Does 14-year-old Sydneysider Jai Waetford have the X factor? The answer was a resounding "yes" on last night's series return of X Factor Australia.
Starting the show on a high note (literally), Jai delivered what has come to be known as a "Susan Boyle moment": a blow-your-socks-off audition that gets everyone talking. Jai, whose parents divorced when he was two-and-a-half years old, brought the judges, and most of the audience, to tears with his stirring performance of 'Different World' by US singer-songwriter Jes Hudak.
Judge Ronan Keating asked him to perform an original song, which he did: a plaintive love song called 'Don't Let Me Go'. That's when the "X Factor big moment" arrived ... watch above!
With instant comparisons to a young Justin Bieber thanks to that swishy-fringed hairstyle and pure-toned voice, Jai cemented his place as the series' clear favourite from the get-go. Ronan, and new X Factor judges Dannii Minogue and LMFAO's Redfoo (fourth judge Natalie Bassingthwaighte was absent from the audition due to her pregnancy), could barely hold it together after Jai's songs.
"I'm going through something right now in a relationship and that actually made me cry for real," said the normally light-hearted Redfoo. "Those lyrics are perfect, you have a real talent, you are an artist, you are a writer, you are incredible."
Ronan called the Campbelltown Performing Arts High School student "a superstar" and stood up on the judges' desk for one of those cringey reality show moments that recalls Mark Holden's signature "touchddoooown" on the now-defunct Australian Idol. Dannii dubbed the audition the one "that everyone else has to try and beat".
The fan reactions were just as strong. Nearly 44,000 people liked Jai's performance on X Factor's official Facebook page, while X Factor's Twitter post about his audition has reached 570 re-tweets.
"Honestly best one so far ... Justin Bieber is going to lose fans over this kid," a fan posted on the show's Facebook.
"Is it Jai's fault that the producers milked his performance? I think you are mixing up the talent he has with the show's quality," another wrote. "I'm not criticising X Factor 'cos they have to highlight the positives to get people watching ... not everyone is bored of talented musicians after hearing a few short clips of them singing."
While it would be easy to just hand over the X Factor title straight away, Jai had his fair share of competition on the first show. Korean singer Dami Im knocked Mariah Carey's 'Hero' out of the ballpark, while Aboriginal songstress Ellie Lovegrove scored due praise for her version of Alicia Keys's 'Girl on Fire'.
Does Jai deserve to win X Factor? Does the talent-show format still have legs? Voice your opinion in the comments form below.
What's last year's X Factor winner Samantha Jade up to now? TheFIX got the lowdown:
And check out this hilariously OTT reaction on the X Factor UK:
Related slideshow: Jaw-dropping talent show auditions