On Aug. 29, 2015, “The X Factor” U.K. returned for its 12th season on ITV. The show has undergone a major shakeup in its on-air talent (Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw as the two new judges, plus former “Xtra Factor” hosts Olly Murs and Caroline Flack now getting promoted to hosting “The X Factor) and format (backup dancers and video footage are now allowed in the auditions), but the show’s audition episodes are pretty much the same: a mixture of good, bad and mediocre auditions. The show’s 2015 judging panel consists of Ora, Grimshaw and returning judges Simon Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini. Based on this episode, Ora and Grimshaw are very generic, boring judges who won;t help “The X Factor’s” downward spiral in the ratings. Fernandez-Versini doesn’t have much of a personality either, so that leaves Cowell to bring the “watchability” factor to the show’s judging panel, but ever since his return to the panel in 2014, he has softened his approach in critiquing the contestants. “The X Factor” lost its edge years ago and, from the looks of things, won’t ever get it back.
Here is a summary of the audition highlights in this episode:
(All of these contestants were voted into the next round.)
Louisa Johnson, 17, is the kind of “X Factor” contestant whom Cowell loves: She’s young, gorgeous and vocally talented. With looks resembling supermodel Cara Delevingne and a big, soulful voice that will bring comparisons to Joss Stone, Johnson has already emerged as contestant who will likely make it into the Top 12 this year. After her fantastic performance of the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Loving You,” Cowell exclaimed, “You are the one to beat right now It was an incredible performance! I really, really want to mentor you.” Fernandez-Versini said to Johnson, “You, my friend, are a little superstar.” Ora added, “That was absolutely stunning.” Grimshaw said, “Louisa, it was phenomenal.” Based on Cowell’s reaction, he’s probably already decided to sign her to his record company.
(Click here to watch Louisa Johnson’s performance.)
4th Power (a quartet of sisters) began off-key but then did a pretty good version of “Bang Bang,” the 2014 hit from Jessie J, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande. The judges over-praised 4th Power though. Fernandez-Versini gushed: “You just absolutely took Wembley’s roof off!” Cowell added, “In terms of first auditions, this is one of the best I’ve ever seen.” (How many times have we heard him say that?)
(Click here to watch 4th Power’s performance.)
Lauren Murray, 25, also got off to a questionable start when she forgot the lyrics to Jocelyn Brown’s “Somebody Else’s Guy,” but she greatly redeemed herself by doing a stellar version of the song.
(Click here to watch Lauren Murray’s performance.)
Jennifer Phillips, 49, had the judges on their feet with her version of Mary Mary’s “Shackles,” during which she broke out and did an original rap in the middle of the song.
(Click here to watch Jennifer Phillips’ performance.)
Tom Bleasby, 19, has a very good but a very feminine voice, which means he will be on the show for the while, since “The X Factor” seems to love “freaky” contestants. His version of Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” wasn’t outstanding, but people are either going to love or hate his voice.
(Click here to watch Tom Bleasby’s performance.)
(All of these contestants were rejected.)
Susan Pryce, 60, was another crazy-eyed no talent who was given too much air time. She butchered “No Limits” while subjecting the audience to something no one wanted to see: tapping herself on the bottom several times.
(Click here to watch Susan Pryce’s performance.)
Man and Woman (a male/female duo ages 36 and 30) gave one of the worst auditions ever to stink up “The X Factor” stage. Not only did they horrifically mangle Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone,” but they shouted the song out of sync and occasionally forgot the lyrics.
(Click here to watch Man and Woman’s performance.)
Tom Davies, 25, confessed to having a crush on Fernandez-Versini before launching into a cheesy rendition of Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me.” It was enough to charm the judges, and he was put through to the next round.
(Click here to watch Tom Davies’ performance.)
Jon Goodey, 27, gave a thoroughly boring performance of OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars.” He looked down at the floor for a great deal of the song and showed an overall lack of charisma. Goodey is a friend of Murs (they used to be in a group called the Small Town Blaggers), but having that inside connection didn’t help Goodey. He was eliminated by the judges, while Murs wept with disappointment, or he might have been weeping with embarrassment that he is now publicly associated with this reject.
(Click here to watch Jon Goodey’s performance.)