Almost a decade after she first tried out for The X Factor, Anelisa Lambola has stunned the judges with her “soulful” second audition.
The singer was a strong favourite when she auditioned in 2007 at the age of 17, but crashed out of the talent show despite reaching the final 12 of the girls’ group.
Now 26 and working as a barmaid in London, Anelisa returned to perform Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, saying: “I am not having history repeat itself. I am going to go and win this competition.”
While Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne did not immediately recognise her, she soon jogged their memory.
Sharon told her: “I loved your voice and I love it now. You’re a woman now and you’re not a little girl, and it’s great.”
Simon praised her decision to return to the ITV show, saying: “I think you have a real talent. I think you were right to come back however many years later.”
“Your voice is just soulful and classic,” Nicole said.
Sunday’s show also featured Ivy Grace Paredes, a 33-year-old singer from the Philippines, who travelled all the way to Leicester for her chance to perform Whitney Houston’s All The Man That I Need.
The judges gave her a round of applause and four yeses after her audition, with Simon exclaiming: “Oh my gosh. What just happened there?”
Nicole replied: “She just sang our faces off, pretty much, is what.”
There was also good news for Antonia Mirat, a 32-year-old Croatian opera singer – although Simon was not a fan.
After she performed her unusual pop version of Mozart’s Queen of the Night, the judge complained: “It was like you were screaming at me.”
But he was voted down by the other three judges, who praised Antonia’s vocal talent.
Simon was more impressed by accounts assistant Faye Horne, 24, despite putting her off her audition by getting the giggles.
After thinking that she was called “Faye Horny”, he burst out laughing – and Faye struggled to suppress her own laughter as she tried to sing Sam Smith’s Writing’s On The Wall.
Simon apologised: “I don’t know what is happening here Faye, I’m really sorry.”
In scenes reminiscent of rival talent show The Voice, Sharon made him spin his chair around and face the back so he could not catch Faye’s eye.
“That was difficult for you, embarrassing for me,” Simon said after the performance.
But despite the false start, Faye was put through to bootcamp by all four judges.