From left: Kelly Rowland, Demi Lovato, Paulina Rubio and Simon Cowell
12/05/2013 at 04:00 AM EST
The tears were flowing from the contestants and judges on Wednesday night's emotional The X Factor
as the final six singers fought to make it into next week's semifinals.
For the first time this season, contestants performed two songs, one from a diva and one "unplugged," which is when the raw emotions began to surface.
The waterworks started after Simon Cowell
's group Restless Road performed "Wake Me Up!" by Avicii. The trio began crying when Kelly Rowland
told them "each one of you left your hearts" on the stage.
"You need to cry," Paulina Rubio
said to the boy band, "because this is real and this is happening."
Rowland and Demi Lovato
wiped each other's tears following Rion Paige's "vulnerable" performance of "Glass" by Thompson Square.
"Sweet girl," a crying Lovato said to the 13-year-old. "I guess why I'm so emotional is because every word of that song is what you're about … [You remind us we] don't have to perfect."
And when the boyfriend-girlfriend duo Alex & Sierra sang "Say Something," all of the judges, including Cowell, became downright verklempt
"You never took your eyes off of each other," Lovato told the pair, who played guitar and piano during their unplugged performance. "It brought tears to my eyes."
"This wasn't just the best performance of the night," Cowell said, "it's my favorite performance of the season … beautiful, sincere, fantastic."
So who will make The X Factor
's Final Four? The elimination show airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on Fox.