First up was a charming kid named Willie - or sometimes Will - Jones, age 17 from Shreveport, LA, who shocked the judges, crowd, and surely the viewing audience when he waltzed out onto the stage looking like, as Demi Lovato said, "the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," but belting out a baritone of country goodness. The second he sang the lyrics, "Baby lock that door and turn the lights down low" from "Your Man" by Josh Turner in that deep voice of his, everyone raised an eyebrow. He really did look like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, so sorry, but no one expected country music to come from him!
"You are an absolute original," said L.A. Reid. Britney Spears said she was surprised and didn't expect that. Demi gave him two thumbs up and called him "really likable." And, for Simon Cowell, well, it's just what he was lookin for. "I prayed we were gonna find somebody like you, but you've gone beyond my expectations. You've surprised me. I think your voice is a sensational recording voice," said Simon (who was a wee bit late to auditions because he had to stop at Jake's Diner for some grits and coconut cream pie, which he gave to Brit backstage). Willie got four ginormous big fat yeses from the judges.
Our next talented Greensboro singer was Julia Bullock, an unemployed 18-year-old from Charlotte, NC, with a super-edgy blonde 'do and a band she's about to leave behind. Basically, if she made it through, her band, which includes her ex-boyfriend who is still carrying a torch for her, would have to break up. Well, she got through and as Simon put it: "It's goodbye band. Hello, solo career!" Ouch.
Her rendition of Foster the People's hit, "Pumped Up Kicks," garnered four yeses and amazing praise. "I like your image. I love your taste. You look very current, yeah, one of my favorite," said Simon. "You're a star," said Britney. "You are exactly what I've been looking for...You have that rock star thing. You got the attitude," said L.A. "You're super talented! You're awesome!" said Demi.
Good things come in threes, and our third contestant making it through his Greensboro audition and onto Boot Camp was Jeffrey Adam Gutt (pronounced like Boot), a 36-year-old tattooed rocker dad from Detroit who said this is his last shot at being a rock star. It was the first time his four-year-old son Talon saw him sing and his choice of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" couldn't have been more fitting for such an occasion.
"You nailed that thing out of the park," said L.A. "You have this amazing grit to your voice," mused Demi. "God's even rocking out right now," she said as a clap of thunder interrupted the room. Simon said, "It was one of the most brilliant auditions I've heard." Four more big fat yeses!
Meanwhile, the severe rain, thunder, and lightning storm threw the power out at one point and rain even leaked inside the building. A scared Britney got a bit jumpy. (Read that story here.)
The thunder, lightning, and rainstorm didn't dampen most contestants' parades, but a slew of other hopefuls weren't so lucky. One contestant, Krysten Colon, a 21-year-old hairdresser, just didn't have the voice to make it and threw a hissy fit after her audition. Simon even gave her two chances on this day because when she first came out to sing an Adele song, he asked her to go back and do a classic in her way. She came back, but couldn't impress the judges. Backstage, she threw water into a camera, yelled, and grabbed a chair over her head as security was called to escort her out of the building.
And, making their big television debut tonight were four new flavors by Pepsi: Dragon (Demi's favorite), Freeze (Simon's preference), Fire (Britney's pick), and Gold. More on that later!
Overall, it was a job well done, Greensboro!
Tune in for more audition episodes next WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY at 8/7c on FOX.