'The X Factor': Why Simon Cowell made Demi Lovato choose who to send home

khloe-kardashian-demi-lovato-jennel-garcia-x-factor-fox.jpgWeek three of live eliminations turned out to be a rough night for Demi Lovato on "The X Factor."

After Simon Cowell's hip-hop trio Lyric 145 was eliminated by the public vote, two of the three contestants on Lovato's team -- Paige Thomas and Jennel Garcia -- were forced to go head-to-head in a sing-off to determine the evening's second elimination. And Cowell didn't make the tough moment any easier for Lovato.

After L.A. Reid and Britney Spears voted for Garcia to go home, Cowell could've done the same and Lovato wouldn't have had to cast a vote of her own. Instead, he forced Lovato to make a choice.

"I knew I was gonna keep Paige which meant [Demi] wasn't going to have to make a decision," Cowell explains after the show with his trademark wicked grin. "I thought, bearing in mind they're both your artists, I want to see which one you're going to... destroy their career."

"It was fun to see [Demi] squirm in that moment because she thought she was going to get out of it and I thought 'No, you're not.'"

Lovato wasn't amused. For the first time since the live shows began, her post-show interview time was limited to a brisk two minutes, and she only had this to say about what Cowell pulled: "I was gonna choose whoever I was gonna choose. It was interesting [Simon] wanted to do it that way but whatever."

Lovato insists her vote to eliminate Thomas wasn't a strategic way to avoid sending Garcia home herself, she was voting with her heart. "I genuinely think Jennel was more talented," Lovato says. "Paige has more star quality which is gonna help her, but I think Jennel definitely didn't deserve to go home and I couldn't let her."

Cowell says he believes Lovato can handle herself. "You give as good as you get with her. And trust me I'm getting it in my ear all the time," he says. And like the frenemy relationship he established with Paula Adbul on "American Idol" and the first season of "X Factor," Cowell says he's only hard on Lovato because he likes her. "If you like someone you can have that relationship. Tonight I just couldn't help but do what I did because I knew it was going to be the most uncomfortable thing. And everyone at home was thinking the same thing."

As for who really deserved to go home, Cowell thinks it shouldn't have been either Garcia or Thomas: "Neither of those two girls should've been in the bottom. I don't know what happened with voting this week, but it happened."
Photo/Video credit: FOX