Croydon van driver through to next stage of X Factor

Ben Haenow, X Factor

Ben Haenow X Factor contestant

Croydon van driver Ben Haenow has sung his way to the next stage of this year’s X Factor after wowing judges with another impressive performance on Saturday.

The 29-year-old captivated audiences with his passionate rendition of the Eagles’ Hotel California at boot camp auditions in London.

The notoriously difficult Simon Cowell praised Haenow, stating: “Ben, this is what this competition is all about. Finding someone like you who, for whatever reason, hasn’t had a break.”

The show’s contestants were each required to perform to their mentors in a bid to win a place in one of six ‘chairs’ that were representative of their place in the next stage of the competition: Judges’ houses.

Haenow, who said he has had a “boring life” up until now, admitted before the performance that he has never wanted something so badly and that he was not going to let go of that chair.

Having got through to the next round he said: “Coming to LA for Judges’ Houses doesn’t happen to people like me. I’m a van driver from Croydon. I was driving my van around Croydon high street and then suddenly I’m in LA driving around Hollywood.”

Ex-Spice Girl Mel B also sang Haenow’s praises, saying: “I just love the gravel and raspiness in your voice. I could listen to that voice all day long.”

In a crowd-pleasing move, Haenow ran up to his guitarist after the performance and gave him a high-five, solidifying his ‘nice guy’ image.

Cheryl Cole added excitedly: “Yes Ben! That is what I’m talking about! If I was your mentor, I’d sit you in a chair.”

Haenow was given a chair at judge Simon Cowell’s house and will have to fight with five other over 25s next week in order to get a place in the knockout stages.

Watch Haenow’s boot camp audition here.

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