LeAnn Rimes Denies Being Drunk on 'X Factor'; Gives Jerky Excuse for Odd Performance

The songstress tells TMZ that any awkwardness came from helping her duet partner "who was having trouble with the song"

When LeAnn Rimes showed up on Wednesday's X Factor, she was supposed to be supporting finalist Carly Rose Sonenclar. Unfortunately, Rimes ended up casting some unflattering attention on herself instead. During their "diva duet" of Rimes' hit "How Do I Live," the country star seemed a little bit... off. The judges didn't seem to mind, but viewers immediately began to speculate on whether Rimes had been drinking. Watch the performance below!

It's not the worst performance we've ever seen on a talent competition, but there's definitely something strange about it. Rimes seems to be stepping on Sonenclar's feet a lot, singing over her instead of backing her up. Then there's that weird moment at the end, when Rimes appears to lean on the 13-year-old contestant for support, and gets right in her face for the final notes.

Moreover, Rimes just doesn't seem to be acting like herself. For contrast, take a look at the way she sounds and moves during a 2010 performance of the same song on Opry Live, below.

In the wake of speculation that she was drunk on the live show, Rimes has issued a denial to TMZ. If her performance was off, she told the website, it was because she was trying to cover for Sonenclar.

"I was trying to help this 13-year-old girl who was having some trouble with the song," said Rimes, who told TMZ that Sonenclar was nervous and struggling with the notes.

Okay. If that's true, fine -- but there's something troubling about Rimes blaming Sonenclar for her own performance, when the 13-year-old seemed far more poised and professional than Rimes did. She could have just said that she wasn't feeling well. In fact, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Rimes was "hoarse due to being sick," so the excuse had already been made for her. Can LeAnn just not admit that she had a bad day?

The good news is that Rimes' behavior didn't reflect badly on Sonenclar, who earned high praise from judge Britney Spears and plenty of applause from the audience. But was it enough to put her ahead of rivals Fifth Harmony and Tate Stevens? We'll find out when the winners are announced on Thursday night's season finale!

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