X FACTOR champion Joe McElderry is backing East Boldon’s Lola Saunders.
Music mogul and chief judge Simon Cowell dubbed Lola Saunders the “dark horse” of the X Factor on Saturday – the same thing he said to Joe when he won the contest in 2009.
Cowell told Lola that she could be the “dark horse of the competition” after her performance of John Lennon’s Imagine.
He made the same comment in the early stages of Joe’s bid after he sang No Regrets by Robbie Williams on the first week of live shows.
The similarities between Joe, 23, of South Shields, and Lola, 20, don’t end there.
Lola’s mentor, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, was also the judge who led Joe to victory five years ago.
Since winning, Joe has gone on to release four studio albums, perform around the globe, appear on the West End stage, win Popstar to Operastar, claim victory on The Jump, and star in pantomime.
He said: “I’m wishing Lola lots of luck and she really is doing a brilliant job of representing South Tyneside.
“She needs to keep working hard, but, most importantly, enjoy the experience.”
Last weekend saw Lola advance through another stage of the contest.
Now part of the final 12, she’ll sing again on Saturday in the Saturday Night at the Movies-themed show.
Her mum Tina, said: “I can remember Joe winning the competition and every week he went out on that stage, he just didn’t put a note wrong.
“He’s a class act and that’s why he won.
“As far as Lola is concerned, we’re just concentrating on her getting through next week.
“Simon saying that is great, but you never know how things are going to go and we’re not looking further forward than the following week. We’re just taking things one step at a time.”
l X Factor returns to ITV1 at 8pm on Saturday.