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Reality TV Reality Bites

History of the 'X Factor' Winner's Song

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With only two weeks and six and a half more TV hours of X Factor to go, there's been a lot of speculation about this year's potential Winner's Song. Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin'' and Miley Cyrus's 'The Climb' are among the hot rumours at the moment, but we'll probably all have to wait at least another week before finding out Simon Cowell's musical pick for the 2009 Christmas number one. In the time being though, why not remind yourself of the history of the Winner's Song with our own handy neat guide?

Hear'Say: 'Pure and Simple'
OK, so Hear'Say may have had nothing to do with Simon Cowell or The X Factor, but this band and song were where pop reality TV really began. Danny, Noel, Kym, Suzanne and Myleene released this slice of cheesy pure pop (originally performed by short-lived '00s act Girl Thing) in 2001, hitting the top spot with 550,000 sales in the first week. Sounding like a mash-up of Oasis' 'All Around The World' and All Saints' 'Never Ever', it's naffness probably didn't help the group's faltering fortunes in the long run.

Will Young: 'Anything Is Possible/Evergreen'
Again, this wasn't strictly X Factor, but it was the first time Simon Cowell was directly involved in a reality show. Will may have been the surprise victor, overcoming favourite Gareth Gates in the final, but he had no problem in racing to number one with 403,027 copies sold on the day of release in February 2002. The Cathy Dennis-penned 'Anything' hasn't aged too well, but we've still got a soft spot for Mr Young's slick cover of 'Evergreen'.

Girls Aloud: 'Sound Of The Underground'
A winner's song with a difference - this one has actually lasted the test of time! Penned by pop producer genius Brian Higgins, it proved that with a bit of time and care - and a move away from corny ballads - a decent first track can help form the basis of long-term successful pop act. Plus, that spiky surf guitar twang still sounds as good now as when the girls played it in 2002. The less said about their rivals One True Voice's 'Sacred Trust' is probably for the best.

Michelle McManus: 'All This Time'
Pete Waterman stormed out of Pop Idol 2 when it was revealed that Michelle had beaten Mark Rhodes in the show's finale. Looking back, it's hard not to have sympathy for the pop guru, because this corny belter is simply awful. It spent three weeks at number one in January 2004, but sadly Michelle's lasting legacy will probably be as the inspiration for Peter Kay's spoof character Geraldine McQueen.

Steve Brookstein: 'Against All Odds'
Poor old Steve is often written out of X Factor history, but the history books will always state that he was the first winner. With 800,000 more votes than Alexandra Burke last year, he can't be dismissed as a lucky champ, either. His straight Phil Collins cover was not particularly exciting, though it showcased and suited Steve's soulful tones. Cowell and Brookstein may not be best buddies now, but for a brief period at the start of 2005 the duo were top of the charts and riding high.

Shayne Ward: 'That's My Goal'
'That's My Goal' was a relative experiment from Simon Cowell with a winner's track, using J├Ârgen Elofsson, Jem Godfrey and Bill Padley to pen an original number. Selling 742,180 in five days, it wiped the floor with Nizlopi in a dual for the festive number one. With corny lyrics ("I'm here to say I'm ready - that I've finally thought it through!") and a key change you can spot from a mile, it probably didn't trouble the Ivor Novello judges. Yet for anyone who watched the show in 2005, it will provide an emotional reminder about Ward's romp to victory.

Leona Lewis: 'A Moment Like This'
Thanks to the success of 'Bleeding Love', Leona became the first X Factor winner to produce a track that increased on the triumphs of her winner's song. However, 'A Moment Like This' is nothing to be ashamed of and Leona's gentle warbling proved a suitable accompaniment for the Kelly Clarkson tune. The lyrics may be a tad trite - and we're not sure if we could have stomached a Ray Quinn version - but this is a more than passable reality TV spinoff song, which Mr Cowell can be more than a little smug about.

Leon Jackson: When You Believe'
Another winner who is regularly brushed over by X Factor producers in montage sequences, Leon Jackson scored yet another number one for Syco with this Whitney and Mariah cover in 2007. It flogged 275,000 copies in the first week, but Leon's fragile vocals never suited the giant ballad. It was an odd song choice for such a young male singer, but then again, maybe Cowell expected another contestant to win the show - *cough* Rhydian *cough*.

Alexandra Burke: 'Hallelujah'
We reckon she's best off sticking with her slammin' Flo Rida-rapping bangers in the future, but Alex didn't embarrass herself first time out. After four straight number ones and ratings higher than ever, Cowell was probably pretty certain that he could count on a fifth straight winner's song chart-topper. But even with this considered, it was quite a brave move from the music mogul to dabble with a popular classic like 'Hallelujah'. Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen fans were not best pleased, but they could do little as the series five champ flogged a record-breaking 576,000 copies in the first week.

Which was your favourite Winner's Song? What would you like to see picked this year? Leave your opinions in the box below!

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