September 12 was a big day for The X Factor USA 2012, as newcomers Demi Lovato and Britney Spears joined returning panelists Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid to kick off the long-anticipated second season. Although the first edition featured a broad selection of vocal stylings from Austin and San Francisco, it was the final performance of the evening—by Massachusetts native Jillian Jensen—that truly brought the house down.
The 19-year-old piano teacher connected immediately with Demi by sharing that she'd been "severely bullied" while in middle and high school. Demi offered up encouragement, reminding her that she was standing on the stage about to perform while the bullies were sitting at home watching on TV.
It may sound trite, but Jillian poured her heart into her rendition of Jessie J's "Who You Are." It was raw and emotional, and the way her gravelly, gritty voice delivered the lyrics felt almost surreal. It was hands down one of the best performances of the two-hour premiere.
Demi was so impressed by what she'd seen and heard that she joined Jillian on stage and gave her a huge hug and a quick pep talk. L.A. declared that he'd never seen anyone "pour pain and emotion into a song the way you did." Britney, although the harshest critic of the new season, called Jillian "amazing" before praising her "incredibly beautiful" voice. Simon was silent for a long while before he finally called her "incredible," and Demi augmented her previous comments with "when you sang, you broke my heart."
Jillian received four hearty yeses from the judges and was immediately mobbed by her supporters. Simon admitted that it was the first time in his career that he'd been moved to speechlessness, a remark which prompted Demi to joke, "oh, you have a heart."
Will Jillian Jensen go on to make a name for herself on The X Factor 2012? Keep watching and find out! Auditions continue September 13 on FOX.