Speaking on The Xtra Factor, the 24-year-old claimed that Barlow's earlier comments about his performance were part of a gameplan to help his own acts.
"I thought losing my integrity was a bit sharp," said Arthur of Barlow's critique. "It was a bit far, but maybe it was a bit of tactical judging."
During the first live show of the series, Arthur had performed Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger' complete with an original rap interlude. Barlow suggested that the finalist - who is being mentored by former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger - had compromised his credibility and "integrity" by listening to producers' ideas about song choice and staging.
"I don't think there are that many songs you can choose with a hero theme," Arthur added. "What we picked - I did the best I could to make it my own."
Barlow later clarified his remarks, saying he missed Arthur's guitar and "edgy feel".
"I missed the guitar but I don't have to have it," said Arthur, who had earlier been praised by the members of One Direction. "It's where I come from but it's not 100% necessary for every performance."
He added: "Hopefully I will make it through this week and we'll see the guitar. I felt good about tonight, it was all right. Obviously [as the] first live performance it was a big deal."
The X Factor continues tonight at 8pm, with the results of the first public vote being revealed.
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