Susan Boyle moment at X Factor
Pure talent show gold, that's what X Factor New Zealand contestant Renee Maurice delivered last night.
While a question remains as to whether the judges, lovely as they are, deliver quite the star power the competitors really delivered during the second show, with the big talking point Upper Hutt's Maurice.
Judge Stan Walker's reaction when she began singing Celine Dion It's All Coming Back To Me Now said it all. She pulled it off. Big time.
It was a bit of a Susan-Boyle moment: when you don't expect much by the way people present themselves, and then you're blown away by their voice; television gold.
Walker and his fellow judges, Daniel Bedingfield, Ruby Frost and Mel Blatt kicked off the show by outlining what they're looking for - slogans that are as much part of these shows as revolvers and lassoes in a Western.
First off was 18-year-old drag queen Ashley Tonga from south Auckland. She has a big personality and a voice that easily goes through three registers.
Then it's time to meet the groups. They are guided through rather quickly, maybe because it is a bit harder to show their profiles in those 90-second segments.
We meet girl duo L O V E, whose name is not creative, but they're the first ones who dare to bring an original song to the table and judge Frost soon tells them: "You guys totally have a message."
Girl group Gap 5 bring confidence and character, once again paired with talent.
And when we almost get bored by all these success stories, we meet Mukesh who comes from "home", whose passion is great, but his voice not so much and Walker gently but firmly tells him: "This is not for you."
After a quick run through a siren from Christchurch, some bad karaoke, pressed faces and forced voices, we get back to some real talent.
Wellington classical music student Fletcher, 17, not only has a winning smile, but he also writes his own music.
The track is great but seems to be a bit too deep for some. Stan isn't sure how to help, Mel likes him a lot and Daniel wants him too. Soooo off to bootcamp it goes.
And then there's young dairy farmer Cameron, who also happens to be Topp Twin Lynda's step-son.
"He wanted to do X Factor, nothing to do with us. You're on your own, buddy," Lynda, who has also brought Jools along, says.
Little Cameron intones One Direction's Little Things and as far as I am concerned, he's got the talent and the looks to join the British heart-throbs any time.
Although Blatt, who more and more shapes out to be "the mean judge", tells him "your step-mom had more presence on stage", the rest of the panel loves him.
And then we're treated to another showcase of the not-so-great and Blatt settles firmly into her role as the tough judge.
She tells a duo called Cage Fight that they "dirtied Boys II Men's name by even talking about them"; another group "I am kind of gutted that you weren't better," and a singer that "If I was in an cafe you were singing at, I would leave."
Now it's time for another of those goose-bump moments. We meet Jessie Matthews who's not only lost a lot of weight but also works with disabled people. So again, we like her a lot.
She says she's been told her voice is good but she's not ''the right package''. From the first note, there's no doubt she can sing.
So let's hope her package fits in an X-shaped box. She makes us and the judging panel emotional and with a hug from Mel, who is not only a tough judge but also a fair one, she's off to bootcamp.
After all that emotion, it's time for a gaggle of cute teenage boys.
Tia Hunt, 14, from Christchurch sings I Am Sexy And I Know It and is an instant winner with the ladies at the judging table, but telling a 14-year-old that he is indeed sexy seems a bit wrong, Ruby.
The teen section is finished with cutie Cameron Roa who has a bit to learn but an outstanding voice, and 15-year-old Sam Yeoward who sings Ed Sheeran's Small Bump for his little brother who died.
Did we see the next international superstar last night? Maybe not, but who knows. So far The X Factor NZ is every bit as entertaining as it international counterparts but with a distinctive Kiwi flavour.
They've cast a good mix of what our society is about: different ethnic backgrounds, rural chaps and city slickers, outrageous characters, cute heart-throbs and stories of strong willpower.
In the second episode the roles of the judges also got a bit clearer. There's Blatt the tough and, at times, a bit bitchy one, there's Walker the voice of young, Maori New Zealand, Bedingfield the all-around fun-guy with the pretty face and Frost, who might be there to speak for the young generation. Or something.
What did you think?