Why is it that the runners up often do significantly better than the winners?
JLS, One Direction, Olly Murs. These are all names people may remember from X Factor UK, however it is likely that people have forgotten who won the competition. Names such as Sam Bailey, Ben Haenow or Joe McEldery are names that most people would struggle to p ut a face to, even though these people have each earned the title of the X Factor winner. The X Factor contestants have produced a total of 42 number ones to date, however the number of runner up number ones greatly outweighs this. So why is it that the runners up are often more successful than the winners themselves?
One answer to this question could be that on TV, the audience can connect with the contestant and their story, and then feel a greater urge to vote and support them. However, these people are perhaps soon forgotten after their win because those supporters do not get to see them again for a long time, as many of them don’t release an album until at least the next year. After a year, everyone has already moved onto the next big music sensation.
Many contestants develop big fan bases, from either their hometown or many of the younger viewers, via social media. Sometimes this support will be enough to win them the competition but perhaps their success then declines after the public think they have done their part by supporting their favourite until the competition is won. This attitudes means they no longer follow the artists journey as they view it as being complete. This decrease in support clears a space for teen heartthrobs, such as One Direction, to thrive and steal the limelight from the winners.
Previously, the X Factor winners were given a prize of a £1 million recording contract, however the winners never actually received all of this, and if they wanted to receive similar earnings, they would have had to have released four albums. So far, no contestant has managed this. The Guardian have commented on this issue, stating: ‘Once they get dropped, they’re much better known to the public than before – and then they can self-release, or pick up another record deal.’
Despite this reality, The X Factor is still running strong after 13 seasons. The X Factor US was a more recent addition to the mix, but none of the winners have turned out to be global superstars yet. One exception to this has been Fifth Harmony, who have been fortunate with their career, becoming very popular internationally. Matt Terry was just announced as the 2016 winner in the UK, so we shall soon see whether fame and fortune will be kind to him, or if in a couple of years his name and face will be forgotten, following the same path of many previous X Factor winners.