What happened to X Factor's most memorable runners-up?

Photo credit:  Rex Shutterstock
Photo credit: Rex Shutterstock

When it comes to The X Factor, it's not always about the winning. Just ask One Direction and Olly Murs.

But Simon Cowell can be a fickle businessman, so while most runner-up contestants have an initial flash of success, very few actually stick around in the spotlight for more than 15 minutes.

We look back at 13 memorable X Factor 'losers' (so to speak) of varying degrees of success, and see what they're all up to now.


In some ways, Louis Walsh's classical quintet G4 were the real winners of The X Factor back in series one. They enjoyed a chart-topping album straight after the show, while its follow-up (a mere 9 months later) was also certified platinum. However, the group split in 2007, and band member Jonathan Ansell went on to top the classical chart with his solo debut Tenor At The Movies.

It was only a matter of time before they'd come back together though, and in November 2014 they reunited. A fourth album, G4 At Christmas, followed in November 2015. They are currently preparing to embark on their Back 4 Good UK tour, which will play 15 dates across the country throughout April.

Andy Abraham

Photo credit: Ian Gavan - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ian Gavan - Getty Images

After finishing second to Shayne Ward back in 2005, former binman Andy Abraham scored a platinum-selling debut album after his time on the show. Three years later in 2008 he represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, but unfortunately finished equal last on the table with just 14 points.

Since then, however, he's starred in stage musical Godspell, as well as touring with History of Big Bands and Boogie Nights. More recently he has lent his support to some charity shows, as well as singing soul on a P&O cruise from Hull to Amsterdam.

Ben Mills

Finishing third on The X Factor's third series in 2006 didn't stop Ben Mills from winning a five-album record contract with Sony BMG. His first album, Picture of You, was quickly released (the same week as fellow runner-up Ray Quinn, no less) and peaked at number three in the UK.

But the further four more albums Sony signed him for didn't happen. Instead, Ben was cut loose and released his second album, Freedom, independently in 2010. These days the 36-year-old singer-songwriter continues to tour, and has shows booked in right up until August 2016.

Ray Quinn

Photo credit: Ian Gavan - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ian Gavan - Getty Images

Cheeky Scouser Ray Quinn may have lost out to Leona Lewis back in 2006, but he went on to score his own chart-topping debut album with Doing It My Way the following year. He also turned judge for ITV talent show Baby Ballroom that summer, searching for the best junior ballroom dancers the country has to offer.

However, Simon Cowell dropped him from his label shortly after and Ray Quinn went on to compete in ITV's Dancing On Ice. He won his series and then went on to become the ultimate champion in the final all-stars run in 2014. Ray has also had a great run in the theatre, starring in stage adaptations of Grease, Dirty Dancing, Legally Blonde and Aladdin, and he's joining the Wedding Singer tour as Glen in 2017. Oh, and he bulked up in a big way.

A new album is currently in the works, which he confirmed will be called Dare To Dream. It's already been preceded by a new single, 'They Say Love'. He's also a father now, after welcoming his son Harry Frank in August 2012.

Rhydian Roberts

Welshman Rhydian Roberts split opinion with his theatrical performances on The X Factor back in 2007, and he finally finished second after Leon Jackson. His self-titled debut album went on to sell over 600,000 copies worldwide though. A second record followed in 2008 titled O Fortuna, but it only managed to reach number 25 in the UK.

For his most recent album – 2014's One Day Like This – Rhydian recorded a duet with Bonnie Tyler. And it didn't do too badly for an independent release, peaking at number 19 on the UK Top 40. He most recently appeared in the UK revival tour of Little Shop of Horrors.

Aside from the music, Rhydian has done his bit for charity by winning the Cardiff mile for Sport Relief in 2012 and, erm, getting naked for Cosmopolitan magazine to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

Eoghan Quigg

Eoghan "Eggnog" Quigg finished third behind Alexandra Burke and JLS back in 2008, and managed to get himself a deal with Sony's RCA Records. However, his first single '28,000 Friends' ironically failed to sell more copies than the amount of chums he'd bragged about in the title. It stalled at a shocking No.96 on the chart. Ouch.

His self-titled debut album fared a little better, peaking at No. 13, but he was quickly dropped. After that, Eoghan put all his effort into getting buff. No, seriously. In 2012, he shocked the nation with his new-found muscles in a boxing-themed photoshoot. Quigg's short-lived time on the British charts hasn't put him off music though, as he is currently back in the studio working on brand new music.

Stacey Solomon

Photo credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage - Getty Images
Photo credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage - Getty Images

It took loveable X Factor contestant Stacey Solomon six whole years to release her debut album after finishing third on the show back in 2009. Her first collection, titled Shy, reached number 45 in the UK in 2015.

