The surviving 'X Factor' contestants will today discover who has made it through to the show’s final next week.
There had been fears some of the performers would be too sick to perform after painter and decorator Matt Cardle and supermarket crooner Mary Byrne missed the show’s soundcheck.
Even when the singers arrived at rehearsals yesterday morning their voices were in doubt, with One Direction’s Harry Styles wearing a sign explaining he could not speak as he was on vocal rest.
On the night, 27-year-old Cardle, who is favourite to be crowned champion this year out of the five semi-finalists, won praise from the judges for his two performances.
His mentor Dannii Minogue admitted ahead of his first song, 'You’ve Got the Love' as performed by Florence and the Machine: “I’ve never seen anyone this ill on the show before.”
Cardle, who spent part of the week at his parents’ home suffering from tonsilitis, was told by Louis Walsh: “Girls like you, boys like you. I think you can win the competition, I really do.”
Judge Cheryl Cole, who herself was ill with malaria earlier this year, told Cardle: “I really like the fact you came out and sang. Sometimes, when you’re an artist you get sick. The fact you came out here and delivered a great performance is testament to you.”
Cardle sang 'Always a Woman', a hit for Fyfe Dangerfield after it featured on a John Lewis advert, as his “song to get to the final”, but was told by Cowell it was his worst performance in the competition however.
Byrne, who sang 'Never Can Say Goodbye' by Gloria Gaynor as her first song, part of the ITV1 show’s club classics theme, was told by Cowell that she should have chosen a more “contemporary” song.
But Walsh came back by saying: “She’s literally out of her bed to perform. She’s had no rehearsal.”
Byrne, the last remaining singer in the over 28s category, could not finish her second song 'The Way We Were' by Barbra Streisand as she broke down in tears, later explaining it was her mother’s favourite song.
One Direction seemed to brush off problems they had in the week, which also included member Zayn Malik missing a secret gig due to a personal matter.
They were mentored by Cole this week due to Cowell’s illness and performed 'Only Girl in the World' by Rihanna and 'Chasing Cars' by Snow Patrol.
After watching their first effort of the night, Minogue told them: “You’ve had a really difficult week, and that was such a classy, classy performance.”
Rebecca Ferguson was told she made her hometown of Liverpool proud after performances of Steve Angelo’s 'Show Me Love' and an emotional version of 'Amazing Grace', accompanied by a choir.
Teenage rapper Cher Lloyd chose to sing B.O.B’s 'Nothin’ On You' and 'Love the Way you Lie' by Eminem featuring Rihanna.
Cowell told her she represents “every teenage girl with a dream” and that it would be a “travesty” if she did not make it to the final show.
The judges accused each other of making “tactical” comments in tonight’s show.
Cole accused One Direction’s first song choice as being “a little bit dangerous” as it is Rihanna’s latest hit – despite the fact she was the one supervising them this week.
Their usual mentor Cowell responded by saying: “Someone’s being tactical. I have to tell you guys, I thought the song was absolutely perfect for you.”
Cowell’s own comments on Essex-boy Cardle were criticised by Minogue however, who responded to his jibe that singing Always a Woman was a “safe” choice by saying: “I think that’s what you call tactics.”
Cardle is currently 11/10 favourite to have this year’s Christmas number one, with bookmakers Ladbrokes saying One Direction are the second most likely X Factor contestants to hit the top spot.
They are the third favourites to get that honour, at 11/2, with Gamu Nhengu, who did not proceed to the live shows, at 5/1 and Ferguson at 6/1.
Tonight’s show will see previous winner Alexandra Burke performing her new single, the cast of hit American high-school show Glee singing 'Don’t Stop Believing' and a performance from Black Eyed Peas.