The X Factor is back on British television screens in less than a week. Since launching in 2004, Simon Cowell’s creation has spawned spin-off series all over the world, with each version producing its fair share of singing talent. While most contestants promptly slip back into anonymity, there are a select few who’ve gone on to become bona fide superstars — One Direction, Fifth Harmony, Little Mix. And then of course, there are those who’ve jumped straight back into competition by entering Eurovision. So in honour of the show’s return on Saturday, we’ve compiled the definitive ranking of X Factor contestants at Eurovision.
We may live in a subjective world, but our rankings are completely objective. With the number of participating countries in constant flux, it would be crude to crown our chart-topper based on the number of points received or where they finished on the scoreboard. Instead, we’re going off the percentage of available points that each ex-X Factor star received. For example, a finalist in 2016 could only receive a maximum of 984 points i.e. 24 points from each of the other 41 countries voting. If an act finished with 200 points, they would have received 20.33% of the points available to them.
For the purposes of the list, we’ve only included acts who did X Factor before Eurovision, so no Joe McCaul. We’re also excluding those who entered the show but never made it onto the television. Without further ado, let’s begin the countdown.
21. Daniel Kajmakoski (FYR Macedonia 2015)
X Factor: Winner of X Factor Adria, season one (2013-2014)
Eurovision: 15th in semi-final one with 28 points — 12.28% of available points
Mere months after winning the inaugural X Factor Adria, Daniel Kajmakoski swept to victory at Macedonia’s national selection for 2015. But his winning streak came unstuck at Eurovision. He won over X Factor viewers with his interpretations of contemporary pop songs like “Red”, “Counting Stars” and “Wake Me Up”. By comparison, “Autumn Leaves” was lacklustre and dated, not helped by the on-stage presence of American R&B group MERJ. He came second to last in his semi, earning him the ignominious honour of being the least successful X Factor contestant at Eurovision.
20. Highway (Montenegro 2016)
X Factor: Fourth on X Factor Adria, season two (2015)
Eurovision: 13th in semi-final one with 60 points — 12.5% of available points
The legendary Zeljko Joksimovic may be one of the judges, but it seems X Factor Adria and Eurovision don’t mix well. Rounding out our bottom two, we have Montenegro’s Highway, fourth place finishers on the show’s second season. They entertained Balkan viewers with soft-rock covers of Arctic Monkeys and Aloe Blacc. But they went down a more alternative route for the 2016 song contest. “The Real Thing” failed to win over European audiences and crashed out in the semis.
19. IVAN (Belarus 2016)
X Factor: Superfinalist on Russia’s Glavnaya Stsena (The Main Stage), season one (2015)
Eurovision: 12th in semi-final two with 84 points — 17.5% of available points
X Factor follows an almost identical format in every territory, except for in Russia. The world’s biggest country has tinkered with the format quite substantially over the years. By the time IVAN entered in 2015, it was in its third iteration — Glavnaya Stsena (The Main Stage). Using his birthname Alexander Ivanov, Belarus’ 2016 singer impressed judges and viewers alike with his take on rock classics such as “Hit The Road Jack” and “You Know My Name”.
18. Andy Abraham (United Kingdom 2008)
X Factor: Second on Britain’s The X Factor, season two (2005)
Eurovision: 25th in the grand final with 14 points — 2.78% of available points
Sometimes the United Kingdom is very lucky that it’s an automatic qualifier. This is one such time. For while Andy Abraham’s garbage to riches story — he worked as a bin man before the show — helped him finish second on the 2005 series, it carried little weight when he made it to Eurovision three years later. “Even If” was almost universally panned, and would definitely drag Andy to the bottom of these rankings if it had had to go through the semi-finals. Despite everything, there were fans of the song, with the late Terry Wogan quitting his Eurovision commentary gig as a result of its poor placing.
17. Richard Edwards (Malta 2014)
X Factor: Bootcamp on Britain’s The X Factor, season three (2006)
Eurovision: 23rd in the grand final with 32 points — 7.41% of available points
He’s entered Malta’s national final many a time, but did you know that Firelight’s Richard Edwards was on the British X Factor in 2006? Eliminated at bootcamp, his time in the spotlight was brief. We scoured YouTube and the only evidence we could find of his participation was a fleeting shot as Simon Cowell gave his “16 to 24” category an angry earful. It’s literally a blink and you’ll miss it moment. We spoke to him about the experience at the London Eurovision Party 2014.
16. Nicolas Raptakis (Greece 2014)
X Factor: 10th on Greece and Cyprus’ The X Factor, season two (2009-2010)
Eurovision: 20th in the grand final with 35 points — 8.1% of available points
The Freaky Fortune singer originally auditioned for the second season of the Greek series as an individual. Rocking a geek-chic look, he drew a mixed response from the judging panel. But in a classic X Factor troupe, he was subsumed into Pale Faces, a group created especially for the show. They made it to Week 7, knocking out a certain Ms. Eleftheria Eleftheriou along the way (more on her anon). But the band was short-lived, and by 2012 Nicolas had created Freaky Fortune with Teo Buzz.
