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Josh & Sam are X-tra special
Josh Brookes. Picture: Supplied.

There were bright lights, fire, colourful props and heart- pumping dance moves, but despite the impressive special effects all eyes were fixed on The X Factor's top-12 acts as they performed in their first live show last night.

With public voting already underway, only time will tell who has won Australians' hearts and who will become the first contestant to leave the competition in tonight's show.

Hot young YouTube sensation What About Tonight may have been the first act to rev up the crowd but it was Perth-raised singers Samantha Jade and Josh Brookes who were among the shining stars on stage.

  • Merriwa *-raised Brookes, 20, was the second act to perform, taking on Jason Derulo's beat-pumping hit, Don't Wanna Go Home.

Appearing on stage alongside a pair of blown-up, illuminated headphones - which have become Brookes' signature look since auditioning for the X Factor last year - the former Mindarie Senior College student busted out some choreographed moves, above right.

With his failure to crack last year's show behind him, Brookes pushed through what hard-nosed mentor Mel B labelled as "self-doubt" to give a stand-out performance.

"Well done, I'm very, very proud... You did everything and much, much more," the former Spice Girl said.

His efforts also resonated with the three other judges.

"You did that in style, that was brilliant," Ronan Keating said, while Natalie Bassingthwaighte added that Brookes was in his "element".

Guy Sebastian, who was responsible for sending Brookes home last year, said the singer "went from being unsure to someone who believes they are a star".

Jade, who is now based in Sydney, took on Katy Perry's hit Wide Awake, belting out the track using her strong pop star vocals to impress all four judges.

"I'm going to get in trouble for saying this but that was better than Katy Perry," Keating said, while mentor Sebastian agreed Jade, right, had nailed the performance. "Every singer in the country just literally went 'Oh my gosh'," he said.

Meanwhile, country boy Jason Owen's rendition of Bryan Adams' classic Heaven got the thumbs up from all but one judge, with Sebastian admitting he didn't like the 18-year- old's version. "There was no heart in that," he said. "It just wasn't you."

Rounding up the night was 14-year-old Darwin schoolgirl Shiane Hawke, whose gutsy take on the Gnarls Barkley hit Crazy also got mixed reviews from the judges.

The first eliminated top 12 contestant will be announced during tonight's show, which airs at 7.30pm on Seven/GWN7.