By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
With a place in the final and a $5m recording contract up for grabs, the four remaining X Factor contestants were obviously hoping to impress.
But while they tried their hardest, they couldn't come close to competing with Britney Spears.
For while she didn't get up on the stage, the pop star certainly had the most eye-catching outfit in a plunging neon yellow dress.
She and her fellow judges had plenty to say about the four acts appearing in front of them.
But for once that is where their influence ends - with viewers votes alone deciding the outcome for the very first time.
Tate Stevens, Carly Rose Sonenclar, Emblem3 and Fifth Harmony each sang two songs as they sought to win enough viewers votes to take them through to next week's final and a shot at the $5m recording contract.
Each act got to choose one song to stake their claim and their mentor got to choose a second tune.
Kicking off the semi-finals was Tate Stevens, a 37-year-old road worker from Dalton, Missouri, who chose to sang 'Bonfire' by Craig Morgan.
'I have to say that at this point in the competition it has to be your best and I do not think that was,' said Britney Spears, who was decked out in a tight neon dress.
Demi disagreed, saying: 'That was a freaking amazing performance. Not only did it take me home and make me think I was in Texas but it was a winning performance.'
Simon added: 'You could have chosen something mushy, which would have got the votes, but you brought the song you want to record and that is why for me it was one of my favorites of your performances.
'You look like a man right now who believes can win this competition.'
Tate's mentor L.A Reid was so enthusiastic he grabbed his own black cowboy hat to deliver judgment.
'You lit that stage on fire and it was the most fun I have had since doing this show,' said Reid.
Later Tate began the second round of the night, performing Fall by Clay Walker.
Tate dedicated the song to his wife, with whom he celebrated his 15th wedding anniversary in the week.
'We have seen you hit and miss a lot in this competition but I feel like that was a direct hit,' said Britney.
Demi was also positive, saying: 'Your wife must just feel like the luckiest girl in the world.'
Simon was also happy with Tate, tipping him for the final, while LA told him: 'You are consistent, you have been great every time and tonight was no exception. You were great again, good luck to you,' he said.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2247350/X-Factor-Britney-Spears-wows-plunging-Fifth-Harmony-Carly-Rose-Emblem3-Tate-Stevens-compete-place-final.html#ixzz2EwA0jcyU
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook