Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul return to the judge's panel on the new Fox talent search competition 'The X-Factor.' Combining concepts from 'American Idol' and 'The Voice,' 'X-Factor' will award a $5 million record contract at the end of the season. The hefty prize brought out some serious competitors. Unlike 'Idol' there is no solo sing before the judges: first impressions come with music accompaniment and in front of an arena audience. Below are my choices for the best and worst of the debut episode.

  • Rachael Crow

    X-Factor has a younger age limit. Rachael, at just 13, wouldn't have been allowed to compete on 'Idol." Her singing and personality win over the judges.

  • Stacy Francis

    Stacy Francis suffered through an abusive relationship that severely damaged her self-esteem. Her emotional performance and support from the judging panel make her story one of the best of the show so far.

  • Geo Godly

    Geo gives an un-Godly performance and judging by Paula's wretching sickness upon seeing the act, it's no surprise the judges sent Geo packing.

  • Marcus Canty

    My vote for favorite performance of the night comes from Marcus Canty. Marcus is two years out of high school and just about up on a time frame set by his family to pursue his musical dreams before he has to face real life, college or a 9-5 job. Marcus slays his chosen Stevie Wonder song and judging by the reaction from the crowd, this won't be the last time he'll be awash in applause.