The final 12 who will battle it out to win this year’s X Factor crown have been selected after a gruelling Judges’ Houses round, which saw some of the acts crumble and fall to pieces, while others shone.
The finalists were selected after the 32 acts travelled all over the world to perform one last time for Cheryl Cole in Ascot, in front of Simon Cowell in Marbella, for Dannii Minogue in Australia and for Louis Walsh in Shannan, Ireland.
There were some shock selections, with Cheryl Cole’s choices for the Girls raising a few eyebrows. Her first pick was Rebecca Ferguson, a young mum-of-two, whose lack of self confidence worried the other judges at the auditions stage. However, she won over the vote of Cheryl and her helper, rapper Will.i.am, with her jazzy, soulful vocals on Owl City’s hit Fireflies, and her endearing, shy nature.
Cheryl’s other two selections for the Girls category were more surprising. She chose young singer Cher Lloyd as one of her final three, despite the 17-year-old falling to bits and having to start her song twice, before throwing in the towel.
Cher had caught Cheryl’s eye at the auditions stage, with the judge telling her “you’re right up my street”. Initially the young wannabe seemed to be one of the hottest contenders on this year’s show. But she messed up her performance in Ascot in front of Cheryl and Willl.i.am, after being unable to hit some of the notes due to a throat infection, and told Cheryl "I'm done", despite being offered the chance to return to perform again later. However Cheryl clearly sees raw talent in the youngster, and has decided to give her another chance.
Another shock selection from Cole was 24-year-old Katie Waissel. The waitress also fell to pieces when performing her final song, Smile, in front of Cheryl and Will.i.am, and had to stop to compose herself after welling up. The Madonna-lookalike had already messed up one audition, forgetting the words to her initial audition song, We Are The Champions.
The Girls didn’t make it through to the Live Shows were the hotly-tipped adopted Scot Gamu Nhengu who had made Louis cry with her stunning vocals at Boot Camp, Treyc Cohen and Annastasia Baker who also appeared on last year’s show, burger chain worker Raquel Thomas, and club singer Kerri Arindell.
The Boys who made it through include teen hunk, 18-year-old Aiden Grimshaw, who impressed Dannii and her helper, singer Natalie Imbruglia, with his strong vocals on a David Gray classic.
Painter and decorater, 27-year-old Matt Cardle also won a spot on the Live Shows after impressing with his moving rendition of Beyonce’s hit If I Were A Boy.
The third act to secure a space on the Live Shows was 22-year-old Nicolo Festa. The cocky student clearly impressed after performing Paloma Faith’s hit New York, and won over the support of the Aussie judge.
Those in the Boys category who didn’t make it through were young contestant Tom Richards, cinema worker Paije Richardson, teen Karl Brown, Manchester-based singer Marlon McKenzie and Londoner John Wilding.
Meanwhile, Simon had a tough time selecting his three Groups, with the judge admitting to his helper, Sinitta, that he was struggling to make a choice. Regarded as one of the strongest categories on this year’s show, Simon finally made a decision, selecting two boy bands one girl group.
FYD, made up of Gabriel, Alex Murdoch, Matt Newton, Ryan-Lee Seager, Kalvin LaMey, are being tipped as the ‘new JLS’, and it seems that Simon agrees that they certainly have something special. The guys really caught Simon’s eye with their performance of the hit Beggin’ - and after putting in 10-hour-long rehearsals, it’s no wonder!
Girl group Belle Amie have also secured a spot in the Live Shows. The girls - Esther Campbell, Sophia Wardman, Geneva Lane, Rebecca Creighton - were put together by Simon, who decided they would be stronger together than apart, as they had originally auditioned.
The ladies won over the support of Cowell and Sinitta, who loved their performance of George Michael’s hit Faith, and were extremely impressed with the amount of work they had put in.
The third group Cowell chose were boy band One Direction. Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Zain Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson had also originally auditioned as solo artists, but were put together in a group to be given a second chance.
The boys impressed after giving an emotional performance of Natalie Imbrulia’s Torn – despite being down one member, after Louis was sent to hospital after cutting his foot on a sea urchin!
The bands that didn’t make it through to the Live Shows were boy band Princes and Rogues, girl group Husstle, camp duo Diva Fever, twins Twem and male group The Reason.
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Finally, Louis made his selections in the Over 28s, a new category this year. After watching some disappointing performances from this group, Louis chose the three singers who he believed truly deserved their places the most.
His acts include 30-year-old care worker John Adeleye, who won over the support of Louis and his helper, former X Factor judge Sharon Osbourne, with his performance of So Freakin’ Bad.
Joining him in the Over 28s category is 37-year-old musician Storm Lee. Born in Edinburgh, Storm now lives in LA and has been desperately trying to achieve his dream of superstardom for years.Storm won his place after singing I Can’t Live, a performance he found so emotional that he broke down after singing his heart out.
The third and final act in the Over 28s is 50-year-old checkout assistant Mary Byrne. Mary stunned the judges at her first audition, when she sang the Tom Jones hit I (Who Have Nothing).
However when Mary performed Fix You by Coldplay in front of Louis and Sharon she forgot some of her words, prompting Louis to voice his fears about whether he could trust her to perform consistently on The X Factor Live Shows week after week.
But Louis clearly saw enough potential in Mary, and selected the singer – who has been dubbed the new Susan Boyle – to be one of his three acts.
Those who didn’t make it through were Glasgow househusband Stephen Hunter, Justin Vandehyde, bubbly Dutch singer Yuli Miguel, Brazilian 54-year-old Wagner Carrilho and Londoner Elesha Moses.
However all the acts in each category have one last shot at making it on The X Factor; next week, one act from each category will be invited to return as the judges' "wildcard" choice - which is sure to hot things up considerably!
So that’s the final 12 who have made it through to the Live Shows of The X Factor. Who do you think will win out of this lot? We’d love to hear from you – leave a message using the comments facility on the site.