‘The X Factor’: Top Three Standouts

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By Christina Garibaldi

Thank you, Television Gods, Simon Cowell has returned! On Wednesday night, “The X Factor” premiered, and let’s just say it was well worth the wait. Singers twelve and up took the stage in front of a crowd of over 4,000 people to sing their hearts out in order to move on to the next round and eventually take home a $5 million prize and a recording contract.

Yet, in order to do so, they have to get three yeses from the judges panel, who in my opinion, are the best set of competition judges out there … sorry Randy Jackson! Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul’s dynamic chemistry picked up right where it left off on “American Idol” and L.A Reid showed us he might give Simon a run for his money. British pop star Cheryl Cole took the judges seat for the first hour and then awkwardly left to make room for Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger. Oh yes, and there was singing. Many took the stage, both young to old, from solo to group performances, but there were three standouts from the premiere episode that really got our attention:

Rachel Crow
Being the first audition of the night, you would think this 13-year-old would be a ball of nerves, but instead she took the stage like a pro. With a larger than life personality, it seemed she won over the judges before she even sang the first note of Duffy’s song “Mercy.” When asked what she would do with the grand prize, the teenager, who lives in a two-bedroom home with five other people, said she would get her own bathroom — every teenagers dream!

Once she finished her rendition, the crowd erupted into applause and she got instant praise from the judges, especially Simon, who said, “Get ready for a new bathroom!”

Stacy Francis
This 42-year-old single mother of two had everyone in the audience and at home in tears after her soulful performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Of course, we wouldn’t have been as moved if it wasn’t for her back story. During her twenties, she got involved with a man who claimed she was too old and not talented enough to make it and she began to believe him. Now that Stacy kicked that guy to the curb, she was ready to take the stage and show him – and all of her doubters – that she is, without a doubt, a powerhouse diva in the making … and she succeeded. Brining all of the judges to their feet, the tears (and mascara) began to fall, as Stacy got four yeses from the judges and probably the biggest boost of confidence of all time as Simon proclaimed, “I’ve done this a long, long time, that was one of the best auditions I have ever heard in my life.”

Chris Rene
Closing out the two-hour season premiere was 28-year-old trash collector Chris Rene, a dad with a drug problem, who just got out of rehab and was 70 days sober. When asked what he was going to sing, Chris said it was an original song called “Young Homie.” When someone says they are going to sing their own song, you always think the worst, but not in this case. Chris wowed everyone with his personal song, which mixed a bit of rapping over smooth R&B vocals. It was a unanimous yes among the judges, even sparking L.A Reid to say, “I work with some of the greatest hip-hop artists, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and they’d be proud of me today to tell you that you are the truth.”

What did you think of the “X Factor”? Let us know in the comments.