“X Factor UK” judge Simon Cowell faced a nearly impossible task when his Girls contenders kicked off the dreaded Six Chair Challenge which aired in the U.S. on Sept. 25 on AXS TV. In three words: It was brutal. Cowell’s crack at it included so many swaps we could lobby to change the name of the round to Musical Chairs. The pressure was insanely high and most of the girls were fantastic. There was one, though, who still doesn’t know just how good she is. Win or lose, she seems destined to be a superstar.
First of all, it seems hard to believe Caitlyn Vanbeck is only 18. The Edinburgh, Scotland student sings way beyond her years. She immediately astounded the judges with her emotional “Piece by Piece” audition and Cowell compared the moment to the first time he heard Kelly Clarkson sing on “American Idol.” It was impossible not to get chills when he drew the comparison because he was spot on.
There were lots of great performances during the first leg of the Six Chair Challenge. But, there is a difference between getting up and singing a song well and having a song tumble out of your soul. There are a few contenders across each category that possess this quality and this is what separates artists from singers. Caitlyn Vanbeck, without question has already proven herself as an artist.
She chose to sing Audra Day’s bold anthem “Rise Up.” She made a brilliant choice for a couple of reasons. First, it totally showcased her incredible range and second, this kind of song about fighting through adversity gave her spirit a chance to soar. The song filled her and when she sang it, she took us on an emotional journey. Pulling this off is harder than it seems but what sets her apart from her contenders is that she didn’t even have to try. It was effortless.
Of course the One Direction mogul asked her to take the last empty chair. While many swaps were made, we knew Caitlyn Vanbeck wouldn’t be moved out of hers. Her warm, down-to-earth, unassuming persona also makes it easy to like her. She’s not trying too hard to be a pop star. She’s just being herself and sharing her gift with the world.
Louis Walsh pegged it when he told Vanbeck she was the best performer and most natural and that she was “born to do one thing: sing.” Sharon Osbourne added, “I just love you because you’re so real.” Simon Cowell echoed our thoughts when saying, “I don’t think you’re aware how good you are.” Then, he stopped all of our hearts when he teased, “I don’t want to give you a chair – I want to give you a sofa.”
“American Idol” fans can remember that’s exactly how Kelly Clarkson was. She was a sweet girl-next-door from Texas with a mind-blowing vocal gift. Now, she’s an international superstar and of all of the “American Idol” winners, she’s probably the most endearing.
Has Simon Cowell found the next Kelly Clarkson in Caitlyn Vanbeck? For now, she’s won a trip to Judges’ Houses and she’s definitely won our hearts.
“The X Factor UK” airs in the U.S. on Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/7C on AXS TV.