Simon Cowell Raves About ‘X-Factor’ Newcomer Danyl Johnson

'American Idol' judge says Johnson gave 'single-handedly the best first audition I have ever heard.'

When Simon Cowell first got a look at Susan Boyle onstage during “Britain’s Got Talent,” he was not impressed. The judge rolled his eyes, but then was blown away when she belted out “I Dreamed a Dream,” and later credited her with a phenomenal debut.

Four months later, during Saturday night’s airing of the British talent competition, “The X Factor,” Cowell was already frustrated by the lackluster contestants thus far when a 27-year-old singer named Danyl Johnson took the stage to sing the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

After Johnson’s rousing rendition of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends,” Cowell declared, “I have been doing this for eight or nine years. Danyl, that was single-handedly the best first audition I have ever heard.”

A teacher from Reading, England, Johnson was dressed in cargo shorts and sneakers when he walked in front of the crowd. His soulful take on the [artist id="969"]Beatles[/artist] classic began with a slow bass riff before busting into full instrumentation as Johnson encouraged the cheering audience members to wave their hands. A natural showman, the singer at one point fell to his knee and later sat on the stage steps as he crooned, “I need someone to love.”

Saturday’s show marked the start of the sixth season of “Factor.” In 2006, Leona Lewis was an unknown singer when she wowed judges with her audition number, “Over the Rainbow.” Lewis went on to win the competition and score a chart-topping album, Spirit.

While Johnson has established himself as a frontrunner, the show has only just begun. Boyle was the early favorite on “BGT,” and she ended up finishing in second place. On “American Idol,” Adam Lambert could do almost no wrong in the eyes of Cowell and his fellow judges, yet he also ended up as the runner-up. It’s anyone’s guess what will unfold as the “Factor” season pushes.

Saturday night, though, was all Johnson’s. After getting the thumbs up from the other judges, Cowell told Johnson, “It’s an almighty yes,” and thus sent him on to the next round.

As Johnson walked offstage, Cowell turned to the judges and mouthed the word, “Wow,” and said aloud, “Unbelievable!”