X Factor's Chris Maloney wins public vote as wildcard act

Chris Maloney won the wildcard.
Chris Maloney won the wildcard. Photo: Twitter: The X Factor

Chris Maloney was left crying and shaking after winning a place in the X Factor finals last night, but recovered his composure to deliver a stunning performance.

The Liverpudlian dramatically fell to the floor after being told he had won the public vote as the wildcard act on the night of the first live show.

But less than an hour later he delivered a brilliant rendition of Hero by Mariah Carey that received universal praise from the judges. Nicole Scherzinger said:

Who was that up there? I don't even recognise you. You've got rid off all your nerves. You have a great big voice in there.

Fellow judge Tulisa Contostavlos said his talent was "undeniable"

I'm so glad to see you up there finding your confidence. I think you have an amazing voice. It's undeniable.

Gary Barlow had refused to give Maloney a guaranteed place in the finals because he repeatedly suffered from nerves.

And after his reaction to securing a wildcard place - host Dermot O'Leary described him as "a wreck" - it appeared likely that he might struggle again under the pressure.

But Maloney said he could not let down the public who had voted for him.

I wanted to do it for them. I didn't want them to feel it was a waste of money.

All song choices were were inspired by the heroics of the Great Britain athletes at this summer's Olympic Games, and champions including cyclist Laura Trott and boxer Nicola Adams were in the audience.

A "stunning" performance of Take That's Rule The World by 16-year-old Ella Henderson - this year's youngest contestant - blew away the judges.

Barlow, who wrote the song, told her: "There's nothing I hate more than someone singing my song 10 times better than me. That was absolutely stunning."

Walsh said it was a "faultless, effortless performance", while Scherzinger told her: "You're from another planet."

Judge Tulisa with 16-year-old Ella Henderson.
Judge Tulisa with 16-year-old Ella Henderson. Credit: X Factor

However, the four judges were split by the most extravagant performance of the night, by Rylan Clark.

Having received death threats over Twitter last week, the contestant let rip on stage with an outrageously camp rendition of Spandau Ballet's Gold, in which he wore a gold vest.

Barlow said he was "embarrassed", and criticised the judges for keeping Clark in the competition.

But Walsh stuck up for the singer, saying: "That was amazing. I love your vocals... You're a brilliant performer."

X Factor's Rylan Clark.
X Factor's Rylan Clark. Credit: ITV News

Scherzinger hit back at Barlow said: "Don't be an old grumpy fart now. He is the entire package."

She told Clark: "You are fierce, you are living and you owned it, honey."

Contostavlos added: "It is cheesy and it is cabaret. But you are an entertainer. I don't think this competition would be the same without you."

The bottom two acts will have a sing-off on tonight's show and one will be voted off.