The X Factor has had to say farewell to another contestant, with Sami Brookes being forced to pack up her dreams and leave the stage.
A sudden change of plan half-way through last week (reportedly in response to falling ratings and Simon Cowell's terse instructions) meant everyone had to wobble chins, hair extensions and microphones with equal abandon for Rock Week - with wavering levels of success.
This week, judge Louis Walsh was left to make Hobson's Choice when two of his three acts in the Over 25s category - Sami Brookes and Kitty Brucknell - were forced to sing In the penalty shoot-out, after coming bottom two in the audience vote. This meant Louis had to make the decision to send one of his own acts home. In the end, after endless deliberation, he opted to keep Kitty - keeping her Botox supplier happy, if not the audience, who were rooting for Sami.
Louis could only find solace in the ever-increasing popularity of his remaining act, the bespectacled Johnny Robinson, who wowed the audience and judges alike with his inner Darkness, belting out I Believe in a Thing Called Love, leaving even Gary Barlow admitting "I really liked that."
Gary Barlow had a less stressful week than the previous one, when his tousle-haired protege Frankie Cocozza had to perform in the sing-off.
This week, rival judge Louis Walsh had called Cocozza "a little bit over-confident", but this didn't prevent him going safely through, along with both of Barlow's other Boy acts - Marcus Collins and Craig Colton.
Barlow nominated Collins as his performance of the week, with a rendition of Are You Going My Way, by Lenny Kravitz.
Kelly Rowland has been having an easy time of the show so far, with all of her Girl acts - Misha B, Janet Devlin and Sophie Habibis - easily through once again. And once again, Misha B, undoubtably the strongest vocal performer of the contest, was facing accusations of unladylike offstage behaviour - with Louis Walsh even calling her "a bully" for her alleged treatment of one of his acts. He apologised for saying this on Sunday, while fellow judge Tulisa summoned the grace to say "no hard feelings" about what is evidently an ongoing backstage debacle.
Meanwhile, Janet Devlin performed solidly, and was acknowledged by Barlow backstage as "a threat".
And the pressure was off Bands mentor Tulisa Contostavlos, with both Rhythmix and The Risk still safely in the game, until next week at least.
Just to keep everyone's minds on the big prize, the show's first guest performer was Kelly Clarkson - a US singer who has sold 22 million singles on the back of becoming the first American Idol winner in 2002.
Whether any of the X Factor finalists going through to next week's show will hit similar heights... well, only time will tell.
Check out our slideshow of all the weekend's X Factor acts and click on who you think should be walking off with this year's title...
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more