AN X-FACTOR veteran who impressed Take That star Gary Barlow has reached the national final of another singing contest.
Johnny McManus was just 20 when he made it through to the X-Factor Boot Camp stage with judge Gary Barlow as his mentor in 2011.
Two years later, and after some sage advice from judge Kelly Rowland, the 22-year-old from Glasgow is pushing hard to make his singing dream come true.
Johnny has made it through to this weekend's grand final of the UK Open Mic competition at the NEC in Birmingham after coming through the Scottish auditions and a second round of auditions in Leeds. His performance on the X-Factor raised a few eyebrows - not least because of his wild hairdo and his expressive dancing as he sang Jessie J's song Do It Like A Dude.
Judge Kelly Rowland advised him to "find who you are as an artist" rather than imitate anyone else too closely.
But Louis, Tulisa and Gary all said yes to put him through to the next stage.
Johnny said: "I can't even watch that X-Factor video anymore.
"It's horrible to watch. I look so young and so different, it's strange.
"But what Kelly said was spot on.
"And I've done that, I've matured. It's probably more of a natural thing, just growing up a bit rather than making any specific changes."
Having completed his law degree at Glasgow University, Johnny has taken a year out to concentrate of his music.
With his friend Fraser MacMillan, 21, playing piano for his performance at the UK Open Mic final, Johnny hopes to make an impression in the over 21s category.
He said: "I hope this next year sees me play more gigs and become a better performer. And ultimately, I'd love to make this my career. UK Open Mic was previously won by Birdy and it launched her career, so it's a very good competition to be involved in."
The winner of the Grand Final will be crowned Open Mic UK Champion in front of a huge crowd, including music industry insiders, celebrity guests and record label representatives.
Airdrie schoolboy Robbi McFaulds is representing Scotland in the under 16 category on Saturday.
To vote for Johnny, text OPEN84 to 86222. For Robbi, it's OPEN32.
Text votes cost £1 plus one message at your standard operator rate.