It may be hard to imagine now, but when The X Factor first hit screens in 2004, many thought the talent show/reality show genre was done and just about ready for retirement.
Following two successful series of Pop Idol, the show had been ‘rested’ with commentators speculating that the UK had run out of talent to appear on these shows.
Music impresario Simon Cowell, however, was never one to be told what to do, so after a successful stint as a Pop Idol judge, he launched The X Factor, adding bolshy matriarch Sharon Osbourne and Boyzone’s creator Louis Walsh to his panel. But the trio wouldn’t just dole out the helpful advice and pithy putdowns to contestants, they’d mentor them too. Another twist was that The X Factor would have categories: 16-24s; 25 and over; and, excitingly, groups.
Sharon, of course, had been a manager and also masterminded her family’s rise to stardom on reality show The Osbournes, while Louis has formed Westlife and Boyzone and also enjoyed success as a judge on Popstars: The Rivals, taking Girls Aloud to victory in 2002.
The X Factor launched comparatively quietly when you think about the all-out promo blitzes that have accompanied each new season in recent times, but interest soon built – thanks to the camaraderie of the judges – and by the live shows, millions were tuning in.
The first series had some memorable contestants, including former Happy Mondays backing singer Rowetta, rocker Tabby Callaghan, classical group G4 and teenage hopeful Cassie Compton. The one who beat them all, however, was soul singer Steve Brookstein. He romped to victory over G4 in the final in mid-December 2004 with over six million votes, releasing his debut single a week later.
His winner’s song was a cover of Against All Odds, previously a hit twice – first in 1984 for Phil Collins, when it reached Number 2 and again in 2000 for Westlife FT Mariah Carey, when it topped the Official Singles Chart.
Against All Odds sold over 120,000 copies in its first week on sale to land at Number 2 behind Band Aid 20’s version of Do They Know It’s Christmas, which sold over 230,000 copies to snare the Official Christmas Number 1. The following week, however, Steve rose to the Number 1 spot, staying for just one week, before a reissue of Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock toppled him from the throne.
Against All Odds was Steve’s only entry on the Official Singles Chart Top 40 – he also enjoyed a chart-topping album, Heart And Soul, which hit Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart in May 2005.
Steve is still writing and recording music and released an autobiography in late 2014.
So while Steve was spending a week at the summit, who was eyeing up pole position?
2: Band Aid 20 – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
The third outing at Christmas Number 1 for this song – albeit with different vocalists – ended this week in 2004. The song first topped the charts in 1984 for Band Aid, before returning again in 1989 with, you guessed it, Band Aid II. Just last year, a fourth version of the song was released, featuring contemporary artists like One Direction, Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith. It topped the charts, but was the first time the song didn’t make it to Christmas Number 1. The 2004 version has sold 1.18 million copies.
3: Kylie Minogue – I Believe In You
Climbing back up one spot this week 10 years ago was perhaps Kylie’s greatest Number 1 that never was, the Scissor Sisters-penned I Believe In You. Leading off the greatest hits collection Ultimate Kylie, the track was scuppered from topping the chart by Band Aid 20. It’s sold 160,000 copies and was Kylie’s 11th – and most recent – Number 2 hit.
4: Ronan Keating FT Yusuf – Father And Son
A cover of a cover by the man who covered the original and the guy who sang the original. Still with us? Yusuf was known as Cat Stevens when he originally recorded Father And Son, which was then covered by Ronan and his chums Boyzone in 1005, reaching Number 2. This rejig by both Ronan and Yusuf matched that peak nine years later, selling over 150,000 copies.
5: Ice Cube FT Mack 10 & Ms Toi – You Can Do It
Ice Cube’s highest chart peak, and most recent Top 40 hit, You Can Do It was originally released in 1999 to little fanfare. It took five years for the song to be a Number 2 hit, selling over 165,000 copies.