The X Factor – Where Are They Now?

Published by Stickboy on August 18th, 2010

X Factor Contestants

Series 1 2004
Winner: Steve Brookstein

A sort of poster-child for the treachery of reality-show-based fame, poor Steve won six million votes in the first X Factor final before reaching No1 with his first and only single, but was dropped by his Sony BMG label eight months later. In a splendidly cliched fall from grace, by 2007 he was performing on the Portsmouth to Bilbao P&O cruise ferry.

X Factor Contestants

Series 1 2004
Runners up: G4

Weird pop-opera quartet G4 (short, apparently, for “Guildhall Four”, after the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where they met) dragged their appalling public-school selves to the final by butchering classics like Bohemian Rhapsody, Radiohead’s Creep and REM’s Everybody Hurts en route. Luckily, the far less offensive Steve Brookstein beat them to the top spot. The band split in 2007, citing “differences within the band”. Presumably some members of the band thought they were a crime against humanity, while others did not.

X Factor Contestants

Series 2 2005
Winner: Shayne Ward

A sort of Tesco Value version of Justin Timberlake, Shayne Ward was the first lasting X Factor success story, if we’re allowed to stretch the definition of “success” a little. His debut single, “That’s My Goal”, became the fourth fastest selling UK single ever (behind, depressingly, Will Young’s Evergreen, Gareth Gates’s Unchained Melody, and Elton John’s Candle in the Wind), and his first, self-titled, album also reached the top spot. More unexpectedly, his second album also sold well, reaching No2, and he is currently working on his third.

X Factor Contestants

Series 2 2005
Runner up: Andy Abraham

He may not have won, or achieved lasting fame, but Andy Abraham can take pride in the fact that he was the most patronised act in X Factor history. It seemed that not one of the judges or commentators could refrain from mentioning that he had been a binman before joining the show, as though it were some sort of disability that he had pluckily overcome. He did manage to win the British nomination for Eurovision via a public vote, but then came joint last in the ghastly, gaudy, baffling competition itself. He has released three albums, two of which made it into the top 20.

X Factor Contestants

Series 3 2006
Winner: Leona Lewis

The big beast of X Factor, and probably the only one to achieve real stardom. Leona Lewis’s brand of pop-infused R&B has brought her three Grammy Awards and sold several million records on both sides of the Atlantic. “Bleeding Love”, her second single, reached No1 in the US Billboard Chart, as well as the national charts of New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria, Canada and Britain, selling more than 200,000 copies in its first week after release in the UK alone. She is currently working on a third album, scheduled for release next year.

X Factor Contestants

Series 3 2006
Runner up: Ray Quinn

Terrifying plastic-faced automaton Quinn is most notable for causing a feedback loop in reality TV; apparently coming second in a reality TV show makes you sufficiently famous to qualify for celebrity reality TV shows, as he demonstrated by winning 2009′s Dancing on Ice. Quinn can currently be seen playing the world’s most clean-cut version of Danny Zuko in a West End production of Grease. He is rumoured also to have released some music at one stage.

X Factor Contestants

Series 4 2007
Winner: Leon Jackson

A Scottish accent and a wearyingly fashionable asymmetric haircut were really the only two distinguishing features of this by-the-numbers popster, who achieved the obligatory No1 single before slowly sinking without trace. His career highlight since then was making an appearance on stage with Michael Buble, who really has the elevator-music crooner niche sewn up.

X Factor Contestants

Series 4 2007
Runner up: Rhydian Roberts

Hilarious Welsh rock-opera madman Rhydian, with his disturbing thousand-yard stare, his haircut like Guile out of Street Fighter 2 and his thunderous baritone, was by far the best thing in series four and possibly in X Factor history. Inevitably he made his name with a version of The Phantom of the Opera. In an endearingly madcap post-X Factor career, he has become a patron of The Prince’s Trust, posed nude in Cosmopolitan to raise awareness for prostate cancer, and is now appearing in a musical version of The War of the Worlds.

X Factor Contestants

Series 5 2008
Winner: Alexandra Burke

Essentially a not-quite-as-good Leona Lewis, Burke is best known for revealing the appalling taste of the record-buying British public when her insipid cover of the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah rocketed to number one, breaking the European record for most copies sold in 24 hours as it did so. Her debut album was released in October 2009 and made it to number one. She is now a “brand ambassador” for some women’s deodorant, which just goes to show what you can achieve if you follow your dreams.

X Factor Contestants

Series 5 2008
Runner up: JLS

Your basic clean-cut smiley boyband, the most interesting fact about whom is that their name stands, inexplicably, for “Jack the Lad Swing”. They have won Brit Awards (the first X Factor contestants to do so) and achieved three UK number ones, as well as being spoken of warmly by Jay Z, so presumably they’re doing something right.

X Factor Contestants

Series 6 2009
Winner: Joe McElderry

Another nondescript child from the Cowell clone factory, McElderry is most notable for having been born in 1991, and thus being younger than several of this writer’s socks. He came out as gay a few weeks ago, to general indifference and deafening lack of surprise. Wonderfully, his debut single was beaten to the Christmas No1 slot by Rage Against The Machine’s Killing in the Name (a heavy metal single released when McElderry was just one year old) after an anti-X Factor campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

X Factor Contestants

Series 6 2009
Runner up: Olly Murs

A singer of some description, Olly Murs allegedly plays music to audiences, and may one day release some sort of single or album, despite nobody in Britain being able to quite put a face to the name or remember what it was he did.



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