What happened to last year’s would-be stars?

When I watch talent shows – X Factor, The Voice, whatever, I get into a weirdly analytic mode where I start to create a spreadsheet to track my opinions of the various acts and how they develop – which song did I like best, which one was rubbish, and so on. And then the show ends, and I still have the spreadsheet left over.

With X Factor finishing for another year, I decided to take the 2012 spreadsheet and look up the names that I recorded. I started the sheet at Judges’ Houses, which meant half of the acts I listed were cut in the first week. I was curious how many of them are still working as musicians or performers, and where they are now. I left out James Arthur, Jahmene Douglas and Union J because my impression is that all of these have done very well in terms of chart success and further media appearances. I was interested in the ones I hadn’t heard of since.

Googling (or actually, duckduckgo, which doesn’t record your searches or other data, unlike Google) revealed that several acts are chiefly mentioned in their sub-headings in the Wikipedia article for the X Factor (UK season 9). It records that:

“Within four-and-a-half months of the final, six of the series’ finalists—Arthur, Douglas, [Ella] Henderson, Christopher Maloney, Union J and Lucy Spraggan—had been signed to major record labels.”

(The links above are to the artists’ official sites, Maloney’s is “undergoing maintenance”)

Lucy Spraggan was my favourite and I was disappointed when she left the show due to illness. Discovering that she won a recording contract anyway was obviously a bonus! May buy myself a copy of her album in the new year and review it then.

Ella Henderson didn’t have a home page that I could find, but did have her own Wikipedia entry, which states that her debut album is out in March next year.

Carolynne Poole also has a separate wikipedia entry, which explains that she has an acting career and is still working in that field.

Those are the people who are doing obviously well. But I was also interested in those who were jobbing performers. Melanie Masson and Kye Sones both have homepages that advertise their work. Masson’s page is also “under construction”, Kye Sones is advertising an EP.

My favourite in this category (and another band I really wanted to go farther in the show than they did) is duo MK1. They have an active blog, advertising their music and a contact email and phone number for bookings. They even posted a one year retrospective on their X Factor appearance! I love that they actually put some effort into their site and seem to offer so much more.

That leaves District3″. The best I could do was that wikipedia list of contestants, because it turns out there are lots of places in the world that have areas called “District 3″ and the search engine gave me those first. Here’s the relevant quotation from wikipedia: “On 18 August 2013, District3 released their self-titled debut EP, consisting of seven songs. However on 2 October 2013, just seven weeks later, District3 announced that they had disbanded.”

Jade Ellis didn’t seem to have any references to activity after X Factor, although I didn’t go very deep into the search results.

I decided to have a little look to see what I could find for the people who were eliminated at Judges’ Houses. This was quite tricky, but three of them had obvious interests in performing and at least some way of following their endeavours. Jake Quickenden and Amy Mottram both have active twitter accounts. Mottram also advertised her youtube channel.

Most interesting to me, though, was discovering someone who fits perfectly what I mean by a “jobbing musician”: Nicola Marie advertises herself as available for “Tributes”, “Modern Lounge” or “Wedding Singer & Themed Shows”. Her tribute act work includes imitating Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse – and has appeared in both roles on different TV shows.

Is there a lesson to be drawn from this? I don’t know. I suppose people for whom art, performing, writing, or whatever, is in their blood – they’re going to do it anyway in some form. That’s hardly a groundbreaking observation, but it is the conclusion I reached after this exercise.

I wonder where this year’s contestants will be in a year’s time?

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