15. Maraaya (Slovenia 2015)
X Factor: Arena auditions on Britain’s The X Factor, season seven (2010)
Eurovision: 14th in the grand final with 39 points — 8.33% of available points
Before Maraaya, Marjetka and Raay Vovk were part of a four piece vocal group called Divided. They tried their luck on the UK show, hoping to impress Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh with their version of Rihanna’s “Russian Roulette”. Alas, they were greeted by a resounding “no”, with only ten seconds of their audition making the final cut. In an effort to show judges what they were missing, the foursome uploaded a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” to YouTube. Of course, the married duo went on to bigger and better things, giving Slovenia one of its best ever Eurovision results in Vienna.
14. Kati Wolf (Hungary 2011)
X Factor: Sixth on Hungary’s X-Faktor, season one (2010)
Eurovision: 22nd in the grand final with 53 points — 10.52% of available points
Prior to her internal selection for Eurovision 2011, Hungary’s Kati Wolf proved her versatility as a singer on the first series of X-Faktor. From Seal to Donna Summer to Kelly Rowland, she tackled a multitude of genres without difficulty. Alas, things didn’t work out in Düsseldorf. Despite entering the contest as a firm fan favourite, “What About My Dreams” finished a disappointing 22nd.
13. Francesca Michielin (Italy 2016)
X Factor: Winner of Italy’s X Factor, season five (2011)
Eurovision: 16th in the grand final with 124 points — 12.6% of available points
Sixteen year old Francesca auditioned for Italian X Factor in 2011 with a spunky cover of Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. Singing everything from Adele to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, she gradually charmed her way to victory. She’s gone on to have lots of success after the show, although not on the Eurovision stage. While 16th place in the grand final isn’t to be sniffed at, one suspects Italy expected a higher finish.
12. Eleftheria Eleftheriou (Greece 2012)
X Factor: 12th on Greece and Cyprus’ The X Factor, season two (2009-2010)
Eurovision: 17th in the grand final with 64 points — 13.01% of available points
And now we return to Eleftheria Eleftheriou. As we already mentioned, she competed in the second season of Greece’s The X Factor. The young diva lasted until Week 5 of the live shows, losing out to the aforementioned Nicolas Raptakis and Pale Faces in the sing-off. However, in the long-run, it would seem she’s the one having the last laugh.
11. Ivi Adamou (Cyprus 2012)
X Factor: Sixth on Greece and Cyprus’ The X Factor, season two (2009-2010)
Eurovision: 16th in the grand final with 65 points — 13.21% of available points
We don’t know what producers gave the contestants on the second season of Greek X Factor, but we approve. Cyprus’ Ivi Adamou also competed in the series, outlasting both Eleftheria and Nicolas. Performing pop staples like “Just Like A Pill”, “Just Dance” and “The Power Of Love” she reached Week 12 of the live shows. She came up against Eleftheria Eleftheriou once more at Eurovision 2012, but this time she bettered her by a much narrower margin — a single point.
10. Cleo (Poland 2014)
X Factor: Arena auditions on Poland’s X Factor, season one (2011)
Eurovision: 14th in the grand final with 62 points — 14.35% of available points
When it comes to Polish Euro-signers, few can match the star power of Cleo. “My Slowianie” is one of the most viewed Eurovision music videos of all time, while her subsequent releases have all been bona fide hits. But believe it or not, she didn’t even make it past the arena auditions on Polish X Factor. Her soulful rendition of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” left the judges cold and they sent her packing.
9. Alexey Vorobyov (Russia 2011)
X Factor: Third on Russia’s Sekret Uspekha (Secret of Success), season one (2005)
Eurovision: 16th in the grand final with 77 points — 15.28% of available points
A fresh faced Alex Sparrow competed on season one of Sekret Uspekha (Secret of Success), Russia’s first adaption of the X Factor format. Aged just 17, he made it all the way to the top three. This success didn’t carry on to Eurovision six years later. Despite a much publicised rivalry with Sweden’s Eric Saade, Alex finished a relatively disappointing 16th, Russia’s worst placing since 1995. However, thanks to the quirks in the 2011 voting, he’s still one of the most successful X Factor contestants at Eurovision.
8. Ruth Lorenzo (Spain 2014)
X Factor: Fifth on Britain’s The X Factor, season five (2008)
Eurovision: 10th in the grand final with 74 points — 17.13% of available points
In 2008, Spain’s Ruth Lorenzo travelled to the UK in an attempt to win over Simon Cowell and co. While her first audition wasn’t ideal, she made it to the live shows, lasting until Week 8. Her defining moment was undoubtedly her highly emotive rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain” in the Week 2 sing off. After a few years outside the spotlight, Lorenzo returned to prominence in 2014, when she delivered Spain one of its best Eurovision results this decade.
