X Factor judges Simon Cowell, Rita Ora and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini lost composure as they watched aspiring singers audition in the lates episode of the show.
The TV mogul appeared visibly affected by 21-year-old Josh Daniel's emotional rendition of Jealous by Labrinth, which also moved Fernandez-Versini to tears.
Explaining his choice of song at the Manchester audition, the car mechanic from Billingham said on last night's show: "I lost my best friend a couple of years ago and I interpret the lyrics in a completely different way."
Cowell bit his lip and appeared to wipe away a tear during Daniel's performance, which got a standing ovation and three 'yeses' from the judging panel - Ora was absent due to a schedule clash.
The X Factor auditions at Event City in Manchester were postponed after the death of Cowell's mother Julie Brett, 89, on Sunday July 5. Friends said he was "completely heartbroken".
Cowell left comments on Daniel's heartrending audition to fellow judges Fernandez-Versini and Nick Grimshaw. "That really got me right in the heart," the DJ said.
Fernandez-Versini added: "That was the most captivated I've been in all the auditions so far," before she asked to give Daniel a hug. As the 32-year-old headed to the stage, she gently placed a hand of support on Cowell.
The head judge gave Daniel a wink before leaving the panel. A concerned Fernandez-Versini said "leave him" as he walked off alone.