The X Factor

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If you are looking for the fandom surrounding the X-Factor comics, see X-Factor (comics)
RPF Fandom
Name(s): The X Factor, The X-Factor, X-Factor, XF, XFUK
Scope/Focus: fandom for the various contestants on the US reality television show The X Factor
Date(s): 2004-2018
See also: One Direction, Little Mix, Fifth Harmony, Union J, JLS, Stereo Kicks, Ella Henderson, Olly Murs, Caroline Flack, Leona Lewis, Jedward (John & Edward)
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The X Factor is a television music competition franchise created by British producer Simon Cowell and his company SYCO. It originated in the United Kingdom and has been adapted in various countries. The "X Factor" of the title refers to the undefinable "something" that makes for star quality.

The prize is usually a recording contract, in addition to the publicity that appearance in the later stages of the show itself generates, not only for the winner but also for other highly ranked contestants.

Unlike American Idol or The Voice, where the judges only critique the contestants' performances, on The X Factor each judge "mentors" the finalists in a particular category, aiding them with song selection and styling, while also participating together in judging the contestants in the other categories.

Most significantly for fandom, The X Factor birthed superstar boy band One Direction, as well as music groups Little Mix, Union J, Stereo Kicks, Only The Young, Fifth Harmony (X Factor USA), The Collective (X Factor Australia), JLS, and Jedward (John & Edward), and solo acts Olly Murs, Ella Henderson, Leona Lewis, James Arthur, and many others.

Season 1

There is no significant fannish activity for any acts of this season. Winner Steve Brookstein briefly entered the news cycle in 2010 for his hateful comments towards One Direction, in particular Louis Tomlinson.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
Steve Brookstein 35 Over 25s (Cowell) Winner
G4 22-24 Groups (Walsh) Runner-up
Tabby Callaghan 23 16-24s (Osbourne) 3rd place
Rowetta Satchell 38 Over 25s (Cowell) 4th place
Cassie Compton 17 16-24s (Osbourne) 5th place
Voices with Soul 25-42 Groups (Walsh) 6th place
2 to Go 23-24 Groups (Walsh) 7th place
Verity Keays 51 Over 25s (Cowell) 8th place
Roberta Howett 23 16-24s (Osbourne) 9th place

Season 2

Winner Shayne Ward had significant fannish activity in the United Kingdom in the year following his win. Chico Slimani garnered a fanbase for his showmanship and ridiculous antics.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
Shayne Ward 21 16-24s (Walsh) Winner
Andy Abraham 41 Over 25s (Osbourne) Runner-up
Journey South 25 & 30 Groups (Cowell) 3rd place
Brenda Edwards 41 Over 25s (Osbourne) 4th place
Chico Slimani 34 Over 25s (Osbourne) 5th place
The Conway Sisters 17-28 Groups (Cowell) 6th place
Nicholas Dorsett 17 16-24s (Walsh) 7th place
Maria Lawson 30 Over 25s (Osbourne) 8th place
Chenai Zinyuku 19 16-24s (Walsh) 9th place
Phillip Magee 21 16-24s (Walsh) 10th place
4Tune 18-21 Groups (Cowell) 11th place
Addictiv Ladies 16-17 Groups (Cowell) 12th place

Season 3

Winner Leona Lewis became an international success with her single "Bleeding Love," which has been used for many fanvids. The song was written by Dream Street's Jesse McCartney.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
Leona Lewis 21 16-24s (Cowell) Winner
Ray Quinn 18 16-24s (Cowell) Runner-up
Ben Mills 26 Over 25s (Osbourne) 3rd place
The MacDonald Brothers 20 Groups (Walsh) 4th place
Eton Road 17-20 Groups (Walsh) 5th place
Robert Allen 27 Over 25s (Osbourne) 6th place
Nikitta Angus 18 16-24s (Cowell) 7th place
Ashley McKenzie 20 16-24s (Cowell) 8th place
Kerry McGregor 32 Over 25s (Osbourne) 9th place
Dionne Mitchell 26 Over 25s (Osbourne) 10th place
4Sure 23-38 Groups (Walsh) 11th place
The Unconventionals 25-41 Groups (Walsh) 12th place

