Last night saw X-Factor pay tribute to seminal post-punk band Joy Division, as each of the remaining finalists sought to impress judges and public alike with their favourite tracks by the influential Manchester combo, and the competition was again thrown wide open by a succession of polished performances.
One Direction, the last remaining group, kicked things off with a 'modern, relevant and contemporary' version of Love Will Tear Us Apart, finishing with each of them climbing onto a stool as nooses were lowered from above – a nod to the circumstances surrounding the suicide of Joy Division's lead singer, Ian Curtis, in 1980.
The Ian Curtis leitmotif continued in the choreography of the next number with Rebecca Ferguson applying her likeability factor to Transmission surrounded by two dozen synchronised epileptic dancers, and was followed by Cher Lloyd making She's Lost Control her own, bringing the track right up to date with her inimitable rap stylings.
'The one to beat', Matt Cardle then wowed the audience as his X-Factor journey continued with a slowed down 11-minute version of Atmosphere, receiving a standing ovation from all four judges, but controversy followed Mary Byrne's operatic rendition of In A Lonely Place, with Simon Cowell accusing Mary's mentor, Louis Walsh, of bending the rules in his song choice by using a New Order track on Joy Division night.
Louis insisted, however, that although released as a New Order B-side to their first single Ceremony, the song was previously performed by Joy Division at their last ever gig at Birmingham University's High Hall, and was therefore a genuine Joy Division song.
to discuss the night's procedings with Konnie Huq
Next up was Katie Waissel with a restrained version of Dead Souls, obviously saving herself for the bottom-two sing-off on the Sunday results show, setting things up nicely for Wagner to bring the show to a close by nailing his reggae interpretation of an Atrocity Exhibition, Leaders of Men and These Days medley.
Over on the ITV2 spin-off show Xtra Factor, the judges agreed that with so many good performances this week, it would probably come down to whoever wanted it the most.
Next week : Bauhaus week!