'X Factor' Star Danyl Johnson Thought His Music Dream 'Had Gone Past'

Contestant tells 'Today' show his students encouraged him to try out.

Danyl Johnson being dubbed the next Susan Boyle makes about as much sense as calling Heidi Montag the "a modern-day Michael Jackson." Boyle was a Scottish spinster with a love for show tunes when she decided to audition for "Britain's Got Talent." Johnson is a 27-year-old who prefers cargo shorts to house dresses and classic rock to "Les Misérables." But the two singers do have two things in common: instant fame and a dream of becoming a professional recording artist.

On Thursday (August 27), days after Johnson's viral-video-generating cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends" on the British talent show "The X Factor," Johnson spoke with the "Today" show about his ambitions.

"My dream is to get an album out there, write songs, really enjoy this," he said via satellite during the interview. "That's what I wanted for so long. I've been singing for about 10 years now, and I didn't have that much interest before, and now loads of interest has come in. It's just really amazing. I'm having a really good time. It's so humbling."

Johnson had previously been in boy bands, auditioned for "X Factor" and performed on television with a rock band. But the world had never taken notice, leading "Today" host Ann Curry to wonder where Johnson had been hiding his talent.

"I don't know, probably in the shower," he laughed. "Annoying neighbors!"

The singer from Reading, England, said he had no intention of trying out for the show, but his students encouraged him to give it a go and keep pursuing a singing career. "I thought that dream had gone past. And the kids have been so supportive, and they said I should go in for the competition," he explained. "And I thought, 'OK, I'll send off an application, and if I get one back, see what happens from there.' And I'm so glad they got me to do it."

Judge Simon Cowell's reaction to his appearance on the show Saturday night couldn't have been better. "Danyl, that was single-handedly the best first audition I have ever heard," Cowell said.

"I just wanted to have fun onstage and not just sing a song but entertain the crowd because it's the first time we've had a crowd at 'X Factor,' " Johnson said on "Today."

Johnson's appearance took place on the first episode of this season of "X Factor," so the singer's reality-show journey is just beginning. Where will he go from here? Even Johnson can't begin to imagine. Until his next performance, he's trying to return to a semblance of his regular life.

"It's just been pretty mental, pretty nice," he said. "I've just done the normal things. I've been hanging with my friends, and I went to the pub quiz yesterday. I've just done normal things and kept my friends really close. And my family as well are so proud."