The 24 remaining acts in X Factor 2009 have had their last chance to win a place in the live finals, with performances at the judges' houses. And this time the four groups of hopefuls were taken to some far-flung locations - with Cheryl's boys jetting off to Marrakech, Dannii's girls flying to Dubai, Simon's over 25's joining him in Los Angeles and Louis Walsh bypassing his usual location of Dublin for Lake Como in Italy. First to be shown were the boys, who performed for both Cheryl and Will Young - whom she had invited along to help choose her finalists. Teenager Joseph McElderry kicked off the auditions and impressed both Cheryl and Will with his version of Elton John's Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, as did Lloyd Daniels with his rendition of the Jason Mraz song I'm Yours. "He's really improved since his first audition," Cheryl said. Meanwhile in Italy Louis, accompanied by Ronan Keating, appeared unimpressed by Project A. "There's nothing special about them," he said, "they're just another girl group. Four-piece Harmony Hood also left him disappointed, although he was more enthusiastic about trio Miss Frank. "I think they are raw talent," he said. And having reduced a fellow contestant to tears at bootcamp, twin duo John and Edward shed a few tears of their own following a shaky performance. In Los Angeles Olly Murs displayed nerves during his performance but Treyc Cohen impressed Simon. "Good for you...that was really good," he told her. And Danyl Johnson turned in another flashy performance, complete with microphone spins and ad-libs, that left Simon comparing him with Marmite. He also expressed doubts over Jamie 'Afro' Archer, who performed the Oasis hit Stop Crying Your Heart Out. "He's got to start believing in himself more," Simon said, "I'm not sure he knows how good he could be and that's the problem." Finally, Dannii invited her sister Kylie to judge the girls in Dubai - and they were particularly impressed by Stacey Solomon and Rachel Adedeji. "The main thing for me is that you've got to connect with the emotion of the song," Dannii said, "and she definitely did that." Lucie Jones and Despina Pilavakis also impressed the sisters although Nicole Jackson had a more difficult time, forgetting the words midway through her performance of Stevie Wonder's Lately. The final 12 acts to make it through to the live finals will be revealed on Sunday.
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.