X Factor Boot Camp choice 'toughest year' for judges

"The X Factor" Press Launch

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has revealed it has been "the toughest year", as the X Factor judges prepare to whittle down the acts for the next stage in this year's competition.

London youth worker Monica Michael, Essex student Louisa Johnson, shy Basildon singer-songwriter Che Chesterman and Filipino girl group 4th Power are among those fighting for a place in the Six Chair Challenge in the second round of Boot Camp.

Michael is hoping for another chance after she was knocked out during the Six Chair Challenge in 2014, losing out on a place in the judges' houses round. Judges Fernandez-Versini and Simon Cowell have both admitted they made a mistake, with the Girls Aloud star saying: "You were the biggest regret of my category last year."

The 25-year-old's performance of Bill Withers' Ain't No Sunshine split the judges, with Fernandez-Versini saying: "She shouldn't have sung that."

Cowell disagreed, saying: "It's a good song for her" and adding: "She's not perfect. There's always this crack in her voice."

The pair also clashed over Sheffield estate agent Holly Johnson, following her performance of Sam Smith's hit Like I Can.

"I don't think she has any personality," Cowell said, to which Fernandez-Versini retorted: "I think she's just shy."

Fernandez-Versini and Rita Ora also found themselves on opposing sides with boyband The First Kings' version of Just Be Good To Me, originally sung by The SOS Band.

"We went back to the '90s. It was old moves they were doing," Fernandez-Versini said, as Ora hit back: "I was kind of listening to their voices. That was good."

More tears - of sadness and laughter - were shed in this week's episode, as Australian hopeful Seann Miley Moore and Anton Stephans took to the stage with their renditions of the Ray Charles track A Song For You, while Italian singing teacher Davide Papasidero left the judges open-mouthed as he tried to take off his clothes.

Other acts hoping to impress the judges and get through to the next stage include St Helens barmaid Kiera Weathers, hunky Birmingham waiter Mason Noise, Olly Murs tribute act Jamie Benkert and girl group Alien.

:: The X Factor airs on ITV at 7pm tonight.