Between those two career points though, Stace had a steady run in the spotlight. She was crowned Queen of the Jungle on ITV's I'm A Celeb in 2010, before presenting game show Sing If You Can with Keith Lemon the following year. For a while she was the face of supermarket chain Iceland, and subsequently turned down the chance to join the cast of The Only Way Is Essex. Stacey then competed in Channel 4's ski jumping show The Jump, where she met and started dating Jackass star Steve-O.

More recently though, she voiced a seagull in the British version of Spongebob The Movie: Sponge Out Of Water. Amazing. Stacey has been in a relationship with former soap actor-turned-TV presenter and former King of the Jungle, Joe Swash, since January.

Jahmene Douglas

Jahmene scored a No.1 debut album with Love Never Fails in July 2013. What's more, he actually donated all his profits from the single – a cover of Sia's 'Titanium' – to domestic abuse charity Women's Aid. What a sweetheart.

Jahmene actually returned to the Simon Cowell-owned reality show in the summer of 2013. The runner-up performed on X Factor Around The World in Indonesia, which saw contestants from four continents come together for a big show. Judges for the special included Paula Abdul, Daniel Bedingfield and Louis Walsh.

More recently, Jahmene released his new single 'Down For Love' in November 2015. His second studio album UP is currently in the works, and he's been in the studio with Grammy-winning songwriter Diane Warren and making music videos with Samuel L Jackson. Not bad at all.

Same Difference

Although Simon Cowell branded them "two of the most annoying people" he had ever met during their time on The X Factor, it didn't stop him from signing brother and sister Sean and Sarah Smith to his Syco record label when they placed third back in 2007.

Debut single and High School Musical knock-off 'We R One' peaked at No. 13 in the UK, while their album Pop limped in at No. 22. It didn't slow them down though, and the sibling duo went on to record a further two albums (The Rest Is History and Superheroes) on two different record labels. However, in December 2014 Same Difference disbanded as a pop act.

But don't fret, because they now run Same Difference Studios. The performing arts company runs a Pop Academy programme for budding superstars, as well as fitness classes with SD member Sean Smith. Incredible.

Journey South


Middlesbrough duo Journey South (brothers Andy and Carl Pemberton) came third on The X Factor in 2006, but went on to release two albums through Sony BMG. Their self-titled debut fared pretty well, selling over 216,000 copies in its first week – more than Shayne Ward's 201,000 first-week sales.

It wasn't enough to save them though, and Journey South left Simon Cowell in 2007 to form their own record label ANCA. There they released their second album Home, which reached no. 43. They performed on cruise ships and in venues across the globe, but after their show in St. Petersburg, Russia, last summer they announced that they had split up. 10 years was a very good run, to be fair.

Nicholas McDonald

Nicholas McDonald lost out on being crowned winner of The X Factor 2013 to Sam Bailey, but he did manage to get out a debut album just in time for Mother's Day. Classic X Factor tactic. The collection, In the Arms of an Angel, reached number six in the UK, but then little Nicholas was – you guessed it – dropped by his record label.

The 19-year-old singer-songwriter is still gigging and is currently playing shows at Wild Cabaret in Glasgow, where a meet and greet package costs an extra £5. Nicholas has been recording songs for his second studio album, and has even been out to Los Angeles to lay down tracks for the collection.

Amelia Lily

Photo credit: Jeff Spicer - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jeff Spicer - Getty Images

Comeback Queen Amelia Lily finished third on The X Factor in 2011 after being reinstated following Frankie Cocozza's departure from the contest. It all started well when she signed to Sony subsidiary Xenomania and reached No.2 with her debut single 'You Bring Me Joy'. But follow-up single 'Shut Up (and Give Me Whatever You Got)' stalled at No.11 and it all started to slip away.

A debut album – titled Be A Fighter – was on release schedules for months, but it never materialised, despite Amelia bagging herself another deal with Warner Music. Since then, Amelia won the role of Whatshername in Green Day's musical American Idiot, touring the UK with the stage show.


Photo credit: Ken McKay / Mark Robert Milan / FilmMagic - ELLEMEN
Photo credit: Ken McKay / Mark Robert Milan / FilmMagic - ELLEMEN

Who could forget Chico? The X Factor novelty act from 2005 stormed to No.1 with his guilty pleasure anthem 'It's Chico Time', but not surprisingly plans for a debut album were shelved. He's had a good run of television appearances though, including CelebAir, Dancing On Ice, Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, Ricky Gervais's Extras, Celebrity Total Wipeout and Pointless Celebrities.

These days you can – and this is a genuine thing – buy a personalised message from Chico. He's also set up his own fitness brand Block Fit and shares his time between the UK and Los Angeles. So international.

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