X Factor’s Monica Michael: Olly Murs said what are you doing differently? I said not singing your songs

Cheryl sent Monica home after her Troublemaker rendition at Six Chairs last year and the sassy singer wasn’t afraid to tease the new co-host upon her return

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Not only is X Factor contestant Monica Michael hugely talented, she’s got a wicked sense of humour, winding up co-host Olly Murs about side-stepping his songs as she returned to this year’s Six Chair Challenge.

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Monica was sent home during last year’s game of musical chairs, with then Girls category mentor Cheryl openly confused by her decision to sing Murs’s hit Troublemaker. It was wildly different from her opening audition, during which she performed her own song Pretty Little Sister. Monica’s exit from the show wasn’t a popular one (Cheryl herself admits it was her biggest regret during last series). So as she prepared for her return this year, Monica joked that she knew exactly what she’d be doing differently.

“Olly Murs goes to me, ‘What are you going to do differently this year?’ and I said ‘I’m not going to sing one of your songs Olly, that’s one thing.’” Monica laughed to RadioTimes.com. “So funny.”

It worked, with Monica bagging a spot in new judge Rita Ora’s final six during tonight’s show, meaning she’s off to this year’s Judges’ Houses. But it wasn’t plain sailing, with the singer describing this third round of the competition as “brutal”, with singers swapped in and out of seats as Rita decided which girls should stay in the competition. 

“For about five minutes I lost it. I got flashbacks of Cheryl saying no,” Monica admitted. “To come back here again, why would you do this to yourself again?”

“But I was lucky enough to be one of the girls who held her seat and didn’t move. However, the chairs filled up pretty quickly. So obviously after the seats were full and Rita said ‘I’m going to swap you’ you don’t know who’s going to go. That feeling is just so scary. I don’t know what was worse, last year getting the chop – the blow was dealt quickly – or sitting on a chair for three hours not knowing if you’re going to be in the competition after the three hours is up. It’s brutal that challenge it really is.”

Due to the long stretches of filming at Wembley Arena, the crowd was swapped halfway through the auditions, which added an extra problem as the crowd had less reason to back Monica when Rita did ponder who to swap out.

“A new audience came in, hadn’t seen anything – they showed like a two second clip – they couldn’t get the gist of anything. I thought ‘Oh no here we go, getting the chop again, see you later at least I got a chair for five minutes this time…’ I thought I was going to go,” Monica explained. “But luckily enough, Rita had my back, she obviously liked what she saw and so she didn’t swap me.”

Monica will now perform for Ms Ora again in LA and is mulling over whether to sing another original. 

“It is always a risk, this is the debate that I’ve got going on in my mind today,” Monica explained. “I would definitely love to sing an original. I’ve raised the bar from Pretty Little Sister to this particular song. If people liked that song I’m hoping they’ll love this one because it’s just as emotional, just as deep. So I’m thinking about doing it, we’ll see how it goes.

“If I do sing it, it’s to do with the loss of my step brother. It’s called My Angel; it’s pretty self explanatory. It was written from the heart. If I get a chance to sing it then, it would be great.”

Of her chances of getting to this year’s live shows, Monica is quietly confident. 

“I do think I’ve got a shot,” she said before laughing “I don’t like tooting my own horn.”

“All the girls are amazing this year. It’s fierce competition – it’s great, it’s what makes it healthy competition – but I think we’re all different,” she continued. “I take pride in really performing a song, I use my eyes, my hands, I’m very much into the performance, into the soul. I do my rapping as well, I’m quite versatile.

“So, hopefully that’s enough to get me a place there to keep everything interesting. So fingers crossed, you never know really do you with this show?”

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The X Factor continues Sunday at 7:00pm on ITV