Sam Callahan has crashed out of X Factor despite giving the "best performance" of the competition as he sung for survival.
The 19-year-old barman was in the bottom two after 24 hours of public voting with Luke Friend, meaning either of Louis Walsh's "boys" faced going home. Luke scraped through with a performance of U2's Still Haven't Met What I'm Looking For, but it was Sam's rendition of Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls that was most lavishly praised.
Gary Barlow said: "Sam, it's not all bad news for you tonight; that was the best performance I have seen you give."
The judge, who has been criticised for attacking the young singer, added: "I know I have given you some honest and sometimes harsh critiques, but you've taken it like a man."
Sharon Osbourne also described the performance as the best she had seen him give, adding: "I'm so angry with you that we had to this long to see it from you."
Leaving the show, Sam said: "Thank you, so much. I have the most amazing time and I have absolutely no regrets. I hope this is just the beginning of a massive adventure, and I cannot thank you enough for being a part of that."
His mentor Louis, who refused to chose between his two performers, said: "He is a fantastic role model. He works and he deserves to be successful, no matter what he does."
The three other judges voted against Sam.
Earlier in the show, embattled pop star Miley Cyrus performed her latest hit Wrecking Ball. The 23-year-old, who has turned heads in recent months with a string of provocative performances, wore a floor length, backless gold dress and a black turban.
She said: "I will be here next year, in the spring, and I cannot wait. I will be here for a really long time and I'm looking forward to seeing you guys."
Gary also added to the line-up, swapping the judge's chair for the stage to offer the second celebrity appearance of the night. The former Take That star performed his new single Le Me Go, a country and western number that features a bluegrass inspired backing band. Pretending to give the 42-year-old feedback, Louis said: "That's how you put on a show, you owned the stage and showed a lot of potential. You sound like a young Elton John."