This year’s The X Factor live finals got underway on Saturday night – with a lot at stake for the 16 finalists who took to the stage for the first time.

Sunday’s results show will see four of the acts being sent packing, with each of the judges having to choose one from their category to eliminate.

However it’s likely to be a difficult decision for the quartet, following some strong performances on Saturday night’s US v UK-themed show.

Teenager Amelia Lily kicked things off with a rocky performance of the Michael Jackson hit Billie Jean – and won rave reviews from the judges.

“What a great song choice!” Louis Walsh said. “I loved the arrangement, I loved the styling, you deserved to be on that stage!” Tulisa was equally enthusiastic, telling the 16-year-old, “I didn’t see you as a contender – until now.”

Next up was Johnny Robinson, who kicked off the over 25s category singing the Cher hit Believe. However the 45-year-old, who wore a flamboyant silver suit and was surrounded by dancers, divided the judges with his performance – while Tulisa gave him the thumbs up and called him her “guilty pleasure” Gary Barlow was not so keen.

“Every time you’ve sung for me I’ve been blown away,” he said. “Along comes Louis Walsh and he’s turned you into a circus act…what are you wearing? You look like you’re just about to go into the oven.”

However the Take That frontman had high praise for girl group Rhythmix, who were next on stage performing the Nicki Minaj track Superbass.

“You are already the best girl band that has ever been on The X Factor,” he told the quartet, who were one of a trio of groups in the final formed at boot camp.

Meanwhile Frankie Cocozza led the charge for the boys, looking every inch the rock star with tousled hair and skintight trousers as he performed Ed Sheeran’s The A-Team.

“I am strangely drawn to this boy,” Kelly Rowland said afterwards, “I think you came here as an artist, you just exude such artistry and star quality.”

A newly-brunette Sophie Habibis performed next, singing a low-key version of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream while sitting on top of a piano.

And the 19-year-old barmaid surprsed the judges, particularly Gary, who admitted he had overlooked her at earlier stages of the competition. “Where have you come from?” he said. “I don’t remember your first audition, I don’t remember you at bootcamp, and Kelly I am going to fall out with you if this girl isn’t here next week.”

It wasn’t such plain sailing however for Jonjo Kerr, whose choice of song – The Kinks’ You Really Got Me – fell foul of the judges.

“I think you could have picked something that showed off your voice a little more,” Tulisa said, while Gary added, “You stuck out like a sore thumb for me…I think you’ve made Louis’ decision really easy.”

And Gary wasn’t too keen on 2 Shoes either, who sang Girls Aloud’s Something Kinda Ooooh while sitting in a bright pink convertible. “I want to be nice,” he said, “but girls, it’s not karaoke night in Romford.”

Tulisa hit back, saying, “You don’t know how to have fun, Gary. They are all about the fun and Essex, which is huge at the moment!”

James Michael and Misha Bryan – now shortened to Misha B – were the next two on stage, with Liverpudlian James taking on an acoustic version of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night while Misha gave her own spin to Adele’s Rolling In The Deep by including a rap midway through.

Kelly admitted she was “disappointed” by James’ vocal but Tulisa disagreed. “I was nervous about watching you tonight because sometimes you nail the vocals and sometimes you’re a bit rusty,” she said. “But I had nothing to worry about because you actually blew me away tonight.”

However they were unanimous in giving Misha the thumbs up. “What a production, you’ve really brought it to The X Factor and you brought it your way,” Louis raved, while Gary added, “Be incredibly proud of yourself tonight, well done.”

The judges also liked Nu Vibe’s version of Chris Brown’s Beautiful People – with Kelly telling the quintet, “keep your eye on the prize because you could be something remarkable”, while Marcus Collins won rave reviews for his rendition of Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger. “You’ve got the voice, the personality and you’re always smiling,” Louis said. “I think you could go really far in this competition.”

Meanwhile, following Sami Brookes’ performance of Ultra Nate’s 90s dance hit Free, Gary threatened to quit the competition if Louis eliminated her on Sunday.

“So let me get something straight: the only reason Sami is here is because Goldie dropped out of the competition? So Louis thought Goldie was a better singer than you?” he said. “Let me say this…if you’re not back next week, I’m leaving the chair. If he doesn’t bring you back I’m off!”

The final group of the night on stage were The Risk – who wowed the panel with their version of Plan B’s She Said. “What is so different about you guys, there is no cheese with you, you are all credible musicians,” Tulisa told them. “Some of you write, some of you play, this is a credible boyband. Well done.”

And Liverpudlian Craig colton also impressed the judges with her performance of Christina Perri’s recent hit Jar of Hearts. “You came here tonight and you just killed…you had the most emotional of all the performances and I damn near cried,” Kelly told him while Gary called his song “the number one performance of the night”.

However they expressed their doubts over Kitty Brucknell’s OTT rendition of Queen’s Who Wants To Live For Ever. Mentor Louis said, “when you get on that stage you own it,” but Gary wasn’t so sure. “There’s no question about it, you can sing,” he said. “It’s just a shame there wasn’t more drama in that performance for me.”

Finally, contest favourite Janet Devlin rounded things off with a haunting rendition of Coldplay’s Fix You – which unsurprisingly won warm praise from the judges.

Gary called her performance “a one-off…it was beautiful and unique”, while Tulisa added, “You are just as mesmerising now as when I first saw you, even more so.”

The judges’ results will be revealed on Sunday evening – with four acts leaving the competition for good, before the public votes begin next weekend.