The X Factor started off on its usual high note Thursday. Calling the day he first heard 17-year-old Willie Jones "a day to remember," Simon Cowell was pleased as punch when the kid with the Kid 'n Play haircut and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air style shocked the judges in Greensboro, N.C., by singing ... a country tune!
"Your voice is a sensational recording voice and I want to remember this time, the first day I heard Willie Jones," praised Simon.
The fun continued with 18-year-old Julia Bullock, whose crystal-clear version of "Pumped Up Kicks" pleased everyone but her sullen ex-boyfriend, Christian, who was there for moral support but looked in need of his own shoulder to lean on.
Then it was "Hallelujah" -- literally, that's what he sang -- for 36-year-old single dad Jeffrey Adam Gutt, who trotted out the whole package: Boy-next-door good looks, a tattoo sleeve for the edge factor and a crazy set of pipes.
"Talon, your dad is a rock star!" Demi Lovato informed the little 4-year-old, who shared in his father's standing ovation onstage.
Cue the equipment outage caused when lightning hit a production truck outside the audition venue.
"It wasn't just us" who didn't appreciate 20-year-old Marchello Penn for butchering "Ooo Baby Baby," joked Simon as they waited out the weather, which also sent water leaking onto the increasingly disgruntled judges.
"I just spit all over you, I'm sorry," Britney apologized to Demi as consecutive crashes of thunder drowned out Krysten Colon, who muffed her second shot, given to her earlier by Simon, who had objected to her auditioning with Adele. (Whitney Houston didn't do her any favors, either.)
"I don't want to be on camera!" Krysten yelled backstage as she launched into a profanity-laced tirade and threw water at the camera as her friends tried to calm her down. Then, as security approached, she hoisted a folding chair over her head as she stomped to the door and, quite fittingly, proceeded to head off into the storm.
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