It’s one of the world’s most successful talent franchises, producing stars like One Direction, Little Mix and Fifth Harmony. And on Saturday, the mother of them all returns to our TV screens — The X Factor UK.
Since launching in 2004, Simon Cowell’s creation has spawned spin-off series the world over, with each version producing its fair share of singing talent. And while most contestants promptly slip back into anonymity once the end credits roll, there are a select few who’ve jumped straight back into competition by entering Eurovision.
So in honour of next weekend’s season opener, we’ve compiled the definitive ranking of X Factor contestants at the Eurovision Song Contest.
First off, we’ve applied the following rules:
- For the purposes of ranking, we’re going off the percentage of available points that each ex-X Factor star received at Eurovision. For example, a finalist in 2017 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.
- We’re only including acts who competed in X Factor before entering Eurovision as a main act. So, no judges — e.g. Poli Genova, Paula Seling — or backing singers — e.g. Linda Andrews.
- National final stars such as Sweden’s Oscar Zia or Finland’s Saara Aalto aren’t eligible since they’ve never made it to Eurovision.
- We’re also excluding those who entered the X Factor process but never made it on to the televised show.
Got all that? Let’s do this!
31. Slavko Kalezic (Montenegro 2017)
X Factor: Judges’ Houses X Factor Adria, season one (2013-2014)
Eurovision: 16th in semi-final one with 56 points — 11.67% of available points
Given his outrageous Eurovision persona, Slavko’s X Factor efforts were somewhat tame. After auditioning with a Beyoncé cover, he continued all the way to Zeljko Joksimovic’s weekend retreat. But rather than an extravagant top knot and removable skirt, we got a grey t-shirt and jeans. Despite his early elimination, Slavko later went on to act as the show’s temporary host and returned as a guest performer in both 2014 and 2015. He’s now set to try his luck on the UK iteration of the franchise, and the trailer suggests he’s not holding anything back.
30. 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 drew in 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.
29. 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 three, 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.
28. 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”.
27. Leena Tirronen (Finland 2017)
X Factor: Third on Finland’s X Factor, season one (2010)
Eurovision: 12th in semi-final with 92 points — 19.17% of available points
Before its imminent revival, Finnish X Factor originally only ran for one series in 2010. Among the contenders was Norma John front-woman Leena Tirronen. The blonde songstress overcame a bottom two scare in Week 3 to eventually place third overall. Along with Lasse Piirainen she almost took Finland back to the Eurovision final last May. However, despite proving a televote favourite, the juries were less keen and the pair finished 12th in their semi.
26. 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.
25. Hovig (Cyprus 2017)
X Factor: Seventh on Greece and Cyprus’ The X Factor, season two (2009 – 2010)
Eurovision: 21st in the grand final with 68 points — 6.91% of available points
Hovig competed in Greece and Cyprus’ The X Factor back in 2009, a time when he still used his surname — Demirjian. Despite a shaky audition, he graduated to the live shows. Surviving for ten weeks, he eventually lost out to a certain Ivi Adamou in the sing-off. Fellow future Eurovision stars Eleftheria Eleftheriou and Nicolas Raptakis were eliminated earlier in the show’s run. At Eurovision, Hovig took Cyprus to its third consecutive grand final, a first for the small Mediterranean island.
24. 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.
23. 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.
22. 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.
21. Nathan Trent (Austria 2017)
X Factor: Eleventh on Germany’s X Factor, season two (2011)
Eurovision: 16th in the grand final with 93 points — 9.45% of available points
Some might consider a giant glitter ball style moon set to a pink backdrop quite camp. But compared to the antics of Boys II Hot, Nathan Trent’s Eurovision 2017 performance was positively staid. Paired with Daniel Leitner — they both originally auditioned as solo singers — the group made it as far as the live shows. Alas, their dubious attire and high-octane version of “When Will I Be Famous” failed to impress those watching at home. They got the boot in Week One of live shows. You can relive their performance here.
20. 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.
19. Lucie Jones (United Kingdom 2017)
X Factor: Eight on Britain’s The X Factor, season six (2009)
Eurovision: 15th in the grand final with 111 points — 11.28% of available points
After an emotional rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” at her audition, Lucie Jones quickly established herself as an early favourite during X Factor 2009. However, in one of the show’s most controversial twists, she was sent packing in Week Five of the live shows, losing out to Jedward in deadlock. Given the Irish duo’s limited singing ability, a tabloid storm ensued. Since then the Welsh singer has become a bona fide West End star, and earlier this year secured the UK its best Eurovision result in over half a decade. Although she didn’t quite match Jedward’s 2011 placing. More on them later.
18. 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.
17. 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.
16. Jacques Houdek (Croatia 2017)
X Factor: Bootcamp on Britain’s The X Factor, season sight (2011)
Eurovision: 13th in the grand final with 128 points — 13.01% of available points
By 2011, Jacques was a well-established star in his native Croatia. And he made no qualms informing the X Factor panel as much during his audition, adding that he was even bigger there than Gary Barlow was in the UK. Perhaps not the wisest move considering Barlow was one of the judges. Nonetheless, he progressed to bootcamp before visa issues brought his talent show journey to an abrupt end. It’s unclear whether the larger than life popera singer made it on to the main show (we couldn’t find any clips online), but he does feature briefly in the series’ promotional trailer.
Honourable mention #1: 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.