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It’s a scary concept: taking the stage in front of Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Simon Cowell, and L.A. Reid and singing in front of millions of people on The X Factor. So how do you make it more intimidating? How about by pitting top fan favorites against one another to sing a survival of the fittest duet, and giving them only 24 hours to prepare?

That was the premise on the October 4 episode of The X Factor and it turned out to be too much for some of the contestants. Many early favorites failed to impress the judges — Demi was vocally disappointed by Jessica Espinoza’s performance — and others flat-out forgot the words.

But what stood out most to us was that some contestants chose to gain an advantage by selecting a song that their opponent didn’t really know. CeCe Frey selected “Secrets” by One Republic, and sang it head-to-head with Paige Thomas. Paige was tearful backstage, telling the vocal coach that she hadn’t wanted to sing the song but CeCe forced them to.

When they took the stage, Paige failed to impress, messing up words and showing her emotions. Simon said of the pair “I’ve never seen anyone look so tired,” which would have to be spun pretty heavily to sound like a compliment.

Tate Stevens sang with Willie Jones, dueting on Tony Rich’s “Nobody Knows.” After the performance — in which Willie faltered a little and Tate shined — the judges asked Willie who picked the song. Shocker — it was Tate.

So, what do you think, is all fair in X Factor and war? Or did CeCe and Tate take unfair advantage of their duet partners?

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