You've gotta represent! You've gotta represent for the girls!' " Amaro said. "I was like, 'OK, I will represent for the girls.' "
Rough-edged hip-pop singer Rene said the vibe backstage after the elimination was so uncomfortable that he just wanted to leave. "It felt like your little sister ... you see your little sister cry like that, it doesn't make you happy," he said. "You wish you could do something about it, and you can't."
The scene was especially tense for Michael Bolton-esque crooner and sudden front-runner Krajcik, whose mentor, Nicole Scherzinger, took the brunt of the audience's anger when she voted against Crow and sent the contest to deadlock. Ever since that fateful, tear-stained decision — which clearly had an emotional effect on the former Pussycat Doll as well — Scherzinger has come in for some harsh criticism that Krajcik said she didn't deserve.
"[It was] brutal," said Krajcik, who did not deny that he felt like he wanted to take a swing at every boo bird in the house when they turned on Scherzinger. "You get emotional; it was tough. It felt like 'Gladiator' up there. I thought that I was in the middle of a blood-soaked sand arena. It was really, really weird. It's something I will never forget. ... I was surprised by a lot of things that night."
For his part, R&B smoothie Canty, who was standing beside Crow when she got the bad news, was still a bit miffed with host Steve Jones for setting a pick on him. "I said, 'Can I talk to her?' Obviously I didn't want to see her on the ground," Canty said. "Let her know everything was going to be all right."
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