X Factor winner Alexandra’s debut single was the biggest selling single of 2008, and the very first Number 1 of 2009.
There have been many memorable winners of The X Factor, but few have had quite as turbulent a journey to the winner’s podium as Alexandra Burke. Rejected by Louis Walsh at judges’ houses stage in 2005 (the year Shayne Ward won), London-born Alexandra Burke dusted herself off and took some time out, before giving it another go in 2008.
Alexandra was far from the viewers’ favourite – Eoghan Quigg won the public vote most weeks, and Alexandra won only once, when she performed Britney Spears’ Number 1 hit Toxic. Alexandra Burke did win the only vote that really matters, however, romping to victory in the grand final, beating rivals JLS and Eoghan Quigg into second and third place respectively. It’s probably fair to say Alexandra received a big helping hand to victory thanks to a duet with one of the biggest stars in the world. Alex shared the stage with the one and only Beyoncé to perform a rousing version of Bey’s big song from the Dreamgirls movie, Listen.
One she had victory out of the way, Alexandra had her debut single to release. The chosen track was a cover of Hallelujah, a song originally recorded by the very serious singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and covered by many other acts including Jeff Buckley, k.d. Lang and Rufus Wainwright. Alexandra’s version caused controversy among some music fans, especially those not in favour of shows like The X Factor, and there was a high-profile campaign to get Jeff Buckley’s version to the top of the Official Singles Chart and stop Alex’s Hallelujah from being Official Christmas Number 1.
In the end, the Jeff Buckley version made it to Number 2, but it was Alexandra who reigned supreme, selling 576,000 copies of Hallelujah in its first week on sale. By the end of 2008, after just two weeks in the chart, Hallelujah was the best-selling single of 2008, with almost 888,000 copies shifted. It is still the biggest selling X Factor winner's single – its sales tally currently stands at over 1.26 million copies. James Arthur’s Impossible is catching up – it’s currently on 1.25 million.
Watch the official video for Alexandra’s version of Hallelujah before we take a look at the rest of the Top 5 today in 2009.
Just behind Burko at Number 2 was another X Factor champ. Leona Lewis’s cover of Snow Patrol’s epic ballad Run had spent two weeks at Number 1 in late 2008 before Alexandra’s winner’s single came along and shunted it down a spot. The track had been Snow Patrol’s first ever hit, reaching Number 5 in early 2004, but Leona managed to take it to the top of the Official Singles Chart, and has sold 832,000 copies. Leona hasn’t had a chart-topper since, but her most recent hit One More Sleep gave her a new Official Singles Chart record – she’s the first British female solo artist to score eight UK Top 5 singles.
At Number 3 was Alexandra Burke’s grand final duetting partner Beyoncé with her former Number 1 If I Were A Boy. It is currently Beyoncé’s biggest selling single in the UK, and was her fourth Number 1. We tell If I Were A Boy’s story in this Flashback. Watch Beyoncé and Alexandra duet on X Factor below, because it’s pretty awesome.
Rising two places to Number 4 was a duet between James Morrison and Nelly Furtado, Broken Strings. It would go on to be James’s biggest hit, reaching Number 2. Nelly Furtado has so far returned to the Top 10 only once – with Timbaland and So Shy on Morning After Dark in late 2009.
And last but not least, Kings of Leon continued their slow climb up the Official Singles Chart with Use Somebody, the follow-up to Number 1 single Sex On Fire. Use Somebody didn’t make it all the way to the top, peaking at Number 2, but it is a million-seller. Find out more about Sex On Fire’s time at the top.