Now Louisa’s first “proper” single is out, I’ve taken the liberty of ranking it against her X Factor predecessors

She teamed up with Clean Bandit over the summer but Louisa Johnson’s first headline single since winning The X Factor is out today; the success of which will likely determine whether or not she still has a record deal come January.

It’s a high-pressure sink-or-swim test that only a small number of her predecessors have managed to get right, so HEY WHY NOT do a ranky-listy thing and see where So Good fits in.

N.B. I haven’t included Steve Brookstein because there wasn’t technically a post-coronation single until he left Sony and went independent. I’m sure he won’t mind.

11. Run For Your Life – Matt Cardle (2011)
Matt’s biggest fans seem almost unanimously agreed that Run For Your Life’s follow-up Starlight would have been a better launchpad, but it was this Gary Borelow effort that was given precedence and – just weeks after One Direction had begun taking over the world – the poor guy never stood a chance. Thank goodness he found success on his own terms further down the line, as this would be a pretty boring track to be forever affiliated with.

10. You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You – James Arthur (2013)
It’s a song that not even James seemed that fussed about, so it’s hard to get excited over YNTSLY, which is currently being vastly outperformed by #comeback ditty Say You Won’t Let Go. This song sounds big and epic, but something’s missing: maybe it’s fun, maybe it’s heart, maybe it’s just a guest rap from Sean Paul; who knows. It’s probably just that elusive X Factor.

10. Don’t Call This Love – Leon Jackson (2008)
Leon’s now been so wiped from the X Factor history books that the only sign of him on iTunes is his winner’s single, and even that’s only available as part of an old Now! compilation. Making him into a junior Buble was never going to yield the best results, but there’s something very likeable in Don’t Call This Love. Not that it’s relevant, but it’s always worth reminding ourselves from time to time that he is also reasonably hot these days.

8. Compass – Sam Bailey (2014)
I’m not sure if this technically counts: it was billed as a single but swiftly relegated to “promotional buzz song” ahead of its parent album’s release. But hey, I’m a sucker for a power ballad. So sue me.

7. So Good – Louisa Johnson (2016)
This song’s only had a few hours on release, so it’s a little early to pass final judgement on it. But here we are, and it’s… all right? Easing Louisa into the public consciousness with that fantastic Clean Bandit duet was a smart move, especially given the dismal performance of her coronation single, but I’m not sure So Good is, er, good enough to keep things moving in the right direction. It sounds cool, the vocals are great… but is it a hit? Or is it destined to spend the best part of a month hovering in the lower ends of the Top 30? We’ll have to wait and see.

6. Second Hand Heart – Ben Haenow (2015)
I could well be affected by my Kelly Clarkson bias, but I quite liked this single, truth be told. But released soon after the UK switched to a permanent On Air/On Sale system that made hit singles that bit harder to achieve, it never penetrated the Top 20 and subsequently the poor chap was swiftly dropped. Considering the insufferable “pop-rock” we could have had, I thought this song was a small achievement anyway.

5. No Promises – Shayne Ward (2006)
Before we had to wait almost an entire year before hearing another peek out of our talent show winners, Shayne was given a no-nonsense release strategy and came out with his second single just a few months after That’s My Goal rocketed to Christmas Number One. This was uploaded to VEVO in 2012 – six years after its release – and has notched up FORTY MILLION views. Think about that stat. Is that not insane? (No, it’s not, this is great.)

4. Ambitions – Joe McElderry (2010)
I’ll maintain that Joe’s debut album was a work of art UNTIL MY DYING GODDAMN BREATH, and Ambitions – its first single – was a neat little gem that just wasn’t as commercially viable as Syco had hoped. Perhaps if second single Someone Wake Me Up had gone first, things may have been different. Then again, maybe the Rage Against The Machine “episode” put the writing on the wall from the off. We’ll never know.

3. Wings – Little Mix (2013)
I got so excited when Wings came out that I made it my favourite single of 2012 in my annual LIST-COUNTDOWN-BLOG-THING. In hindsight that accolade probably should have gone to this or this or even this, but the point still stands that Wings is a ludicrously big tune that made sure the X Factor’s first victorious group would not be a flash-in-the-pan. Producers TMS threw the kitchen sink at this: it’s as subtle as a brick round the head but that insane fizzy energy gave them a vital No1 that has helped keep them at the forefront of British pop ever since.

2. Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis (2007)
Would X Factor still be on TV now if this song hadn’t taken over the world? The Voice is still going, so it’s hard to say. But the point is that Bleeding Love took the show up to the next level, and made Leona – for a short while, at least – a global phenomenon. Ryan Tedder also got his breakthrough as a songwriter outside of OneRepublic, and for the first time since Girls Aloud and Will Young the country had a TV-borne popstar with enough appeal to sell beyond those who voted for her on a Saturday night.

1. Bad Boys – Alexandra Burke (2009)
Before she brought the saying of “elephant in the room” to the UK, Alexandra was in danger of being eclipsed by JLS when she unleashed her first proper single, after they hit No1 with Beat Again a few months earlier. But Bad Boys is not a song that can be easily overshadowed: it’s fucking massive; an enormous banger with an alcohol-friendly dance routine, a big finale and a Flo Rida rap that actually DOESN’T spoil things. Those sirens at the beginning weren’t just a nice touch, they were a signal. A signal saying “GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY EVERYONE, YA GIRL ALEXANDRA’S ABOUT TO KILL IT”. At least until she was knocked off No1 by her own mentor.

A Website.
%d bloggers like this: