Pub singer Paul Akister from Lancaster is being tipped as a favourite to win this year’s X Factor after making it through to the live finals.
The 25-year-old, who was kicked out of the competition by Louis Walsh at last year’s Judges’ Houses stage, has returned with a bang, having had a makeover including £9,000 of dental work, and having lost three stone.
On Saturday night, viewers saw mentor Mel B and guest judge Emma Bunton well up as Paul launched into a heartfelt rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel in Cancun, Mexico.
And as they watched Paul perform, the other boys in the category looked worried, commenting: “Paul has a big voice. He is good.”
Paul said: “All the way through, I’ve shown I’m an old-school soul singer.
“But to survive in the music industry, you have to show you can put that voice on to a modern track so I want to show I can do modern things. And show that I will last a long time.”
Paul has admitted that his lack of self-belief was part of the reason he got knocked of Louis category at the Judges’ Houses stage of the show last year.
At the time, the veteran music manager said Paul lacked stage presence, but encouraged him to reapply, saying: “I think in a year’s time, he will have that and he will be brilliant.”
The odds on Paul winning the ITV show are currently 13/2 at several bookmakers including Ladbrokes and William Hill, falling behind those of 20-year-old Italian Andrea Faustini.
The live shows will start on ITV next weekend.