The X Factor really does have the x-factor; it's got the most un-groomed, undeveloped talent of all its competitors -- and watching the contestants' performances, and their families' reactions, makes it the most emotionally-gripping show on TV today.
Rachel Potter, Simone Torres, Denise Weeks and Al Calderon made the Sept. 12 second-night premiere episode a blow-your-mind experience. Watching nondescript-looking Long Islander Simone, 19, in her T-shirt and lavender jeans, break into a deeply-soulful rendition of "Mustang Sally" was the kind of surprise that makes the show must-see TV.
Simone Torres Belts Shocking Vocals
There was just no hint that that voice and intense emotion resided in that young body.
Simone confided to the TV cameras before her performance that she just hoped she wouldn't be booed off stage. But from the moment that she opened her mouth and revealed her stunningly rich and deep notes, singing Wilson Pickett's version of the song -- the audience and judges hung on her every word. Wow!
What was even better was watching her dad, Pedro, start to cry back stage. He was soo proud of his daughter, that I started to cry too.
"I did something right in my life to be able to call myself her dad," he revealed to the camera.
And that's what's so wonderful about this show -- the deep love you see, that families have for their children, their moms, dads, husbands and wives, as they all compete on the X-Factor. There's just so much genuine and unconditional love on view, that it's continually inspiring.
Rachel Potter: The Music Industry Is Ready For You
Speaking of inspiring -- how about Nashville bartender Rachel Potter, who thought she might be washed-up at 29, and now could easily be the winner of this competition. What beautiful, natural pipes! And what originality -- singing a uniquely-countrified version of Queen's "Somebody to Love," hitting every single note effortlessly.
Let's hope that Demi Lovato was right when she told Rachel, This industry is ready for you! "
Denise Weeks: Subway Singer No More!
Then there was mom-of-two Denise Weeks, 41, who's been singing in the NYC subways for tips -- the only outlet she had for her talent until now.
What a gripping story told she told -- she lost the father of her two kids when they were young and raised them on her own. And now they're both in college; good for her!
But she was so nervous singing Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All" that Simon Cowell had her stop and start singing again without a song track and she DID it -- amazingly!
The beauty of her voice totally shone through, getting stronger as she went, and now she's on to the next step of her X Factor journey. Backstage, her children were thrilled and ...in tears.
Al Calderon Is Such A Cutie
Finally, how adorable and full of teen appeal was Al Calderon? Until now, he's been posting his own homemade music videos featuring his friends and little sis on YouTube, and working in a restaurant as ' Happy Birthday' singer, to make money.
'I feel a record deal and Emblem3-like fame in his future. He's really got it too!
And this is just premiere time. The X Factor has already proved this season, that its appeal isn't about the judges -- it's about the jaw-dropping talent hidden inside the most un-suspecting looking contestants.
And it's about inspiring family love.