Warning: there are chairs on the X Factor stage which means things are about to get tense. Really, really tense. Like trying to get a seat on the tube tense. Yes, it’s the Six Chair Challenge and getting a seat becomes the only thing that’s important in the whole world ever for the remaining X Factor contestants.
Here’s what you need to know:
What is it?
Six shiny chairs are popped on the Wembley Arena stage and – much like a kids’ game of musical chairs – the aim is to get a chair. Except this is no regular game of musical chairs. Each remaining contestant performs and, if deemed good enough by their mentor, they’re given a chair. But it doesn’t end there. If someone better comes along they’re promptly booted out of their chair and sent home. No slice of cake, no goody bag.
Where is it?
For the first time this series the contestants are heading into an arena – the SSE Wembley Arena to be precise. It’s the first time they’ll perform in front of a crowd this year. You know, just to add an extra layer of pressure.
What is the crowd shouting?
When they’re not simply booing, the crowd can be heard yelling ‘SEAT, SEAT, SEAT’ when they like an act and ‘OFF! OFF! OFF!’ when they don’t. When a judge sends someone home they wanted to keep, the roar turns to ‘BRING HIM/HER BACK’ which is difficult to stop once it gets going because it has worked in the past and the crowd blooming well knows it. Last year, Cowell’s finalist Max Stone admitted he owed everything to the Wembley Crowd for his place at Judges’ Houses.
Indeed, we spoke to hot favourite Matt Terry who teased that we’ll see this happen this year, with the suggestion a judge is talked into (or rather yelled into) changing their mind.
There’s also a lot of numbers being yelled and held up as the crowd tries to sway the judges in terms of which singer should lose their seat.
It brings out the best and worst in the singers
Six Chair Challenge is always a game changer. Some who’ve been flying under the radar thrive, while some of those who’ve been doing well struggle. Matt told us it was his “hardest” audition, yet.
It splits opinion
Some people love it. Some people hate it. Former champ Sam Bailey, the first contestant ever to be given a seat, is all for it.
“Some people think it’s cruel. But it’s good TV,” she told RadioTimes.com. “Everyone goes ‘Oh my god that person’s sat down!’ people start shouting – I do it every year. I love the six chair challenge, absolutely love it. It’s literally great TV. Whoever came up with that idea is brilliant.”
All four judges have been through this before
While last year saw Nick Grimshaw and Rita Ora take on the challenge for the first time, all four of this year’s judges have been here, done this and heard the boos. Not that that will make it much easier.
For those who make it through Six Chair Challenge it’s on to Judges’ Houses. And there’s some pretty cool locations up for grabs this year, including Ibiza. Take a look at all of the locations plus guest mentors here.
So, when is it on?
See the Six Chair Challenge this Saturday (8:00pm) and Sunday (7:00pm) on ITV.