Despite tough competition from the red hot favourite, 16-year-old Reece Mastin, Perth tradie turned pop star Johnny Ruffo gave the performance of his life on the grand final of The X Factor tonight.
"You have charmed the pants off Australia," judge and former Spice Girl Mel B said after Ruffo’s first performance, a rendition of Jay Sean’s Do You Remember, the song he first auditioned with over six months ago.
"You have grown more than anybody. You deserve to be here," judge Ronan Keating added.
Ruffo’s mentor Guy Sebastian said his performance was like "chalk and cheese" to his first audition.
"You are the best listener and best learner I have ever worked with," Sebastian added.
In front of his proud parents Jill and Pascoe Ruffo, who dressed in matching Johnny Ruffo t-shirts, the 23-year-old sang and danced his heart out for the chance to start a new life and win a recording contract with Sony Music Australia and a management contract.
"He has gone without most of his life, so I’m just so proud," Jill Ruffo, who flew from Perth to attend the final, told The West Australian.
"I have been crying most of the week, he is a winner whatever happens"
Johnny said he was just happy it was almost all over as he was exhausted.
“It is in the public’s hands now. I have worked so hard and it has been an amazing ride " Ruffo said after the show.
"No matter what happens, I feel like a winner."
Along with a newly brunette Kylie Minogue, Ruffo also got the chance to sing a high-energy duet with some of his idols – R&B legends Salt N Pepa, which brought the house down and had a standing ovation from all four judges.
“Kylie is so nice, so down to earth and just a really great talent,” Ruffo said “To perform with Salt N Pepa is out of this world, they are so inspirational.”
The former Balcatta Senior High School student also sang the single he will release should he win in Tuesday night’s verdict show, the dance-pop friendly You Don’t Wanna Know.
Ruffo is the second favourite behind Mastin, who moved to South Australia from England six years ago.
According to Sportsbet Mastin is paying $1.38, while Ruffo is at $4.50 and nuts salesman Andrew Wishart is paying $7, After almost losing his voice, Mastin had to rest his voice for two days after suffering an infection.
He battled through to perform an outstanding rendition of Aerosmith’s Dream On, his possible winning single Good Night and Kids, a sexy duet with Minogue that closed the show.
At 40 years old, Wishart is the oldest finalist by far and said he was appearing on the smash hit Seven reality talent search, not for fame, but as a way to create new career and life for his wife of 16 years Robbie and their four children.
He also impressed with could-be-single, This Much I Know and his rendition of Adele’s Someone Like You, which originally propelled him into the competition during the audition round.