'The X Factor UK': Second chances pay off for several week 3 audition hopefuls
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The third week of auditions for “The X Factor UK” aired in the U.S. on Sept. 17 and 18 on AXS TV. Among the throngs of hopefuls who lined the streets and even ignited a Dermot O’Leary-led flash mob, were several contenders who just couldn’t quite cut it with their first song. Thankfully, judges Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and Nicole Scherzinger gave some of them a second chance, that actually paid off.

Before we get to those, is it just us, or are there an extremely large number of bizarre or untalented acts being featured this season? How about Queen A’s strange Celine Dion/Salt N Pepa/R Kelly mashup, for example? What was she thinking? And, Megan Byrne was very pretty. But, her shrill, sort of squeaky voice was irritating at best – even though Scherzy tried to tame down her critique by telling her it was “super quirky.”

As for second chances, it didn’t go so well last week for single dad Nathan Sailsman. However, this week, Gregor Coleman took Simon’s remarks about needing to go beyond what he would do busking to heart after his first, rather anemic audition failed to impress. They gave him a chance to come back at the end of the day and try again and he nailed his Rihanna cover. Woot woot!

Likewise, pub singer Gary Barker, 30, didn’t get a warm reception to his first audition song choice, “Uptown Funk.” Simon stopped him and said, “That’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for someone with an incredible voice.” He challenged him to throw all his bad habits out the window for his second song, “Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. He accepted the challenge and did really well with the song. While he may not be the strongest Overs contender we’ve seen (Kevin Davy White beats him by miles), we’re glad he made the most of the second chance he was given.

Finally, Scottish native singer Nicole Simpson was a returning 2011 contender who had been cut at bootcamp. She was only 16 back then. She’s older and wiser now and did a spectacular job with her own take on Drake’s “Hold On.” She’s soulful and her vocals, overall, pack a lot of depth and expression. However, Simon wasn’t entirely sold that she’ll stand out from the crowd. Though his fellow judges disagreed. She earned four yeses, anyway and so it’s off for another trip to bootcamp. It’ll be interesting to see if she advances from there this time.

Other standouts included teen singer Chloe Rose Moyle, who wowed the judges with a heartfelt original song. (And Mrs. O couldn’t seem to stop cooing over her braces). She’s really good and potential a Girls contender to watch. Similarly, shy, nervous-laugh Benji Matthews was instantly likable—and Sharon laughed right along with him! We weren’t sure how he was going to sound when he sang and then he did a beautiful job with Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.” He deserved his unanimous vote to bootcamp.

“The X Factor UK” airs in the U.S. on Sundays and Mondays at 9 p.m./8 p.m. CT on AXS TV. Tweet along when you watch the show using the hashtag #UKintheUSA and stay tuned to AXS for “The X Factor UK” updates.