The remaining nine acts in The X Factor 2011 have upped the tempo on a night of club classics, and once again there were a few surprises – and arguments – along the way.

In a night which left several of the favourites out of their comfort zone, there was praise for the likes of Craig Colton and Marcus Collins, but it wasn’t such an easy ride for Janet Devlin or Frankie Cocozza.

Johnny Robinson kicked off the show, performing a mash-up of Madonna’s Hang Up and Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round which divided the judges.

Tulisa called the performance “a little bit predictable”, while Gary Barlow’s reaction was more blunt. “It was like the opening of a bad pantomime in Scarborough,” he told the 45-year-old.

Janet Devlin, meanwhile, received a mixed response for her rendition of the Jackson Five’s classic I Want You Back – with Tulisa suggesting she looked “uncomfortable” performing the song. Louis agreed, telling the teenager, “You’re out of your comfort zone.”

However there was unanimous praise for Craig Colton, who sang the Bryan Adams song Heaven, and won a standing ovation from his mentor Gary.

“I’m starting to think some contestants are getting complacent,” Kelly Rowland said, “but you clearly want to be here. That was a great performance.”

The Risk were up next, singing the Shalamar classic A Night To Remember – and once again dividing the panel.

Louis loved the performance, telling the quartet, “I loved everything about it, well done,” but Gary wasn’t so sure. “This was your best song choice to date,” he said, “but I thought you were lacking tonight.”

Marcus Collins followed, wowing the panel with a rendition of Jackie Wilson’s Reet Petite which Gary dubbed “the performance of the series”, but it wasn’t such plain sailing for Kitty Brucknell and Frankie Cocozza – both of whom have been tipped to leave in this weekend’s double elimination.

Kitty – who sang Madonna’s Like A Prayer and began the performance in a cloak before stripping down to a sparkly leotard – fell foul of Gary who said, “the vocals were a little bit off tonight – and you can’t dance.”

And Frankie – who has hit the headlines this week for his partying and wild behaviour – failed to impress Louis with his version of Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling. “That was really bad karaoke,” he said. “You’re not a rock star and you never will be a rock star.”

Kelly, however, leapt to the teenager’s defence. “Louis, you are out of line,” she said. “Don’t ever tell somebody what they’ll never be.”

Misha B and Little Mix rounded off the show with performances which won some of the best reviews of the night.

Tulisa praised Misha for her rendition of Proud Mary, which saw her tone down her usual quirky image for a softer, curly-haired look. “I loved seeing you get dressed up,” she said, “but I love that you toned it down a bit and we can see what a natural beauty you are – great performance.” Louis added, “I love what you did with the song. You have got star quality.”

And he was similarly enthusiastic about Little Mix, who ended the show singing Rihanna’s Please Don’t Stop The Music. “I loved everything about it,” he said. “I think you have broken the girl band curse on X Factor.”

The results of the double elimination will be revealed on Sunday night.