Liam originally auditioned in 2008 forThe X-Factor's fifth series when he was 14. He reached the judges' houses, but Simon Cowell thought he was not ready for the competition, and asked him to come back in two years. Liam felt Simon made the right decision because doing the live shows when he was 15, he would have struggled to cope.
Liam planned to return the following year, but was unable to audition due to The X Factor raising the application age to 16.
In 2010, Liam returned and auditioned with "Cry Me a River". He received a standing ovation from the audience and Simon. He got a yes from all four judges present at the audition.
At bootcamp, he sang "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" by Oasis. All three judges liked him, but Simon felt it was a bit one-dimensional. As such, he was placed with 4 other boys into the boy band One Direction, in which they were entered into the very last episode, though lost out and got third.