There is no Rylan this year. There is no Wagner or Jedward. The closest thing we had was a plump lady from the West Country, but she's been given the boot now. Dermot's dance has been ditched. And even Louis Walsh opted to save the right act on Sunday night, rescuing boyband Kingsland Road over the aforementioned Devon diva.
> 5 talking points from this week's 'X Factor'
Watching the judges reveal their choices, it felt like a perfect opportunity for Louis and the producers to shake up a series that so far has steered clear of scandal and mock outrage. He could have saved Shelley, sent home the boys and ignited a grumpy, sulky fury in Gazza Barlow. The papers could have fumed about an Osbourne/Walsh conspiracy, Barlow could have threatened to leave the show. You know the drill.
This shift away from the panto aspects of the show is a relief. Whether it's come too late and the show's credibility with viewers has been lost remains to be seen, but its refreshing to see the show at least attempting to tone down the Ofcom-baiting and avoiding Waissel-lite wannabes.
That's not to say the show has totally ditched its surreal or melodramatic edge. Louis Walsh still lives and breathes.
The boyband fanatic kick-started the Saturday show by shouting "SCREWbo" at prison worker Sam Bailey. Louis has clearly been checking up on that internet thing and had taken a fancy to the Overs warbler's (affectionate?) nickname.
After her bland reworking of 'Make You Feel My Love', Walsh declared: "Bob Dylan wrote that song. He didn't expect someone like you to sing it." We're not sure what Walsh meant by this (A prison officer? A woman? A bland X Factor act?), but it made us chuckle.
Next on stage were Kingsland Road, a boyband that everyone in Dalston wants eradicated - and after this week's bizarre brides in baseball caps 'Marry You' performance, X Factor viewers quite fancy giving the chop to them as well. The boys' Bruno Mars cover ended with Louis Walsh holding a bridal bouquet. Always the bridesmaid, Louis. Always the bridesmaid.
Third on stage was Leon Quigg McElderry the Third, aka Nicholas McDonald. Last week, he was too young to remember 'Spandex Belly', which made us all feel a bit old. This week, he was too young to even grasp the concept of love. Someone pass us a zimmer frame.
"I'll sing it for my mum," he told Louis Walsh. After Louis pointed out that singing for his mum might be a bit weird, he recruited Nicole Scherzinger to play a Weird Science-esque, smouldering temptress for the barely out of short trousers teen. Which definitely wasn't weird at all.
The 'Caroline Flack watches on enviously as Scherzinger flirts with teenage contestant' jokes just wrote themselves on Twitter. We'll let you create your own punchlines.
Managing to even top the weirdness of 35-year-old Scherzinger flirting with a 16-year-old boy was Sharon Osbourne's decision to start screaming "PAED-IO-PHILE" at some poor backing dancer who was given the job of pecking Nicholas on a cheek. Admittedly, there was a bit of a Walking Dead vibe about the female, but Osbourne's occasional bursts of "PAED-IO-PHILE" were a little... "PAED-IO-PHILE"... disturbing. "PAED-IO-PHILE!"
And just when you thought things couldn't get even creepier, Louis Walsh branded Nicholas his "little baby Bublé". We're not sure we can think of a more hideous prospect. Louis Walsh, a thong and a paddling pool of jelly? Okay, we can, but you get the idea.
The result of years of scientific testing to create the ultimate John Lewis advert singer - Abi Alton - revealed that she was struggling with her nerves on the Live Shows. So she went bowling with Nicole Scherzinger. Obviously. The award for the most boring VT of the week goes to...
Last year's winner James Arthur was introduced to modest screams from the studio audience as he sat watching the class of 2013 from a seat just in front of Louie 'Celebrity Big Brother' Spence. It was a really exciting glimpse into the future for this year's X Factor acts. This time next year...*Peter Dickson voice* YOU CAN BE IN THE STUDIO AUDIENCE.
Shelley Smith would probably grab with both hands a free ticket to next year's Live Shows. The white van woman "unleashed the beast" *shudders* on Saturday night with her unique take on 'Single Ladies'.
Have you ever been on the Tube on a Friday or Saturday night when there's a drunk woman in a pink cowboy hat, wobbling around, clinging on to her Lambrini? Yes, that. With added cruise ship cheese.
Another act who will inevitably be following Shelley into the reality TV dustbin are girl group Miss Dynamix. SeSe, the one that everyone actually remembers in the group, is 6 months pregnant. So it's preposterous that they're even trying to take part in the first place.
The girls missed this week's performance because she was unwell. It seems unfeasible that they could possibly last all the way to the final without missing another episode, at which point they'd have to leave the show. Which is a shame for the tall one, who speaks a bit and the small one, who doesn't speak at all. They were left to stand talking (and not talking) in Caroline Flack's warehouse of doom this week and looked a bit distracted. They were probably mentally booking their trains home.
We give the group approximately six months after the show ends before they split. Six months tops.
Elsewhere, Sam Callahan continued to be very good looking, but with a voice that not even a mother could love. But bless him, he works hard. And since when did popstars need to be any good at singing? Katy Perry and Robin Thicke's special guest performances on Sunday's show were proof of that.
Tamera looks like the most obvious winner the show has had since Leona Lewis trampled all over Ben Mills and Ray Quinn. Even if the British public get it wrong, she'll still get a record deal and end up outselling the winner. She's almost annoyingly good. She's so good, we can't make jokes about her. Damn her.
The jokes write themselves with Hairy Styles, aka Luke Friend. This week, Louis Walsh has the mucky-locked one singing from a rowing boat. Incredibly, nobody made a 'sinking ship' or 'all at sea' joke among the judges. Nicole Scherzinger was too busy giggling about SOME BALLS she felt "creeping up" during Luke's performance. *Security, can we have Nicholas McDonald removed from under the judges' desk, please?*
Rough Copy are Gary Barlow's best hope of a win on the show, but the trio's fashion choices - kilts, skirts, leather, bow ties, football socks - are currently overshadowing their musical talents.
"Everywhere I go, everyone is asking me about Rough Copy," said Barlow. Are you sure, Gary? Are you sure they weren't asking you for a photocopy because you had the same shirt on as the work experience?
The final act of the evening was human tear duct Hannah Barrett. If anyone so much as breaks wind, the girl blubs like it's the end of Old Yeller.
Hannah is currently trying to overcome issues with her image and size, so she decided to go shopping with the leggy and beautiful Nicole Scherzinger last week. That will have helped. Remind me to give David Becks a call next time I'm having a fat day.
One man who might be able to help with Hannah's confidence issues is Gary Barlow. "When you bend both knees and go for it, I really love it," he told Hannah. Blimey, Gary. I hope your wife isn't watching.
What did you think to this week's X Factor? Share your verdict below