The X Factor winners: The worldwide hits... to the one hit wonder flops

Leona Lewis

With the news from the past couple of weeks showing that both Joe McElderry and Shayne Ward are set to become the latest X Factor winners to be dropped, we've decided to take a look how the winners have fared over the years. From Steve Brookstein back in series one to 2009 winner Joe...

It's fair to say there have been far more misses than hits when it comes from successful popstars made by the show, with just two of the six winners who have released albums still signed up by Simon Cowell.

Joe McElderry

Joe McElderry Wide Awake
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Poor little Joe McElderry! Despite winning the most watched series of The X Factor to date and acquiring well over 6 million votes in the final his, debut album still comes bottom of our list. To be honest, things weren't looking great for Joe from the start; he was the first X Factor winner since Series 1 not to score the Xmas number one. Despite his cover of 'The Climb' reaching to top spot the next week however, it was a stigma he failed to ever shake off.

Joe's follow up single, another cover called 'Ambitions', managed to debut solidly enough in the top 10, but after just 3 weeks it was out of the Top 40 already. It sold only 100,000 in total - despite his performance on The X Factor being seen by close to 15 million viewers.

There's no doubting Joe's talent whatsoever and his music, albeit covers, was generally of a high standard and his debut album 'Wide Awake' was very positively reviewed. Unfortunately for the Geordie 19-year-old however he simply lacked the selling power so many of today's reality stars do. In March, Syco dropped Joe after just the one album.

Leon Jackson

Leon Jackson Right Now
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The flop of Leon Jackson, if we're honest, wasn't too surprising. Despite following a very successful year and winning with new judge Dannii Minogue, the 25-year-old was a huge outsider as the final began. All the smart money was on Welsh guy Rhydian Roberts, also mentored by Mingoue, to scoop the top spot. What won it for Leon in the end was almost undoubtedly his duet with pop superstar Kylie Minogue.

Leon's debut album 'Right Now' went on to sell just over 150,000 copies to date and he was quickly dumped by Simon after just one album. Rhydian meanwhile went on to have a platinum selling record with Cowell, showing winning is not always everything.

Steve Brookstien

Steve Brookstein Heart and Soul
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Steve Brookstein certainly gets a rough ride in the press, a lot of which is brought on himself, however his debut album released back in 2004 did reasonably well. Selling close to 300,000 units, Heart and Soul topped the UK album charts, it wasn't the most spectacular of starts but certainly a solid base to build upon.

Unfortunately for Steve however working with Simon Cowell was never to be, the pair quickly fell out and Steve was eventually dropped in August 2005. The pair continues to bicker to this day in the press, with Steve recently saying: "Simon Cowell has such an enormous ego, he believes that if he can’t make you a star, then no one will."


"When I look back on it all, I’ve no doubt I should have stuck with what I was doing before the X Factor — and I’d probably have been ­better off."

Alexandra Burke

We absolutely love Alexandra Burke and her sales certainly indicate the nation do as well, with her debut album 'Overcome' selling well over 750,000 copies since October 2009. The record has spawned no fewer than five top 10 singles: Hallelujah, Bad Boys, Broken Heels, All Night Long and Start Without You.

Alexandra Burke Overcome
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Following the success of her debut album, Alexandra went on to tour the UK earlier this year playing to well over 100,000 fans in venues across the country. The pop beauty, who has become one of the country's most played artists, is set to release her second album later this year - and we can't wait!

With a powerful voice, dance routines nailed and legs to kill for, frankly we reckon Alexandra is set to become one of the most successful reality contestants of recent time.


Shayne Ward

Shayne Ward
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Shayne Ward is still to date the most successful male winner of The X Factor in its 7 year history. Granted, he only needed to have released a second album to claim the title, but his early sales were still impressive none the less. Mentored by Louis to the win back in 2005, Shayne's debut single 'That's My Goal' has sold around 1.5 million copies to date. His debut album meanwhile, titled simply Shayne Ward, has sold well over 500,000 units.

Shayne Ward Breathless
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After 3 successful singles, Shayne went back to record his second album Breathless. Results were similar to his first album, with the record shifting 460,000 units to date. Shayne then disappeared from the music scene, popping up last year to try and make a comeback with his third album 'Obsession', it was however to be his last. Selling less than 100,000 copies since last November, Shayne became the latest victim of the male winners curse and was dropped by Cowell this week after more than 5 years on his label.

Leona Lewis

Leona Lewis Spirit
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Where do we start with Leona Lewis? The former Pizza Hut waitress topped The X Factor final vote back in 2006 and her life hasn’t been the same since, becoming possibly the world's most successful reality star. Leona's debut album Spirit has sold around 3,000,000 units in the UK alone - more than the combined total of every single album released by all other X Factor winners. Unlike many reality contestants however, Leona's gone further by becoming a huge international success with hits in the States, Japan and Germany.

Leona Lewis Echo
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The gorgeous singer released six singles from her debut record, notching up three number one hits. In 2009 the Leona returned to The X Factor stage to promote her follow up, Echo, which has gone on to sell around 700,000 units in the UK. Despite initial success, Leona's career seemed to stall last year when single I Got You becoming her first to miss the top 10. Plans for further singles were dropped and since ending her tour the pretty diva has been back in the studio preparing for her make or break third album.