Published Sunday, 18 November 2012
Dermot O'Leary announces Ella Henderson is leaving the show (© Rex Features)
After announcing the results under boos from the crowds, host Dermot O'Leary said: "Well, you can tell already from the studio it's a shock. One of the biggest shocks we've ever had on the results show."
The two talented singers, who were tipped for the final, faced each other in a phenomenal sing off, with the judges choosing to take the result to deadlock.
Louis Walsh said he was "gobsmacked" after Sunday night's results, which blew this year's contest wide open.
"I'm in shock. I thought these were two finalists," he said.
Ella sang for survival with If You're Not The One by Daniel Bedingfield, while James Arthur performed a powerful acoustic rendition of Fallin' by Alicia Keys.
A visibly heartbroken Tulisa, who mentors Ella, said: "This is ridiculous; these two acts do not deserve to be in the bottom two".
Boys' mentor Nicole Scherzinger was forced to apologise after swearing when she introduce James, who she described as "one of the greatest artists and talents to ever greet this stage".
"Whatever happens tonight it will be a great tragedy for the show", she said.
Both Tulisa and Nicole voted to save their own acts. Louis opted for Ella, while Gary Barlow saved James.
"I always knew it was going to come to this. There isn't anything between these two acts," the Take That frontman said.
As the studio fell completely silent, Dermot announced Ella had received the fewest number of votes.
On Saturday the 16-year-old received unanimous praise for turning You're The One That I Want from the Grease soundtrack into a serious ballad.
Gary told her she had just put on her "best performance to date by far", while Louis exclaimed she was "electric", adding: "You are going to sell millions and millions of records Ella."
James had put his own spin on Frankie Valli's Can't Take My Eyes Off You during the Guilty Pleasures-themed show.
"Putting my category aside - I probably shouldn't say this - I want you to win this competition," Gary told him.
After Sunday's results, Ella said she "loved every minute" of her X Factor experience, adding: "You know what, this year the talent in the show is incredible."
Tulisa said: "This is ridiculous. It's ridiculous. People did not vote. People thought she was safe."
The angry judges later turned against controversial acts Christopher Maloney and Rylan Clark, who were both safely voted through to the quarter-finals.
Christopher and Jahmene are the only acts not to have been in the bottom two this year.
On Sunday viewers also saw former X Factor contestant and current Xtra Factor presenter Olly Murs performed, followed by global superstar Alicia Keys.