Stumbling and shaking as he entered the audition hall, Christopher Maloney looked far from comfortable with the idea of stardom. But after sharing his musical prowess with the X Factor panel, the judges were astounded to hear that the 34-year-old had kept his talent hidden for so long. Making it through to the live shows as the public's wild card, the singer eventually reached the final three and became embroiled in some of the biggest controversies in the show's history.
Revealing a change in persona and far less nervous outbursts, Chris was soon slammed by critics for his dramatic change in character in the live finals. He was accused of being "phoney" when it was revealed that the hopeful was already a pro and had performed his own cruise ship cabaret show. He was also declared "bland, boring, and very cruise ship" by Louis Walsh.
But Christopher remained composed as he topped the voting polls week after week. Stating that Eighties power ballads are his favourite genre to sing, the budding star said: "There's nothing wrong with being cheesy! Besides, we all love a bit of cheese. In a toastie, on a pizza, with crackers! If I can help people forget about their troubles on a Saturday night with my performances, then I’ve done my job properly. Basically, I want to entertain people and lift them up."
As it was announced that the singer had made into into the final round of the show, boos were heard from the audience. After facing weeks of criticism from the judges, former contestants and the press, the singer decided to defend himself. "There's always got to be a pantomime villain every year and it's just unfortunate this year it's got to be me."
Although he made it through to the final, Christopher bowed out of the competition on Saturday's show, earning him a reputable third place. When the singer failed to make an appearance in the X Factor finalist showcase however, rumour mill went into overdrive, leading to this year's hopefuls giving their take on their colleague's disappearance.
Former contestant Carolynne Poole reported that he'd had been abusive towards her and other members of staff. The country singer said: "After ten weeks the mask came off, it was like he couldn't keep it up any more."
"We were rehearsing the group song and he wouldn't even stand next to me. He came over and looked me up and down and said, 'You need to do something with that."
"When you get onto X Factor you go into this bubble where everything is done for you," she explained. "There are people that sort everything for you, get whatever you need. These people work so bloody hard to make sure you're OK and you can't treat them like this. He was always like, 'Do this, do that, get me this'. It's just not how you treat people."
Reports also emerged that the Liverpudlian would not be invited back onto the show after a lacklustre rehearsal performance, not only putting his 2013 tour place in jeapordy, but resulting in the budding singer incurring a £100,000 fine. Reported to have turned up an hour late for rehearsals smelling of alcohol, an X Factor spokesperson confirmed: "Chris has decided he no longer wants to be part of the X Factor final and has gone back to Liverpool."
But Chris has since rubbished the claims on Twitter, declaring himself a victim of “online abuse”. Now confirmed to be taking part in the live tour shows, the singer said: “Please stop online abuse. All I have done was follow my dream, coming third was an achievement. Feel gutted I didn't win and I’m unwell right now.”