The X Factor has become very popular in the UK with millions of viewers glued to their television sets every Saturday evening whilst the series lasts. Some watch the talent show because they want to have a laugh at the awful auditions, some watch because they want to see new performers do well.
Personally I feel uncomfortable watching some of the really awful auditions. I hate it when the panel (Simon Cowell, Danni Minogue, Louis Walsh and Cheryl Cole) laugh inanely at the efforts of others. I don’t find singers trying their hardest to impress funny, just sad when they clearly can’t sing. Neither can I, but like those poor singers I wish that I could sing. I’ve got to admit to laughing at the effect scary Ariel Burdett had on the panel during her audition.
After the auditions the contestants who have got through the first round go to bootcamp. Bootcamp sounds like a tough camping exercise but on the X Factor the contestants split into 4 categories and visit the panel’s luxorious homes. The categories are: male singers, female singers, over 25s and groups. The acts get some training and perform in front of the panel who become mentors. Each mentor chooses their 3 favourite acts and the final rounds begin.
The mentors choose the songs and help with rehearsals, the acts come up against each other and each week 1 act is voted off by the panel and telephone votes. I like watching the progress of the different acts. Some improve tremendously over the weeks and not just in the way that they sing. You can see a massive gain in confidence with some of the acts as they change from would be singing stars to performers.
Eventually a winner emerges though we might not always agree with that choice. Every year on the day of the final show there are discussions and arguments up and down the country about who we think should win. The prize is a £1m recording contract and the promise of stardom but do the X Factor winners become stars.
Steve Brookstein won the first series in 2004. After that he released a cover version of Against All Odds which became number 1 for one week in the UK single charts in January 2005. Steve released his first album Heart and Soul in May 2005 which came into the UK album charts at number 1. His record company dropped him in August 2005 after he reportedly refused to record another album of covers instead of his own material.
Steve then formed his own record label and released his second album 40,000 Things in October 2006 but it didn’t do well. Currently in September 2008 Steve is touring with the Madness musical Our House. Not so much fame and fortune as you would expect but I still like his singing.
Shayne Ward won the second series in 2005. Shayne’s first single That’s My Goal became the Christmas number one single and stayed in the top 75 for over 5 months. The single became the fourth fastest selling record of all time. After a second hit single he released his first album called Shayne Ward, which gained second place in the UK album charts.
Shayne had problems with vocal chord nodules in 2006, but fortunately they were treated successfully and he was able to continue his singing career. After releasing his autobiography ‘My Story’ Shayne completed a successful solo UK tour and after a hit from his double sided single If That’s Ok With You/No U Hang Up released his second successful album Breathless. He is currently working on a third album that is due out late 2008. Dishy Shayne has done well for himself and he certainly has the X Factor in my eyes.
Leona Lewis won the third series in 2007 and has become a big international star, certainly the most successful of the winners so far. Her first single A Moment Like This became the UK Christmas number one and sold more than the rest of the top 40 put together. It also broke the record for Internet downloads.
Leona’s first album ‘Spirit’ was released in November 2007 and became the fastest selling first album of all time in the UK and Ireland. Spirit also became the fourth fastest selling album ever. In January 2008 Spirit became the number one album in several countries worldwide and in April hit the US Billboard 200 at number one. Leona’s second album is planned for 2009 and then she goes on a world tour in 2010.
I wholeheartedly agreed with the choice of Leona as the X Factor 2007 winner. She was impressive on every show and her singing gave me goosebumps. Leona has a wonderful voice and came across as a really nice young lady. She seemed a little shy on the first few shows and although her confidence grew she never seemed to realise just how good she was.
Leon Jackson was the controversial winner of the fourth X Factor series. Scottish Leon won a lot of hearts with his cute looks, big gorgeous eyes and self-effacing manner. His singing performances never seemed to be winning performances but he still pulled it off in great style.
Leon’s first single When You Believe was the 2007 Christmas number one – that sounds familiar! His first album ‘Right Now’ is due to be released in October 2008. The highlight of his singing career so far is a joint performance at Wembley arena with his hero Michael Buble. Although Leon’s win was controversial it’s extraordinary that he didn’t start singing until not long before the X Factor auditions.
Who knows how successful Leon and the other X Factor winners will be in the future. Success isn’t guaranteed despite winning, but the television talent show and all of its competitors give winning entertainment value – including scary Ariel!