“The X Factor UK” aired the second installment of the two-night season 15 premiere last night (Sept. 3) in the U.S. on AXS TV. Viewers were arguably still basking in the warm and fuzzy glow of the first round of auditions as a new batch of hopefuls performed and cast their fate before judges Simon Cowell, Robbie Williams, Ayda Williams and Louis Tomlinson. Among them, were two returning contenders who received very different responses and one of them brought Louis to tears.
Trinidad and Tobago in the House
Anyone still high on all the feels the first round of arena auditions brought was treated to riding the happy wave a little longer as Trinidad and Tobago native Olatunji Yearwood kicked things off dancehall style in his snappy gold suit. Ola immediately engaged the audience and even sang his “no” when producers played the wrong music. He’s a born entertainer and a breath of fresh air and we’re thrilled his performance of “Bodyline” earned Ola a pass to the next round.
Simon Goes the Extra Mile for a Former Boybander
Brendan Murray has a lot of charm. His backstory revealed he was part of an Irish boyband called HomeTown who had a song top Irish charts and their next track fizzled. So, he came to “X Factor” to take a shot at reviving his music career as a solo artist. Brendan has a nice, but unique tone that may not fit every song. He started by singing “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” and Simon stopped him saying, “Lyrically, that song didn’t suit your voice.”
Simon asked Brendan to leave and learn “Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush and come back and perform it. Brendan accepted the challenge. But, he made several false starts upon returning. Simon was very gracious and patient with him. He gave him water and even let him read the lyric sheet as he sang. At some point, Brendan’s courage and raw talent took over and his vocals soared in all the right places. He even crumpled the paper and threw it triumphantly to the floor near the end of the song.
Simon was thrilled at the end of the performance and of course, Brendan received a four-judge pass to the next round.
Disappointment and Sheer Joy
Several hopefuls were turned down for underwhelming auditions. Among them, was returning singer Marc Higgins whose boyband The Reason was cut at Judges Houses in 2010, in favor of One Direction. So, it was bittersweet for the proud father and firefighter to face Louis Tomlinson again after all the success 1D had while No Reason didn’t make it. Louis’ hopes were high (and so were ours) that Marc would do well in his new audition. Unfortunately, it went the opposite. Marc’s vocals were pitchy on his delivery of “Careless Whisper.”
Louis looked visibly pained in telling Marc, “This is really difficult for me. It did just feel a little karaoke and dated at times, and I was really rooting for you.” What an awkward moment. Marc left disappointed with his music dreams dashed once again. But, he deserves huge props for laying his life on the line for others as a firefighter. Music just doesn’t seem to be in the cards for him.
In contrast, 53-year-old vocal powerhouse Jacqueline (Jackie) Faye bowled the panel over and created a moment of sheer joy with a brilliant rendition of Cilla Black’s “You’re My World.” She was amazing and Ayda said, “I just fell in love with you, I think you’re incredible. And, it was impossible not to think of Simon Cowell’s misjudge of Britain’s Got Talent winner Susan Boyle as he told Jacqueline, “When you walked out, I thought you'd walked on to the wrong show by mistake," teased Simon. "Then you were great. That's what it's all about, that's why we will never, ever have an age barrier." She’s going through to the next round with four huge yeses!
Louis Fights Tears with Anthony Russell’s Return
The glorious, crowning moment of “The X Factor UK” season 15 premiere came at the end of the show when returning contestant Anthony Russell took the stage to audition. He admitted having to quit the show last time due to making "bad choices." Louis humbly explained how he had reached out to Anthony following his original audition and offered to help him. Simon interjected saying he “was being very modest.” He went on to explain Louis contacted Anthony after the show and “gave him the help you needed at the time.” Anthony confirmed to Robbie, who has also battled addiction, “I’m doing good yeah. You know, I’m clean.”
The Liverpool native went on to deliver an astounding version of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” The song couldn’t have been more perfect and the emotion and power Anthony projected prompted Louis to visibly fight back tears. The audience screamed and cheered as he finished and Louis bolted on stage to give his friend a hug. It was a beautiful, memorable moment which once again showed Louis Tomlinson’s, huge heart. We’re all rooting for Anthony to succeed and can’t wait to see where he goes from here. (Watch his audition above).
“The X Factor UK” airs in the U.S. on Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m ET/5 p.m. PT on AXS TV. Watch the broadcast and weigh in on social media with #UKintheUSA.