The 24 remaining acts in The X Factor have had their last chance to impress their mentors, in the hope of winning a place in the live finals.
As per usual, the six acts in each of the four categories performed for their mentor at one of their homes – with the boys in Simon Cowell’s category jetting off to Barbados and Louis Walsh’s groups heading to Ireland.
The over-25s, meanwhile, had the chance to travel to Dannii Minogue’s home in St Tropez, while Cheryl Cole’s girls performed at her Cannes residence.
And as per usual, it was an emotional rollercoaster.
In the boys category, Simon appeared particularly impressed by teenager Eoghan Quinn. “I love him,” he said of Eoghan, “I think there’s more to come from him.”
And he also had words of praise for former boyband member Austin Drage. “That last performance is going to change that boy’s life,” he told Sinitta, who accompanied him to Barbados to help with the judging process.
Meanwhile, the over-25s had to impress both Dannii and Spice Girls’ singer Emma Bunton, who was also at her St Tropez home. Among the final six were Spanish born Ruth Lorenzo, who impressed the pair by singing Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours partly in her native tongue. “I got goosebumps all over me,” Bunton said of her.
However it wasn’t such a good day for Rachel Hylton, who has been one of the judges’ favourites since the start. The 26-year-old single mum forgot the words to her song and left the room, leaving Dannii visibly disappointed.
There were more disappointments in Dublin, where Louis Walsh was accompanied by Westlife member Shane Filan. Boy band Priority, who are comprised of rejects from the earlier audition stages, admitted they had not rehearsed together, blaming “work commitments”.
However the girl groups, Girlband, Desire and Bad Lashes, all appeared to make a better impression on the pair.
Finally, the girls were off to Cheryl’s house in Cannes – along with fellow Girls Aloud member Kimberley Walsh – and emotions were running high.
Teenager Diana Vickers appeared nervous as she performed Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U for the pair, while Amy Connolly broke down in tears midway through her song – prompting Cheryl to run over and offer a supportive hug.
Waitress Annastacia Baker was another who broke down in tears after forgetting the words to her song.
The others – Hannah Bradbeer, Alexandra Burke and Laura White, tipped as the one to beat this series, all made it through their performance unscathed despite their obvious nerves. And there were more tears to come from Cheryl.
“This is horrible,” she said to Kimberley as she prepared to choose her finalists. “Why did I want the girls? They’re the hardest category.”
The 12 finalists will be revealed on a special show on Sunday night.