As is the way with reality TV, this year's X Factor has seen its fair share of controversy. Whether it be the ratings war with Strictly Come Dancing or the enraged fan debates spurred on by Simon Cowell, this seasons been almost impossible to avoid. No matter how much some might want to.
It's also the most-watched series so far, attracting an average of 12 million viewers (a 50% share at the time) to last Saturday's semi-final show--way ahead of its Strictly rival, which limped behind with a mere 7.3 million (31%). So what's all the fuss about? Let us break it down for you…
If the wannabes weren't nervous before, they certainly were this season. For the first time in the show's history the contestants had to sing in front of a packed theatre-audience as well as the stern-faced judges. For some the pressure was too much, but Danyl Johnson (who made it to fourth place) rose to the occasion with Simon Cowell branding his audition the best he'd ever seen.
Irish twins John and Edward Grimes didn't make the best first impression, but their energetic charm soon infected the masses. When he first saw them Simon Cowell proclaimed they were "not very good and incredibly annoying", which we have to admit is a fairly accurate description of their first broadcast audition. They made it to the live shows though and proved their worth in entertainment value. Sure, they didn't have the best voices but they were funny as hell to watch. Even Simon Cowell warmed to them in the end--making a hypocritical U-turn that saw sweet-voiced Lucie Jones kicked out of the competition.
She was a brilliant singer praised for her vulnerability and voice, and as time passed she only improved. In comparison to the other contestants though she didn't have a commanding character and she struggled to project her personality. Perhaps this is the reason she ended up in the bottom two of the fifth live show. Perhaps not. Either way Simon Cowell didn't care. When she found herself in the bottom two against Jedward the straight-talking judge sealed her fate by choosing not to save her, but instead put the decision to deadlock. A controversial choice that saw fans threaten to stop watching when she was voted off.
Some of the biggest names in pop performed on the show this season, proving that The X Factor still has pulling power for big-named stars. Whitney Houston, Robbie Williams and Michael Buble all offered advice to the contestants and gave performances of their own (albeit dubious ones in some cases). Mariah Carey was also reportedly coaxed into snubbing an agreed appearance on Strictly Come Dancing to ensure a sparkling performance on the show.
Either Essex boy Olly Murs, Geordie sweetheart Joe McElderry or single mum Stacey Solomon will win the show this weekend. The moment the show has been leading up to will finally arrive, giving one of the contestants a million-pound record contract and the chance at this year's Christmas number one. Which do you think should win?