Legends of rock: Where are the X Factor winners now?
Now that 2015’s X Factor extravaganza has finished, and the ink on the £6 million contract of this year’s winner, Louisa Johnson’s, yet to dry, now comes the difficult bit: the 9-month wait until the start of the new season.
But while the wait for next year’s X Factor, and the mediocre crooners, media hungry fools, hypocrisy and controversy, and angel-voiced hidden diamonds that will no doubt feature in it, will be long, the least we can do is take a look a book at some of the show’s former winners. Where are they? What do they do now? Did the achieve super stardom or did they instead tumble back into obscurity?
Here’s a look at some of the former X Factor heavyweights from years gone by, and where they are now.
Steve, the very first winner of the X Factor in 2004 unfortunately failed to capitalise on his stunning victory. His winner’s single, a cover of Phil Collins’ Against All Odds was expected to become Christmas number one came within a whisker of beating the Band Aid 20 revamp of Do They Know It’s Christmas?
But while his debut album, Heart and Soul went in at number one, but that was his last taste of fame and fortune. He was dropped by SonyBMG just 8-months into his contract and fell out with Simon Cowell over his treatment on X Factor.
He recently made the headlines after linking the devastating 7/7 London attack to his number one album, and has written a best-selling book about his time on The X Factor.
2005’s winner, Shayne Ward, succeeded in bagging the X Factor’s first Christmas number one.
He was given a £1million contract with Simon Cowell’s Syco label, who released his debut album in 2006. It didn’t do too badly either, after going four times platinum in Ireland, and platinum in the UK.
His next album, Breathless, went onto even bigger and better things in Ireland, but failed to rise above number two in the UK. Sadly, he was dropped by the Syco label in 2011 after poor sales of his third album Obsession.
Since then he has appeared on Dancing on Ice and starred in 80s-themed an 80’s themed West End musical. He’s had something of a happy ending, after having gotten a role on Corrie. Good man.
Unlike the X Factor’s other winners, Leona Lewis is now a genuine star who has gone on to enjoy great success after winning the 2006 series.
She started out by doing a cover of Kelly Clarkson’s A Moment Like This, which made it to Christmas number one, which sold more copies than the rest of that week’s top 40 combined. Not too shabby.
Her first post-X Factor single, Bleeding Love, was equally successful, and stayed at number one for seven weeks, and topped the charts in Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Canada and the United States, among other places.
Since then she’s had a string of hits, and even recorded the theme song for Avatar and embarked on two world tours, but has recently failed to replicate her impressive former success.
With his charm and loveliness, Leon Jackson sauntered to victory in the 2007 season of X Factor.
While an initial outsider to win the show, his victory over Rhydian Roberts was described as “the biggest shock in the history of reality TV betting.” His winner’s single, a cover of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston’s duet When You Believe, was Christmas Number one that year, and reportedly sold 40 copies a minute in Woolworths at its peak.
But alas, that was his last taste of glory, and his follow-up single Don’t Call This Love peaked at number three, and debut album Right Now only made it to number four.
As one might expect, Cowell’s Syco label quickly reached for the axe and dropped Jackson, and he was later voted the second biggest reality TV flop in a national survey – only Steve Brookstein ranked above him.
Since then he’s kept writing and recording, but further hits have failed to materialise.
Alexandra Burke never quite became ‘the next Leona’ she was hotly tipped to be, but she’s still done better than most.
After beating off the legendary boyband, JLS to win the X Factor, her winner’s single, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah was the 2008 Christmas number one, despite the efforts of a campaign to have Jeff Buckley’ version of the song beat her to it.
Since then she’s had a string of hits, several BRIT and MTV award nominations, and even toured with Beyonce. Also, on top of her UK success she bagged a £3.5m, five album US deal with Epic records but hasn’t had a hit for a number of years. So really, she hasn’t done all that bad.
Joe McElderry’s winning single, a cover of Miley Cyrus’ The Climb, was caught up in one of the X Factor’s biggest scandals. And if this wasn’t enough, it was also the first to be beaten to the Christmas top spot for four years.
It was kept off the top by Rage Against the Machine’s Killing In The Name, after a Facebook protest movement against the show’s grip on the Christmas number one tradition – which is perhaps fair enough.
After his debut album, Wide Awake, peaked at number three and dropped out of the top 40 within just three weeks, his contract with Syco later expired in 2011 and wasn’t renewed. He has since touched upon his unhappiness during his time with Syco, but that the split was “amicable.”
Now a professional reality TV star, Joe also won Popstar to Opera in 2011 and The Jump in 2014. He is now appearing in Tommy The Rock Opera alongside Blue’s Antony Costa in Blackpool.
The heart throb, Matt Cardle, triumphed in the 2010 X Factor, and his winner’s single – a cover of Biffy Clyro’s only ballad, Many of Horror – helped Syco recapture the festive top spot, where it stayed for three weeks.
His debut album, Letters, stayed on the chart for 16 weeks, peaking at number two, but unfortunately his follow-up singles didn’t so well. Predictably, he parted ways with Syco and Columbia records in 2012.
Since then he’s released a couple of moderately well received albums and continues to tour, but he’s not enjoyed the same success as the act that came third in 2010 – a little known group called One Direction.
For a band made up from the failed solo auditions, Little Mix haven’t actually done too badly for themselves.
Their winner’s single, a cover of Damien Rice’s Cannonball, came in at number one the week before Christmas, but was knocked off its perch by the Military Wives. Since then, though, they’ve had incredible success in the US, earning the highest debut US album chart position by a British group – an accolade previously held by the Spice Girls.
They’ve sold 5million singles and 2.5million albums worldwide, and are now promoting their new album third studio Get Weird, featuring the number one hit Black Magic.
James Arthur, the winner of series nine of the X Factor, topped the charts with his winner’s single, Impossible, selling more than 1.25million copies in the UK. However he was swiftly knocked from the number one spot by the Justice Collective’s Hillsborough Disaster charity single He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, which was that year’s Christmas number one.
His debut album came in at number two in the UK, but after that, sadly, it all started to fall apart. He courted a number of controversies and scandals, especially when he used homophobic song lyrics – a faux pas which led to high profile Twitter face-offs with celebrities, including Frankie Boyle and Matt Lucas.
When iTunes starts to offer refunds on your album due to public outrage, you know its curtains for your career. He has long since been dropped by Syco but he continues to perform live today.
2013’s winner, Sam Bailey, beat off her rivals “little” Nicholas McDonald and Luke “hairy” Friend to victory in the last series of X Factor. And what’s more, her winner’s single, a cover of Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper, was the first since 2010 to take make it Christmas number one. So far, so good.
Since last year she’s enjoyed relative success, having supported Beyonce at a live show in Birmingham and bagging the first X Factor number one album since Alexandra Burke’s 2009 debut.
Naturally, there has been a little controversy too, in Sam’s case over her previous music industry experience. After having been billed as a prison warden, it was later discovered that had performed on cruise ships, in clubs and at music festivals for years before hitting big on the reality show.
She has since parted way with Syco Music.
Ben Haenow won the eleventh series of The X Factor in 2014, and his debut single, a cover of OneRepublic’s Something I Need, was well received in December 2014.
After being signed by Syco Music on 6 January 2015, he has since been spending time in Los Angeles recording his debut album.
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