It’s one of the world’s most successful talent franchises, producing stars like One Direction, Little Mix and Fifth Harmony. And tomorrow night, 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 this weekend’s season opener, we’ve compiled the definitive ranking of X Factor contestants at the Eurovision Song Contest. We whetted your appetite on Sunday with Part One, now it’s time for Part Two.
Before we begin, a quick reminder of the criteria we’ve applied:
- 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!
15. 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 Hovig, 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.
14. 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.
13. 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.
12. 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.
11. 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.
10. Isaiah Firebrace (Australia 2017)
X Factor: Five Chair Challenge Australia’s The X Factor, season seven (2015) and Winner of Australia’s The X Factor, season eight (2016)
Eurovision: Ninth in the grand final with 173 points — 17.58% of available points
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Which is exactly what Isaiah Firebrace did after nerves brought his X Factor experience to a stop at the five seat challenge stage in 2015. He returned one year later only for nerves to almost derail his ambitions yet again. But this time luck was on his side, and he won the show outright. His winner’s song “It’s Gotta Be You” enjoyed considerable success, charting particularly well in Scandinavia.
9. 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.
8. 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 ten. 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 22nd in our rankings.
7. 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
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.
6. 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.
5. Ilinca Bacila (Romania 2017)
X Factor: 13th on Romania’s X Factor, season three (2013)
Eurovision: Seventh in the grand final with 282 points — 28.66% of available points
Before she yodelled, Ilinca competed on the third series of Romanian X Factor. As part of the vocal harmony girl group Quattro she reached the live shows. However, they didn’t last long. A mass culling took place in week one, and the ladies were sent home along with two other acts. At Eurovision, she brought Romania back into the top ten after a couple of years in the doldrums, ably assisted by Alex Florea. Speaking of whom…
4. Alex Florea
X Factor: Seventh on Romania’s X Factor, season four (2014)
Eurovision: Seventh in the grand final with 282 points — 28.66% of available points
Alex Florea entered X Factor one year after his future collaborator. While we might know him best for his rap rhymes, Alex was actually much more of a rocker back then. Interpretations of hits from Bon Jovi, U2 and Nickelback helped see him to the halfway point on the live shows.
3. 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, Laura and Blanche made it look easy.
2. 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.
1. Kristian Kostov (Bulgaria 2017)
X Factor: Second on Bulgaria’s X Factor, season four (2015-2016)
Eurovision: Second in the grand final with 615 points — 62.50% of available points
While still only a teenager, Kristian Kostov was already something of a talent show veteran by the time he entered Bulgaria’s X Factor in 2015. His first audition was strong. However, it wasn’t until the six chair challenge performance that his star quality became fully apparent. From then on it was plain sailing all the way to the semi-final, where he survived the bottom two sing-off, eventually coming second in the final. At Eurovision he came second once more, delivering Bulgaria its best ever result. But for the purposes of this list he’s the undisputed winner. Kristian is the most successful X Factor contestant ever at Eurovision.
Honourable mention #2: Julia Samoylova (Russia 2017)
X Factor: Second on Russia’s Faktor A, season three (2013)
Eurovision: Banned from entering host country
Russia’s Eurovision 2017 representative who never was first rose to fame on the country’s second take on the X Factor — Faktor A. Julia Samoylova finished as a runner-up during the show’s third season. The wheelchair-bound singer refused to be defined by her disability, and instead let audiences focus on her voice. Of course, earlier this year, her talent was overshadowed by the geo-political furore which ensued following her selection. You can read all about that here. It remains unclear whether she will get another opportunity to represent Russia in Lisbon.
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.