The X Factor: Alex & Sierra Soar in the Semifinal Showdown
updated 12/12/2013 AT 10:15 AM EST
•originally published 12/12/2013 AT 10:00 AM EST
The final four performed three times – first came a song chosen by viewers, then a competitive duet and a final song meant to convince America to vote them into the finals – but a few performances stood out, earning standing ovations from the judges.
The boyfriend-girlfriend duo Alex & Sierra ended their night singing "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles, and their performance not only made the judges and audience rise from their seats but moved Kelly Rowland and Demi Lovato to tears.
"I love watching you grow," a choked-up Rowland told Sierra. "I love watching you blossom."
"I'm looking at stars," a weepy Lovato declared, while Simon Cowell said he wished he could bottle the last 10 seconds of the song and keep it with him the rest of his life. "It was perfection."
Perfection also summed up the way the judges felt about Detroit rocker Jeff Gutt's stirring performance of "Hallelujah," which also earned a standing ovation.
"Oh, God," Cowell began after the performance, firing up Gutt's mentor, Rowland, who urged him to, "Just say it, homie."
"That was one of the best versions I've ever heard," Cowell said, throwing Rowland for a loop. "It had absolute sincerity and passion."
The final two acts, Carlito Olivero and country group Restless Road, also had their moments, with Olivero singing, rapping and dancing with Rowland to Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend, while Restless Road rebounded from what Lovato deemed an "awkward" first performance with "Wanted" by Hunter Hayes.
"I think you just saved yourself," Lovato declared.
Who will make it to The X Factor's finals? The elimination show airs Thursday (8 p.m. ET) on Fox.