X Factory Victory - What Does It Mean? From Leona Lewis To Steve Brookstein...

X Factor Winners - What Has It Brought Them?

Little Mix have entered that elite enclave of musical acts who can add 'X Factor winner' to their list of accomplishments.

But what will it mean? For some, it's been a doorway to a world of untold riches and global fame... for others, it's been a brief, bittersweet taste of Simon-Cowell-esque luxury before the clock struck one year, and the contract turned back into a pumpkin. As Little Mix wake up to a world of morning TV and Spice Girl comparisons, here is a quick run-down of previous UK winners and their present whereabouts on life's rich rollercoaster - what we'll the jasondonovanometer:

2004 - Steve Brookstein

Simon Cowell's first protege on the brand new alternative to the tired Pop Idol, Brookstein for five years held the record of the most votes in a final - SIX MILLION votes

Enjoyed a number one single and album following the show, but more recently was discharged from his record contract after sales failed. He fell out with Simon Cowell, whom Brookstein now says 'wouldn't want me within 100 miles of him", and recently complained that the X Factor was "killing music".

March 2010 - Brookstein performed at a Cornwall pub where punters were charged £2.50 to hear him sing - but it was free if you bought a pint and a pie.

2005 - Shayne Ward

Ward was mentored by Louis Walsh, won the overall title by only 1.2% of the public vote, but enjoyed a number one record straight after the show with That's My Goal, which was the UK's third-fastest selling single of all time.

Five years later, success dried up, with Cowell cancelling his contract, and Walsh ceasing to manage him.

Ward is now appearing on stage in the West End in Rock of Ages

Of his swift booting from X Factor factory, he wrote on Twitter, "1 door closed. A Thousand more will open." (sic)

2006 - Leona Lewis

Second only to Susan Boyle in terms of reality success stories, Leona Lewis was the first female to walk off with the gong, nothing much needs saying about her success. Since walking off with the show, Lewis has made it big on both sides of the Atlantic, with her single Bleeding Love going to the top of the charts in 30 countries around the world.

She's also worked with respected producers, becoming a triple Grammy award nominee, and selling more than 10 million albums. She has encountered the downside of iconic status, being punched in the head during a London book-signing, but also enjoyed the trappings, including the offer of a cameo role on the series Glee. Nice work, mentor Mr Cowell.

2007 - Leon Jackson

Following his win, mentored by Dannii Minogue, Leon Jackson had his own web series, called Leon's Life. His debut single, When You Believe, was the third best seller of that year, making him the bestselling Male Singer of 2007, and he got to sing with his idol Michael Buble at Wembley before he'd even won.

Jackson was dropped by Sony in 2009, following disappointing sales of his album Right Now. Last seen showcasing his new, acoustic sound at the Half Moon Pub in Putney where he went down well. Still working on his second album with independent producers.

2008 - Alexandra Burke

A winner for first-time judge Cheryl Cole, Burke's debut single Hallelujah (by Leonard Cohen) held off opposition from rival versions of the song to become the year's Christmas number one single, and the top-selling single of the year. Burke has had four number one songs in the UK, selling more than four million records in total.

As well as a successful recording career and a fashion line with fellow musicians JLS, Burke has returned to the reality show format that made her name, appearing in So You Think You Can Dance, and sitting in for Kelly Rowland on the 2011 series of X Factor.

2009 - Joe McElderry

Cheryl Cole's second winner in a row, Joe McElderry made it a reality one-two by winning Popstar to Operastar two years later. In the meantime, he secured the year's best-selling single of 2009 with Miley Cyrus' song The Climb, but lost the Christmas number one slot to Rage Against the Machine, after a widely-waged publicity war against what fans saw as a slick, music-free X Factor machine.

His album Wide Awake went to number three on the chart, but it signalled the end of his relationship with Cowell's record company Syco.

Of his time with on the X Factor merry-go-round, McElderry said, "For a boy of 19 to get what I've got at the minute and what I'm doing at the minute, it's amazing, and I am genuinely happy with what I'm doing."

McElderry released his second album Classic earlier this year to gold-status sales, comprising what he called "less pop, more lush ballads", and a Christmas album last month. He is signed up by Next Models, and been cited by Stonewall as a gay role model.

2010 - Matt Cardle

Matt Cardle was Dannii Minogue's second winner, triumphing in last year's competition by getting the most public votes every week except one (beaten by Irish woman Mary Byrne in the first week) and going to the Christmas number one slot in proper X Factor fashion with When We Collide.

In a first for a winner, Cardle's contract was shared between Cowell's Syco management and Columbia Records. His second single Run For Your Life, although penned by hitmaker Gary Barlow, fell quickly through the charts earlier this year, despite a favourable reception on X Factor, and his album Letters hovers somewhere around the middle of the ladder.

Star status - too early to tell, really, although some giveaway signs of an independent spirit that must make Simon Cowell quake in his boots, and resolve to keep this year's girl band firmly in their place.

2011 - Little Mix

The nation - and Mr Cowell - awaits...


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