Global stardom and sex tape scandals – story of X Factor winners

Over it's tumultuous fifteen year run The X Factor grew into one of the biggest reality TV shows to ever air in the UK, before hitting a lull in recent years.

The brainchild of Simon Cowell has churned out its fair share of 'winners' over the last decade with the would-be-singers catapulted into pop stardom to varying degrees of success.

While some enjoyed global fame and multi-million selling albums, others have simply returned to their humble day jobs or even found themselves embroiled in career-defining scandals.

From acting and musicals to flops and defeat, Mirror Online reveals what came next for the X Factor champions.

Series 15 – 2018

Winner: Dalton Harris

Dalton is the freshest voice to emerge from the talent show – and possibly the last for a while as the show is replaced by X Factor All Stars this year.

After seizing the 2018 crown, under the watch of mentor Louis Tomlinson, Dalton landed himself a huge record contract after spending seven years preparing to audition.

Though due to the status of his visa, the Jamaican native was forced to leave the UK just days after his win.

The singer's visa only permitted him to stay for the duration of the ITV competition.

Shortly after Dalton was forced to speak out after on a sex tape scandal resurfaced that occurred years before he appeared on the ITV singing contest.

The talented musician -who initially found fame in Jamaica – was threatened with a scandal when an ex threatened to leak naked videos and photographs.

Dalston previously took to Facebook in 2014 to warn fans of what might be leaked and to apologise in advance if that turned out to be the case.

“Sorry for the word there but if I am in a relationship with a girl for three years and we have WhatsApp and s*** like that obviously I will send my GIRLFRIEND pictures of a certain nature."

He ended the statement: “My life is an open book for those who know me personally, so this is my apology in advance, Jamaica… I am sorry."

Series 14 – 2017

Winner: Rak-Su

The four man boy band from Watford won the 2017 title succeeding Grace Davies in the final.

Following their victory, the four boys released original song Dimelo, which hit number two in the UK charts.

In February 2018, Rak-Su released a self-titled EP, which featured original tracks Mamacita, Mona Lisa and I’m Feeling You. In July they supported Little Mix, the only other group ever to win The X Factor, on their Summer Hits Tour 2018.

Band member Myles Stephenson is currently dating former Love Island 2017 contestant, Gabby Allen .

Their relationship is no stranger to the headlines and it is rumoured that Gabby will star alongside her beau and another female islander in new Rak-Su’s new music video.


Series 13 – 2016

Winner: Matt Terry

After bagging the top prize in 2016 Matt Terry began his career on a high note when Ed Sheeran got on board to pen his debut single.

But that still couldn't help "When Christmas comes round" to reach the top spot over the festive season and Matt faded into obscurity.

He was back in 2017 to take part in a charity single with other big names in the industry to help raise money for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Leaving his pop career behind, Matt took a step back into the limelight with an appearance on Celebrity First Dates.

His airtime was short and sweet and when probed why he said “Maybe it wasn't interesting enough, who knows?”

Thats just showbiz, Matt

Series 12 – 2015

Winner: Louisa Johnson

A small girl with a BIG voice continued to amaze viewers with her weekly performances. In the end she beat fan favourites Reggie n Bollie, taking the 2015 title at just 17 years old.

Unfortunately Louisa's spell wore off and her debut single failed to secure the Christmas number one spot, stumbling at a mediocre 12 in the charts.

Since then she's collaborated with the likes of Clean Bandit – but her long awaited album is still nowhere to be seen.

Louisa faced a huge backlash in 2018 when some homophobic tweets resurfaced online

Putting it down to being "young and foolish", Louisa said she was "hanging around with the wrong crowd" when she posted the offensive tweets.

The singer repeatedly used the word ‘‘f****’’ and mentioned "n****s" in a message about the song N****s in Paris by Kanye West and Jay Z.

After coming under fire, Lousia issued an apology stating, "I'm sorry for some of the comments I made at that time on social media."

She added: "I am a completely different person to who I was at the age of 14, and am a huge supporter of the LGBT community."

