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Top 10 Talent Show Winners Everyone Instantly Forgot About

VO: Karen Young WRITTEN BY: Marc Turner
Don’t remember these acts? You’re not the only one. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 talent show winners everyone instantly forgot about. For this list, we’re looking at the winners of UK talent shows whose time in the public spotlight was embarrassingly short. In the competitive arena of commercial music and dance, these were the acts that fell by the wayside when their careers were supposedly only just starting. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Talent Show Winners Everyone Instantly Forgot About


Don’t remember these acts? You’re not the only one. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 talent show winners everyone instantly forgot about.

For this list, we’re looking at the winners of UK talent shows whose time in the public spotlight was embarrassingly short. In the competitive arena of commercial music and dance, these were the acts that fell by the wayside when their careers were supposedly only just starting.

#10: Jai McDowall


Scottish singer-songwriter McDowall won “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2011, but it was all downhill from there. After being signed up by Syco Entertainment, Simon Cowell’s joint venture with Sony Music, McDowall was dropped as a result of disappointing sales of his debut album “Believe”. Now, the Scot performs mainly on cruise ships, but according to Jai, his failure to hit the big time wasn’t due to his own shortcomings. Instead, he blamed it on Simon Cowell being “anti-Scottish”. Anyone for sour grapes?

#9: Joe McElderry


McElderry has won not just one UK talent show, but two: “The X Factor” in 2009 and “Popstar to Operastar” in 2011. To be fair, McElderry has enjoyed more success than most talent show winners, releasing five studio albums and appearing in a series of West End shows. Yet he is probably best known not for his music, but for being beaten to the Christmas number one spot in 2009 by Rage Against the Machine, following an internet campaign against Simon Cowell’s chart domination.

#8: George Sampson


After winning “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2008, street dancer Sampson was the first non-singing act to be signed by Syco Entertainment. A dance DVD and a pop single followed, yet Sampson ultimately lost his deal with Syco when his first single performed below their expectations. Amazingly, Sampson even ended up owing the company money due to the high production costs on that dance DVD. He has since experienced success on the stage and small screen, appearing as Kyle Stack in the BBC drama “Waterloo Road”, but he didn’t exactly become the star Simon seemingly expected.

#7: Matt Cardle


Following his success on “The X Factor” in 2010, Cardle was signed not just by Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment, but later by Columbia Records too. If Cardle thought that was a good omen, though, he was soon disappointed, as he was ditched by both labels after just one album. Whilst Cardle persevered with his singing career, he is yet to set the music world alight. You may have heard, though, of the act he beat into third place on “The X Factor”: a certain boy band called “One Direction”.

#6: Leon Jackson


We know what you’re thinking: Leon who? Scottish singer Jackson won the fourth series of “The X Factor” in what was once called “the biggest shock in the history of reality TV betting”. Despite his debut single reaching number one, he proved to be yet another one-hit wonder, and was dropped by Simon Cowell in 2009. Jackson hasn’t released any new songs since 2011, and once promised never again to perform his track “When You Believe” in public. No complaints here, Leon.

#5: Stevie McCrorie


No winner of BBC talent show “The Voice” has ever gone on to significant commercial success, but when McCrorie won the show in 2015 it was thought he might buck the trend. The Scottish singer-songwriter had all four coaches fighting over him after his audition, as he apparently had a sound to suit all ears. But even his debut single only scored sixth place in the UK singles chart – and that was released the day after he won the show! The clearly forgettable track was called “Lost Stars”, which kind of sums up McCrorie’s fortunes ever since.

#4: One True Voice


The five singers in boy band “One True Voice” were the winners of the men’s section of ITV talent show “Popstars: The Rivals”. Their achievements, though, were overshadowed by the winners of the women’s section, who went on to form girl group “Girls Aloud”. “One True Voice” flopped with a capital “F”, disbanding before they had even released an album. Four of the band’s members subsequently tried their luck again on talent shows, but none of them made a meaningful impact.

#3: Michelle McManus


After McManus won “Pop Idol” in 2003, judge Pete Waterman famously walked off set and later called her “rubbish”. With her song “All This Time”, McManus became the first Scottish woman to debut at number one in the UK charts, but when her second single bombed she was dumped by her record label. McManus has since forged a career as a DJ, presenter and comedian, even selling out a show at the Edinburgh Fringe. Her critics however, would argue that her singing was the biggest joke of all.

#2: Alex Parks


Parks is unique among the acts in this list in that she chose to walk away from the music industry rather than having the choice made for her. After winning BBC singing show “Fame Academy” in 2003, Parks had one double platinum selling album in the UK, with a follow-up that also sold respectably. But amid rumours that she wasn’t enjoying the showbiz limelight, Parks did a Lord Lucan impression and seemingly disappeared off the face of the planet. An entry on a Facebook fan page once hinted at a comeback, but nothing ever came of it.

#1: Steve Brookstein


The first winner of “The X Factor”, Brookstein was once voted the nation’s biggest ever reality TV flop. Despite his debut single and album both reaching number one, he was ditched by his record label after just eight months. In 2005, Brookstein accused “The X Factor” of “killing music” – conveniently overlooking the fact that he himself had chosen to appear on the show. He also wrote a book slating Simon Cowell called “Getting Over The X” which arguably had more of an enduring impact than his music career ever did.
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