9:59 p.m. -- The moment's finally here: We're about to learn who is the winner of the second season of "X Factor." At stake: a $5 million recording contract, and a Pepsi commercial that will air during the 2013 Grammys. Not too shabby.
And the winner is ... Tate Stevens! The cowboy just scored the "X Factor" grand prize, and Carly Rose Sonenclar graciously gives Stevens a hug. Stevens said "first and foremost he had to thank the man upstairs for taking care of me," as well as his family and his fans.
And that's it! Thanks for reading, and congratulations to Carly Rose, who made Mamaroneck and all of Hudson Valley proud. Even though she didn't win, she's definitely going to be a big star.
9:50 p.m. -- Before the Carly Rose Sonenclar/Tate Stevens showdown, the two remaining contestants join together for a duet on, of all things, Miley Cyrus' "The Climb," with Carly Rose taking on the song first, then Stevens.
They're bathed in a weird, red light, and Carly Rose is clad in brown leather jacket and red leather pants, while Stevens has his signature red hat, black leather jacket and jeans. At the end of the song, they finally join together in harmony. I don't know what's weirder: the light or the song choice. I get it thematically, but it doesn't really do either of them any favors.
Carly Rose and Stevens high-five at the end, which is pretty cute. More comments from the judges. Mario Lopez reminds L.A. Reid that he was reluctant to mentor the over-25 group (I recall that he smashed his phone in frustration when he heard he'd be mentoring them) but now that he has a contestant in the finals, he's OK with it. Shocking.
After the break, we finally get word on who wins the whole shebang.
9:35 p.m. -- Here's the Demi Lovato montage of her being sassy and trading insults with Simon Cowell. After that wraps up, we get One Direction's performance of "Kiss You." To emphasize what the group is singing about, the band members are standing on a giant pair of lips. Not subtle, these guys.
I bet Simon is watching this and shedding a few tears, since he no doubt wanted his act Emblem 3, which was eliminated last week, to be the American version of One Direction. (FYI: One Direction emerged from a U.K. edition of "X Factor" a few years ago.)
Gotta wonder if Taylor Swift is hanging out backstage, since she's dating One Direction band member Harry Styles. Come to think of it, wouldn't Taylor would have been a better choice to duet with Carly Rose than LeAnn Rimes?
Speaking of LeAnn, there's been speculation online that the country singer was drunk during her duet with Carly Rose on last night's show. LeAnn responded to the rumors by telling TMZ, "I was trying to help this 13-year-old girl who was having some trouble with the song."
If you watched last night's show, you know it was the other way around. Way to throw Carly Rose under the bus, LeAnn!
9:28 p.m. -- Back from a commercial, we're reminded Carly Rose Sonenclar has topped the leaderboard twice and Tate Stevens three times. So it's definitely going to be a close one.
Finally, the long-promised Pitbull performance of his single "Don't Stop the Party." Unless you're a Pitbull fan (and are you? Really?), consider this "Time Filler: Part Deux." I think if Pitbull auditioned for "X Factor," Simon Cowell would say something like, "You're like a snake trying to be a giraffe."
Next up, One Direction and, supposedly, the winner. But Mario Lopez likes to tease things in advance, so he's not to be trusted. We're not going to get the results until 9:59 p.m. at least.
9:15 p.m. -- We come back from a commercial break with a backstage interview with the final two contestants and their families. Terri, Carly Rose Sonenclar's mom, generously said that she's proud of her daughter and Stevens. Awww.
Now another montage: We're looking back at the entire season from the very beginning, or as I like to think of it, "Time Filler."
As the endless montage continues, now's a good time to check in on the Carly Rose viewing party in Harrison. Georgette Yacoub is on the scene and reported that when the show first started, things were casual and laid-back, but when the first act was about to be eliminated the partygoers got very tense. Stuff just got real, y'all.
Harrison resident Brett Quigley, 22, is at the party. "I'm a little nervous because I know there's been a lot of work put into it, so I hope she pulls through.
"Carly Rose has a magnetic charisma to her and she also has undeniable talent," he added. "It's not even arguable. She's basically full-fledged amazing with everything she does."
Also at the party: Norm Rosenblum, the mayor of Mamaroneck. How cool is that?
9:05 p.m. -- And now here it is, the first elimination of the show. Look for this moment to be drawn out as long as possible. Even though Fifth Harmony has improved its game in recent months, it seems likely to be the first one bounced from the competition.
The celebrity mentors come out with their proteges to hear the first results of the night. The act finishing in third place is Fifth Harmony. The girls are emotional but look like they expected to go out third. Cowell just looks peeved. After they hug and cry and give their exit interviews, we're given yet another montage of Fifth Harmony's greatest hits.
So it's a Carly Rose Sonenclar/Tate Stevens showdown, just like it has been all season long. Coming up next: performances by Pitbull and One Direction.
