This week The X Factor named the Top 4 performers in two of the four categories with the new Four Chair Challenge.

First up Wednesday night were the Over 25’s, mentored by new-judge Kelly Rowland. And Thursday night the competition was brought to the Girls category, mentored by Demi Lovato. Fellow judges Simon Cowell and Paulina Rubio will have their Four Chair Challenge next week.

The Four Chair Challenge, a new feature for The X Factor replacing the bootcamp and judges' homes phase, is a bit like a singing version of musical chairs. Each category (currently made up of a Top 10) gets four seats and each contestant must sing for a seat – being given a seat is the equivalent of moving forward to the live rounds. The seats are given on a rolling basis, meaning that the first four performers could all be given seats. However, no seat is guaranteed until all the performers have performed, meaning that a singer who has already earned a seat can be switched out if a better one comes along. All decisions are made by the mentors – only aided by input from fellow judges.

Kelly kicked it off, putting her first four performs through to the live rounds immediately: Victoria Carriger, Kristine Mirelle, Jeff Gutt and Rachel Potter. Only after the first four singers were given temporary seats did the battle truly begin. The first seat-winner to be dethroned was Kristine, who was replaced by Lorie Moore. The next two performers, Allison Davis and Danny Smith were eliminated following their performances, never getting a chance to sit in one of those coveted plastic chairs.

Jeff Brinkman earned a spot, replacing Victoria, only to be switched out one performance later by James Kenney, and Lorie lost her hard earned spot to the star of the Over 25’s, Lillie McCloud.

Kelly’s final decision got her a chorus of ‘boos’ from the crowd, but she is happy with her Top 4, now made up of McCloud, Gutt, Kenney and Potter.

Demi’s turn in the hot seat started out similarly to Kelly’s, she gave each of her first four performers, Bree Randall, Khaya Cohen, Jamie Pineda and Ashly Williams, a seat. The competition was tense from the very beginning, with Simone Torres knocking Randall from her seat even though Demi was unsure if she had a star quality. Right after, Danie Geimer came out and belted out “Georgia on My Mind,” leaving the judges in awe and swiping Torres’ seat right out from under her.

Rhiley Brown put her pageant experience to good use, but was unable to capture the judges’ attention and she was sent home. Primrose Martin suffered a similar fate with her performance of “Blame it on the Boogie,” which had the audience booing before she even sang her last note.

Kelly was not shy about hiding her hatred, saying, “I didn’t want to see that.” And Simon called the performance, “the longest minute-and-a-half of my life.” Martin tried to salvage her X Factor run with an a capella performance, but Demi thought she was too cocky and sent her home.

Next up was audition-favorite Rion Paige who sang Rascall Flatts’ “I Won’t Let Go,” earning praise from the judges and kicking other audition standout, Williams, out of her seat.

The final performer of the night, X Factor season 1 vet Ellona Santiago, impressed Simon with her version of “Clarity” by Zedd (he called her the best voice of the Girls category), but Demi was on the fence. Already attached to her four seated girls, Demi was close to sending Santiago home. After a tense deliberation, during which Kelly told Demi to trust her gut, Demi decided to keep Santiago and sent Pineda home.

Next week, Simon will have to pick his Top 4 Groups and Paulina will narrow down her Top 4 Boys. The X Factor airs Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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More on The X Factor:

'The X Factor' Episode 6 Recap: Carlos Guevara, Ashly Williams, Rion Paige Move Forward

'The X Factor' Episode 5 Recap: Wesley Mountain, Lorie Moore, James Kenney Impress Judges

'The X-Factor' Episode 4 Recap: Auditions Continue With Powerhouse Voices Ashly Williams And Ellona Santiago

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