The winner takes it all? The biggest selling X Factor winner's singles revealed

They won the show, but who scores the ultimate prize as the biggest winner’s single of them all?

The X Factor is back for a 14th series of weekend domination and unmissability in 2017, and as we start out on the journey to find the new champion, we look back at the 13 who came before.

As diverse artists as they all are, they have at least two things in common – they won the show and released a winner’s single. And secondly, they all released at least one album.

So when we count out the numbers, who comes out on top? When the studio lights dimmed and they were on their own, did their onscreen popularity guarantee them hefty sales?

Winner's singles

It’s a close-run thing when it comes to singles, with the Top 2 artists benefitting from the digital age. There have been four million-selling winner’s singles and it’s pretty close at the top.

3: Shayne Ward – That’s My Goal

The second winner of The X Factor, all the way back in 2005, super-talented Shayne Ward was the first winner to score a million-seller. Shayne is one of only two champions so far to release a totally original song – everyone else has launched their career with a cover version, aside from last year's winner Matt Terry.

Despite not having the advantage of convenient downloads when he won, Shayne still shifted an impressive 740,000 copies in his first week on sale. That’s My Goal has a total of 1.12 million copies in the UK across physical, digital and streaming equivalent sales. Currently taking a break from music, you can find Shayne running the knicker factory in soap opera Coronation Street, playing love rat and tight shirt enthusiast Aidan Connor. 

MORE: Look back at Shayne Ward's full Official Chart history, including 4 Top 10 singles

2: Alexandra Burke – Hallelujah

Series 5’s victor Alexandra Burke was the first X Factor winner to have her single immediately available for download. Alex still managed to sell over 570,000 physical copies of her cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and altogether the song cleared a million copies in just four weeks – over 576,000 in its first sales week alone. Across all formats, including streaming, Alexandra's victory anthem has cleared 1.38 million

MORE: Look back at Alexandra Burke's full Official UK Chart history, including 3 Number 1 singles

1: James Arthur – Impossible

it's been close between him and Alexandra for a few years, but 2012’s champ James Arthur now officially has the biggest X Factor winner's song, taking over Alex in sales this year. James scored the fastest-selling single of the year with this Shontelle cover, and when you factor in physical, digital and streaming, Impossible has a tally of 1.5 million in the UK. 

MORE: James Arthur's hit singles and albums in his archive

And the rest…

There’s one more million seller courtesy of 2010’s winner Matt Cardle, whose Biffy Clyro cover When We Collide has sold 1.04 million across all formats. Series 3 winner Leona Lewis is on her way too – on 943,000 with A Moment Like This.

Further down the tally, last year's winner Matt Terry finishes one from the bottom with When Christmas Comes Around, the first ever festive winner's song. Like previous year's victor Louisa Johnson, he missed the Number 1 spot, and she finishes in last place with Forever Young. The very first winner of the show Steve Brookstein is on 204,000 for his winning single Against All Odds, originally a hit for Phil Collins and a Number 1 in 1999 for Westlife and Mariah Carey.

Here’s the full Top 12 ranking of all The X Factor’s winning singles so far…

  TRACK ARTIST SERIES
1 IMPOSSIBLE JAMES ARTHUR 2012
2 HALLELUJAH ALEXANDRA BURKE 2012
3 THAT'S MY GOAL SHAYNE WARD 2005
4 WHEN WE COLLIDE MATT CARDLE 2010
5 A MOMENT LIKE THIS LEONA LEWIS 2006
6 THE CLIMB JOE MCELDERRY 2009
7 SOMETHING I NEED BEN HAENOW 2014
8 WHEN YOU BELIEVE LEON JACKSON 2007
9 CANNONBALL LITTLE MIX 2011
10 SKYSCRAPER SAM BAILEY 2013
11 AGAINST ALL ODDS STEVE BROOKSTEIN 2004
12 WHEN CHRISTMAS COMES AROUND MATT TERRY 2016
13 FOREVER YOUNG LOUISA JOHNSON 2015

© 2017 The Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.

Debut albums

So once the winning single is out, talk turns to debut albums, but who had the selling power for their very first long-player? Let’s just say this is pretty much a one-horse race.

1: Leona Lewis – Spirit

Way out in front of all her fellow winners is 2004’s victor Leona Lewis, whose debut album Spirit has shifted 3.15 million copies, making it one of the bestselling albums of all time in the UK. Leona is behind only Adele and Amy Winehouse when it comes to bestsellers by British female acts. Spirit’s success may well have been helped along, of course, by Leona’s launch single Bleeding Love, which is a million seller and was Number 1 for an astonishing seven weeks.

2: Alexandra Burke – Overcome

Another Top 2 result for our singles’ winner, Alexandra’s debut album Overcome has shifted almost 826,000 across all formats since its release in 2009. The album contains three Number 1 singles, Hallelujah, Bad Boys and Start Without You.

3: Shayne Ward – Shayne Ward

Good news for Shayne Ward again: he scores Number 3 position in our albums countdown too, with his debut shifting 540,000 copies.

And the rest…

The only group to win The X Factor, Little Mix, score the fourth bestselling debut. Even though it peaked at Number 3, DNA comes in with a combined sales and streams tally of 424,000 so far. 2009 winner Joe McElderry comes in 9th place, with less than 100 edging him ahead of Steve Brookstein. Ben Haenow's self-titled collection finishes in last place, with 75,000 shifted in its lifetime. Matt and Louisa are yet to release LPs.

MORE: Look back at all of Little Mix's hits in their Official Chart archive

Here’s the full rundown…

  ALBUM ARTIST SERIES
1 SPIRIT LEONA LEWIS 2006
2 OVERCOME ALEXANDRA BURKE 2008
3 SHAYNE WARD SHAYNE WARD 2005
4 DNA LITTLE MIX 2011
5 JAMES ARTHUR JAMES ARTHUR 2012
6 LETTERS MATT CARDLE 2010
7 THE POWER OF LOVE SAM BAILEY 2013
8 RIGHT NOW LEON JACKSON 2007
9 WIDE AWAKE JOE MCELDERRY 2009
10 HEART & SOUL STEVE BROOKSTEIN 2004
11 BEN HAENOW BEN HAENOW 2014

© 2017 The Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.