Strutting onto the stage in a pug sweatshirt, palm tree socks, and revealing a doll of judge Mel B. he brought with him for good luck, Italian singer Andrea Faustini didn’t make the best first impression on X-Factor judges.
But they looked on amused as he announced a bold song choice for his audition of the 11th installment of the show in 2014.
His outfit wouldn’t necessarily impress them that day, but his voice would certainly give the judges pause.
Even judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini said at the end of the performance that it was important not to judge a book by its cover.
In fact, 19-year-old Faustini had a dazzling and soulful voice and his rendition of the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin’ You” was one of the best performances of the year.
He has the vocal strength, the vibrato, and the range to sing just about anything and make it look easy.
Throughout his performance, the judges looked on stunned, making eyes at each other as if to say: “can you believe how good he is?”
It’s clear they weren’t expecting this kind of performance out of the weird dude who walked on the stage minutes earlier. That’s part of what makes the audition video so popular, with the official version already viewed over 4 million times on YouTube.
Even Simon Cowell was taken aback just seconds into his performance when it became clear just how well Faustini could sing.
When he wrapped it up, the judges had nothing but praise. And despite the creepy doll of Mel B. looking on, the former Spice Girl was truly moved by his performance.
In fact, she likened it to a religious experience:
“That was a big, soulful vocal. My god. You took it to church and back, my brother. I loved that. It was my favorite of the auditions so far.”
When Cowell weighed in the first thing he said was “You’re really cute.”
He did ask why Faustini was auditioning for the UK version of the show instead of Italian X-Factor, but the singer replied that he thought the UK version would provide the mentoring he needed to become the best singer he could be.
“We embrace all nationalities on this show,” Cowell replied, satisfied with the answer.
Faustini would receive a yes from each judge and move on to the next rounds. He was eventually assigned to the under 25 men’s team and mentored by his idol Mel B.
That season, he proceeded to deliver strong and emotional performances, including his ticket to the semi-finals – a rendition of Whitney Houston’s emotional “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” during the Bootcamp auditions.
It was a moment that brought judges Mel B and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini to tears.
Even Faustini cried after the performance, saying he was surprised by the strength he found to pull it off.
The Italian singer would go on to be one of the four finalists that year and the odds-on favorite to win.
But he would finish in 3rd place instead in 2014, with singer Benjamin Haenow winning the entire competition.
Nevertheless, Faustini signed a record deal with RCA Records in 2015 and released his debut album Kelly that same year, which hit 14th on the UK charts.
Be sure to scroll down to see his audition and watch the judges realize just how much talent they have on their hands.
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