The X Factor turns 15 – but past winners prove success isn’t guaranteed

The X Factor is back on screens this weekend for its highly anticipated celebrity series, featuring the likes of Megan McKenna and a group of Love Island stars.

So far, on the regular edition, 15 acts outshone the other contestants and have been crowned winners since The X Factor began back in 2004.

The lives of the judges and presenters are well documented – but many of the past contestants and even winners faded into obscurity.

Ahead of the return of The X Factor – albeit a celebrity version – Daily Star Online has looked back at all 15 winners so far.

Steve Brookstein

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The 50-year-old singer won the first series of The X Factor in 2004.

After his first album of covers, Steve wanted to do a second album but this time with his own songs – titled 40,000 Things.

Sadly, it peaked at a measly No165 in the UK Album Charts and the London lad was dropped by Simon Cowell and his label.

Nowadays, Steve is better known for his Titter feuds than his music, most recently getting into bother after making comments about HIV.

Shayne Ward

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He was part of Corrie until 2018, when he left the soap in a tragic suicide storyline.

Leona Lewis

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After winning The X Factor in 2006, Leona released five albums and also took to the stage, playing Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats on Broadway in 2016.

The Bleeding Love songstress is rumoured to be one of the familiar faces taking part in X Factor: All Stars this year, but that's not her only television appearance.

Earlier this year she had a recurring role in The Oath, playing Amber Hall, and had an episode in song-writing show Songland.

Leon Jackson

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Leon won the fourth series of The X Factor in 2006 but has largely remained out of the spotlight.

The 30-year-old hasn't released any music since 2009 single Stargazing, which failed to chart.

Now living in America, Leon occasionally shares updates on his life with his 12.6k followers on Instagram.

Alexandra Burke

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Alexandra has enjoyed a varied career after winning the X Factor series five back in 2008.

Then in 2017 she turned her hand to dancing, competing on Strictly and reaching the final alongside pro Gorka Marquez.

She's also had success on stage with appearances in The Bodyguard Musical, Sister Act The Musical and Chicago.

Joe McElderry

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Geordie lad Joe won The X Factor in 2009 and has gone on to release five Top 20 albums, with three of them reaching the UK top three.

As well as singing, Joe has enjoyed a career in the West End, even landing the lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Joe McElderry is still enjoying his singing career and is currently on a tour which is continuing through to 2020.

Matt Cardle

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Matt Cardle was the winner of The X Factor in 2010, the year eventual global superstars One Direction were contestants.

After releasing several albums, Matt took to the West End stage to enjoy a career in musical theatre in productions of Memphis, Strictly Ballroom and Jesus Christ Superstar, among others.

Back in August, he joined the Original London run of Falsettos as psychiatrist Mendel.

Little Mix

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Arguably the most successful X Factor winners, Little Mix are still producing music today, with their sixth album on the way.

The girlband – made up of Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jesy Nelson and Jade Thirlwall – made history as the first group to win the show, back in 2011.

They've been nominated for countless awards and have won more than 30, including two BRIT Awards.

James Arthur

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James Arthur rose to fame after winning The X Factor in 2012.

His winning single, a cover of Shontelle’s Impossible, debuted at No1 in the UK charts.

Sam Bailey

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Sam Bailey was the winner of the 13th series of the show, her audition singing Beyonce’s Listen received a standing ovation from all four judges.

She’s now performing in the 42nd Street Musical at the Albany Theatre in Coventry.

Ben Haenow

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After winning the show in 2014, Ben was another contestant to get dropped by Simon’s label.

After the release of his self-titled album he parted ways with Syco, despite the record being certified with gold sales in the UK and several other countries.

He’s now an independent artist with a UK tour underway.

Louisa Johnson

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Louisa became the youngest ever winner of The X Factor, when she won the 12th series of the show at 17.

Last year, she parted ways with the record label Syco, and now, at 21, is working with the label Ministry of Sounds.

Matt Terry

Matt took the X Factor crown in 2016, but unfortunately his first album was the lowest charting debut from any of the X Factor winners.

Now, Matt Terry is performing in Madagascar the Musical as Alex The Lion.

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Rak-Su

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The R&B group won The X Factor in 2017, after wowing the judges with their audition and original song I’m Feeling You.

They’ve enjoyed success since winning the show, however it was reported last week that they’ve parted ways from their record label.

Dalton Harris

Taking the crown in 2018, 25-year-old Dalton managed to impress in the final with a duet with fellow champ James Arthur.

His winning single – the duet with James – reached No1 in the UK charts, and he's yet to release any more music.

  • Coronation Street
  • Eastenders
  • Strictly Come Dancing
  • This Morning
  • Twitter
  • X Factor
  • Little Mix
  • Lorraine Kelly
  • Meghan Markle
  • Simon Cowell
  • Jesus

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