The final 17 -- yes, 17, which we'll explain in a moment -- were chosen in an emotionally exhausting and, at times, hard to watch episode of 'X Factor.' The judges had to crush hopes, dash dreams, break hearts and send 16 people home. Judgin' ain't easy, by any means.

The 32 contestants were initially pared down to 16, but Simon Cowell immediately regretted letting Melanie Amaro go, and even flew to Florida to personally invite her back, with the blessing of his fellow judges. So Cowell ate crow and the Top 16 became a Top 17.

PopCrush is pleased to present your recap, detailing whose moving forward and who had to move on.

Nicole Scherzinger + The Over '30s

Going Through:

Josh Kracjik: Nicole questioned if the guy next door can be a superstar, but that soulful voice was reason enough to push him through.

Dexter Haygood: He's homeless with just a car and a jacket. Nicole said he is hit-or-miss musically, and that her heart and head say two different things. Apparently, her heart is bigger than her head, so Dex got another chance to make her proud!

Leroy Bell: Even though Nicole said she didn't know if he really wants "it," she still sent him through with a huge hug.

Stacy Francis:
Cue the tears and the stream of black mascara. She is going through. Tone down the histrionics, Stace, please!

Eliminated:

James Kenney: He talked about having jobs vs. dreams, and how he goes to work in order to raise his daughters. Nicole passed on him, because he doesn't have the solo quality she wants.

Christa Collins: She is a unique pixie, but Collins isn't going through to the lives shows.

Tiger Budbill:
Scherzinger felt she didn't connect with Tiger as an artist, and his heart dropped when she declined him.

Elaine Gibbs:
She is one of the best singers the Scherz has ever heard, but this wedding crooner doesn't have the 'X.' Nic let her go, knowing full well she was depending on it most.

Simon Cowell + The Girls

Going Through:

Simone Battle: While the fact that she repeatedly forgets the lyrics is catastrophic, Cowell sent her through, even though she is essentially above average. Head-scratcher choice!

Drew Rienywicz: She was the best teenager and contestant of the whole day for Simon, and this young Belieber is cruising right along.

Tiah Tolliver: Despite her pitch issues, Simon is still a believer in Tiah and her star quality.

Rachel Crow: The tiny powerhouse is all heart and an early favorite. She needs her own bathroom – remember her first episode speech? -- and she is cute as a basket of puppies. Love her.

Melanie Amaro: She wowed in the early rounds, but didn't make it through … at first. Simon knew he made a mistake, and went to Mel's Florida home to personally invite her back. We like Mel, we do, but Caitlin deserved a reprieve, too -- in our opinion, at least. Keep reading...

Eliminated:

Tora Woloshin: Even though she always looks the part of the pop star and showed early promise, this mechanic was in too strong of a category and was cut from the competition.

Jazzlyn Little: Her lack of confidence prevented her from moving on. Shocking elimination, we know. Simon was right. This is the strongest category.

Caitlin Koch:
If she didn't make it, this rugby player said she would return to Buffalo to sing to nobody in a bar. Now that's tragic and we're not being sarcastic. We were reaching for a tissue there, too. Simon, we have never disagreed with you more. What a mistake. Caitlin is amazing! Can we protest? Is their a blogger's save we can use to bring her back? Let us know. We'll throw down for Caitlin. Anyone?

Paula Abdul + The Groups

Going Through:

Brewer Boys: Paula says they deserve to be part of the live shows and we couldn't disagree more. They are cute, but the Brewer Boys are not memorable.

Lakoda Rayne: The group, which was assembled from various solo castoffs, has a lot of potential to be a pop-country quartet, so they were sent through.

Intensity:
The other 10 assembled solo castoffs also are going through. It's a risk, but Paula likes these five boys and five girls.

Stereo Hogzz: The well-choreographed singers and dancers are potential superstars, so they edged out the other groups.

Eliminated:

4 Shore: While Paula said she was in awe of their vocals, and that technically, they were the most beautiful sounding, she said they need a lead voice and don't have one. Therefore, 4 Shore are not part of her four.

2 SQUAR'D
: Their bank accounts are on empty, but they aren't getting a crack at $5 million. We're sorry to see them go.

Illusion Confusion:
Paula tearfully couldn't take the trio through, either. It was an emotional exit for Illusion Confusion.

The Anser:
The members of the Anser has problems with getting their voices to gel, making them the last group to be sent home.

L.A. Reid + The Boys

Going Through:

Brian "Astro" Bradley: L.A. Reid called him a champion and put him through, even though he only raps and doesn't sing ... in a singing competition.

Philip Lomax:
L.A. wants to see what else the Frank Sinatra-esque crooner can do besides jazz tunes. We do too, L.A.!

Chris Rene: Despite his inconsistencies, Reid sent the likeable and talented rapper/singer to the live shows. Rene is currently sober, and we hope his struggles with addiction don't affect his chances on the show.

Marcus Canty:
Reid likes Canty, but the judge wants to see more consistency from this R&B singer with star potential.

Eliminated:

Brennin Hunt: He has star quality, but Brennin Hunt was "too turbulent" for Reid.

Nick Voss:
He didn't have a strong, recognizable identity, so Nick Voss was bit adieu by L.A. Reid.

Skyelor Anderson: The "black guy who sings country" tag is a limiting niche, so Skyelor Anderson was sent home.

Tim Cifers: Rihanna loved his humble, endearing nature, and she even told Reid to pass the message on. However, this wasn't enough to keep Tim Cifers in the competition.