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Ashly Williams - I Will Always Love You - The X Factor USA 2013
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The X Factor 2013: Ashly Williams scores a standing ovation with a remarkable Whitney cover!

Ashly Williams auditions for The X Factor Season 3

Confession: I am thoroughly sick of Whitney Houston songs on reality TV shows. And I have been for the last five years at least. Sure, Jessica Sanchez rocked a mean version of this on American Idol, but I’m not a huge fan of ballads in the first place and this one in particular has been mercilessly overplayed by reality TV contestants looking to prove their vocal ability.

Which brings me to 24 year old sales associate Ashly Williams. The LA singer seemed reticent to talk about her backstory when she was on stage, but that didn’t stop The X Factor from filming an entire segment about her mother’s murder while Ashly was still a child, including a part where she visited the graveside. Now, I know it’s important to tell your story and build up empathy with your audience, but I was quite uncomfortable with this.

And it’s always the contestants whose voices are superb who seem to do this kind of thing. Ashly has no need of sob stories or gimmicks. She proved this brilliantly on The X Factor when she belted out an incredibly faithful rendition of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. She started off with a gorgeous, velvety tone and carried the song brilliantly. Of course, the true test was always going to be that money note near the end, and you could see Simon and the judges willing her to hit that note.

Needless to say, she did and the audience went wild. The four judges gave Ashly a well-deserved standing ovation.

What the judges said:

  • Kelly Rowland: You know what, it’s so funny. You’re saying thank you to everybody, and it’s beautiful and it’s humbling. But thank you baby girl for spilling your heart out in that vocal.
  • Paulina Rubio: I was just captivated at your talent. That was an amazing performance.
  • Demi Lovato: Ashly. I’m like speechless. I had chills all over my arms and legs. And I can feel it in you. I can feel that heart. And guess what? There’s a place in the market for you.
  • Simon Cowell: You know what Ashly, this is why we brought the show to America, to find somebody like you. Seriously. I think we’ve just scratched the surface with you Ashly. I think you’re seriously, seriously good.

Guess what? Ashly got a full four yeses from the judges. There’s still a debate to be had about whether there’s a place in the market for Ashly. That all depends on what she shows at Boot Camp. Long time readers of the show know I’ve got a problem with black singers getting boxed into a soul singer/Whitney Houston cover artist stereotype. I want to see what else this girl is capable of!

by Gerard McGarry on September 20th, 2013

Gerard is the founder and editor of Unreality TV. He writes about TV dramas as well as reality TV talent shows and is obsessed by sci-fi and Doctor Who. Follow him on Twitter @gerrybot or Google+

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2 thoughts on “The X Factor 2013: Ashly Williams scores a standing ovation with a remarkable Whitney cover!

  1. lynda powell says:

    You should have never let her go, she was why I continued to watch the show. So sad she is not in the final four.

  2. rr says:

    I agree with you–we’ve all heard before “don’t do a Whitney song.” I think the sob story was because she emphasized this was in respect to what would be her mother’s birthday the next week. Maybe she did it for closure. I also think the choice of a Whitney song was because her momma would have like that. That’s all.
    I loved her audition. I hope they bring her back as a surprise.

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