The X Factor has launched the careers of many of music’s most famous names. It is scarcely believable that X Factor dates back to 2004. Years on, it is still a juggernaut, and entertains millions. The show has produced a range of stars, from One Direction to Little Mix. But it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the past winners of the show, many have endured rocky roads, as we will see. So, let’s take a look at winners of the X Factor – and where they are now.
2004 – Steve Brookstein
The soul singer captured the heart of the nation in 2004, going on to claim victory in the first series of the show. He just lost out on the 2004 Christmas Number 1 by Band Aid 20. Brookstein was unable to sustain this level of success, being dropped by SonyBMG just eight months into his contract, before he engaged in a feud with Simon Cowell. In subsequent years, Brookstein has likened the X Factor to theatre and the WWE! In 2014, his album, called ‘Forgotten Man’, failed to chart.
2005 – Shayne Ward
One of the more well-known names on this list – Ward won the 2005 version. He secured the Christmas Number One with ‘That’s My Goal’. He enjoyed considerable success in 2006, especially in the Republic of Ireland. He was eventually dropped by SyCo in 2011. He now appears in Coronation Street – having switched to acting!
2006 – Leona Lewis
Another star of the show – Leona Lewis won in 2006. She promptly secured the Christmas Number One, before her hit ‘Bleeding Love’ proved to be an international sensation. She topped charts across the world, including the US. She left SyCo in 2014 to sign with the Universal Music Group, and continues to produce music. While it’s unlikely that she’ll ever hit the heights she did a decade ago – she has left an impressive legacy behind!
2007 – Leon Jackson
Leon Jackson was the shock winner in 2007, triumphing over the favourite Rhydian Roberts. The Scottish singer secured the all-important Christmas Number One, but his career stalled. He eventually followed the well-trodden path of predecessors by being dropped from SyCo. He is now involved in song-writing.
2008 – Alexandra Burke
Alexandra Burke won the 2008 edition of the show – beating JLS to claim victory. She also secured the Christmas Number One. She has gone on to have considerable success – both in domestic and international charts. She even toured with Beyoncé at one point. She has recently dabbled in acting, along with Strictly Come Dancing.
2009 – Joe McElderry
Joe McElderry won the 2009 edition, but suffered the ignomy of missing out on the Christmas Number One following an infamous campaign, which saw Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ finishing top. His first album flopped, and he then left SyCo at the end of his contract in 2011. He has since been making TV appearances, and recently has been involved in theatrical productions.
2010 – Matt Cardle
Matt Cardle won in 2010, triumphing over One Direction! He secured the Christmas Number One spot, but was unable to build on his early success. He parted ways with SyCo and Columbia Records in 2012. He returned to the news in 2016 when he was involved in a legal wrangle with Ed Sheeran, which was eventually settled out of court.
2011 – Little Mix
Without doubt one of the major successes of the show, Little Mix won the 2011 show, before going on to conquer internationally. They actually missed out on the Christmas Number One, but more than made up for it! They have enjoyed success both in the United Kingdom and the United States too. Certainly a success story, and the band are still together – showing no signs of stopping. Little Mix did however part ways with SyCo in late 2018, joining up with RCA Records.
2012 – James Arthur
James Arthur won the 2012 version of the show. His winning song ‘Impossible’ missed out on the Christmas Number One, but proved popular. Controversy would quickly follow Arthur, leading to him being dropped by SyCo. Yet after impressively turning things around, he was re-signed by SyCo and is seemingly back on the charge.
2013 – Sam Bailey
Sam Bailey claimed the victory in 2013. Her song ‘Skyscraper’ – a cover of Demi Lovato’s track, secured the Christmas Number One – the first time an X Factor winner had since 2010. While controversy surrounded her past, she generally succeeded. However in 2015, she parted ways with SyCo music.
2014 – Ben Haenow
One of the more disappointing entries on this list is Ben Haenow, who won the 2014 version. He made a strong start to life after his victory, but he was eventually released from his contract less than 12 months in. At least in his personal life he fared better, having recently married his long-term partner Jessica Jones.
2015 – Louisa Johnson
In 2015, Louisa Johnson became the youngest winner of all time – aged just 17. While she didn’t enjoy much initial success, she has steadily been improving. She is yet to really capitalise on her success from the X Factor, but there is certainly time for this to change.
2016 – Matt Terry
2016 witnessed Matt Terry winning. His debut album was released in October 2017, but reaction has been overwhelmingly disappointing – being called the biggest X Factor disaster seen yet. Things don’t look good for Matt, though time is on his side! Like Louisa, certainly one worth keeping an eye on.
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2017 – RakSu
The trio RakSu romped home to victory in the 2017 edition of X Factor. Since then, they have been steadily growing – releasing numerous singles. A debut studio album is currently in the works. They left SyCo Music in November 2018, before signing for RCA Records.