On that occasion, he only impressed three of the panel, with Cowell remarking: “I didn’t like it. I think you need singing lessons”.
Unfortunately, Russell (nicknamed “Tighto”) failed to progress further, only returning to the competition 10 years later –with a black eye. After explaining to the bewildered panel he was attacked after one of his gigs, he then impressed the judges with a cover of Issues by Julia Michaels.
He got four yeses from the panel and advanced all the way to the Judges’ Houses round. However, his X Factor journey soon came to a close…
Why did Anthony Russell leave The X Factor 2017?
Russell pulled out of the contest unexpectedly due to ‘personal reasons’. A source close to The X Factor told RadioTimes.com at the time: “Anthony has been going through some personal issues for some time – as he sang about at his audition. Those issues were still affecting him. So everyone has urged him to concentrate on getting himself better right now.”
Simon Cowell later revealed that Russell has been mentored by new judge Louis Tomlinson for the last 12 months.
“I knew that Louis had reached out to help him with his demons a long time ago,” Simon told RadioTimes.com. “I think it says a lot about the kind of person Louis is: he doesn’t brag about it, he doesn’t talk about it, it’s a very personal thing for him.
“He called me when he saw Anthony’s audition last year and said his story had really touched him and he wanted me to put him in touch with him. Louis genuinely looked after him. Louis didn’t know Anthony was going to come back to the show this year, he just did it because he liked him.”
How did Anthony Russell get to the live shows in The X Factor 2018?
Returning once again to The X Factor stage, Russell blew away the judges with a cover of Avicii’s Wake Me Up.
After the performance, a tearful Louis said: “I’m pretty emotional after that… I can’t even talk here.”
Russell received four yeses, a result which sent him to the Six Chair Challenge where he impressed mentor Louis Tomlinson with a performance of Joe Cocker’s version of Help From My Friends.
On reaching the Judges’ Houses stage, Russell sang a cover of James Bay’s Scars for Tomlinson and guest mentors Liam Payne and Nile Rodgers, slipping up slightly on one of the track’s final notes.
However, Tomlinson quickly reassured Russell the error hadn’t cost him his place on the show. “I know you’re thinking about that one little note that just happened about 20 seconds ago, but that means nothing to me,” he said.
True to his word, Tomlinson sent Russell into the live shows.