In April 2019 Louisa promised fans on Instagram she was set for a big music comeback.

Watch this space…

Series 11 – 2014

Winner: Ben Haenow

Ben earns the title of the last winner to secure a festive chart-topper – that was almost a guarantee in the early days of the show.

However, the singer was dropped by his label just as quick as he was signed, lasting only three months before being axed.

But Ben hasn't given up his dream of pop stardom, he announced a headline tour in April 2019,m

In a press release he said: "I’m absolutely buzzing to announce this little run of stripped back shows."


Series 10 – 2013

Winner: Sam Bailey

Unlikely pop star Sam dominated the competition from the moment she auditioned.

Like many X Factor winners before her, Sam’s debut album became the fastest selling album of the year and she look destined for big things.

Sadly, since then things have followed the winners trend of peaking soon after before an inevitable downfall.

Sam was dropped from her label and had to empty her own pockets to fund a follow up album.

Telling The Star in 2016, “It was something I wanted to do”.

Most recently, Sam starred in FatFriends the musical and her performance won rave reviews.


Series 9 – 2012

Winner: James Arthur

James Arthur was a breath of fresh air when he burst onto the X Factor stage in 2012, with a raw talent that hadn't been before on the ITV show.

After soaring to victor, James sold millions of records during his first stint at Syco but his dream quickly fell to pieces after being dropped from his label.

The final shove from Simon came over lyrics appearing to glorify terrorism were discovered on new material, including the line: “I am going to blow your family up like I am a terrorist."

It marked the end of a spectacular two years for James, who after winning saw his reputation torn to shreds by shaming kiss and tells, vicious online rows, poor single sales and homophobic slurs.

But despite all the odds, James cleaned up his act and underwent a huge U-turn ending him in being signed by Simon Cowell two years after being dropped.

He then scored his first original number 1 single with Say You Won't Let Go.

Last year he told his Twitter followers that he’ll be retiring from music after the release of his next album stating, ‘After this album I’m retiring. Love James x’

However fast forward a year and he has just finished touring with Westlife during the UK leg of their Twenty Tour.

Series 8 – 2011

Winner: Little Mix

Little Mix became the first group to win the show and continue to dominate the pop charts eight years later.

Since bagging their first record contract they have released five studio albums, twenty-one singles and twenty-five music videos.

Their albums have broke the X Factor curse by completing a trend of each doing better than the one before. Their success is only growing having achieved 3 billion views on Youtube in 2018.

More recently, the girls have appeared on our TV screens after filming for Channel 4’s Celebrity Gogglebox.

Their next tour follows the release of their fifth album LM5 and is set to begin on 16th December 2019.


Series 7 – 2010

Winner: Matt Cardle

Matt Cardle siezed the X-Factor winners crown when the show was at its peak with seven million people tuning in to watch.

Sadly, his journey after the show and into the music industry wasn't quite as smooth sailing.

In May of 2016, he revealed he ‘downed pills and whiskey on the way to rehab’ before he got the help to relaunch his music career.

Also in 2016 Matt was caught in the middle of a lawsuit, with the writers of his hit Amazing, suing Ed Sheeran for almost £14m.

After a rocky star, like the majority of winners Matt transitioned into musicals,playing the role of Wally Strand in Strictly Ballroom until it closed in October 2018.

Following that he's to perform the role of the psychiatrist, Mendel, in the London run of Falsettos, opening on 30 August 2019.

Matt still has ties to his music roots by touring regularly and headlined Northumberland Live this year.


Series 6 – 2009

Winner: Joe McElderry

Joe was quick to become the nation's sweetheart with his timid demeanour but soulful voice.

The then 18 year old auditioned for the show two years prior but didn't follow through after concluding he was too young to handle the pressure.

But after a case of second time lucky, success quickly followed as his debut Christmas single entered at a number two spot, later ascending to the top spot just a week after.

He was no stranger to the recording studio, releasing multiple albums and featuring on charity singles.

Nowadays, Joe has been touring the UK and yup, you guessed it – starring in musicals.

