Country singer Carolynne Poole became the first to be booted off this season's X Factor after a controversial and tension-fuelled elimination show saw judge Louis Walsh unable to make up his mind and go to a deadlock.
Poole and flamboyant Rylan Clark were in the bottom two and were forced into a sing off.
Predictably, Poole's mentor Gary Barlow voted for her and even made a snide remark about Clark's performance.
"I'm glad you learned the trick that when you pull the mic away - we don't hear what you're singing," Barlow said.
Judge Nicole Scherzinger voted for Clark, who she is mentoring, while Tulisa Contostavlos said she was voting for Poole based on the night's performance.
Walsh had the final vote and he appeared unable to make up his mind for several minutes.
He was spotted chatting to the show's executive producer Richard Holloway during Carolynne's sing-off, prompting accusations his last-minute change of heart was influenced by the producer.
"Carolynne I love country music and I love what you bring to the competition," he said.
"Rylan you're the entertainment factor, I love what you do."
That left host Dermot O'Leary frustrated and he urged Walsh to hurry up and make a call.
"Who you sending home... we're running out of time, now Louis," O'Leary said.
"Louis make the call, I need a name now."
To help keep her contestant on the show, Scherzinger was arguing her case to Walsh from the other side of the judge's table.
"It's entertainment, it's the X Factor, there's nobody else like Rylan on the show," Scherzinger said.
After several minutes of commotion, Walsh finally said: "It's a really difficult one. I'm going to go with Carolynne I want to keep Carolynne."
Walsh, who appeared overwhelmed by the decision, then muttered something inaudible.
"So you're going to send home Rylan?" O'Leary said. "Who are you sending home Louis, what did you just say?"
Unable to reaffirm that he wanted Clark out of the competition, he said: "I want to take it to deadlock."
A deadlock means that both performers in the bottom two have an equal number of the judges' votes and the singer with the least number of public votes will be sent home.
This led to O'Leary opening up an envelope and announcing that Poole would be leaving the competition.
Furious with the decision, Barlow got out of his chair and stormed out of the studio.
"I'm okay, I'm glad Rylan's got a shot because you know he's been given a bit of a tough time and he's a nice guy," Poole said.
Clark, who received death threats over Twitter last week, performed Spandau Ballet's Gold last night while wearing a gold vest and surrounded by Cleopatra dancers.
Barlow said he was "embarrassed", and criticised the judges for keeping Clark in the competition.
But Walsh stuck up for the singer, saying: "That was amazing. I love your vocals... You're a brilliant performer."
Scherzinger hit back at Barlow and said: "Don't be an old grumpy fart now. He is the entire package."
Contostavlos added: "It is cheesy and it is cabaret. But you are an entertainer. I don't think this competition would be the same without you."
About half an hour after getting eliminated, Poole reached out to her more than 75,000 Twitter followers.
"Sorry for letting u all down x," she said.
Scherzinger also sought out Twitter to comment on the result.
"My heart goes out to carolynnepoole, So proud of RylanClark let's show him love and support £teamNicole £thexfactor."