The video of Danyl Johnson performing the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” on the British talent show “The X Factor” has gone viral. On Monday, the official clip on YouTube had registered about 600,000 views since the weekend. Twenty-four hours later, the count had doubled to almost 1.2 million.
On Saturday night’s airing, judge Simon Cowell called Johnson’s soulful cover “the best first audition I have ever heard.” Johnson quickly shot to frontrunner status, raising questions about whether he’d become the next incarnation of Scottish chanteuse Susan Boyle , albeit one in cargo shorts who prefers classic rock to “Les Misérables.”
In the days since his performance, the British press has been reporting exhaustively on Johnson’s personal history, just as it did following Boyle’s appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent” in April. The 27-year-old is a schoolteacher from Reading, England, who has fallen short in other attempts to make it big as a singer. According to The Daily Mirror, he has been in two boy bands, Upfrunt and Streetlevel, but neither of them ever caught on. The paper also reported that Johnson performed on television with a rock band called Empty Spaces and has auditioned for “X Factor” three times.
The Daily Mail landed an interview with Johnson’s estranged father, who said he had not spoken with his son for a year after a falling-out. Following the “X Factor” performance, though, Johnson’s father sent Danyl a text message and received a response back.
“I was so proud when I saw Danyl on the television,” he told the paper. “I did shed a tear as he was singing.”
The audience and the judges were nearly as taken with his performance. “When we see a performance like that, it’s the absolute perfect audition,” judge Dannii Minogue said. “So exciting to be sitting here on this panel.”