X Factor: Pop dream dies for four finalists

UK: Dreams of stardom have been shattered for four X Factor finalists.

Essex duo 2 Shoes, Jonjo Kerr, James Michael and Amelia Lily were all booted out of the competition.

Each of the judges - Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh, Tulisa Contostavlos and Kelly Rowland - were forced to select one of the acts they were mentoring to send home.

The female judges both burst into tears as they delivered the news to their acts.

Contostavlos, who is mentoring the groups, said she only made up her mind half an hour before going on stage, adding: “You can’t imagine how much of a hard decision this has been for me.

“I have spent hours crying tears and pulling my hair out over the decision because I have got to know all of you and you are all my friends and I can say that from the bottom of my heart.”

She chose to send 2 Shoes packing after the pair failed to impress the judging panel on the first of the live shows.

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Charley Bird and Lucy Texeira sung the Girls Aloud party track Something Kinda Ooh while in a pink convertible on stage.

Barlow commented that the performance was akin to “karaoke night in Romford”.

Miss Texeira said: “We are just so proud that we made it this far, this whole journey has been amazing. We are the best of friends and we have become even closer.”

Teenager Amelia burst into tears after she heard the news from her mentor Rowland.

Sporting a new pink hair-do, the 16-year-old student from Middlesbrough opened the show yesterday with an energetic performance of Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean.

Rowland said: “Amelia has an incredible voice, all four of my girls are so amazing, I just had to make a decision.

“But let me tell you something, y’all are going to see this girl everywhere. She has an incredible voice, she’s confident, she’s bold and she’s young and the sky is the limit for her.”

As the sobbing teenager walked off the stage, Rowland chased after her.

Mr Kerr could be back on the frontline now his bid for X Factor fame is over.

The serving soldier, from Chorley, Lancashire, was given special permission by the Army to take part in the show.

Walsh said that it was a “really tough decision” to get rid of the 27-year-old.

He said: “This was not easy. I agonised about the whole thing. At the end of the day, I have to keep the person who I think the public are going to like the most.”

Mr Kerr performed The Kinks’ You Really Got Me last night but Barlow, who appears to have taken the helm from fearsome judge Simon Cowell, said he stuck out “like a sore thumb”.

A slow rendition of Ticket To Ride by The Beatles failed to save Mr Michael from being kicked off the reality show. Walsh likened 20-year-old from Cheshire to “a busker in Covent Garden”.

With tears streaming down his face, Mr Michael said: “I am just going to carry on with the music.”

Last night, the show had a peak audience of 12.7 million viewers, an ITV spokesman said.