Simon Cowell, American Idol

Almost eight weeks ago, British schoolteacher Danyl Johnson wowed UK audiences (and YouTube-viewing Anglophiles across the pond) with a tryout for the sixth season of The X Factor that judge and executive producer Simon Cowell called “the best first audition I have ever heard.” Although he was immediately pronounced the next Susan Boyle, strangely, since then, I’ve seen and heard barely anything more about the handsome Mr. Johnson stateside, so I was doubly surprised to learn today that the 27-year-old has found himself at the center of a minor scandale! over the past week.

For his first live performance on the show on Oct. 10, Johnson did what was to my ear a rather tepid version of the Dreamgirls barnburner “And I Am Telling You,” flipping the lyric “You’re the best man…” to “You’re the best girl…” and finishing off with a truly killer final note. Amid thundering applause and a standing ovation from Simon (who may be biased since, per the X Factor format, he selected the song for Johnson), the other three judges weighed in. And, well, watch for yourself (the moment in question shows up at the 3:00 mark):

Judge Dannii Minogue is not making up her observation about Johnson’s sexuality out of thin air: He’d apparently told a British paper that he’s dated men in the past. And Johnson himself seems to say “I’m not ashamed” when the audience started booing Minogue. Still, Simon to my eyes looked royally cheesed by Minogue’s comment, and although Minogue has since apologized for the remark, there have evidently been all kinds of calls for Minogue to be, as they say, sacked from the show.

The whole thing has me both amazed and confused: Amazed that a talent competition judge would speak so brazenly about a contestant’s private life on live TV, and confused as to why so many seem to think Minogue was trying something underhanded or cruel. As my colleague Tim Stack points out, “I’m not sure you can ‘out’ a man who knows the lyrics to ‘And I Am Telling You.'” And besides, is it so awful that Johnson could have sung the song to a man as well as a woman, or for Minogue to point this out, however ham-handedly?

What do you make of all this, P’Dubs? Was Minogue in the wrong? Was Simon perhaps a bit off with his pronouncement that Danyl delivered “one of the best performances I’ve ever heard in my life”? And what do you think would’ve happened in the U.S. had Paula or Kara let slip a pointed comment about Adam Lambert’s sexuality?

Episode Recaps

Simon Cowell, American Idol
The X Factor
Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, and Paulina Rubio judge Season 3.
  • TV Show
  • 3
stream service