X FAC­TOR TOM’S SEC­OND CHANCE

Wales On Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - NATHAN BE­VAN Re­porter nathan.be­van@waleson­line.co.uk

X FAC­TOR judge Louis Tom­lin­son has given a singer once touted as a pos­si­ble mem­ber of his band One Di­rec­tion a sec­ond chance at the big time.

Tom Richards, 24, from Pon­typridd, first au­di­tioned for the ITV singing show in 2010, the same year that Tom­lin­son and his plat­inum-sell­ing band­mates were put to­gether as a group.

Ahead of his lat­est try-out on last night’s episode, cruise ship singer Richards – who pre­vi­ously reached the judges’ houses stage of the com­pe­ti­tion aged 16 – sug­gested there’d been a “slight pos­si­bil­ity” he too could have made the hit boy band’s line-up.

Try­ing hard to im­press the judg­ing panel, the Val­leys lad launched into a ren­di­tion of James Bay’s Let It Go.

How­ever, head judge Si­mon Cow­ell in­ter­rupted Richards’ lat­est mo­ment in the spot­light, saying ev­ery­thing about his au­di­tion felt “over-thought” and un­nat­u­ral.

He was then given a sec­ond op­por­tu­nity to sing and belted out a cover of f Skin by the Mer­cury Award-win­ning Rag ’N’ Bone Man.

Nev­er­the­less, Cow­ell re­mained un­moved, saying g he would not know how to men­tor Richards, while for­mer Take That star Rob­bie Wil­liams and his wife Ayda Field praised the singer’s de­sire and hunger to get ahead in the com­pe­ti­tion.

That meant it was down to Tom­lin­son to cast the de­cid­ing vote.

“I’m find­ing this re­ally dif­fi­cult be­cause ob­vi­ously we au­di­tioned to­gether and there’s a per­sonal ele­ment there,” he said, adding, “I thought it was a good au­di­tion, but it didn’t feel 100% au­then­tic.

“I can only say what I feel, I’m sorry.

“But here’s the thing. If you get this chance, one thing you’ve got to take note of is how to re­ally be orig­i­nal. Look Tom, I want to give a yes.”

Tom­lin­son even­tu­ally de­cided to throw the singer a life­line, saying he needed to find his own voice and show more orig­i­nal­ity next time.

Tear­ful but deter­mined, Tom, who in 2016 landed a part in the Asian tour of Les Mis­er­ables, later told X Fac­tor host Der­mot O’Leary he felt the ex­pe­ri­ence had been like re­liv­ing his 2010 heartache again.

Tom­lin­son was more con­vinced by Ge­or­gia Burgess, 20, who works in tem­po­rary re­cruit­ment.

He de­scribed her per­for­mance of The Jack­son 5’s Who’s Lov­ing You as the best he had seen dur­ing the au­di­tion stage so far.

Also through to the next round was youth worker Arm­strong Miller. The 23-year-old church singer said he had a dif­fi­cult child­hood af­ter mov­ing out of his fam­ily home aged 13.

He floored the judges with an acous­tic re­work­ing of Break­ing Free from the hit US TV se­ries High School Mu­si­cal. Cow­ell said: “I’ve heard so many songs over and over again and I love it when some­one takes a song and t turns it around. It took on a com­pletely dif­fer­ent mean­ing to me.”

Car­pen­ter Ricky John, 37, also pro­vided an emo­tional mo­ment when his v ver­sion of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come took him to the next r round.

John, who was h home­less for eight years, ap­peared to strug­gle with a throat p prob­lem, fal­ter­ing as he sang, but was able to hold it to­gether. Tom­li­son said: “I think you just changed your l life to­day.”

TOM DYMOND/SYCO/ THAMES TV

Tom Richards on X Fac­tor

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