29-year-old Haenow defeated fellow Londoner Fleur East, a 27-year-old fitness model from Walthomstow, to the prize of a recording contract with Syco. Haenow has been performing in rock bands since he was 15.
The 11th winner of the ITV series will release his version of One Republic’s “Something I Need” in time for the Christmas number one chart battle. Both finalists performed their take on the track as their final performance on the show.
The singer will compete with Band Aid 30, current incumbent Mark Ronson and perennial festive favourites from the Pogues and Mariah Carey.
When asked to revisit his favourite song of the series for the final show, Haenow chose Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”. His performance received a standing ovation from a sold-out crowd, with Simon Cowell saying that Haenow “killed that song”. Twitter users also reacted positively to his performance.
@MahyarTousi Damn right! Croydon!
— Mario Creatura (@MarioCreatura) December 14, 2014
Looking back on his protégée’s time on the show, Cowell said: “I could not be happier for you, I could not be more proud of you. You deserve to be here and it’s been such a pleasure to work with you.”
Fellow judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini was similarly glowing in her praise of the Croydon singer, saying: “I wouldn’t change a thing about you right now. I applaud you for your courage to follow your dream.”
On Saturday’s show Haenow sang a duet with Brit award-winning solo artist Ed Sheeran, performing his number one hit “Thinking Out Loud”.
The finale also saw live performances from former finalists Olly Murs and One Direction, with the latter being joined on stage by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood.