The X Factor semi-finals: who sang the best?

All of the remaining acts go head to head on Sunday for a place in next week's final

ITV Pictures, SL

It’s the penultimate week of the X Factor 2017 – and for the first time this year, all the remaining acts went head to head on the same night.

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On Saturday, after the contestants rocked the judges’ collective socks off with best of British tunes for Cool Brittania week, plasterer Matt Linnen was shown the exit door.

Rak-Su, Grace Davies, The Cutkelvins, Lloyd Macey and Kevin Davy White remain in the competition, though two will be sent home on Sunday night. Each contestant will sing the song they think is most likely to earn them a place in next week’s final.

But who deserves to stay in the competition? And whose performance do you need to catch up on?

Check out all the performances below in our bumper X Factor recap, and read what judges Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and Nicole Scherzinger have to say about their remaining acts.

Sunday:

Lloyd Macey

Song: Fix You (Coldplay)

What the judges said: They reckon he deserves a spot in the final.

“What can I say other than, annoyingly brilliant,” Simon said. It actually reminded me of christmas, it made me feel happy. I think that should get you into the final next week.”

“Lloyd you were like the angel of music up there tonight,” Nicole said, before her next statement – “from one vocalist to another – but the rest of” led to the rest of comments being drowned out by the sound of Louis and Simon clearing their throats ironically.

Louis added: “It was the perfect song but you’ve got the perfect voice. Please get him in the final”.

Rak-Su

Song: I’m Feeling You (original)

What the judges said: They reckon these guys will be in the final, too.

Louis said: “You’ve made so much progress, you have to be in the final. This is a hit record.”

Sharon was equally impressed: “Everything you do is just brilliant.See ya next week.”

While Nicole said it wasn’t their best performance of the series, she admitted that they’d probably be in the final, before adding a typically bizarre comparison: “you’re pizza, everybody loves pizza and there’s a topping for everyone.”

Simon had some particularly high praise: “we make shows like this in the hope that we find artists like you.”

The Cutkelvins

Song: Show Me Love (Robin S)

What the judges said: They fear they didn’t quite do enough to make it to next week.

“Guys, what a tough night,” Sharon said. The competition here with you all is so huge cause you’re all so great. you’re in your comfort zone now. I hope you’re here next week.

Nicole wasn’t so sure. “I know that 2 people are going home tonight, but I don’t know if that was cutting edge enough for you to be in the final,” she said.

Simon added: “I’m frustrated cause I didn’t like the production behind you tonight. You guys haven’t compromised – you are the underdogs, I’m not gonna lie – but i think there’s enough people who want you in the final next week.”

Kevin Davy White

Song: Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix)

What the judges said: Their socks were rocked off.

“Everything is real about you,” Louis said. “Its so unusual to hear a Jimi Hendrix song on X Factor, but it all worked.”

Simon said: “As Nicole would say, you’ve just put your balls on the line. That was honestly incredible.”

Nicole compared him to a boxing legend: “for me, there is no competition: you are the Muhammad Ali of this competition and nobody else compares.”

“I loved it”, Sharon added.

Grace Davies

Song: Wolves (original)

What the judges said: They were blown away by her original song.

Simon said: “That was like me listening to someone who comes back onto the show with a hit record. What you guys are doing with your originality and new material, you’re coming in every week with hit records You deserve to be there next week.”

“Grace you’re so blessed because you truly have a gift for songwriting,” Nicole said. “You have such a great skill. My only thing to you is just enjoy it, because its going to be a beautiful ride.”

Louis was adamant that she should make it to the final: “you have to be in the final because you’re original, you’re hardworking”.

“That song is a hit single, it really, really is”, Sharon said. “I don’t know how you do it. You take my breath away each week.”

Saturday:

The Cutkelvins

Song: Nothing Like (original)

The Judges said: The opening act of the semi-finals will be hard to follow – the family group received high praise from all four of the judges.

“It gets better week after week after week,” Louis Walsh said. “Somebody has to go home tonight – it can’t be these guys”.

