The spectacular second night of “The X Factor UK” two-night season 14 premiere aired last night (Sept. 4) in the U.S. on AXS TV. Shanaya Atkinson Jones, 19, showed up among the hopefuls and easily stole the night with a moving rendition of A Great Big World’s emotional breakup ballad, “Say Something,” which brought Nicole Scherzinger to tears.
After watching 13 previous seasons of looking for the next international superstar, fans and critics alike have long-recognized how vital a platform like “The X Factor UK” is for making an unknown singer’s dream come true. In Shanaya’s case, her backstory revealed she had a rough start in life and was adopted by her parents when she was three. Music has always been something that makes her happy, which she stressed to “The X Factor” judges before she launched into the song.
Shanaya has such a rich, powerful voice and beautiful tone. She made expressive choices at certain places in the lyrics that made it sound like this was her own song, coming straight from her heart. All four judges watched her performance intently. Simon Cowell beamed brightly and guest judge Alesha Dixon as well as Scherzy were visibly moved.
Simon paid Shanaya a huge compliment saying, “Everything I hoped we were gonna find this year is now standing in front of me.” Dixon added, “You pitched that perfectly. I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. It was so soulful and hypnotizing.”
A tearful Nicole said, “You’re a diamond in the rough and you make me feel things. I’m just grateful and graced by what just happened.” Simon couldn’t resist jumping in again saying, “I just love it when someone puts their own twist on a song. It was like it was written for you or you’d written the song. It was like the first time I’d heard it. Whoa, whoa, whoa Shanaya. I love you.”
Shanaya accepted all of the judges’ praise with graceful humility, despite the pressure of such a huge life-altering moment. She’s arguably a standout contender, given the few really good singers we have seen thus far. We can’t wait to hear what she does next!
Other night two auditions standouts include Nicole Caldwell who did an amazing rendition of Prince’s legendary hit “Purple Rain,” as well as Jordan Rabjohn, who pleasantly surprised the judges with his upbeat original song “Mexico.” He gets huge points for persuading the judges (even Simon) to accompany him with “egg shakers” during his performance.
“The X Factor UK” airs in the U.S. on Sundays and Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on AXS TV. Follow @TheXFactor on Twitter and Live Tweet during the show using #UKintheUSA. Stay tuned to AXS for ongoing coverage of "The Factor UK."