Teenage X Factor hopeful Sam Callahan suffered a setback in his bid for stardom when Gary Barlow said he “hated” his performance on tonight’s show.
The 19-year-old was hoping to impress on the disco themed night with his version of the 1979 hit Relight my Fire, which Take That famously covered.
But his version failed to prove a hit with Barlow, who tore into the youngster’s performance telling him: “You are keen to learn but I hated that performance tonight.
“I thought the vocals were really exposed. You are not the best singer in the competition, the problem for you is everyone else is so much better than you.”
And fellow judge Nicole Scherzinger agreed saying “Unfortunately that song exposed vocally your weaknesses”.
The teen’s father Mark leapt to his son’s defence, telling the show’s presenter Caroline Flack that his son had “charisma”.
In a backstage interview, he said: “I wonder whether Gary is judging the right show. If for him it is all about the vocals why isn’t he on The Voice.”
The show kicked off with a toe-tapping performance by legendary disco group Chic, who sang some of their biggest hits from the 1970s with US producer and musician Nile Rodgers.
It fell to teenager Luke Friend to follow the professionals as he was the first of the hopefuls to sing with his rendition of Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry.
The performance won him a standing ovation from the judges, with Sharon Osbourne saying: “You are the dark horse in this competition, you are coming up on the outside”, and Gary Barlow said “I thought it was incredible”.
Kingsland Road made the most of their dance moves as they sang the The Jackson 5 classic Blame it on the Boogie.
But while their fancy footwork impressed, Scherzinger criticised the band for “being a little too planned, like everything has to be perfect”, while Louis Walsh said “visually I thought it was fantastic. I still think you have to work on your vocals”.
Tamera Foster, one of the show’s main contenders, gave a glittering rendition of Wishing On a Star by Rose Royce.
Barlow said: “The one thing that performance was, it was truly elegant”, while Osbourne told the hopeful “your voice is like velvet”.
Three-piece boyband Rough Copy dazzled as they sang the Earth Wind & Fire classic September, which was hailed the “performance of the night” by their mentor and judge Barlow.
And after a few weeks struggling to win the judges’ praise, Abi Alton was back on form with a stripped-back version of Gloria Gaynor’s hit song I Will Survive, performed on the piano.
Barlow said “This is why I’ve been so hard on you the last few weeks, because I knew you can do that.”, while Osbourne praised her “brave” performance.
Nicholas McDonald, 16, ditched his usual ballads to try out a more up-tempo number by singing Michael Jackson’s Rock With You.
And his switch went down well with the panel, with Nicole telling him “I love your voice”, while Walsh said “You have got it, you’ve got the X Factor.”
Hannah Barrett vowed to come back fighting after finding herself in the bottom two sing-off last week, and sang Somebody Else’s Guy by Jocelyn Brown.
Her show-stopping performance went down a storm with the judges, with Osbourne saying she loved her “hot chocolate voice” and Walsh saying “you have this amazing, powerful strong, soulful voice. That is the way to do a performance”.
And the final contestant in the Overs category Sam Bailey revealed that she has lost a stone and a half in her time on the show before she closed the show with her version of Enough Is Enough by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer.
Barlow described her vocal performance as “flawless” and said “Can I say one more thing Sam? You look incredible.” While Walsh said “that was the vocal performance of the night by a mile”.
For the first time since the live shows started the contestants did not face the live flash vote, and will have to wait until tomorrow night to discover if they are in the bottom two sing-off.