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Criticism dampens spirits of X Factor's Chris Maloney


X Factor hopeful Chris Maloney has admitted that criticism of his performances has got to him ahead of tomorrow's semi-final.

The Liverpudlian singer, who has come under fire for his over- the-top style, said it had "put a damper on the whole experience".

But he said his mentor, Gary Barlow, had been "fab" and helped him deal with it.

He said: "With all that has happened negatively and the negative comments, it has put a damper on the whole experience but I've not let it affect me. I wish I could have enjoyed it a lot more, you know, but I have enjoyed myself and it's been everything and more that I could have wished for.

"The judges never picked me, I was picked by Gary as his wild card. The public chose me and have kept me in this competition from the beginning. The support and loyalty have been unbelievable."

He said Barlow was "the best mentor anyone could ask for", adding: "He's so hands-on, he does everything. We work together to plan the songs, he arranges the music. Anytime I need him for any help or advice, I've got his mobile number so I could just give him a call."

Sources close to the show said no decisions had been made about the judging panel for next year after reports of a possible comeback for Cheryl Cole.

The Girls Aloud star, who was recently pictured meeting up with show supremo Simon Cowell in Los Angeles, left the X Factor last year to join the US version, only to be dropped after a few weeks.

A source close to Cowell said: "They have met a few times in the last 18 months and have remained in contact.

"They were just shooting the breeze and catching up."