The remaining finalists in X Factor have taken on the songs of Mariah Carey – but this week’s show had one notable absence.

Current favourite Diana Vickers failed to appear on stage this week after being laid low by a bout of laryngitis, and being advised by doctors that she risked permanent damage to her voice if she sang.

As such she was allowed to sit out this week and return to the show next week.

It’s the first time this has happened on The X Factor, although Pop Idol finalist Rik Waller missed out on the finals of that show in 2001 after also being struck down by the bug.

The other finalists received a largely positive response for their performances – even Daniel, who was the subject of some vicious criticism from Simon and Louis on last Saturday’s show.

“That wasn’t bad,” Simon told him, “it was a better choice of song than last week. Louis meanwhile, said, “I don’t think Mariah’s going to be asking you to do a duet, but it was so much better.”

And there were raves from the judges for JLS, and also for Alexandra, who closed the show with her rendition of Without You.

“By any standards that was outstandingly good,” Simon told Alexandra, while Cheryl could not hide her enthusiasm for JLS’s version of One Sweet Day. “I think that’s the best I’ve heard you sing in this competition,” she told the quartet.

Laura also won praise for her rendition of Endless Love, which featured her playing the piano, although there was a mixed reaction to Ruth’s performance.

“That was more Mariah Scary than Mariah Carey,” Louis told her, but Simon was more enthusiastic. “There were two things I loved about that performance,” he said – in reference to the 25-year-old’s low-cut red dress – “but the singing was good too.”

The show opened with a performance from Mariah Carey, who spent the week working with the finalists and was in the audience to watch them sing.