Season 4

Contestant Emily Nakanda was forced to withdraw from the competition due to a video of Nakanda having participated in "The Knock-Out Game" (a "prank" in which someone runs up to a stranger and punches them in the face with the intention of causing them to lose consciousness). Winner Leon Jackson and runner-up Rhydian Roberts both saw some fannish activity in the United Kingdom.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
Leon Jackson 18 Boys (Minogue) Winner
Rhydian Roberts 24 Boys (Minogue) Runner-up
Same Difference 19–22 Groups (Cowell) 3rd place
Niki Evans 34 Over 25s (Walsh) 4th place
Hope 16–23 Groups (Cowell) 5th place
Beverley Trotman 38 Over 25s (Walsh) 6th place
Alisha Bennett 22 Girls (Osbourne) 7th place
Andy Williams 23 Boys (Minogue) 8th place
Futureproof 17–23 Groups (Cowell) 9th place
Emily Nakanda 15 Girls (Osbourne) 10th place
Daniel de Bourg 31 Over 25s (Walsh) 11th place
Kimberley Southwick 19 Girls (Osbourne) 12th place

Season 5

This was the first season of the show to see true fannish activity. Runner-up act JLS became the first boy band to have chart hits and fannish activity (such as fanfiction) in many years. However, this season is most significant for being the first television appearances of Liam Payne of One Direction and Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix, both of whom auditioned for this season but were deemed too young. Third-place finisher Eoghan Quigg performed with Niall Horan of One Direction the summer after this season aired on a local Ireland fair tour.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
Alexandra Burke 20 Girls (Cole) Winner
JLS 20–23 Groups (Walsh) Runner-up
Eoghan Quigg 16 Boys (Cowell) 3rd place
Diana Vickers 17 Girls (Cole) 4th place
Ruth Lorenzo 26 Over 25s (Minogue) 5th place
Rachel Hylton 27 Over 25s (Minogue) 6th place
Daniel Evans 39 Over 25s (Minogue) 7th place
Laura White 21 Girls (Cole) 8th place
Austin Drage 22 Boys (Cowell) 9th place
Scott Bruton 19 Boys (Cowell) 10th place
Girlband 18–22 Groups (Walsh) 11th place
Bad Lashes 19–24 Groups (Walsh) 12th place

In Fandom

Season 6

The fandom juggernaut of this season was twin act Jedward (John & Edward). The significant portion of Jedward fanfiction was twincest, and was lost in Strikethrough; however, there is a Jedward section on AO3. Fourth place finisher Lloyd Daniels performed at festivals and summer fetes with Liam Payne of One Direction in the summer after this season.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
Joe McElderry 18 Boys (Cole) Winner
Olly Murs 25 Over 25s (Cowell) Runner-up
Stacey Solomon 20 Girls (Minogue) 3rd place
Danyl Johnson 27 Over 25s (Cowell) 4th place
Lloyd Daniels 16 Boys (Cole) 5th place
Jedward (John & Edward) 18 Groups (Walsh) 6th place
Jamie Archer 34 Over 25s (Cowell) 7th place
Lucie Jones 18 Girls (Minogue) 8th place
Rachel Adedeji 18 Girls (Minogue) 9th place
Miss Frank 21–25 Groups (Walsh) 10th place
Rikki Loney 22 Boys (Cole) 11th place
Kandy Rain 22–25 Groups (Walsh) 12th place

