This year’s X Factor has been one of the most exciting, talent-filled competition to date. With aspiring starlets in all of the categories, it is tough to try and predict a winner!
By the last day of Bootcamp, the contestants had already endured a rigorous audition in which a third were sent home.
With 70 acts remaining and only 24 places up for grabs at the Judges’ Houses, the competition really started to heat up.
Now the remaining contestants faced the added pressure of a live crowd of 5000 - on top of the judges' wrath.
Up first to face the judges and sing for her future was Lucy Spraggan. She was less than happy with her first Bootcamp audition and determined to prove she deserved a place at Judges' Houses.
Singing her original song, Tea and Toast, the crowd went ecstatic, giving her a standing ovation. The judges were equally impressed, with Tulisa calling Lucy’s performance 'absolutely amazing.' Gary was also piled on the praise: "She's a total one off, she is."
Next up hoping for success was Rylan Clark who attracted Louis' attention right away with his outlandish outfit. Clad in spikes and zebra print leggings, he sang the Pussycat Dolls' Don’t Cha - much to the delight of former lead Doll Nicole.
In a heartfelt plea to the judges, Rylan staked his claim for a place in the next stage. He said: "I am serious about this, especially to you Gary. I ain't taking this as a joke."
Even Dermot felt Rylan’s spikes, almost losing an eye when he hugged the singer coming off stage.
Gathan Cheema was hoping to impress the audience but his entrance fell flat. Asking the Liverpudlian crowd to make some noise, you could hear a pin drop as they failed to take to the singer.
The judges were also less than impressed. Tulisa was first to comment on her displeasure: "starting to grate on me, that one." Nicole agreed, although admitted Gathan had a strong work ethic.
Up next was Nathan Fagan Gayle. He gave a spirited, up tempo performance, cartwheeling around the stage and leaping towards the judges. He gave way to Eddie String who paraded through the crowd with all the pomp and swagger of a rock star.
They were followed by the first of the groups, Rough Copy. Mimicking the earlier acrobatics of Nathan Fagan Gayle, they lifted the crowd, whipping them into a boisterous frenzy.
Jahmene Douglas had first impressed the panel at his initial audition. But a weak rendintion of Moves like Jagger at Bootcamp had left his confidence and selfbelief in tatters.
Speaking with producers and medics backstage, Jahmene complained of weakness and dizziness.
But the judges showed their faith in the young singer when Louis and Nicole went backstage to comfort and reassure him.
Louis said: "Pick yourself up, we believe in you so much. You’re going to be great, take your time."
With a warm hug from Nicole, Jahmene finally made it on stage where he gave a rousing, heartbreaking rendition of The Shirelles' classic Will You Still Love me Tomorrow - much to the pleasure of the crowd, who went wild.
The judges, however, were split on their decision. Gary questioned if Jahmene had the mental toughness for the later stages of the competition - the impact of Twitter and newspapers being typically tough on contestants the further they progress.
Louis on the other hand backed Jahmene. He said: "I think he’s worth it. I would take a chance on him."
Boygroup Triple J channelled their inner rock gods by singing a harmonised version of the Guns n Roses head-banging classic Sweet Child O’ Mine. When asked why they felt they had the X Factor, Triple J said they were 'something different that isn’t available at the moment.'
Up next was Glasgow born Melanie Masson who prepared herself to face the judges. She spoke candidly backstage about how this was the biggest chance she ever had to make fulfil her dreams and ambitions. She said: "I want to sing like it’s the last song I will ever sing in my life."
The 44-year-old mum continued her passion on stage.
She said: "This is the biggest opportunity I have ever had in my life and probably my last chance really."
The judges’ reactions were mixed to her performance of Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come. Nicole congratulated her where Louis was a little more pessimistic, unsure as to whether she had picked the best song for her voice.
Continuing with last chance opportunities, Chris Maloney told the judges he wanted to turn his nerves into something positive.
He had nothing to worry about. Singing A Million Love Songs by Gary and his Take That bandmates, both Gary and Tulisa showered him in praise.
Feeling the pressure of the competition and knowing her time was running out, Carolynne Poole stepped up next to face the judges. She said: "I’ve been working at this for 15 years and it really does mean the world to me."
Her return to the show comes after a year of hardship and heartbreak for the aspiring singer. Following the break up of her marriage the 31-year-old, who was rejected by Louis at last year’s Judges' Houses stage, decided to give it another try.
Taking to the stage, she put any nerves to one side and delivered a strong performance of Bless The Broken Road. The crowd gave her a standing ovation as she left the stage, her confidence intact and a broad smile on her face.
Readying himself to face the Liverpudlian crowd was Kye Stones, the chimney sweep who begged for a lucky break during his first audition. His subsequent performance of I Can’t Make You Love Me left him visibly overwhelmed by the reaction of the crowd.
The judges too were equally impressed. Tulisa said: "He is amazing." Louis called the performance “faultless”
Girl group From Above lined up on stage and immediately struggled. Their rendition of Maroon 5’s Payphone was so poor that Gary stepped in and asked opening singer Daisy would like a glass of water. She refused and the group started over to a less than favourable reaction from the judges.
