Some X Factor auditions are remembered for catapulting future stars to prominence. Others are remembered because the people auditioning were wildly untalented. And some are remembered because the performer had a terrible reaction to the judges’ critiques. But it’s rare that someone is remembered for having a great personality…and a terrible singing voice.
When Shea Omatayo walked out onto the stage, he instantly charmed the judges and the audience alike with his suave and easygoing manner.
When asked what he did for a living, he told them he worked at Nando’s, a popular fast-food chicken restaurant. Then, of course, he told them he would hook them all up with a delicious meal there.
Presentation and charm are important. But ultimately, it’s a singing competition, not a personality competition. Shea captured them all with his easygoing manner. All that remained to be seen was whether he had the voice to match it.
His song of choice was Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”
Shea delivered it with Armstrong-like energy, singing in a stereotypical gravelly voice. Instantly, the audience seemed to sense that things were going to take a turn.
The judges stopped him after a few lines, but Shea was happy to give them a second song. They were bewildered when he sang the second song exactly the same as the first, in a faux Louis Armstrong voice, complete with the rasp and the gravel.
The only issue was that Shea had such a charming personality – the judges struggled to turn him away.
“It is a wonderful world,” said Judge Nicole Scherzinger. “Yeah, I love your personality. Kind of a split personality. It’s like Shea-Armstrong. If we’re doing a Louis Armstrong tribute, there is potential.”
Judge Tulisa Contostavlos was thrilled to hear that she and Shea were from the same area, but she didn’t mince words when it came to her critiques.
“You go from Camden Boy to Cookie Monster in not quite five seconds,” she said.
Judge Gary Barlow went even further, affecting a gravelly Armstrong voice as he gave his critiques.
“I thought it was terrible,” he said. “Shea, I mean…the problem is, the work that needs to be done on your voice is actually surgical work.”
Shea took the critiques in stride, although the results clearly weren’t what he wanted.
“Shea, we love you, we love your personality, but it’s not for the competition,” said Judge Louie Walsh.
Most of the judges were quick to give their “Nay” votes, but Nicole Scherzinger hesitated, afraid to hurt his feelings. Shea quickly spoke for her, cheekily giving her response. But even though he must have been embarrassed, he still joked along with them.
“None of you are getting in Nando’s, man,” he said, making the audience and the judges burst into laughter.
The audience booed the judges’ decision.
They clearly were charmed by Shea’s quick wit and friendly personality. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on Shea’s side that day. But he’s still remembered not just for his unusual singing, but also for his charm and upbeat attitude.
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