How To Do Well At Bootcamp In The X Factor Talent Show

How to do well at the Bootcamp in X Factor
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This is part 2 in the 5 part series on doing well in the X Factor. The other parts are as follows:

  1. Part 1: Getting on X Factor.
  2. Part 2: This one, Boootcamp.
  3. Part 3: Live shows part 1.

If you haven't seen part 1 yet which gives advice on doing well in the auditions, you can see that here. These guides were written by Max Millias, and used to form part of his book (given with permission). Let's get into it:

Wa hey, you've made it through the first round! But wait, don't get excited yet, there's still a lot of work to to do… Next it's the Boot Camp. So tighten your vocals up, put on your million dollar smile, and get ready to impress the judges again.

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What Is Boot Camp?

Boot camp is where you have a further few performances at the houses of the judges in order to try and stake your claim for a place on the show. This allows the judges to get a real close up look at you and also see what you are like as a person too.

Its all for TV though, as during my time on the show not one of the judges actually used their own house for this part of the show and you are more likely to be taken to a specially rented house for this part. I often found that the judges already had a pretty good idea of who they wanted to take to the shows already by this point, however you still have good opportunity to try and sway their minds if it is you that isn’t favoured.

By this point the mentors of each group will be decided too and so you will really need to be making sure your mentor favours you as it’s simply their decision and their decision only about whether or not you make it to the live shows.

During boot camp you will get the chance to work with a few big name acts from the music industry which is a great experience for anyone to have. You will be surprised at just how much these acts opinions can also have an influence on the judges decisions too. Therefore, it’s important to create a good impression to those artists too.

As at any point of the show it’s extremely important to learn lines to all songs and not to mess them up. Messing up lines in a song is a clear sign you aren’t focused on the process and can be the reason a mentor picks one act over the other. You will be surprised how judges like to go for artists who simply seem like “they want it” over actual practiced and talented artists.

Get Your Mentality Just Right

I really can't stress enough just how important it is to get your mentality exactly right. I am a strong believer in the fact that people can send out positive vibes to other people just by being positive themselves. You have to believe in yourself otherwise you simply cant expect anyone else to believe in you!

The Wrong Mentality:

I can't name any names on this part to protect the innocent but in the third series there was a really popular singer who seemed like he had the whole package. He was both good looking and a fantastic singer. However, he left the show pretty early after starting out as one of the bookies favourites. Reason for this was that backstage he simply had the wrong mentality. He would always be constantly focusing on things that could go wrong and in turn that led him to become very tense and nervous and this was something the judges and the public picked up on. Behind the scenes he would constantly keep saying “I'm going to forget the words, I know it“. Well you know what happened, he did forget his words on the live show! The judges weren't impressed and neither were the public and he was duly eliminated the next day. That's a clear example of how having the wrong mentality can have a negative impact on your experience, so don't let things you can control hinder you.

The Right Mentality:

An example of a contestant I can say had the perfect mentality and was probably X factor's biggest success and that was Leona Lewis. Working with her during the week was an absolute pleasure. I didn't have much direct contact with her but everyone was beaming about just how hard she was working on each and every performance. She appeared to have full confidence in her ability which obviously comes from having the right mentality about the process. She got nervous just like everyone else but her attitude was always one of that she wanted to go out and enjoy her performance and make people WANT to vote for her.

Just remember there is a big difference between having the right mentality and being nervous. Everyone gets nervous as it’s only natural, however having the right mentality will help you overcome your nerves whilst having the wrong mentality will allow the nerves to overcome you!

Time To Think About The Press

It is usually at this point where the press will gain an interest in the participants. Therefore it really is crucial you ensure there is nothing overly negative that could come out about you. Things like kiss and tell stories are usually fine and can even help to expose you even more however there can be some things that will definitely harm your chances of going through.


On the UK version of the show in 2010 there was a young singer named Gamu who was already a massive favourite amongst the public and was already one of the bookies favourites to win the show overall. However, the press discovered she was actually an illegal immigrant and alerted bosses at the show who had to let her go. There was speculation that she might even end up being deported from the UK and so bosses at X-Factor couldn’t risk her not being able to complete the show or even fulfil her contract if she won. The show tried to make out that she just wasn’t picked for the shows however the real reason was they simply didn’t want the liability.

