Sunday 17 February 2019

'It is as cut-throat as you see on telly' - Brendan Murray on Six Chair Challenge ahead of explosive X Factor episode

Brendan Murray performing during the Six Chair Challenge on X Factor
Brendan Murray performing during the Six Chair Challenge on X Factor
Brendan Murray on X Factor
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Irish X Factor hopeful Brendan Murray faces what promises to be an explosive Six Chair Challenge on the show on Sunday night.

The 21-year-old from Galway faces stiff competition from fellow contestants in the Boys category, which is mentored by former One Director star, and X Factor alum, Louis Tomlinson.

The challenge sees contestants singing for one of six coveted seats to progress to Judges' Houses and Brendan tells Independent.ie that it is "as cut-throat as you see on telly".

"It's the wait that's the killer - you're constantly waiting to see what happens and it's the worst thing about it.  When I watched in on telly before and somebody would take someone's seat I'd be like, 'oh, he lost his seat' but when you're in that situation you have a different mindset. 

"It's as cut-throat as you see on telly.  It can be taken away so quickly.  They can build you up and then just chop you down.  It's very stressful."

Tonight's episode sees Simon whittling down his Girls category, culminating in a potential sing-off between two strong contestants, while Ayda also struggles to choose her strongest Overs. Tomorrow night it's the Boys turn to step-up.

While Brendan is something of a music industry veteran at the tender age of 21, having joined boyband Hometown when he was 16 and then represented Ireland at Eurovision last year, it’s a different experience facing Simon Cowell and Robbie Williams, in particular on the X Factor judging panel.

“I went in with a bit of self doubt because I’d seen there are so many talented singers around.  So much talent goes for X Factor and it’s hard to know what they’re looking for, what they want,” he says of his first audition.

Brendan initially auditioned with Ella Eyre's version of We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes off, but Cowell stopped the audition and asked Brendan to go away and learn Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work. 

When he returned he blew them all away, despite having to read the lyrics sheet (which he dramatically threw away towards the end of the song).

“You want to really prepare for it but nobody can.  Song choice is very important," says Brendan. 

"I went with the first song and it didn’t go to plan and then there was the whole thing about Simon giving me a song to learn, which was a big deal as well,” he says, adding that he ‘felt good’ about the fact they were giving him a second chance with a new song.

“It looked like they were invested in me and wanted me to do well,” he says.  “I knew they meant well.  They just wanted me to have my moment and give me a chance and that’s what I had in my head the whole time.  I was thinking, ‘I need to nail this or I’ll go south’.”

He adds, modestly, “I think I managed it anyway.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow night’s Six Chair Challenge, he says, “I’d just like to be prepared for any outcome.  It can be taken away from you very quickly.”

Brendan clearly has his head on his shoulders when it comes to the music industry.  When he joined Hometown at 16 he says he was “very naive”.  The group split after their third single failed to hit the mark.

“It’s easy for people to get caught up in it as well when you do get an opportunity like that.  People think you have a record deal and have this and that and think you’re made for life.  Unfortunately it’s not the way it goes. 

"That’s always in the back of my mind.  I’m not convinced until it’s given to me.  In saying that, for the opportunities I’ve had in the past I’m very thankful.”

He adds, “One thing my dad always taught me is that life is full of disappointments and you’re going to get knocks along the way.  That’s the way it is – it’s like buying a lottery ticket.  It either works or it doesn’t. 

"I’m taking every day as it comes and working hard and hoping that this works out for me and leads to a few open doors.”

The X Factor continues tonight on Virgin Media One and ITV at 8.35pm.

Read more: X Factor’s brutal six-chair challenge sees judges debut dramatic Golden X

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