The X Factor winners who ended up losers

Coming in first place can be a curse...

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As this year’s X Factor reaches a climax, the final three contestants are competing for the chance to transform the future of their musical careers.

But the last 12 seasons of the show have shown that being signed to judge Simon Cowell’s firm Syco Music is not necessarily the road to success.

James Arthur, who won the contest in 2012, recently topped the charts with his single Say You Won’t Let Go, two years after leaving the company.

Embroiled at the time in controversies, including accusations of promoting extremism and homophobia in some of his earlier song lyrics, he now has two number one singles and one number one album under his belt.

Sam Bailey, who won the contest in 2013, scored a number one with her debut single Skyscraper and topped the charts with her album The Power Of Love, but was dropped by Simon Cowell’s firm Syco barely a year later.

While the move could have spelled a setback in the former prison guard’s musical career, she later admitted she was “genuinely happy” with the decision.

And it is not necessarily the winners who see the most long-term success, as the hugely popular boy band One Direction proved after losing out on the winning spot to Matt Cardle in the 2010 series.

Eclipsed by the group’s enormous stardom, Matt left Syco two years after his victory, saying he would “just have been left to get on with it while One Direction ruled the planet”.

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He has since struggled to make the charts’ top 150.

In 2009, winner Joe McElderry’s would-be success was thwarted from the start when an anti-X Factor campaign ensured Rage Against The Machine beat him to the Christmas number one.

Even though he topped the charts a week later, his debut album only made it to number 68 and he was soon dropped by Syco.

He earned himself a short burst of success and a fresh record deal with Decca after winning Popstar To Operastar in 2011, but interest in his later releases quickly plummeted.

In the case of Steve Brookstein, the show’s first winner in 2004, success soon turned very sour.

While he scored a number one with his first release, he was dropped from his record deal less than a year later, prompting him to accuse the show of “killing music to make light entertainment”.

His comments angered Simon enough to effectively erase him from X Factor history, and his name does not appear in any promotional material or releases.