By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated August 23, 2009 at 06:51 PM EDT

“That was single-handedly the best first audition I have ever heard,” marveled Simon Cowell on a recent episode of Britain’s The X Factor. What incandescent performer got the notoriously hard-to-please Cowell gushing? Danyl Johnson, a 27-year-old schoolteacher who delivered a soulful, rather Joe Cocker-esque rendition of the Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends.”

It’s a rare singer who can lift Cowell out of his standard grouchitude. More than standard, actually, in this case: Popeater reports that the judge had earlier “stormed out of the arena, disheartened at the sight of a man dressed in a blue gorilla outfit.” (Who wouldn’t be disheartened by such a sight?) Cowell then went “searching for an aspirin,” and “claimed the day had been a ‘waste of time. Something didn’t click today.'”

That, of course, was before he heard Johnson’s take on “With A Little Help From My Friends.” While the celebrated audition sadly isn’t embeddable here, it can be viewed on YouTube. Click over to check out Johnson’s performance — the guy’s definitely got some powerful pipes. Then you tell us: Is this really the best first audition in the history of reality-TV singing competitions, or has Cowell lost it?