Sophie Habibis has become the latest act to exit The X Factor after she found herself in a shock sing-off against fellow contestant Misha B.
The 19-year-old from North London was in the bottom two for the first time on Sunday night’s show, along with Mancunian teenager Misha – whose appearance in the danger zone was regarded as a shock given her almost universal praise from the judges for her performances.
And the two girls’ appearance in the bottom two came on the weekend that their mentor Kelly Rowland was forced to miss the show due to having a severe throat infection.
The Destiny’s Child singer – who was replaced in the studio by former X Factor winner Alexandra Burke – delivered her verdict live by phone from Los Angeles.
However the judges’ voted unanimously to keep Misha in the competition, following a sing-off which saw Sophie perform The XX’s song Shelter, and Misha tackle Kings Of Leon’s Use Somebody.
“I’m going to save the person who I think has got star quality who I think can go forward and be a star,” Louis Walsh said, “and it just goes to prove that no-one is safe on X Factor – the person I’m going to send home is Sophie.”
Tulisa – who had publicly accused Misha of bullying her acts backstage on last weekend’s show, also voted to save the teenager.
“I don’t think either of you deserve tgo be in the bottom two right now, this is the biggest shock of the competition for me,” she said. “Misha we had our differences but we’re cool now, and I have to go with the person I can relate musically.”
Meanwhile Kelly also wasted no time in casting her vote for Misha, sending Sophie out of the competition in the process.
“This is so hard because I know how hard both of you wants it but one of you wants it more than the other and I have to be completely honest,” she said down the phone from LA.
Gary Barlow said afterwards that he would also have voted in Misha’s favour. “Listen, I’m amazed and I’m shocked but the act I would have sent home is Sophie tonight,” he admitted.
Sophie, meanwhile, took her defeat gracefully, saying afterwards, “Thank you for this amazing experience, I’m going to keep working hard and prove that I should have stayed.”
Kelly also had some words of encouragement for her. “She is remarkable, she has such an incredible voice and I can’t wait to see what her future holds,” she said.
Sophie’s departure leaves Kelly with two remaining girls, Janet Devlin and Misha B.
Tulisa and Louis also have two acts apiece – with Tulisa’s two remaining groups, The Risk and Little Mix, and Louis’ over-25s Johnny Robinson and Kitty Brucknell all making it through to next week on the public vote.
Gary Barlow remains the only judge with three acts intact – with Frankie Cocozza, Marcus Collins and Craig Colton all surviving this week’s public vote.
Sunday’s show also saw the remaining acts perform a group rendition of Cee Lo Green’s Bright Lights Big City, as well as featuring performances from Nicole Scherzinger and 2010 finalist Cher Lloyd, who sang her new single With Ur Love.