The X Factor: it’s the semi-final

The four remaining acts on The X Factor 2011 have made their last bid for a place in the final in a show which once again saw them perform two songs each.

The first half of the show saw the four acts – Misha B, Amelia Lily, Marcus Collins and Little Mix – performing Motown classics, while the second part featured the quartet performing ‘the song that will get me to the final’.

And this week it was Misha B’s turn to kick things off, performing the 60s classic Dancing In The Street, and scoring rave reviews from the judges.

“This is the performance that will get you through to the final,” Tulisa said, while Gary Barlow added, “This is why I wanted to do this job and sit in this seat, to have the chance to unearth talent like yours.”

However he wasn’t quite so sure about her second performance, in which she sang the Pink song F**kin’ Perfect.

“I mentioned the positive side of you earlier but there is a negative side too as well and I’ve sat here and witnessed your journey and it makes me sad,” he said. “You have been wrongfully accused of being someone you’re not. Even if you are lucky enough to get through tomorrow night I don’t think you can win because of that and that’s a shame.”

But Tulisa was kinder. “When you leave this competition, I think you can sell records,” she said. “I would buy your record.”

Amelia Lily was next on the stage, donning a black and white checked minidress to sing the hit Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – and receiving a thumbs up from the panel.

“I think you have great pop star potential…you deserve to be in the final,” Louis Walsh told her. Kelly Rowland, meanwhile, called the performance “amazing”.

However Louis and Gary clashed over her second performance, singing the Avril Lavigne song I’m With You.

Louis said the teenager gave the “best vocal performance of the night,” but Gary disagreed. “It was a good performance, it wasn’t amazing,” he said. “The problem I have with you is that your shouty loud voice cuts through beautifully but you still have to find your softer voice.”

Elsewhere it was a night of mixed fortunes for Marcus Collins and Little Mix.

Marcus fared well in the first half of the show singing the Motown classic My Girl, with Louis calling him the “perfect popstar” and Gary describing the performance as “smooth, fantastic”, but they weren’t so sure about his rendition of the Jackson 5’s Can You Feel It in the second half.

“I don’t want you to fall at the last hurdle but that wasn’t the right song for me,” Louis said, while Kelly added, “It wasn’t one of your best vocal performances and I though that at some points you were really trying instead of it oozing out of you. But I still love you and want to see you in the final.”

Little Mix, meanwhile, fell foul of Gary with both of their songs, the 60s hit You Keep Me Hanging On and the Beyonce track If I Were A Boy.

“A focus, a lead singer is what was missing tonight,” the Take That singer said of their first performance while Louis was also unsure. “There was something missing in that performance,” he said. “It’s like you lost your mojo.”

And the pair were equally critical of their second song. “You have amazing potential and if you work hard and get the styling right you have such potential,” Louis said. “But it wasn’t perfect.” Gary, meanwhile, added, “For a semi-final act these vocals aren’t good enough tonight.”

The results – and the acts who have made this year’s final – will be revealed on Sunday night, with the outcome decided entirely by public vote rather than a sing-off for the first time this series.