'The X Factor UK' Judges Houses: Groups and Boys live shows picks pack plenty of surprises
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“The X Factor UK” aired the Judges’ Houses round for Simon Cowell and his Groups and Louis Walsh and his Boys here in the U.S. last night, Oct. 23, on AXS TV. Season 14 has already delivered lots of dazzling performances amidst plenty of drama. Simon and Louis had their work cut out for them in picking three acts each to take through to the Live Shows. All of the acts brought their “A” game and the judges’ final decisions delivered a few surprises.

She’s Baaaaccckkk (and She’s Taken)

Who else let out a happy hurray when former “X Factor” judge, international pop star and proud new mama Cheryl stepped out of the helicopter to help Simon pick his top three groups? She’s known for wearing her heart on her sleeve during all phases of the competition. This season, she looked simply radiant as she settled next to her pal Simon to help him make a tough decision.

We’ll cut quickly to the chase here. Simon ultimately picked hip sibling trio The Cutkelvins, soul foursome Rak-Su and adorable brothers Sean and Conor Price as his final three Live Show acts. We couldn’t be happier! That said, it was surprising that he passed on both girl groups – Lemonade and the still unnamed New Girl Group. In the latter, Simon said they still seemed like “six people” and not one act and he’s probably right. The lack of being able to choose a name might have been an odd premonition of their impending exit. Quirky duo Joel and Jack also went home.

Overall, we loved The Cutkelvins' take on their Camilla Cabello cover and Sean and Conor Price really shined with P!nk’s anthem “What About Us.” Rak-Su rocked another original song and we couldn’t believe when one of them tried to flirt a little with Cheryl, who proudly said, “I’m taken” (by Liam Payne, of course!)

Louis’ Boys Brought Plenty of Feels

Louis Walsh made it known to his six smiling boys that he’s looking for a win this season. Of course, they all want to help him seal that victory. He brought global pop star Mika in as his advisor and they watched each act give everything they had. It was somewhat of a shock when power vocalist Jack Mason was cut. He smashed his “Clown” cover. He really couldn’t have done anything else.

Ultimately, U.S. contender Spencer Sutherland delivered an amazing heartfelt, original song that was dedicated to his dad called “Wasted Time” and it sealed his Live Shows place. Last-minute returning contender Sam Black got a double-surprise when he earned a pass to the Live Shows and musical-theater leaning power vocalist Lloyd Macey also made it through. These are all great, very solid picks. Lloyd could use some work on song choice and versatility. But, he’s probably the best vocalist of the three.

It’s rather fun to see Spencer, as an American, have a shot at “The X Factor UK” title. U.S. native Christopher Peyton (aka Peyton) made a huge impression last season and many people were shocked at his Judges Houses elimination. How will Spencer fare with a UK-based voting audience?

Wild Cards Get Another Chance

This season, the public will vote in one Wild Card act for each category. It will be interesting to see who they pick for Louis and Simon’s teams. In all, four acts per team will sing in the Live Shows and will face elimination each week. A clear winner is hard to call at this point, as each judge has some amazing aspiring artists moving forward.

The acts will all be singing for the public vote in the upcoming “X Factor UK” Live Shows which will kick off next week and air here in the U.S. on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on AXS TV. U.S. viewers can tweet during the broadcast using #UKintheUSA.