“The X Factor UK” aired the first night of its two-night season 15 premiere last night (Sept. 2) in the U.S. on AXS TV. The beloved UK-based reality singing competition returned with a few notable changes including judging panel newbies Louis Tomlinson, Robbie Williams and Ayda Williams critiquing hopefuls alongside series executive producer and veteran judge Simon Cowell. Arena auditions were held at The SSE Arena, Wembley in London with hosting mainstay Dermot O’Leary on hand to guide the contenders, audience and viewers along.
The first round of auditions was filled with fun, unforgettable moments and a U.S. native “Dreamer” and a surprising closeout duet ruled a spectacular show.
A big season 15 change is adding “X Factor UK” finalist-turned-international-superstar Louis Tomlinson to “The X Factor” judging panel. One episode in and it’s very clear this was a smart move. Louis is a light up any room kind of guy. He has a killer smile, a keen sense of talent and above all, a kind heart.
Fans in the audience loved chanting his name: “Louis, Louis!” Fellow panel newbie and global superstar Robbie Williams teased them to really pronounce their "R" and "L", so he could distinguish “Robbie” from “Louis." Both famous singers showed off their kind hearts multiple times in the episode. Overall, this panel is rocking some great chemistry!
Sensational Second Chance
Charismatic bar singer Danny Tetley surprised everyone when he said he was returning for another shot at stardom after Simon Cowell rejected him 17 years ago on “Pop Idol.” Now 37, Tetley was determined to prove himself and he did it beyond measure with his powerful rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls.” His performance was absolutely incredible! Robbie and Ayda swayed together to the beautiful ballad and the entire audience and all four judges jumped to their feet in wild applause as he finished.
Danny (and several audience members) broke down into tears at the gravity of the moment. Robbie, Ayda and Louis all ran up on stage and hugged him and Simon apologized for turning him down years ago, noting he's realized in the last few years the music industry needs to be “more open-minded” and give deserving people a shot. It was such a beautiful moment!
Resounding “No” for No Labels
Aspiring boy band No Labels were charming guys, who gave huge props to Louis and Robbie for hailing from two of the biggest boy bands of all time. They also cited a “gap” in the boy band market, to which Louis cheekily replied, “Hey, wait a minute!” (Hey Louis, does that mean 1D isn't done for good?)
Unfortunately, No Labels had no idea what makes a great boy band. Their harmonies were off, the performance was cheesy and well, it was just bad all around. Simon visibly winced during their audition and Louis said, “Everything I’ve just seen is everything we tried to avoid in One Direction.” Ouch. The boys seemed genuinely shocked by the feedback. Looks like their “X Factor” journey is over before it began.
Misunderstood and “A Man’s World” Rock
Juicy Fruit gum is going to have new meaning after super cool hip-hop duo Misunderstood unleashed their infectious original song titled the same. Their dance moves were slick and their song about “celebrating the big curves” and “juicy parts of someone’s body” was really fun. Robbie told them “That song was incredible. I can hear that on the radio. You’re born to do this lad.” They were bowled over by the praise and received a unanimous vote to the next round.
Molly Scott hit the stage after we saw a couple of mediocre young female teen singers get passed on as solo artists to be told they would come back as part of a girl group. So, we weren’t quite sure to expect when the bubbly 16-year-old said she was going to perform James Brown’s classic hit “It’s a Man’s World.” Her power and soul belied her 16 years and we were so happy for her Nana, for whom Molly sang the song, as she watched and cried during her granddaughter’s performance. She’s going to the next round and we can’t wait to hear what she sings next.
A Dreamer and a Dream-Come-True Make Magical Moments
Janice Robinson made American native actress Ayda Williams smile when she said she’s from New Jersey. It turns out she’s a genuine ‘90s dance diva who fronted the group Livin’ Joy. She performed an explosive rendition of the group’s chart-topping single (which she co-wrote) called “Dreamer.” Simon smashed an invisible Golden Buzzer for her and though it hails from a different show, the gesture was not lost on Robinson. She’s sailing through to the next round. Bravo!
The final audition came from Andy Hofton, a shy, self-professed huge Robbie Williams fan. He presented Robbie with a hat and Ayda with flowers before launching into an original song “Castle of Love.” Simon stopped him and asked him to do his second song. Then everything evolved into a sugary sweet dream-come-true moment of Robbie joining Andy on stage for a heartfelt rendition of his hit song “Angels.” The crowd and judges swayed and sang along. It was a truly magical, unforgettable “X Factor UK” moment that will undoubtedly live in viewers’ hearts for seasons to come. Andy gets our vote for having the biggest heart of the night and we’re pretty happy he’s moving through to the next round.