Series 5 – 2008

Winner: Alexandra Burke

Alexandra Burke belted her way through the competition before leaving pretty much everyone's jaws on the floor after THAT performance with Beyonce

She maintained success with her debut singles and album Overcome, though sadly her second album failed to do the same.

She did however enjoy great success in other on stage ventures and reached the final of Strictly Come Dancing in 2017.

This year she has performed at a number of Pride events, including Newcastle Pride.

She has also earned rave reviews for her stint as Roxy Hart in the West End run of Chicago and will return to The Bodyguard for a UK tour next year.

Series 4 – 2007

Winner: Leon Jackson

Sadly for Leon, he is one X-Factor winner who seems to have fallen through the cracks.

His first proper single – Dont Call This Love charted at number three with debut album Right Now entering at four.

While this triumphed over other X-Factor winners initial debut success, it was short lived.

Unfortunately for Leon it only managed three weeks in the UK top 40 and we’re still waiting for its follow up.

Leon won multiple awards following his win on the show including the Young Scot award.

Now Leon still works in the biz writing songs for other people, including The Voice UK contestant Vince Kidd.


Series 3 – 2006

Winner: Leona Lewis

The shy girl with the huge voice, Leona Lewis was one of the few contestants whose voice alone was merit enough to win over the public, and evidently the 2006 title.

Like most other X-Factor winners, Leona signed to head judge Simon’s record label and reached huge success with her debut album ‘Spirit’.

However it was her debut single Bleeding Love that propelled her to worldwide stardom after it topped the charts all over the world.

In 2015 after “years of consideration”, Leona made a bold move to switch record labels stating: “I cannot make music that does not speak to my soul, and as scary as it seemed, I could no longer compromise myself, and so I decided to leave.”

The woman of many talents transitioned from screen to stage, making her Broadway debut in 2016 playing Grizabella in the Cats musical, although she left after just four months.

Her time spent away from the music world also saw her star in 2014 musical themed movie Walking on Sunshine.

Recently, she collaborated with Pitbull on a song for the film Gotti. Then acted in the American TV series The Oath, a series about a world of gangs who seek to shed light on corrupt and secret societies.

She had hit headlines hard this month after announcing her engagement to long term boyfriend Dennis Jaunch.

Leona is rumoured to be starring in X-Factor All Stars alongside other blasts from the show's past.

Series 2 – 2005

Winner: Shayne Ward

Shayne, almost unrecognisable to the young boy introduced on our screens in the second series of X-Factor became the first long lasting X-Factor success story.

He managed to hold a 4 week run Christmas number one single which stayed in the top 75 until June 2006.

The success didn’t stop there as his album also reached a top spot with the follow up being a huge success too.

But after his popularity dwindled, Shayne was sadly dropped by his label in 2011. He made the predicted transition into musicals before sliding on screen again in ITV’s Dancing on Ice in 2013.

His recent performing gigs steered away from music and head first into acting. He has created a reputation as a decently rated soap star, joining Corrie in 2015 and even won the 2016 National Television award for best newcomer.

He has since had a child with former Hollyoaks actor Sophie Austin.


Series 1 – 2004

Winner: Steve Brookstein

Steve Brookstein was the first ever winner of the X-Factor after auditioning in 2004.

Despite failing to impress two of the stars on the judging panel in his initial audition, he received the most votes of all contestants in the live shows.

Success followed his TV show win with a hit single and debut album with Sony BMG record label. Things took a turn and poor Steve was dropped when a second single failed to materialise.

It seemed to snowball downhill from there as Steve publicly slated The X Factor, claiming the show was "one big theatre… turning music into the WWE" and that it was "killing music". Ouch.

Throughout the years, Steve tried his hand at musicals in but evidently still holds a grudge as he frequently takes to social media to voice his distaste with the show.

In a dig to the show, Steve announced in 2013 that his new album, ‘Forgotten Man’ would be released on 23 March 2014.

So while Steve's music career failed to reach the top, he continued to make headlines thanks to his online shade throwing and tell all autobiography, describing his journey from winning The X Factor to having the press and industry turn their backs on him.

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