Ellona Santiago was made to fly with her X Factor USA performance of ‘Wings’

A former member of Season 1 mixed group InTENsity showed up on The X Factor’s latest auditions show. But 16 year old Ellona Santiago cleverly held back from telling Simon who she was until after her audition!

Ellona chose to sing Wings by Cowell’s UK girl group Little Mix. Though the vocals were a little wobby when she started off, Ellona recovered quickly as she strutted her stuff around the stage. By the end of the performance, the audience was rapturous and even the judges were knocked out. Personally, I’m still not entirely convinced about the vocals – if I remember correctly from Season 1, there was a reason the vocalists from InTENsity were put together. The thing is, despite that, I loved her plucky personality and she gave a great performance. Perhaps the slightly shouty/off-key singing can be explained away by either nerves or excitement, but Ellona still made a positive impression.

The X Factor USA contestant Ellona Santiago

Despite coming across as quite shy in the beginning, Santiago’s gutsy performance drew praise from the three judges, including an unexpected compliment from Simon Cowell when he told her he wanted to work with her during the competition this year. Time will tell if she survives Boot Camp, and even then Simon might not get the girls category. But he owns the show, so he presumably he can lean on the minion who chooses the categories this year!

What the judges said:

  • Kelly Rowland: First of all, I thought it was so cute how you were all really shy and then you were like “SPREAD YOUR WINGS AND…” That’s what I loved the most. Whoever that girl was, she came out and she meant business.
  • Simon Cowell: Ellona Santiago. I’ve got to remember this name, because you are the girl I think I want to work with most in this competition. I love this girl. You are seriously good. [She reveals that she was in a Top 12 group – Simon furiously has to pretend that he remembers her! Awkward!] I’ve gotta tell you, the two-year difference is unbelievable. Good for you.
  • Demi Lovato: Had I been here first season, you would’ve gotten through. Fortunately this year, we’re going to have so much fun together and you’re gonna be like “Simon, you’re never going to forget me ever, ever again!”

Did anyone else get the impression that Simon still didn’t remember who Ellona was in the end? And more importantly, what did you think of her audition? Let us know in the comments!


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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One thought on “Ellona Santiago was made to fly with her X Factor USA performance of ‘Wings’

  1. Danielle says:

    I think she’s great–a little nervous, maybe. But she’ll definitely be a contender. I predict that she’ll reach the finals at the minimum and most likely go higher than her group’s Season 1 finish. I’ll be rooting for her. I now have a new favorite in this competition.

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