“The X Factor UK” kicked off the brutal season 15 Six Chair Challenge for the Overs category and the action unfolded here in the U.S. on Sept. 30 on AXS TV. Newbie judge Ayda Williams found out firsthand just how rough this round can be, with so many talented contenders and only six seats to fill. At some point, the round always evolves to an agonizing game of musical chairs in which once-safe contestants are swapped out and sent home.
This season, a new “Golden X” option, allows judges to make a seat permanent for one contender, who is then guaranteed to move on to the Judges’ Houses round. As Ayda debates her team members’ fates, one contender delivers a shining performance that earns him his mentor’s coveted Golden X – on his birthday, no less. The season 15 competition, overall, is loaded with talented contenders. However, only the best of the best survive this brutal round, that once again proves itself to never be short on dramatic results.
First Six Get a Seat
“X Factor UK” viewers should give Ayda and Robbie Williams some slack. They are new to the whole Six Chair Challenge process. Ayda is definitely a softie in the best way. She wears her heart on her sleeve and really cares about her team. Therefore, we’re not surprised the first six contenders she calls to perform fill her six seats.
Olatunji Yearwood keeps the opening performance Caribbean light with his spirited rendition of Mambo No. 5. It’s arguably not as good as his first audition. But, show boss Simon Cowell thinks the competition “needs” someone like him and he earns Ayda’s first chair.
Anthony Monarch follows with an okay rendition of “Shut Up and Dance." We’re thinking Ayda offers him a seat because he’s a no-brainer to swap out (which eventually happens). Next up, operatic singer Cezar Ouatu delivers a splendid rendition of Il Divo’s “Somewhere.” His voice is stunning. He deserves a seat and he gets it.
Jacqueline Faye, 53, is a lovely singer and she does a wonderful job of “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables.” She’s thrilled to get a seat and we’re happy for her. We just don’t think she’s likely to keep it. American singer Burgandy Williams struts onto the stage next and delivers an electric version of “I’m Every Woman” by Whitney Houston. She slays it and gets a well-deserved seat.
Next, a made-over, blonde Claire Angel performs a passionate rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel. We loved Claire and her authenticity at her original audition. So, we’re really glad she gets a seat. The problem is, all six seats are filled with many more Overs to perform. Are all the hopefuls who worked so hard for their seats safe? Of course not!
Birthday Boy Gets Golden X
Ricky John has a sad backstory, in that he spent many years homeless. However, his girlfriend changed his life with her love and they now share two daughters. Of the Overs contenders performing so far, Ricky’s take on “Try a Little Tenderness” feels like it pours out of his heart. It's an incredible performance. It turns out it's also his birthday. Under the pretense of giving Ricky a birthday hug, Ayda smashes her Golden X, which guarantees Ricky’s seat and sends him straight through to Judges’ Houses. Ricky takes Anthony Monarch’s seat, which isn't surprising.
Let the Swaps Begin
Sweet Jacqueline Faye loses her seat to Antonino Spaccino and his sparkling rendition of “Stay” by Rihanna. It's good. But, in some ways it feels Karaoke. Ivo is up next and Ayda compares him to marmite saying people either love it or hate it and she wants him to take a seat. This is a bad decision. But, he takes Antonino’s just-earned seat. So, it doesn’t really matter.
Next, Simon’s “baby mama” aka Panda Ross hits the stage. Ayda doesn’t love her “You Pulled Me Through” song choice. However, she thinks she’s got potential. So, Panda gets a seat and the audience is thrilled.
The thing is, Panda’s seat is short-lived because Ayda gives it to single mom Louise Setara, after a truly heartfelt rendition of “Up to the Mountain.” A pan to the audience shows her young son crying tears of joy and it’s such a sweet, emotional moment. Well done, Ayda! But, we really hate to see Panda go and we can see she hates it too.
The Overs Six Chair Challenge will conclude in the U.S. tonight at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on AXS TV. Tune in to see if your favorite stays in their seat and weigh in on social media using #UKintheUSA.
“The X Factor UK” airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on AXS TV.