The X Factor: where are the previous winners now?

Flagship ITV music show returns to UK screens with a few twists in store

X Factor
Dermot O'Leary (left) and Matt Terry (right), who was crowned X Factor winner 2016
(Image credit: ITV/The X Factor)

The X Factor is returning to the UK’s TV screens with a new set of judges to sit alongside Simon Cowell.

Robbie Williams, Ayda Field and Louis Tomlinson will join the music supremo - and there’s another twist on the horizon too.

Each judge will get their own “golden X” that they can use during the Six Chair Challenge to send an act straight through to the Judges' Houses round.

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A show source told The Sun: “This year each of our judges has one Guaranteed Safe Seat to give away in this round.

“If the judge likes an act enough and they definitely want to see them at judges' houses they’ll press this golden X and give that act a Safe Seat.

“This means the act cannot be swapped out of their chair and they’ll go straight through to judges' houses.”

But as fans wait for the first episode, here is the lowdown on the fortunes of previous victors and notable runners-up. From globe-conquering boybands to embittered dumpees and deodorant ambassadors, it's a mixed bag of fates.

2004: Steve Brookstein

The soul crooner infamously parted ways with Cowell just eight months after winning the first series of The X Factor. He has since released an album, Forgotten Man; an angry memoir, Getting Over The X; and become a long-standing thorn in Cowell's side.

2005: Shayne Ward

His debut song, That's My Goal, became the fourth fastest-selling UK single ever, but after releasing three albums, Ward was dropped by Cowell in 2010. He has since appeared in the West End musical Rock of Ages and on the ITV soap opera Coronation Street.

2006: Leona Lewis

It's hard to dispute that Lewis is the most successful winner to date. She has sold 20 million albums worldwide and won three Grammy Awards. She parted ways with Cowell's Syco label in 2014, and has starred on Broadway in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats.

2007: Leon Jackson

The Scottish singer had a number one single in the wake of his victory before “sinking without trace”, according to the Daily Telegraph. However, he has since made an appearance on stage with Michael Buble before relocating to the US.

2008: Alexandra Burke

Burke broke the European record for the most copies of a single sold in 24 hours with her debut, a cover of Hallelujah. Her debut album reached number one and she has hit the West End in The Bodyguard. Burke is also a brand ambassador for Sure deodorant. Runners-up, boyband JLS, sold over six million records in the UK and more than ten million records worldwide before going their separate ways in 2013.

2009: Joe McElderry

The Geordie bucked the winners' trend by failing to reach number one with his debut single. However, he later won the Popstar to Operastar reality series and performed at the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. He is currently the lead in the touring production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

2010: Matt Cardle

A former painter and decorator, the acoustic-guitar player Cardle has released three albums, toured the UK and recorded a duet with former Spice Girl Melanie C. He has also starred in the musical Memphis. However, his achievements were somewhat overshadowed by the 2010 runners-up, One Direction, who sold more than 70 million records, with more than 100 number ones, and performed to more than 10 million fans worldwide before separating for a “hiatus”.

2011: Little Mix

A girl band of solo contestants cobbled together during the show, Little Mix have become enormously successful. They have grown in popularity, with their third album Get Weird outselling its two predecessors. Band member Perrie Edwards was engaged to One Direction star Zayn Malik, but they have since split up. The band have sold five million singles.

2012: James Arthur

Arthur's post-X Factor career has been a rollercoaster. His debut, a cover of Shontelle's Impossible, became the fastest-selling X Factor winner's single ever, and his first album reached number two. He has since become a controversy magnet, hurling abuse at other artists and being filmed spouting homophobic slurs. Unsurprisingly, he was dropped by Syco.

2013: Sam Bailey

The fortunes of the powerhouse vocalist (pictured with her husband above) fell quickly after her debut single became the show's first Christmas number one for three years. Although her album, The Power of Love, fared reasonably well, she has since parted ways with Syco and is reportedly having to fund her own follow-up. On a happier note, she supported Beyonce during a UK tour.

2014: Ben Haenow

Syco dropped the bearded balladeer after his Christmas number one single was followed by a self-titled album that sold rather weakly. Even a duet single with American Idol champion Kelly Clarkson was not enough to save his bacon: it reached no higher than 21 in the charts.

2015: Louisa Johnson

The teenager has struggled to maintain the popularity that saw her win the show. Her debut single got no higher than number eight in the charts, a record low for an X Factor winner. She has yet to release an album. However, she appeared on the show during the weekend's series final.

2016: Matt Terry

X Factor

Dermot O'Leary (left) and Matt Terry (right), who was crowned X Factor winner 2016
(Image credit: ITV/The X Factor)

After a thoroughly expected win in 2016, Terry landed a deal with Sony label RCA. The singer released a debut single When Christmas Comes Around, written by Ed Sheeran, which made it to number three in the charts. But in June this year, Terry revealed to The Sun he had been dropped by his label.

“I’m in talks with Sony Madrid. In the UK I’ve done my thing. The reaction to my songs has been crazy, they’ve had 60 million streams. It’s great but I’m excited to do another album,” he said.

“You don’t even really need a label to sell. Fair enough, they plan everything for you, but I can still move forward... onwards and upwards.”

2017: Rak-Su

Last year’s winner was the boyband Rak-Su. Rak-Su J, Ashley Rak-Su, Pharoahcious and Myles Rak-Su impressed the judges with their original song I'm Feeling You and the viewers hailed them as the winners from the early rounds.

The group “wasted no time making waves with the judges as the smoothest boyband to hit the show since JLS”, says The Sun.

Dimelo, which featured Naughty Boy and Wyclef Jean, was released last December, marking the first time an X Factor winner's single was written by the victor themselves. Then in June of this year they released Pyro Ting with Electro-Caribbean production duo Banx & Ranx.

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