So, at last, after two evenings of pretty mind-numbing TV, lots of pool shots, tears and really quite annoying editing that stretched out the judges' decisions to such an extent that made Dermot's pause before announcing last year's winner seem positively brief, we get the final 16.
Four acts in each of the categories have made it through to the real show. Until now, we've had snippets of performances here and there, extended ones for some (thanks mainly to Xtra Factor which has been far more interesting and informative to date) but from next week we should start to see just what these guys can do.
Because all the programmes to date were actually recorded a while ago, you could have found out who made it with a few searches anyway so there were no surprises but in the Over 25s Carloynn Poole must be disappointed that Louis chose Johnny Robinson, presumably for the show's obligatory comic act, and even preferred Sammie Brookes when Goldie left. In the Girls, Sophie has been almost invisible so far in comparison to Jade who had loads of screen time. Put the two side by side with the volume turned off, though, and you can see why Kelly decided to go with Sophie. Neither are potential winners, however, so it doesn't matter too much now.
Gary Barlow had Robbie Williams with him to help with some choices but, from the eight he started with, that wasn't too difficult. Whilst Frankie has had all the publicity so far, James looks like one of those acts that make the show really interesting in that if he's as good as I think he could be then watch his progress through the weeks. Craig will let the mums' votes.
The Groups have been a nightmare to keep up with, Tulisa mixing and matching and basically taking a bundle of solo applicants and juggling them around to make some bands. She even had the cheek to take the lead singer from an established band, The Keys, and re-make an already manufactured group, The Risk, chucking out two and bringing Charlie from The Keys in. She's also made a couple of other groups, Nu Vibe and Rhythmix, including some decent talent who didn't make it through on their own. If anyone had told me that 2 Shoes would be the sole original group out of goodness knows how many must have applied to make it through then I would have thought they were mad.
Kelly Rowland has three potential winners in the Girls category in my view. If Janet gets the right tracks to perform and keeps her nerve then she will be in a category of her own. Louis, I'm afraid, has a losing team once again. Gary's James and Frankie will be competing for the girl fan votes and one will be a contender. Tulisa's groups are a mystery - I have a suspicion two will be around for a long time in the competition.
The fun starts, next week, at last!