Can you believe that the X Factor will have been gracing our screens for ten whole years this year? With such a basic format, we certainly never imagined that the programme’s success would have lasted this long, or blown to such huge proportions. We don’t think anyone even thought, at first, that the winners of the programme would go on to have such great success. Well, some have definitely had more success than others, with the X Factor runners up quite often reaping more rewards than the winners – just look at One Direction!
So, who exactly has been the most successful X Factor winner?
10. Leon Jackson (2007 winner)
Remember Leon Jackson? Sadly, not many people do. After winning the X Factor in 2007, Leon released a debut single that went on to become the third biggest selling single of that year, as well as the best-selling single from a British Male Artist. Bookmakers even stopped taking bets on who would get the coveted 2007 Christmas number one, as Leon was “practically guaranteed” to get it.
A debut album and two more singles followed, but failed to make waves and saw him dropped by his record label. Since then, not much is known about his activities, although he has apparently performed on stage with Michael Buble.
9. Steve Brookstein (2004 winner)
Winning over the audience with his jazzy, soulful style, Steve gained the most votes in every single one of the X Factor live shows. What’s more, he proudly held the record for the greatest number of votes ever received in an X Factor final for five years – six million, to be exact. So what happened?
After releasing a debut album that charted at number one, and sold 50,989 copies in its first week alone, his popularity simply began to wane. After just eight months he was dropped by his record label, and has gone on to perform on a P&O cruise ship and in a small Cornish pub, where tickets to see him cost £2.50.
8. James Arthur (2012 winner)
It all looked so promising for James Arthur. After stints in foster care, flats and bedsits following breakups within his family, he got his lucky break by winning the X Factor in 2012. Acclaim soon followed, as his debut single sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide, charting at number two in the UK. This single was also the fastest selling X Factor winners single so far, reaching 255,000 downloads in just 48 hours!
However, things haven’t been so rosy in recent months, with James Arthur leaving his record label after numerous disputes. He has also been caught up in his fair share of controversy, being dubbed homophobic by fellow X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan after making dubious comments in a song.
7. Matt Cardle (2010 winner)
Matt Cardle has experienced quiet success as an X Factor winner. After receiving the most votes every week of the talent show except one, the singer-songwriter went on to release a debut single that become the second biggest selling single of 2010. However, it wasn’t long before Cardle became disillusioned with his record label and moved on to greener pastures.
The albums he has since released have seen considerable success, gaining promising chart positions and being praised by critics. He even headed out on tour to promote his latest album, Porcelain, earlier this year.
6. Joe McElderry (2009 winner)
Joe McElderry is the X Factor winner who stole Steve Brookstein’s record for the greatest number of votes ever received during an X Factor final, and still holds the title with 6.1 million votes. Joe’s career has, thankfully, reached loftier heights than Steve’s though.
He has released four top twenty albums, recorded a Golden Globe nominated song for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage if the Dawn Treader, has sold over two million records worldwide and even starred in a string of West End shows. He is perhaps better known for his appearances on reality TV shows though, where he won first place on Pop Star to Opera Star and The Jump.
5. Sam Bailey (2013 winner)
While it isn’t all that long ago since Sam Bailey won the X Factor, she has certainly been busy! As well as supporting Beyonce during one of the shows in her The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, she became the first X Factor winner in three years to snatch the Christmas number one spot. Soon after, she became the first X Factor winner to have a number one selling album since Alexandra Burke.
In fact, Sam Bailey’s album sold 72,644 copies in its first week alone, making it the fastest selling album in the UK at the time. It even overtook Pharrell Williams’ GIRL, and has prompted a tour which is set to take place early next year.
4. Little Mix (2011 winners)
Little Mix are the Spice Girls of the X Factor, and are actually the first group to have won the competition!
Musically, their hard work has paid dividends in the form of a debut album that charted at number two in the UK, and in the top five in eight countries. They also hold the record for the highest debut US chart position by a British girl group, and had sold over 1.6 million albums as of October 2013.
But their success doesn’t end at music – they have also won numerous endorsements. From M&Ms and a kids clothing range for Primark, to Schwarzkopf hair dye, a Collection makeup line and Vibe Audio headphones, the girls are covering all bases and aren’t showing any sign of slowing down.
3. Shayne Ward (2005 winner)
Shayne Ward is undoubtedly one of the X Factors biggest successes. His debut single, That’s My Goal sold 313,000 during its first day of sales, making it the third fastest selling single of all time in the UK. His debut album then went four times platinum, selling over 1,120,000 copies worldwide as of March this year. So impressive was Shayne’s success, in fact, that he was rumoured to have been considered as a replacement for Take That’s Jason Orange!
The good times weren’t meant to last though, and after a brief hiatus Shayne Ward’s latest album, Obsession, failed to storm the charts. He has since starred alongside Justin Lee Collins in Rock of Ages.
2. Alexandra Burke (2008 winner)
Alexandra Burke might not seem like the most successful X Factor winner, but she has actually achieved far more than she is given credit for.
First, there is her debut single, which sold over one million copies in the UK alone. Her debut album spawned four further number one singles, and she was even invited to perform during Beyonce’s I Am… Tour.
Beyonce isn’t the only chart topper that Alexandra Burke has worked with though; she has also collaborated with Bruno Mars and Ne-Yo. What’s more, she has been involved in endorsements for Nintendo DS, Sure and Dolce & Gabbana, signed a modelling contract with IMG Models and landed a starring role in the stage production of The Bodyguard. Not bad at all!
1. Leona Lewis (2006 winner)
When we think of X Factor success, the first winner that springs to mind is Leona Lewis. She has cracked America, won three Grammy Awards and even broken records – her winner’s single ranked at number one for four weeks here in the UK, and broke a world record for being digitally downloaded over 50,000 times in thirty minutes!
She has since gone ten times platinum with her debut album, Spirit, released a lead single (Bleeding Love) that spent seven weeks at number one, sold twenty million albums worldwide and become the first British female to top the US Billboard 200 album chart in more than twenty years. Now that’s what you call success!
While not all of the X Factor winners have gone on to achieve long and fruitful careers, the talent show has definitely spawned some artists that we’ll never forget. We have our fingers crossed that this year’s programme won’t be any different!