The group claimed frustration at the nervousness they felt when they were on stage together. Gary, however, was far more critical. He said: "There was barely a voice between the rest of them."
Jade Ellis was next onstage, singing for a place at the Judges’ Houses and ready for her shot at superstardom. Singing I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz, she forgot the lyrics and apologised to the judges.
She finished her song but was visibly upset and worried she had not given 100%.
Receiving another standing ovation from the crowd for his acoustic version of U2’s With or Without You, Joseph Whelan made his case as being the first good rock singer the competition has ever had. Much to the pleasure of Tulisa, who described him as a 'hottie.' However, fellow judge Nicole questioned if he possessed the necessary star quality to progress.
Boy band Times Red then thrilled Tulisa and Nicole in particular with their beat boxed version of *Ain't Nobody** by Chaka Khan. Gary also praised their harmonies.
One contestant who was surprised he had progressed so far was James Arthur. To be so close to the Judges’ Houses stage came as a nice shock and he felt confident enough to do his own mash up of A Million Love Songs.
Praising Gary he said: "I want to show the audiences and the judges what I can do with a song that one of the best song writers in the country has written."
The gamble paid off with Gary’s comments in particular. The Take That singer claimed that other artists would be 'lining up' to receive the James Arthur treatment of their songs.
Leanne Robinson used her opportunity to dazzle the judges with a soulful rendition of I Have Nothing. She drew universal praise form all of the judges and crowd and appeared overwhelmed at the reaction.
She was followed by Adam Burridge, who - with guitar in hand - made his claim for progression with an acoustic cover of Ain't Nobody.
Finally, after a long, gruelling audition session, it was time for Ella Henderson.
Singing Believe by Cher, Ella was reduced to tears once she had completed her performance.
Admitting he was not the biggest fan of the original song, Gary beamed that her version was something he would pay 'lots of money to hear', making the 16-year-old ecstatic.
With the live performances over, the judges retired to make one of the hardest decisions in the history of the programme.
Up first were the boys to hear their fates. After a nervous few moments, the judges revealed that James Arthur, Jahmene Douglas, Nathan Fagan Gayle, Adam Burridge, Rylan Clark and Jake Quickenden would be progressing through to the Judges’ Houses stage.
They were all ecstatic at their progression, with Rylan babbling incoherently, tears running down his face.
The girls were next. The lucky six were Ella Henderson, Amy Mottram, Jade Collins, Lucy Spraggan, Leanne Robinson and Jade Ellis.
Over 28’s category featured some of the best talent in the competition and the final decision was more difficult than in previous years. Making it through to the next stage were Kye Sones, Melanie Masson, Nicola-Marie, Brad Shackleton, Carolynne Poole and Christopher Maloney.
Christopher showed the most emotion, breaking down on stage, overcome with joy. He said: "I didn’t think they were going to call my name out. All day I’ve been thinking it was a no."
Selected to go to Judges' Houses from the groups were Mitsotu, Duke, MK1, Poisonous Twins and Rough Copy.
Ever dramatic, Gary announced to the remaining groups that one place was still up for grabs in the next stage.
The decision would be made in an acapella battle between Triple J singing I Wanna See You Tonight and GMD3 who performed That God Blessed The Open Road.
Re-assessing their choices, the judges made their final decision and picked GMD3 as the last group through to the Judges’ Houses stage.
Then, after what seemed like an endless wait, the judges received the most eagerly anticipated call of the competition so far.
Answering his first, Gary was greeted by Simon Cowell, who was lounging barefooted in his mansion in LA. Much to his delight, Gary was handed the Over 28’s category.
Next up was a shocked Louis who was given the duty of monitoring the groups. Simon said: "Just be good at what you do Louis."
The final two categories would be decided between Tulisa and new judge Nicole. Tulisa in particular staked her claim for the Girls category. She said: "I would really like the girls because I do always work better if I have an emotional connection."
Nicole answered her call from Simon first and was pleased to find out she had been handed the boys.
She said: "I wasn’t expecting that. I’m stoked. I’m super stoked. I’m excited."
But it was Tulisa’s reaction that proved the highlight of the judges’ reactions. The singer was elated at being given the category of her choice - the girls.
With a huge scream, she said: "Get in there. Thank you very much Simon, I won’t let you down."
It was then revealed who would be helping the judges in picking their acts for the live shows. Tulisa would be aided by Tinie Tempah, Ne-Yo will be joining new judge Nicole and old fan favourite Sharon Osbourne would be joining Louis in Las Vegas.
However, it was who would be joining Gary that dominated the headlines.
In what was one of the show’s worst kept secrets, Cheryl Cole was revealed to be the guest mentor with Gary - returning to the show for the first time since 2010.
With the final 24 acts now confirmed for the Judges' Houses, the lucky contestants face one final challenge before they grace the stage of the live shows.
It is now up to them to prove to their mentors that they were the right choices and take the final step towards their dreams of winning the 2012 X Factor.
Tune in to see the Judges' Houses drama on Saturday!
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