The X-Factor auditions hit Los Angeles and Charleston, S.C., in the third audition episode of season three.

First, judges Simon Cowell, Kelly Rowland and Demi Lovato had to monitor auditions sans fellow judge Paulina Rubio, who was busy performing a concert of her own. Later in the episode, Simon also left the three women one-judge down.

In Charleston, The X-Factor got their fair share of country singers, including Colton Pack, who brought a busload (literally) of his hometown along with him. The 18-year-old immediately caught Kelly’s eye, to Simon’s dismay.

But the real standout in Charleston was Carlos Guevara, a 16-year-old who suffers from Tourette’s and OCD – conditions that have forced him to leave school. Tourette’s causes uncontrollable ticks, which could have seriously affected his performance, but Guevara, accompanied by his mother and friends, sailed through “Gravity” by John Mayer.

Carlos had the judges panel in the palm of his hand with his sweet demeanor and talent. Kelly had tears in her eyes, and Carlos got four easy ‘Yes’s from the judges. Once he officially made it through to the next round, his friends rushed the stage to congratulate him.

As if Carlos wasn’t enough to make all four judges desperate for the ‘boys’ category, LA’s 14-year-old Josh Levi burst on the audition stage with a stripped-down version of Selena Gomez’ “Come and Get It.” Josh won over the crowd with his sweet performance and interaction with the audience (he got everyone, even Demi and Kelly, to sing along). Simon even told him that he’s “a little star.”

AKNU (A Kind Never Understood), a trio of good-looking brothers from L.A., made a huge impression on Simon, who was skeptical at the beginning of the audition, even telling the group that he hated the song they had chosen to sing in honor of their mother, “Valerie.”

The boys brushed off Simon’s negativity and broke out into a simple, energetic dance while singing beautiful harmonies. They ended the audition with a dance break that had the audience jumping up and screaming for them. Simon ate his words, admitting that he loved the performance.

“I think that you might be on the forefront on something new here… You know, I actually could watch this audition all over again. I loved it that much,” Simon told AKNU.

The X-Factor may have found their third season Cinderella story in Danie Geimer, 15, a self-proclaimed bookworm and awkward high-schooler.

In the package shown before the audition, Danie is approached by another girl in line, and the interaction is awkward to say the least:

“I like your glasses,” the girl tells Danie.

“Thanks. I read books,” Danie responds, in a deadpan that can only be described as condescending (or completely fabricated by The X-Factor producers).

Danie Geimer’s audition was straight out of She’s All That. After she impressed the judges with her performance of “The House of the Rising Sun,” she took off her big hat, at Demi’s request, and shook her long hair out, causing the audience to gasp and the judges to proclaim her “gorgeous.”

The X-Factor also welcomed back a familiar face, last season’s Jeff Gutt, 37, returned and made it past the first round, though the judges warned him that his audition left something to be desired.

But it wasn’t all good. Shirley and Cynthia, a sister duo who hit multiple false notes during their rendition of “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5, got horrible reviews from all three judges present. Kelly told them that they should break up and encouraged Cynthia, 16, to leave her older sister, Shirley, 24, in the dust and return to The X-Factor on her own in the future.

Chloe J & CJ, friends and hairdressers, did absolutely nothing for the judges, especially Simon. The humorous duo seemed more fitted for a Bravo reality series than a singing competition, as their off key rendition of “River Deep Mountain High” failed to impress the judges. Simon was speechless.

Chloe surprised the judges after hearing their criticisms by going down to the judges’ table and kissing Simon’s face – he jokingly changed his vote, but it was too late.

The X-Factor continues auditions Thursday at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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