7. Basim (Denmark 2014)
X Factor: Fourth on Demark’s X Factor, season one (2008)
Eurovision: 9th in the grand final with 74 points — 17.13% of available points
Wearing a baggy hoodie and ripped jeans, a teenage Basim auditioned for the inaugural season of Demark’s X Factor with “I Believe I Can Fly”. A muted reaction from the judges didn’t deter him and he survived until Week 6 of the live shows. At Eurovision, he took Denmark into the top ten on home soil. The country hasn’t been in the grand final since.
6. Michal Szpak (Poland 2016)
X Factor: Second on Poland’s X Factor, season one (2011)
Eurovision: Eight in the grand final with 229 points — 23.27% of available points
The audience laughed at his androgynous look, but Michal Szpak managed to do what Cleo couldn’t — impress the judges on Poland’s X Factor. He overcame the initial mocking to become one of the favourites to win the show outright. In the end he finished second. He continued to divide opinions at Eurovision, with the juries awarding him a measly seven points while the televoters ranked him third.
5. Jedward (Ireland 2011 and 2012)
X Factor: Sixth on Britain’s The X Factor, season six (2009)
Eurovision: Eight in the 2011 grand final with 119 points — 23.61% of available points *AND* 19th in the 2012 grand final with 46 points — 9.35% of available points
Branded irritating, cocky and annoying at their first audition, the Dublin twins managed to overcome the odds and reach the live stages of British X Factor in 2009. They enthralled the public week after week with madcap performances of camp classics such as “Ghostbusters” and “She Bangs”. Sadly, their streak came to an end in Week 7 when they came up against Olly Murs in the sing-off. The pair went on to represent their native Ireland twice at Eurovision, and it’s thanks to the first of these efforts that they’re in our top five. The all conquering “Lipstick” gave the once dominant country its best result in over a decade. By comparison, their followup, “Waterline”, was a bit of a damp squib, which would only have placed them 14th in our rankings.
4. Loukas Giorkas (Greece 2011)
X Factor: Winner of Greece and Cyprus’ The X Factor, season one (2008-2009)
Eurovision: Seventh in the grand final with 120 points — 23.81% of available points
Possibly a surprise inclusion in our top five, Loukas Giorkas was the first ever Greek X Factor winner. With his soft-spoken nature and rugged good looks, he instantly endeared himself to viewers at home. His confidence grew with each passing week, and he ultimately defeated Cypriot singer-songwriter Nikolas Metaxas in the final. For Eurovision, he recruited the rapper Stereo Mike. Europe lapped up their ethnic/urban mashup, placing them seventh in the grand final.
3. Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013)
X Factor: Winner of Italy’s X Factor, season three (2009)
Eurovision: Seventh in the grand final with 126 points — 27.63% of available points
Italy’s Marco Mengoni has changed a lot since his early appearances on X Factor. These days, the man exudes cool and style, easing into the top ten at Eurovision 2013 with just a wry smile and sharp suit — obviously his singing helped too. But he turned up at his 2009 audition wearing just a wooly jumper and slacks, with his shirt untucked and a satchel on his back. His fashion evolution over the course of the show was almost as engrossing as the competition itself.
2. Tom Dice (Belgium 2010)
X Factor: Second on Belgium’s X Factor, season two (2008)
Eurovision: Sixth in the grand final with 143 points — 31.36% of available points
As with so many of the singers on this list, Tom Dice’s first X Factor audition is a sight to behold. We see a shy young man talking to Hadise (yes, that Hadise), baseball cap on his head, guitar in his hand. His image became sharper as he progressed through the show, but he always held onto the guitar. He even managed to incorporate it into his performance of Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop The Music”. At Eurovision, he took Belgium to the top ten before Loïc and Laura made it look easy.
1. Dami Im (Australia 2016)
X Factor: Winner of Australia’s The X Factor, season five (2013)
Eurovision: Second in the grand final with 511 points — 51.93% of available points
Wearing tights with “cats on them”, Dami came to her Australian X Factor audition as a shy unassuming church singer. That was the beginning of her “journey”. Her performance of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” brought all four judges to their feet. It was a sign of things to come, as week after week the Korean singer blew viewers away with her powerhouse vocals. To no one’s surprise, she won the 2013 season. And just as she conquered Australia, she conquered Europe too. “Sound Of Silence” was a hot favourite in Stockholm, and narrowly missed out on victory. However, her gigantic jury vote and fourth place finish with the public ensure that she’s the most successful ever X Factor contestant at Eurovision. That’s no mean feat.
Honourable mention: Ovidiu Anton (Romania 2016)
X Factor: Six-Chair Challenge on Romania’s X Factor, season four (2014)
Selected to represent Romania at Eurovision 2016, Ovidiu Anton was unceremoniously kicked out of the contest when TVR lost its EBU membership. Two years previously, he competed on season four of Romanian X Factor. His time there was cut short too, and he was eliminated during the Six Chair Challenge stage. His performance of Celine Dion’s “All By Myself” added a bittersweet feel to proceedings.
We’ve done our best to include every X Factor singer who’s gone on to do Eurovision. Let us know if we’ve accidentally omitted anyone, and we’ll update ASAP.