The X Factor finalists faced the prospect of a live audience vote for the first time this weekend, with news that text voting would be returning to the show for the first time since 2007.
Sami kicked off proceedings with ‘I Will Always Love You’ – which judge Gary Barlow likened to the warbling of a cruise ship crooner.
Janet Devlin proved she had nerves of steel, nailing her performance of Can’t Help Falling in Love With You after an emotional week for the Irish teenager. Devlin missed the funeral of her grandfather to perform on Saturday’s show, and her ability to control her emotions in the face of the live audience made this particularly moving and impressive. Gary called her a “translator of music”.
Up next was Frankie with a distinctly average burst of Coldplay. Although judge Kelly summed up the general view that he needed to “take it to the next level”, he was stoutly defended by his mentor Gary.
Camp-as-Christmas Jonny caused the night’s most spontaneous moment. After he channelled his inner Kylie for I Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, Gary remarked of the colourful apparition in front of him, “You look like Aladdin.” Jonny answered, “You can rub my lamp any time,” which left even the normally unflappable Gary blushing to the tops his newly-toned cheeks.
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Gary’s own act Marcus followed, and the reason Rihanna is the world’s most popular pop singer became all too clear as he struggled to hit her notes.
Rythmics’ rendition of I’m Like a Bird did no harm to their much-hyped position as the best girl band on the show...ever. Judge Kelly did her best to boost their popularity, bizarrely reminding the audience “they’re not going to nick anyone’s boyfriend,” while their own mentor Tulisa merely reminded us they represent British women today...
Misha B took the show to a different level, making her own the song Would I Lie To You? In her Grace Jones-inspired outfit, choreography and vintage soul tones, her star-quality was quite apparent. She and mentor Kelly made lavish show of mutual praise – interesting after reports earlier in the day that Kelly had threatened to throw out this indisputably talented contestant for diva-like behaviour with production staff.
Who to follow Misha on stage? That honour went to The Risk, who took their chances with Bruno Mars Just The Way You Are, the song that set last year’s winner Matt Cardle apart from his peers. The good news this year, was that only one of the boys – perched on stools in traditional Louis Walsh fashion – was a bit flat, and that, generally speaking, they pulled it off, recruiting more members to their predominantly female fan base all the while. Supporting JLS on tour any time soon? Watch this space.
Louis, a veteran of such bands, predicted “big things” for the group, while even the resolutely unimpressed Gary pronounced them to be “pure class”.
Transparently sweet Sophie wobbled her way through Wherever You Will Go, a performance in which Gary described there to be “a spark missing”. Tulisa just wanted everyone to vote for a fellow North London girl.
Programme planners, with a view to keeping audiences pinned, kept controversial Kitty until last. With her rendition of Bjork’s Oh So Quiet, Kitty proved as uncompromising as always in a performance virtually Eurovision-esque in its individuality.
However, she got to the end of without a stray note in sight. Acknowledging that she has somehow been bestowed with the controversial card of this year’s competition, she said only that she planned to put her boo-ers to shame.
Check out our Slideshow below for each of this weekend's X Factor finalists and vote for who you think should triumph in the overall competition...