In 2007 a contestant named Emily actually made it to the live shows and was very popular. She was actually the youngest X-Factor contestant ever at 15, however the UK press managed to obtain video footage of her assaulting and bullying another girl of the same age. Simon Cowell gave her the choice of leaving by her own accord or being forced out which isn’t really much of a choice when you think about it.

Behaviour Is Crucial

While you are in boot camp it is vitally important to behave well. X factor does love a bit of controversy as much as any other TV show however misbehaving and getting on your mentors nerves will definitely not help you get far in the competition. Remember, you want the mentors to literally fall in love with you and make you their personal favourite. It’s only natural that if you are annoying and showing signs of not taking the show seriously that they will lose faith in you and simply not take you to the live shows.

It’s really important you conduct yourself in a professional manner. You should be acting as if you already have that recording contract. The more you make your mentor believe in you the better your chance of not only making it to the live shows but of actually winning the whole thing will be.

Another point of added important when it comes to getting on with your mentor is the fact that if you do eventually leave the show without winning then your mentor will go all out to get a recording contract for you.


It’s widely known that duo Jedward weren’t the most talented of acts ever to grace the X-Factor stage and they eventually came 7th in the show. Yet their mentor Louis Walsh believed in them and loved them so much he got them a record contract within days and a year later they had made a million pounds each! Nice!

We have already established your back story during the audition stages and there is not much need to keep playing up to that during boot camp. The cameras will seem like they are on you for most of the days however most of that footage is edited down by a vast amount. Just concentrate on performing, being professional and creating a good impression of yourself to your mentors.

If you are showing signs of having a good personality along with some talent you really should make it to the next step which is the X-Factor house and the live shows and this is the business end of the show!

Be Single

Perhaps, I shouldn’t reveal this but the bosses at X-Factor really don’t want acts that are in relationships. It’s obviously not a rule but take it from me, if you are single you will have a much better chance of getting through to the live shows. This is because when you are single you are much more likely to get fans as they will feel like they have a “chance with you”. If you are off the market you will often find that you will lose appeal and the ability to grow a fan base. This is actually a well known thing in the music industry all round. Many boy bands are purposefully told to keep any relationships top secret so they don’t they lose or alienate their fans.

So this doesn’t mean you have to go and break things off with your other half, just keep it on the down low. If the bosses ask you if you are in a relationship simply say you aren’t! Your other half will understand the reasons for having to keep things quiet and it shouldn’t be a problem.

If you are showing signs of having a good personality along with some talent you really should make it to the next step which is the X-Factor house and the live shows and this is the business end of the show!


It might seem weird that we are going to get on to the subject of money this early in the process since we are still in the boot camp stage however it is something worth thinking about.

Once you make it to the live shows this will mean you will effectively have to give up your day job as no employer will allow you up to three-four months holiday. This might not sound like an issue as you will be expecting to make much more money when you finish X-factor however surprisingly it has actually happened before where a contestant has decided to drop out as their employer couldn’t guarantee their job when they returned.

What will happen at this stage is the show will just be edited to make it look like you simply weren’t chosen to go through from boot camp. It has happened before and I wont be surprised if it happens again.

To be fair in some cases I actually believed they made the right decision as some contestants were in extremely well paid jobs and whilst it is nice to follow a dream it might be a gamble not worth taking if you don’t fully believe in yourself.

This is where mentality comes into it again though, as surely if you even have to think about dropping out of X-factor at this stage because of your day job then you simply don’t have the winning mentality that is needed to win this competition.

One thing you don’t have to worry about is paying the rent. I know there were some contestants that were really concerned about how they would pay for the rent on their house if they weren’t working for up to 3 months. Well, X-Factor cover all your basic living costs during that period, so you don’t have to worry about getting evicted from your home whilst your on the show.

Unknown to some, you also get paid a basic allowance every week for personal treats and essentials. It’s not a huge amount but it helps.

Some of the bosses at X-factor will talk to you about your current living costs and situation to see if its actually appropriate for you to move to the next stage so bear all these things in mind before you have the conversation.

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