X Factor Runners-up Outshine the Winners

The X Factor is iconic. Many love it, equally as many hate it; either way you can’t avoid it. The crown has become something of a poisoned chalice though, with winners fading into obscurity (except the odd example).

In a beautiful irony, those who are deemed to not have ‘the X factor’ have been significantly more successful. Here’s a few.


JLS finished 2nd in the 5th series and Aston, Ortise, Marvin and JB signed with Epic Records right away. Their first two singles, ‘Beat Again’ and ‘Everybody in Love’ went straight to number one in the UK and they have sold over three million records so far, signing with Jive Records in 2010.


Collecting a host of BRIT awards, two book deals, TV appearances and creating their own charity, they have made appearances on primetime shows and teenage girls’ walls alike. They have also collaborated with Alexandra Burke to release their own fashion line.

Perhaps most successfully, they have released their own brand of condoms through Durex. These are imaginatively branded ‘Just Love Safe’, proving that they at least have the sex factor.


John Paul Henry Daniel Richard Grimes and Edward Peter Anthony Kevin Patrick Grimes. Otherwise known as Jedward; the giddy Irish twins came a pitiful 6th in series 6, after annoying the public by slaughtering the Ghostbusters theme tune and Ice Ice Baby.

Their refusal to give up fame has seen them release a double platinum album in Northern Ireland, despite only achieving 17th in the UK chart.


Despite a large proportion of the UK wanting to see their stubborn quiffs removed from their view forever Jedward have become advertising must-haves, providing they can keep still long enough. They represented Ireland in Eurovision finishing 8th – Ireland’s best result since 2000. They also competed in Celebrity Big Brother in 2011 and finished 3rd, stubbornly staying in the limelight with no intention of moving.

Olly Murs

Murs came runner up in series 6, and has now come back to host the spin-off show, the Xtra Factor. His first album went double platinum and was the biggest selling album of the year in 2010, selling over 108,000 records. Although that’s nothing compared to his incredible acrobatics in his video ‘Thinking of Me’.

He played semi-professional football for Witham Town but had to retire due to injury, after begging them to Please Don’t Let Me Go. He’s also tried his hand at radio, presenting a celebrity club show on Heart FM.


Olly Murs has won a sprig of awards from BBC Radio 1’s teen award, as well as the BT Digital Music awards. He played alongside Robbie Williams for Soccer Aid in 2010, playing right midfield and scoring his penalty in England’s 6-7 defeat to the rest of the world. It is unknown if Witham Town have approached him again with a professional contract.

Stacy Solomon

Stacy Solomon came 3rd in the sixth series and has made a name for herself as an actor rather than a singer, despite gaining a number one single in the X Factor finalists’ cover of ‘You Are Not Alone’. She was taken into the hearts of the public when she was crowned Queen of the Jungle in the tenth series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here with a whopping 80% of the public vote. It wasn’t made clear if those people wanted her to stay in the jungle.


Stacy was voted Celebrity Mother of The Year in 2011 and was given the chance to sing the National Anthem at the FA Cup final between Man City and Stoke. She has replaced Kerry Katona as the face of Iceland, something which was way overdue. She has also featured on National Rail adverts, although if this is a career boost or a punishment remains unclear.

One Direction

One Direction left the X Factor’s seventh series in 3rd place, and since then their career has only headed one way, which is helpful for comedians. They each failed to qualify for the boys group but were put together when suggested by guest judge Nicole Scherzinger.

They have developed a large following of teenage girls who have even considered replacing their JLS posters with 1D. They are the advertising face of Pokemon for Nintendo, which has given them unlimited brownie points amongst children, students and nerds alike.


For a manufactured group the lads haven’t done too bad for themselves, they’ve released three books, one relating to their X Factor journey. As well as representing Pokemon, they have also released their own special edition mobile phones, Nokia C2-02 and C3-00. On the more charitable side of things, they also kicked off this 2011’s children in need.

They have booked a tour for the US in early 2012, and if successful would only be the second X Factor act to break the States, the other being Leona Lewis. Let’s hope their flights are only one way.

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