A MAN from Eastbourne has been enjoying new-found fame after his memorable appearance on the X Factor last week.
Graham Bennett got a resounding no from the four celebrity judges after his renditions of two songs failed to impress.
But it hasn’t stopped the unemployed 52-year-old from pursuing his dream of fame and fortune and this week he received a rapturous round of applause when he sang at a karaoke night at the Shore Bar on Eastbourne seafront.
Graham sang Summer Nights with student Heather Rowland and the Ricky Martin hit She Bangs, one of the songs he performed in front of the TV show judges, Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa from N-Dubz, on Sunday night’s show.
Since the show went out, a video of Graham’s performance on YouTube has had almost 100,000 hits but not for the right reasons – his performance has been rated as cringing and the worst X Factor audition.
Graham’s X Factor journey began earlier this summer when he went to audition for the show in Birmingham. “The London auditions were over-subscribed so they asked me to go to Birmingham,” said Graham. “I said if it was the X Factor I would go to Texas.”
“I booked into a Premierlodge but there was nothing premier about it. The mattress was hard and the pillow was like a stuffed rucksack. I took a sleeping tablet but I hardly slept and knew it would affect my performance at the audition.
“The taxi came to pick me up at 7am but I was like a zombie, I had no energy to put into my performance.
“I got out on the stage and you just see four people looking at you waiting for you to impress them.”
Graham began singing She Bangs but when his performance was cut short by Gary Barlow he launched into the Shaggy song It Wasn’t Me. Unfortunately it was equally unimpressive, leaving Kelly Rowland speechless.
Tulisa found it hard to understand what Graham was singing and Kelly said, “I didn’t like it, I didn’t like it, I didn’t like it.”
Gary said, “I couldn’t even distinguish between the two songs, absolutely identical Graham! You’re not serious about this are you? You’re never ever going to go to Bootcamp, ever.”
Despite being given four nos by the judges Graham said he enjoyed his time on the reality show.
“I know I blew my big chance but I met some nice people. I was interviewed by Olly Murs and Dermot O’Leary was very nice to me.”
In the interviews Graham said he had dreamt of fame, riches and hit records and also wanted to bag a superstar girlfriend. He said, “I would love to be a pop star because you get above the average wage, a large number of fans, and you get to travel.
“One thing I do like about being a pop star is that I might be able to have a lot of female fans; I know what that feels like because I have had a crowd of women around me at karaoke bars. I’m confident that if I become a pop star, I will be able to bag myself a hot girlfriend like Sandra Bullock, Kim Basinger, all the Girls Aloud maybe, and Kelly Rowland is hot.”
Backstage, Graham said, “The step between reading the words off the karaoke screen and just singing without one is something that my fairly simple brain didn’t manage to master.”
Graham said he didn’t know his audition was going to be shown until last Friday when X Factor producers rang him and told him.
“I watched it at home and was a little disappointed but the biggest shock has been how much exposure they gave me considering how poor my performance was,” he said.
“My Facebook started going mental with lots of people wanting to be friends with me and then I appeared in The Sun and was on the same page as Simon Cowell! People now keep coming up to me asking to have my photo taken with them.”
Graham also said that since the show went out he has had requests from people to perform at their weddings and to join bands.
And he says he hasn’t given up on his singing career. “This has opened up a whole new world for me and I am going to carry on singing.”
Graham, a former member of Fitness First who now goes to the gym at the Sovereign Centre, plans to sing at next Wednesday’s Karaoke Night at the Shore Bar.