By Donna Mcconnell
The stage was set for a showdown between bitter rivals Katie Waissel and Matt Cardle.
But on the night it was the fragile Cher Lloyd who was queen of the X Factor night with a powerful rendition of Shakespeare's Sister song Stay.
However, the young singer struggled to hold it together towards the end when she was overcome by emotion and the tears started to flow.
Emotional: X Factor finalist Cher Lloyd struggled to hold it together during a stunning performance of Shakespeares Sister song Stay
Dressed in a full length black dress with no sign of her favoured hip-hop style, the tiny singer held on tight to the microphone as she sat on a throne of twigs and sung her way right to the front of the competition.
Mentor Cheryl called it 'epic' but show boss Simon Cowell anointed her as the show's frontrunner saying, 'That wasn't just performance of the night, it was the performance of the entire season.
Gothic glamour: Cher dispensed with baggy jeans for some dark glamour on the Halloween themed night
No holding back: Cher said it was emotional but that she really enjoyed herself
'I think you are special, you proved a point this week. You're only 17 years old and that performance, by any standard, was absolutely incredible.'
But in a well-observed comment he added: 'My only criticism is Cheryl trying to turn you into her!'
Louis said: 'Cher I don’t know why you’re crying, this was an absolutely incredible performance and tonight you proved that you really can sing, you’re not just a one trick pony rapper. That was probably the best performance of the night.'
Tortured: Cheryl said she would like to see Aiden 'smile more' after another intense performance
Murderous: Aiden Grimshaw sang a tortured version of Michael Jackson's huge hit Thriller
Judge Dannii called it a 'beautiful performance.'
Mentor Cheryl gushed: ' Cher it was epic, it was so beautiful, I'm so proud of you tonight.'
But the same could not be said for the car-crash performances by Brazilian born Wagner and Aiden Grimshaw, 18.
Demented: The Brazilian singer sang a mashup of Meatloaf¿s Bat Out Of Hell and the classical masterpiece O Fortuna by Carl Orff
Aiden's rendition of Thriller wasreminiscent of Darius Danesh's Britney Spears moment, as he completely murdered the song making it and angsty, tortured mess.
Louis said: 'Aiden, my feeling is that was a big, big challenge; Dannii you gave him a really big challenge.
'I liked the way you totally changed the song. Very intense performance, you’re very intense performer.'
One Direction managed to avoid disaster tonight and put in a good performance accompanied by plenty of screaming
Showdown: The main competition on the night was between warring finalists Katie Waissel and Matt Cardle but they were both overshadowed
While Cheryl said: 'Not every song requires that intensity. I’d like to see you smile a little bit more.'
Simon said 'it was bizarre... It was indulgent. It was too much to the left. It was frustrating because it could have been fantastic, it was too slow, for too long.'
And Wagner's medley of O Fortuna/ Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell was particularly hard to understand as he stumbled through it was his heavily accented take on it.
The judges: The X Factor judges opted out of Halloween fancy dress preferring to wear their regular clothes
Simon asked: 'What the hell was that? Louis what are you drinking. I didn’t understand a single word!
'Having said that, people like you and if they vote for you I can always leave the country! I like you, you’re a trier, good luck to you. Dannii called it 'unusual' while Cheryl said: 'It was a little out of time.'
However, for once the judges in-fighting was put in the shade by some stunning performances on the night from Rebecca Ferguson, Mary, and Paije.
Simon gave high praise to Rebecca's stunning performance of Chris Isaak song Wicked Game: 'I can tell that you’re nervous tonight. But that was total utter class.
Turning into a star: Simon said that Rebecca Ferguson is turning into a star week by week
'You’re beginning to remind me of when Leona Lewis was on this show and I saw somebody who week after week was turning into a star. Great, great choice of song.'
Bookmakers Coral slashed her odds from 5-1 to 3-1 to win the show after her performance.
Cole told her: 'You are exactly what this show is about. You are world class.'
Dubliner Mary Byrne sang an "incredible" rendition of Could It Be Magic and One Direction, wearing torn clothes with white face make-up and red eyeliner, sang an upbeat version of Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart.
Paije Richardson, who was criticised for his clothes style by Cowell in the past, donned a black suit jacket and red bow tie for his performance of Back To Black.
The 11 hopefuls will have to wait until the results show tomorrow night to find out who will bow out of the show next.
Scary: Danni said she found Katie's make-up a bit scary, but she had nothing but praise for Matt Cardle
Solid: Mary and Paije both turned in solid performances but were pipped by Cher's standout vocals