Motherwell X-Factor sensation Nicholas McDonald could be forgiven a moment of self-doubt after being described as “middle of the road”.
But the comment came from former Take That star Gary Barlow - who made his fortune with his old band’s arguably bland style of music - during a fraught X-Factor quarter final in which Gary and the other three judges were unable to agree on much at all.
Sharon Osbourne said of Nicholas’s performance of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” - the viewers’ choice - that he would “need to perform more”, and urged him to “be like a lion”.
However mentor Louis Walsh said he had “a god-given gift” and could “sing anything”, while Nicole Scherzinger reckoned he had “connected more than you ever have”.
Louis also said Nicky was “a young Gary Barlow”, and has previously said he wants him to win.
Nevertheless Nicholas was clearly genuinely worried by his performance, and while every Sunday night exclusion round has been nail-biting, this one was surely the most agonising cliffhanger so far.
He said as much to his legions of Twitter fans ahead of the Sunday results show, confessing he had been worried all day - but in the end it was Tamera Foster who left the show after a sing-off against Luke Friend, when the judges deadlocked on who should exit.
On Monday Nicholas was back on Twitter, telling his supporters: “Morning all cannot believe I am in the semi final thank you all so so much it means the world to me and my family I love you all”.
Prison officer Sam Bailey was odds-on to win on Monday, with bookies variously giving Nicholas odds ranging from 11/2 to 4/1 and 5/1.
However it seems hardly any time since Tamera Foster was reckoned most likely to win, and she’s no longer a contender - although with the consolation that she may have a solid career ahead of her anyway, if she can master the art of remembering the lyrics.
Just as with political elections, the pundits’ choice doesn’t necessarily match that of the voters on the day, and while Sam is currently favourite all that could suddenly change in what’s shaping up to be an unmissable semi-final.
By way of a diversion from the X-Factor ordeal Nicholas recently celebrated his 17th birthday by taking his first driving lesson at the Young Driver scheme’s Brent Cross venue.
He completed maneouvres such as reverse slalom and a figure of eight, as well as parallel parking - and was later described by Young Driver director Kim Stanton as “an absolute natural - picking up everything really quickly.
“He was also delightful, charming, friendly and funny - a really nice guy.”
Meanwhile our Nicholas McDonald street team has had absolutely no difficulty in finding further evidence of solid support for the teenage star from across the area.
From staff in shops and businesses to primary and secondary school pupils, everyone seems to want to get hold of one of our special “Vote Nicholas McDonald” king-size posters - which, thanks to backing from Lanarkshire First Bus, are also being seen by legions of public transport users in buses across the county.
With everything still to play for Nicholas needs those votes more than ever as the final gets tantalisingly close.