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Scouse talent takes over; acts head Merseyside for the judges' houses.


THIS year's Scouse X Factor hopefuls insisted there was no rivalry between them at the judges' houses.

In fact Gary Barlow's Liverpool boys told the ECHO they actually worked together to try to help each other stay in the competition.

Craig Colton, from Kirkby, Marcus Collins, from Waterloo, and James Michael, from Widnes, won over the 5,000-strong audience at Wembley Arena.

They were among the final eight boys picked to jet off to join Take That star Gary Barlow in Los Angeles.

Marcus, 23, said: "With us being a group of lads you would think we'd be more competitive. But we were all sat together and were helping each other out. It was really comforting to hear a familiar voice in LA. I met Craig on the first day and because we're both from Liverpool we really hit it off. His voice is phenomenal. We're like Scouse blood brothers."

Craig said: "We wouldn't want anyone to think there was any rivalry. We text each other all the time."

The panel put through 32 acts to the judges' houses including Liverpool girl band The Estrelles.

Nu Vibe, featuring Rainford teenager Bradley Johnson, had just 24 hours to rehearse the performance of their lives.

Bradley, who won over the judges after telling how he was kicked out of three schools, was put in a new group after he failed to make it through on his own.

The 16-year-old said: "When I thought I was going to be sent home I was just so gutted, heartbroken. Now it just makes me want it so bad."

Nu Vibe and The Estrelles joined the rest of the bands in Greece with NDubz star Tulisa Contostavlos.

In Saturday's show the famous X Factor judges invite their finalists to a house to whittle them down ready for the live shows.

MARCUS COLLINS, 23, from Waterloo is well-known in Merseyside thanks to his job as a mobile hairdresser.

The singer was previously part of boy band Eton Road who came fifth in the show's third series.

Marcus, who attended Sacred Heart high school, did not perform with the Liverpool group during the X Factor process, but joined them afterwards to replace Anthony Hannah. He left the band after nine months and auditioned for the X Factor last year as a solo artist but was not selected.

CRAIG COLTON, 22, from Kirkby emerged as an early favourite after he won over the judges and audience at his Liverpool audition.

The former Jacobs biscuit factory worker bought his parents Annmarie and John audition tickets but didn't tell them he was going on the show. Craig, who is a former pupil of Brookfield High School, told the ECHO he gave up his job to pursue his X Factor dream.

THE ESTRELLES are Ruth Pike, 21, from Melling; Gemma Davies, 26, from Allerton; Jemma Moon, 24, from Bootle and Kelly Flanagan, 24, from Huyton.

Estrella, who got through to bootcamp last year, were invited back again by programme makers for the Liverpool auditions in April. The group told the ECHO they had to change their name to The Estrelles because they "had problems with the beer company Estrella."

BOY group NU VIBE were put together by the X Factor judges after being rejected as soloists. Expelled teen Bradley Johnson from Rainford bowled over the judges to make it through to bootcamp. The 16-year-old was then paired with Richard Milford, Stefan Romer, Jordan Higo and Ashford Campbell.

The group had only a day to rehearse before performing at Wembley Arena but wowed with their version of Bruno Mars track Grenade.

JAMES MICHAEL, 20, from Widnes, impressed head judge Gary Barlow at the Liverpool auditions. The singer was tipped as one of the ones to beat after he performed Adele's Make You Feel My Love.

Gary Barlow raved: "Amazing voice. Totally unique. I think you're a recording artist waiting to be recorded." Fans on Twitter say the hopeful, whose full name is James Michael Stillings, was regularly seen around the town with his guitar before the show.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 27, 2011
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