“Yeah guys you had the whole place jumping tonight, you really did. song was great – a really big risk you took but it paid off,” Sharon Osbourne said.

And Simon thought they had saved their best performance of the year for when it really counts: “this was the best performance you’ve done throughout the whole competition,” he said.

Matt Linnen

Song: Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones)

The Judges said: Everyone but Louis seemed to be pretty impressed.

“I think you could have picked a much better song, even a better Rolling Stones song. Honestly for me – you’re good, the song was all wrong?” Louis said, to a chorus of boos from the crowd.

His fellow judges disagreed.

“I think you sang really well tonight,” Sharon Osbourne said.

While Simon directly took Louis up on his criticism.

“I love the song,” he said. “You’ve got guts, you’ve got balls – I like you”.

Nicole also complimented him on his *ahem*, balls, and gave away a little too much information in the process.

“The texture of your voice, the huskiness. It has three of my favourite things -it’s got balls, it’s got hair, it’s got teeth,” she said.

Louis, forced to defend his comments, added: “I know more about the rolling stones than you ever will Simon”. Good to see there’s still some spice between the two of them after all these years.

Grace Davies

Song: Life on Mars (David Bowie)

The judges said: A “classy” performance brought a standing ovation from Simon Cowell.

“That is honestly one of my favourite ever songs,” Cowell said. “I loved your version – you took it where other people don’t take it. thats about being an artist. It was so intimate it was so stunning, I didn’t want it to end.”

“I’ve so much respect for you for what you’ve just done. This will take you to the final, I’m sure of it.”

Nicole was gave a typically colourful take: “You should feel like the unicorn that you are. Your tone just sounded beautiful. I loved it because it was understated and simple,” she said.

And Louis Walsh shared some equally high praise: “because of your talent you deserve to be in the final,” he said, adding: “this could be the performance of the night for me”.

Rak-Su

Song: Flowers (Sunship Edit) (Sweet Female Attitude)

The judges said: The song choice didn’t go over all that well.

“Your vocals are always absolutely perfect. The only thing I didn’t love – the song choice,” Louis said.

Sharon got his back: “listen, I think the audience has said ti – but every time you perform, you just are so up. It’s infectious,” she began, before adding: “I must say I prefer you doing your own songs.”

Nicole was on a different plain altogether: “live and in full colour!” she said. “That was very vibrant and trippy and cool”.

But Simon had nothing but praise for the group.

“I had a feeling Louis wouldn’t like this,” he said, claws out, “because it was original. You did everything you should be doing on Cool Brittania 0- doing what you’re passionate about.”

“You’re game changers; you’re not puppets. I pray to god you’re in the final next week.”

Lloyd Macey

Song: Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me (Elton John)

The judges said: Singing through Laryngitis, a chest infection and a throat infection, Lloyd still managed to wow the judges.

“Lloyd – that was a great, great song choice,” said Simon Cowell. “Your voice sounded great, you were good. You’re a fighter, you’ve got a great voice. Congratulations.”

“I asked for arabiatta,” Nicole said, overjoyed, “it got sloppy, it got dirty, it wasn’t so perfect. I loved it because it came from a different place this week. It came from your heart, it came from a soul, and you know where else it came from…”

“No one would know you were sick” said Sharon. “You did amazingly well tonight, I’m so happy for you.”

Kevin Davy White

Song: Come Together (The Beatles)

The Judges said: They reckon he’s a rockstar in waiting.

“You picked one of the best songs ever,”  Louis Walsh said. “You’re a class act – now we have to get you in the final. It’ll be tough, but you deserve it.”

Sharon Osbourne was equally impressed: “you are such a showman – through this we’ve seen you take a musical journey – you change it up every week, that’s what i love about you. you belong here”.

Simon Cowell was transported.

“Kevin, you know what, just for a moment, I forgot the competition, ti was like being at your concert,” the X Factor vet said.

“You’ve got this charisma, star quality, but there was something about you – it was raw and exciting. It’s annoying, but it was fantastic, congratulations.

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“You are a trailblazer , you are blazing your own trail,” Nicole said. “There has never ever been anyone like you – you have to be in the finals next week!”