Monday, December 14, 2009

Joe McElderry wins X Factor crown

Eighteen-year-old Joe McElderry has beaten Olly Murs to win the sixth series of the ITV talent show X Factor.

The pair battled it out on primetime TV across the weekend to win a lucrative £1m recording contract.

More than 10 million viewers voted in the final show of the series, which has dominated TV screens this autumn.

It is the second consecutive year judge Cheryl Cole has mentored the winner. "I can't even speak," said McElderry. "Thank you so much everyone."

"I feel over the moon, I'm absolutely delighted," said Cole, who comes from the same area as McElderry.

"The right person won. I'm so proud of you. The North East are going to be going mad."

"I couldn't believe it," McElderry later told spin-off show ITV2's Xtra Factor. "I feel like I'm floating... I just feel like jelly."

"I've had the best experience of my life."

Runner up Olly Murs, 25, was gracious in defeat, calling his rival "phenomenal".

"I came out there fighting, did the best I could, and the best guy won. Joe deserves it."

Festive hit

Simon Cowell, the show's creator and Murs's mentor, told McElderry he was "gutted for Olly" but "thrilled for you because you're brilliant".

McElderry won almost two-thirds (61.3%) of the votes in the final, compared with just over a third (38.7%) for Murs, according to voting statistics released on The X Factor website.

The student, from South Shields on Tyneside, had been the bookmakers' favourite to win the series.

However, ahead of Sunday's final, judge Cowell insisted "there could be an upset".

After the announcement McElderry performed the Miley Cyrus track The Climb, which will be this year's X Factor single and is widely tipped to be the Christmas number one.

"Christmas chart success is virtually assured," said Ladbrokes' Nick Weinberg, who have cut McElderry's odds of a festive hit to 1/8.

Sunday's high-profile finale included performances from George Michael and Sir Paul McCartney, who was joined by Murs, McElderry and fellow contestants in a rendition of Drive My Car.

The show opened with this year's 12 finalists - including infamous twins John and Edward Grimes - singing Take That's Never Forget.

Also on stage during the two-hour extravaganza were the 2008 X Factor winner Alexandra Burke - who sang with last year's runners up, JLS - and Leona Lewis, who triumphed in the 2006 series and has become a huge star on both sides of the Atlantic.

The final instalment in the contest - which followed Stacey Soloman's departure on Saturday - began with Murs and McElderry performing their favourite song of the series.

Murs performed Twist And Shout, while McElderry - better known for his ballads - gave an upbeat rendition of Don't Stop Believing.

"Geordie Joe - you're got everything: the voice, the attitude, the charm," said judge Louis Walsh. "Small boy, big voice - and a great future."

"You would have a hit record with that song, it was that good," said Cowell.

Both contestants went on to sing their versions of The Climb, but despite admiration for Murs, Walsh maintained McElderry "had the edge", calling it "a note-perfect performance".

Cowell remarked that nerves had led to a shaky start from McElderry, but added he was "brilliant in the last half".

"I can't call this now, I really can't," he said.

Lucrative series

Ahead of the result, an emotional Cole, recalled her own break, in another TV talent show, Popstars: The Rivals.

"I've lived the dream - now I just want to see you live yours," she told McElderry.

This year's X Factor is expected to be extremely lucrative for ITV1.

The series has dominated peaktime viewing on both Saturday and Sunday throughout the autumn.

The 40 ITV1 shows are thought to have brought in more than £75m in advertising, plus revenue from the phone-votes.

One analyst claims the total benefit to ITV is almost £100m, including income from showings on its website and the ITV2 spin-off show.

But despite the hype that has surrounded this year's show, not all winners in the show's six series have gone on to enjoy global success.

Leon Jackson, who won the competition in 2007, was dropped after his debut album charted at number four in the UK, while Steve Brookstein - the winner of series one - was also dropped eight months into his contract, despite a number one single and album.

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