THE X FACTOR’S back, and come this Crimble, Simon Cowell will have pocketed another motherlode of cash, new names will be buzzing about the showbiz circuit, and just one act will stand weeping in the middle of the stage, being showered with weird, sparkly confetti. That’s your X Factor winner. But is it really?
In the spirit of investigative investigation, we thought it wise to peer back over series gone by with one question in mind: who (not including Lord Simon of Cowell) are the real winners? And funnily enough, it’s hardly ever turned out to be the ones sobbing through their winning rendition of the nailed-on Christmas number one…
Series One winner: Steve Brookstein
All over the country, people were going bonkers for Steve Brookstein in 2004. He had a nice, soulful voice, the face of a kindly cab driver, and he seemed like a cool dude. It was less cool when he disappeared off the face of the earth, having reportedly refused to “play the game”. Not that he’s bitter now. Actually, he is a bit bitter now.
Series One real winners: G4
With Steve too grumpy and stuck in his ways to make it as a pop star, it was left to four baby-faced opera singers to cash in and steal his moment in the spotlight. Irreconcilable differences tore them apart in 2007, but not before three successful albums had filled their collective purses with money.
Series Two winner: Shayne Ward
Back in 2005, Shayne Ward had it all – the shaved head, the ability to stare into a camera and sing at the same time, and a devilish tattoo on his muscular arm. Girls couldn’t get enough of him and he romped home, promising to ignite the pop charts for years to come. Only it didn’t really happen for Shayne, who can now be found in the West End in the musical Rock Of Ages.
Series Two real winner: Chico
For centuries, great thinkers have pondered the big questions. Why are we here? Is there a God? What is the sound of one hand clapping? And most puzzling of all – what is Chico’s talent? It’s certainly not singing. Nor is it dancing. Was it the ability to gurn and check his watch? It may have been that. Amazing.
Series Three winner: Leona Lewis
Leona smashed all comers in 2006. She was timid like a mouse trapped under a tea cup during her pre-performance videos, then she’d arrive on stage like a lioness and blow everyone’s minds with her Mariah Carey-esque vocal antics. She has since gone on to impress the people of the US, which is no mean feat.
Series Three real winner: Leona Lewis
No one came close to Leona that year, although Simon Cowell hasn’t shut up about her since. She’s the feather in his cap, and the yardstick demonstrating what these shows are capable of when absolutely everything goes right.
Series Four winner: Leon Jackson
Like the fourth series of Big Brother, which was famously rubbish, this series was also pretty terrible. No one stood out, and the nation was forced to choose between an over-the-top opera singer – Rhydian Roberts – and a Scottish boy who had only learned to sing a week before the show. People went for the lesser of two evils and voted for Leon, who was supposed to be the British Michael Bublé. If Bublé had released three singles and then got dropped, it was mission accomplished.
Series Four real winner: Niki Evans
If there was a real winner from series four (which is debatable), it was Niki Evans (above) – the buxom lass who could sing the heck out of a ballad. She went on to dazzle in the West End and is now touring in Legally Blonde The Musical.
Series Five winner: Alexandra Burke
Alexandra triumphed during a vintage year for the girls. The most powerful of the lot was Laura White, who was astonishingly ditched just as she was hitting her stride. Then there was Diana Vickers, who is like the new Kate Bush, only less raven-haired. And Alexandra is still going fairly strong after her triumph. But not quite as strong as four young lads…
Series Five Real Winner: JLS
JLS are everywhere. They’ve had a handful of chart-topping singles, they’ve probably all got a sleeve of tatts now, their mantelpieces are brimming with Mobos and Brits; men want to be them, women want to be with them. They’re always colour-coded, and they stand in formation so you’ll never forget their names. Aston. Marvin. The other two. They’re the ideal boyband.
Series Six winner: Joe McElderry
No small amount of joy could be taken from doing Saturday night impersonations of Cheryl Cole saying “Jaw”, but unfortunately the joy was short-lived. Young Joe did vocal runs into the nation’s hearts, only to very nearly go the same way as poor Leon Jackson. And then he won an classical singing competition. Will his second bite of the cherry be more juicy?
Series Six real winner: Olly Murs
No matter which direction you look in these days, Olly Murs (pictured) will be there, grinning at you like a cheshire cat in a porkpie hat. Pop star, presenter, wearer of tight trousers. Everyone loves him. Stacey Solomon has also done well for herself, despite coming across like a Fisher Price version of Janet Street Porter.
Series Seven winner: Matt Cardle
The future looked so bright for Matt Cardle – he had fought off stiff competition to absolutely run away with the show. Voice of an angel, bit of a lad, he was like a weird hybrid of Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams, and yet the moment he left the screens everyone immediately forgot about him. Fancy that.
Series Seven real winners: One Direction
On the other hand, when the spotlight veered away from One Direction, young girls shrieked and shrieked until it returned, just so they could stare longingly at Harry and the other four. They have since convinced America that they’re the new Beatles.
Series Eight: The jury’s out
It’s still early days for the contestants from last year, but early signs suggest that the wonderful Misha B may prove to be the real victor. Although there’s still a way to go for the winning foursome, Little Mix.
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