A storm put a literal damper on some of the less than impressive auditions during Thursday's episode of The X Factor, when some of the equipment was hit by lightning and the roof of the arena started leaking, but that was only the start of the evening's troubles. The hour started out on a high note, with a teenager from Louisiana wowing the judges — and ended with another contestant being escorted out of the arena after she brandished a chair to fight off security guards.
This installment saw the judges traveling to the seemingly sleepy town of Greensboro, N.C. and sampling the local flavor both on stage and on the town (Simon Cowell was late to one audition session because he was trying grits and coconut cream pie at a diner with a local tour guide).
"I've had experiences where a really small, quiet town had the biggest talent," L.A. Reid said ahead of the auditions, while Louisiana native Britney Spears gushed about being back in the South. "I'm hoping that's the case in Greensboro."
Here are some of the highlights of Thursday's, ahem, eventful episode:
Good and Bad Surprises
Kicking off the night was 17-year-old Willlie Jones, whose family had driven 14 hours from Shreveport, La., so he could audition. A teenage Fresh Prince wannabe who rocked a denim vest and sneakers, Jones stunned the judges when he elected to audition with Josh Turner's country hit "Your Man." But his deep baritone won them over, earning four yesses and prompting Simon to tell him: "This is why I wanted to come to Greensboro. I prayed we were going to find somebody like you, but you've gone beyond my expectations."
No less surprising, but far more bizarre was the audition of 47-year-old Kalvin MacManigle, who sported muttonchops, a cowboy hat, and a less than full set of teeth. He explained his profession (something about lawnmower handles?) to the judges in an incomprehensible thick Southern accent that was met with stunned silence. MacManigle's audition (he forgot the name of the song) earned four nos. "I literally couldn't understand a single word of that," Simon said afterwards.
Krysten Colon, a 21-year-old hairdresser, originally auditioned with an Adele song, which Simon told her was not the best choice to showcase her voice. But, he encouraged her to choose a more classic tune and come back onstage later. By the time Colon auditioned the second time, the storm had picked up and a brief power outage interrupted her rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing." "Honestly, there was a reason for that happening," Simon told her, before going down the line at the judges table (all nos). Colon stormed offstage sobbing, but eventually her disappointment turned to anger. She threw water at a camera, saying she didn't want to be filmed, and picked up a chair to fight off security guards who had been summoned to escort her out of the building. She was last seen wandering off alone into the rain.
Everyone loves a good backstory
The show hyped up one dramatic story line, while a potential crowd favorite emerged in another. Julia Bullock, 18, is the lead singer in a band (whose members include her ex-boyfriend), but she told the judges that she elected to audition by herself. "If you get a yes, it is a bit like you've dumped them," Simon summarized, as her bandmates looked on. "It's the equivalent of 'we'll just be friends.'" Turns out that it's a scenario she'll have to face after all, after earning four yesses for her take on Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks." As for Bullock's ex? He was shown offstage, pointedly not clapping after her audition.
Single dad Jeffrey Gutt, on the other hand, will likely be a fan favorite this season. His deep-throated rock interpretation of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" (which Simon called "one of the best auditions I've heard") prompted Demi Lovato to tell him, "Even God's rocking out right now." But his best accessory? His adorable 4-year-old son, Talon, who ran out on stage to give his dad a hug following the audition.
What did you think of the night's auditions? Who are your favorites so far?