X Factor returned to our screens last night (28 August) intent on regaining its crown as top weekend viewing.

Simon Cowell has certainly shown he means business by wringing decisive changes – convincing Dermot O'Leary to return as host at the expense of Olly Murs, while Louis Walsh, Nicole Scherzinger and Sharon Osbourne offer comfortably familiar faces in the judges' chairs.

This, of course, means there is no space for Cheryl Cole, sorry, Fernandez Versini (again), nor Rita Ora, who is rumoured to be working on new material.

Cowell has reportedly lashed out at the former mentors for ditching the show, branding them arrogant, claim the Daily Mirror.

X Factor needs a successful season after a rating slump in recent years. Cowell, 56, has previously admitted that he will have to ditch the show should viewing figures did not improve.

Fans have been unhappy at the persistent line-up changes in the show, amongst continuing claims that the show is rigged. A particularly low point came last year when axed host Murs accidentally revealed Monica Michael was leaving the competition before the result was officially due to be announced.

But of course what really matters is the music. So, judges aside, who were the top picks of the opening episode?

Christian Burrows

Inspired after seeing Ed Sheeran perform a solo acoustic set, Christian found himself put on the spot by mogul Simon Cowell, who made clear that, to be like Sheeran, he needed to prove himself as a great songwriter.

Burrows more than stood up to the task however, offering a gut-wrenching rendition of a song penned in memory of his brother, who passed away at a young age through illness.

Having only previously performed the song to his mother, emotions ran high, but Burrows pulled through to deliver the most authentic performance of the opening episode.

Samantha Lavery

Still at school when she auditioned, 16-year-old Samantha stood out with her star quality. Blessed with an incredible vocal range – perhaps passed down through the generations by her granddad, who wanted to be a singer but had to give up on his dream to look after the family – her performance of Explosions was impossible to ignore.

Wild, yet stylish with bold hair and platform boots, only time will tell if the youngster, who has won talent competitions in Ireland, can channel her abilities to become a prime-time success.

If she can, Simon Cowell may have a gem on his hands.

Caitlyn Vanbeck

Caitlyn bared a vulnerable yet strong soul with a heartfelt rendition of Kelly Clarkson's Piece By Piece. Dedicating the performance to her parents who helped her get through bullying at school, it is little wonder that Nicole Scherzinger was left in floods of tears at the end of the performance.

A definite strong, early contender.

Melissa Pedro

The Geordie songstress, a teacher by day, proved she is destined for a career away from the classroom with a smokey, versatile cover of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy.

"I think her pupils will be proud of that, don't you?" said one audience member to her friend watching on the big screen. We are inclined to agree; there's a high chance her students will have a new teacher by the start of term.

Honey G

Anna Georgette Guildford is 35-years-old and lives in Harrow, North West London. She will tell you differently however, claiming to be "original urban artist" Honey G from North Weezy.

She also wears sunglasses indoors for good measure.

Yes, yes, that's right – delusion and unbearable awkwardness does have a name.

Honey G cared little however, stomping down an "exclusive" delivery of Missy Elliot's Work It, much to the horror of Cowell and an open-mouthed Louis Walsh.

Sharon Osbourne and Nicole Scherzinger did get into the groove, but more out of pity and amusement, as they saw Guildford try and relive her glory days as a teen raver. Funny, certainly. But also very depressing.

The question is, can you work it any better?