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“X Factor” returned Wednesday night with the third round of auditions and, like any good reality show, it had the good, the bad and the ugly.
But the most talked about story of the night was an inspirational one.
Carlos Guevara, a 16-year-old from South Carolina, wowed the judges with his rendition of John Mayer’s “Gravity.” It was only made better by what he had to overcome before even getting on the stage.
Guevara revealed in a pre-audition package that he was diagnosed with Tourettes at 12, and the condition has worsened so much he was forced to leave school.
“I started out as the president of my whole student body. I was a football player and then it all kind of crashed and burned,” he said. “Tourettes and OCD affect my life every day. Sometimes I beep and yell and my body moves.”
He said doctors tried all kinds of medications to help with the involuntary ticks and outbursts, but music was the only thing that helped him.
And it showed. The 16-year-old’s smooth song had no hint of this struggles.
“Carlos, I don’t know you, but I feel really proud of you,” judge Paulina Rubio told him. “You have an amazing voice and amazing energy.”
Judge Demi Lovato said the teenager was very talented and has a “beautiful soul”
“You took this crowd and you said ‘this is amazing’ in between, and it was just so magical,” Kelly Rowland said. “I am so grateful that I was here to witness this.”
Judge Simon Cowell said he admired the fact that Guevara wasn’t trying to make himself seem like a victim – and that he didn’t let his disability stop him from achieving his dream.
“Forget about all of that, you actually have a great voice,” he continued, later adding, “You don’t have four yes’. You have 3,338 yes’.”
At the end of his audition, his friends and family stormed the stage for a huge group hug.
Other than Guevara, kicking off the night were sisters Cynthia and Shirley of Los Angeles, who bombed their version of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Cowell said they were one of the worst groups they’ve ever had on the show. Rowland told Cynthia to come back because she sounded well, but “don’t bring your sister.”
Josh Levi, 14, of Houston, took a gamble singing Selena Gomez’s “Come and Get It” but impressed the judges with his voice. Cowell said he believes they “could be looking at a little star.”
One group that impressed the judges was Aknu, three brothers from Los Angeles who sang a Motown-like version of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” Rowland called the trio “refreshing” while Lovato said it gave her “chills.”
Cowell said he wasn’t a fan of the song but liked the Motown feel the group gave it.
“I could actually watch this whole audition all over again,” he said.
One of the night’s best auditions – in terms of laughs instead of actual talent – came from duo Chloe J and CJ. Cowell said they were “absolutely awful.” In response, Chloe approached the judges table and started kissing Cowell’s neck, which jokingly got her a yes vote.
Other standouts of the evening – good ones this time – included Malie Delgago, 18, of Alaska who sang “Because of You;” country singer Colton Pack, 18, of West Virginia singing “Hick Town;” Brandie Love, 21, of North Carolina with her rendition of “Up To The Mountain;” Timmy Thames, 13, of Malibu singing “Lego House;” Millie Thrasher, 14, of Alabama singing “Wide Awake;” group Yellow House Canyon of Texas singing “Keepin’ It Country; and Danie Geimer, 15, of California singing “House of the Rising Sun.”
Closing off the night was Jeff Gutt, a single father from Detroit, who was hoping for his second shot at the “X Factor.” Gutt, 37, appeared in last year’s season and was sent home at the end of boot camp.
His second shot was almost cut short after he started singing “Don’t Want to Miss A Thing.” Cowell said Gutt was struggling with the song and he was “really disappointed.” But Gutt got a second shot.
Singing “Creep” by Radiohead, Gutt impressed the judges, reminding them why he made it through the last time around.
“When you hit the high parts of the song, it was sensational,” Cowell said afterward. “This is why we don’t have an age limit … you are the one that got away last year, you are not getting away this year.”
More auditions for the “X Factor” continue Thursday at 8 p.m. on Fox.