Search Holidays

X Factor’s Most Successful Acts Who Didn’t Win

The X Factor acts that busted out of the show but still made it into the big time.

After 8 series of The X Factor UK, we’re starting to see something of a pattern emerging. It seems that every year there will be at least one act that doesn’t win the competition but still goes on to fame and fortune, often to become bigger than the winner themselves!

So let’s see who’s managed to defy the odds and make their way back into the limelight.


Despite narrowly losing to Alexandra Burke in the 2008 X Factor final, the boys of JLS were clearly destined for bigger things.

The impressive mix of Aston Merrygold, Oritsé Williams, Jonathan Benjamin “JB” Gill and Marvin Humes formed a world-beating boy band who came out of the competition with all guns blazing to release two UK number 1 hit singles in 2009.

Now working on their third album, the JLS boys are sitting on more than 3 million record sales worldwide and 14 pieces of major music industry silverware including multiple MOBO and BRIT awards.

Losing the X Factor didn’t slow the stride of JLS for even a moment on their road to becoming a pop/R&B sensation with fans across all demographics. Though their admirers come in all shapes and sizes, it’s safe to say that these four have become weapons of mass distraction for the ladies when they’re unleashed on stage!


When John and Edward Grimes first came to the attention of the X Factor judges, nobody would have believed that this giant pair of blonde walking quiffs would last a week. However, Cheryl Cole, Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh all opted to vote them through to boot camp, even though Simon Cowell just wanted them to be plain old booted at the earliest opportunity.

Jedward then went on to forge the bizarre love/hate relationship with the voting public that saw them survive until week 7 of the competition. Despite not being blessed with the best singing voices, the twins have managed to find their form as an entertaining spectacle which meant that their fame didn’t burn out with their X Factor appearance.

They may not have a glittering selection of hits to their name, (though their album Planet Jedward reached number 1 in the Irish Album Chart) but Jedward’s career in making celebrity appearances and advertising is still going strong.

Diana Vickers

The act who Simon Cowell once referred to as “Marmite” (meaning that fans would either love her or hate her… not that she was sticky and smelled odd), Diana Vickers has managed to amass a huge fan following and a successful singing career since her X Factor 2008 performances.

With over 500,000 record sales and a second album due for release next year, Diana’s unique blend of indie rock/pop/folk music is helping her carve out a niche in the British music industry.

Not only is she selling records by the bundle, but in May this year Diana Vickers announced her debut fashion line, Dee V, that has allowed her to instil her quirky fashion sense into a sellable product.

Cher Lloyd

Perhaps one of the most controversial contestants on X Factor, the 18-year-old Cher Lloyd was tipped to be the favourite for last year’s competition until the final few weeks from the final when public opinion turned against her hip hop alternative style.

Although she landed fourth place in the finals, Cher has managed to launch her solo career with a bang thanks to the love-it-or-hate-it single Swagger Jagger. The YouTube music video now has over 18 million views (although the “dislikes” outnumber the “likes”). Perhaps Cher is more like marmite than Diana Vickers!

Cher Lloyd may have her fair share of “haters”, but with a UK number 1 single and a recently released debut album at the age of 18, she’s likely to go a lot further in her career than a lot of X Factor winners.

Olly Murs

The cheeky chappie with a heart of gold. Olly Murs is now known for more than his winning smile and for coming off second best against Joe McElderry in the finals of X Factor 2009.

Merely two months after the competition had finished, Olly Murs launched straight into a signed deal with Epic Records and Syco Music that saw him land a UK chart number 1 single six months later. His debut single, Please Don’t Let Me Go, even managed to beat off Katy Perry who released Teenage Dream the very same day.

Now with two hit albums under his belt, Olly is back in the X Factor limelight, but this time as a presenter on the follow up show The Xtra Factor. Now the heart-warming Essex boy has an intimate knowledge of the show that catapulted him into stardom, from both sides of the stage.

One Direction

Individually, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson were not quite good enough to make it through to join the “boys” category of X Factor 2010. However, they were saved from the long trip home by the decision to put them all together as a boy band.

The lads have the lovely guest judge Nicole Scherzinger for that suggestion!

Nicole’s idea turned out to be a winner as the boys captured the hearts of the public, taking them all the way to the finals where they came third. Though victory in the show eluded them, a £2 million record deal was waiting as a hefty consolation prize.

With numerous appearances on celebrity chat shows and a UK number 1 single What Makes You Beautiful, One Direction are now poised to break out big time as their debut album Up All Night was released earlier this week.

Stacey Solomon

Since being pipped at the post by Matt Cardle in the X Factor 2009 finals, Stacey Solomon has managed to make a huge success of her career in areas outside of singing. She is now a model, television presenter, reality TV star and even a best-selling author!

Though an X Factor victory didn’t come her way, Stacey has since managed to win a reality TV show by being crowned Queen of the Jungle in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

As is so often the case with ex-X Factor contestants, Stacey Solomon seems to have outshone the winner, Matt Cardle, whose star certainly appears to be on the wane.

Ray Quinn

Sharon Osborne might have disparagingly referred to him as “Panto Boy” but Ray Quinn has proved that he’s definitely a cut above that type of theatre.

Ray earned adulation and criticism in equal measure during his time in X Factor 2006 for his repeated performances in a swinging Frank Sinatra style. While the public quickly warmed to him, there were doubts about his abilities as a pure singer instead of a singer/dancer.

However, when Leona Lewis beat him in the finals, Ray went on to put this combination of skills to excellent use as he has created a solid career for himself in a series of London’s West End musicals. With starring roles in Grease and Dirty Dancing in the bag, Ray Quinn is living the dream as a musical actor.

This is without mentioning his ability to cut a dash on skates too, as demonstrated in his victorious appearance in 2009’s Dancing on Ice competition.