8:58 p.m. -- Just a couple of minutes away from learning which act has finished in third place. This announcement is followed up by a montage of Britney Spears' facial expressions. Gotta say, her grimacing, squinting and weird smiles have been one of the best parts of watching the show. Will she come back next season? Spears lightens up the show, so sure hope so.
For her holiday song, Carly Rose sings "All I Want for Christmas," just like I requested. Thanks, Carly Rose!
She's decked out all in red, with a matching glitter-red microphone. Carly Rose starts out the songs seated next to a fireplace, and as the songs kicks into high gear, she stands up and is backed up by dancers dressed like toy soldiers who look like they ditched a performance of "The Nutcracker" to be there. It's a fun, festive performance, and as good as she is at ballads, it's nice to see her take on up-tempo number.
"It's pretty surreal. Every day I can't believe it's even happening. It's amazing," Carly Rose said after her performance.
Spears, her mentor, said she is very proud of Carly Rose. "It never ceases to amaze me every time she performs."
Now Carly Rose's family and friends are singing her praises. Carly's friends Justin and Claire (who were also at the viewing party at Chat 19 in Larchmont), her brother, her grandmothers, her piano teacher and her parents offer loving comments as Carly Rose laughs and cries.
Carly Rose is asked how she feels seeing the montage, and she calls it "crazy" and "awesome to get that kind of support." After the commercial break, one of the contestants will be eliminated. Will it be Carly Rose?
8:40 p.m. -- We come back from the commercial to learn that more than 35 million votes came in from last night's show. I gotta believe that the majority of those are from Carly's Angels, considering how strategic they've been all season, making sure to vote by text, phone, Skype and probably carrier-pigeon.
Now a montage of Simon Cowell as the Grinch, throwing out insults to contestants such as "You're like a mouse trying to be an elephant" and a "dog trying to lay an egg." The comments aren't funny or particularly creative.
Fifth Harmony is up next with "Santa, Please Come Home." The band members are decked out in cute red-and-white dresses and at one point depart the stage to personally serenade their mentor Cowell. It's a perfectly pleasant rendition of the song, but it makes me wonder all the more what holiday song Carly Rose Sonenclar will be performing.
Cowell tells his group that he's very proud and his fingers are crossed for them tonight. And now here's the Fifth Harmony "friends and family" montage.
"You guys started off as strangers and now you're like sisters," Khloe Kardashian Odom notes as the girls react to the montage with tears. Up next, Carly Rose.
8:25 p.m. -- L.A. Reid dancing at the judges' desk, conducting and finger-dancing. Didn't realize he could get so animated watching the show.
Tate Stevens is first up, with a countrified version of "Please Come Home for Christmas."
"You've done an amazingly consistent job," Reid, his mentor, said after the song.
It's the fact that Stevens has been so consistent that could get him the victory instead of Carly Rose and Fifth Harmony. Reid added that he wished him good luck and hopes he can "take this thing home."
Stevens' family and friends are shown sending him best wishes, including a large crowd in front of a scarily large bonfire. After the montage, we're told that One Direction's coming up next, as well as more holiday performances from the other contestants.
8:10 p.m. -- The top three also begin the show in the red carpet, kicking off with Tate Stevens, Carly Rose and then the ladies of Fifth Harmony all singing the Beatles' "All You Need is Love." Everyone is dressed in festive red-and-black ensembles. It's a very pop version of the song, as the contestants take the stage before a cheering crowd.
Hosts Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian Odom promise lots of surprises, as well as the contestants offering their takes on classic holidays songs. Would love if Carly Rose Sonenclar covered Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas."
8:03 p.m. -- And the show has started! It kicks off on the red carpet with the judges arriving individually in SUVs (although, of course Simon Cowell arrives in a Rolls-Royce). Demi Lovato is wearing a bright blue gown and said that Tate Stevens has a really good chance, but it can go either way.
Britney Spears arrives in a sleek black gown. When asked about Carly Rose, she replies, "I'm nervous for her sake, but I'm excited."
Unlike Wednesday night's boisterous viewing party at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, the Thursday night viewing party is a more private affair, taking place in Harrison at the home of Andrea Elizabeth, a freelance publicist working with the Sonenclar family.
"We are so proud of her," Elizabeth said. "Even if America didn't put in enough votes, she's going to come back. She's still our star. The fact that she was able to make it to the finals, we are all behind her."
7:30 p.m. EST -- With the "X Factor" finale airing tonight, we're going to cover the festivities live to see if Carly Rose, Mamaroneck's pride and joy, will be crowned the winner and receive a $5 million recording contract. Come back at 8 p.m. and we'll watch the show together!
On Wednesday night's show, we saw the top three sing duos with music stars, reprise a memorable performance from the past season and perform a new song.
On Thursday night's show, there will be even more performances, with Pitbull and One Direction among the stars taking the stage.
We'll be breaking down all the action here in real time. Join us then, and before the show starts, check out photos and videos from the Wednesday night viewing party in White Plains and take our poll and let us know how you think Carly Rose will fare on tonight's show!