In Fandom

Season 7

Season 7 was by far the most popular fannish season of The X Factor due to its fandom juggernaut act: One Direction. The addition of backstage footage and behind-the-scenes video diaries made the contestants feel more approachable to fans, and therefore encouraged more fanfiction. Because of the popularity of One Direction, other acts in this season saw a significant presence in fandom and fanfiction, particularly Cher Lloyd and Aiden Grimshaw (no relation to Nick Grimshaw). Wagner typically appears in fanfiction as a villainous presence. Matt Cardle/Aiden Grimshaw was the second most popular fannish pairing after Harry Styles/Louis Tomlinson from this season. Finalist Paije Richardson portrayed a member of Dumbledore's Army in the film of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix prior to his appearance on The X Factor.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
Matt Cardle 27 Boys (Minogue) Winner
Rebecca Ferguson 24 Girls (Cole) Runner-up
One Direction 16–18 Groups (Cowell) 3rd place
Cher Lloyd 17 Girls (Cole) 4th place
Mary Byrne 51 Over 28s (Walsh) 5th place
Wagner (Wildcard) 53 Over 28s (Walsh) 6th place
Katie Waissel 24 Girls (Cole) 7th place
Paije Richardson (Wildcard) 20 Boys (Minogue) 8th place
Aiden Grimshaw 19 Boys (Minogue) 9th place
Treyc Cohen (Wildcard) 27 Girls (Cole) 10th place
Belle Amie 17–23 Groups (Cowell) 11th place
John Adeleye 30 Over 28s (Walsh) 12th place
Diva Fever (Wildcard) 21–26 Groups (Cowell) 13th place
Storm Lee 37 Over 28s (Walsh) 14th place
F.Y.D. 22–26 Groups (Cowell) 15th place
Nicolo Festa 21 Boys (Minogue) 16th place

In Fandom

Notable Fanfictions

Season 8

This season is most notable in fannish scope for creating Little Mix. It also was a significant platform for previous X-Factor acts to return for televised performances, including One Direction and Cher Lloyd. Harry Styles was dating the host of post-show Xtra Factor, Caroline Flack, at the time of this series, and there is a not insignificant amount of fanfiction for the pairing that takes place during this era. Additionally, Louis Tomlinson formed a friendship with disqualified contestant Frankie Cocozza during this series, and there was some shipping of the pair, although most people saw Cocozza as "an obstacle" to Larry. Zayn Malik and Perrie Edwards met while filming this series and subsequently dated for four years. Liam Payne was dating X Factor dancer Danielle Peazer at this time.

The final night episode of the show was marked as the Irish boy band Westlife's last live television performance together before the band split on 23 June 2012 until 2018.

The eighth series won Most Popular Talent Show at the 17th National Television Awards on 25 January 2012.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
Little Mix 18–20 Groups (Tulisa) Winner
Marcus Collins 23 Boys (Barlow) Runner-up
Amelia Lily 17 Girls (Rowland) 3rd place
Misha B 19 Girls (Rowland) 4th place
Janet Devlin 17 Girls (Rowland) 5th place
Craig Colton 23 Boys (Barlow) 6th place
Kitty Brucknell 27 Over 25s (Walsh) 7th place
Frankie Cocozza 18 Boys (Barlow) 8th place
Johnny Robinson 46 Over 25s (Walsh) 9th place
The Risk 19–25 Groups (Tulisa) 10th place
Sophie Habibis 20 Girls (Rowland) 11th place
Sami Brookes 31 Over 25s (Walsh) 12th place
Nu Vibe 16–19 Groups (Tulisa) 13th place
2 Shoes 21–23 Groups (Tulisa) 14th place
James Michael 20 Boys (Barlow) 15th place
Jonjo Kerr 27 Over 25s (Walsh) 16th place

In Fandom

Season 9

After Season 7, Season 9 is the most fannishly significant series of The X Factor due to its creation of boy band Union J and the public introduction of its youngest member and centerpiece George Shelley. The first fanfiction for George Shelley was posted within 24 hours of his 45-second audition[1][2] and was a crossover between Shelley and Harry Styles of One Direction. The link between Shelley and Styles was promoted by the show itself, and the mainstream media, with Shelley being styled increasingly to look like Styles over the course of the series and comparisons frequently made between Union J and One Direction. While part of the fandom shipped George Shelley/Harry Styles, another segment referred to Shelley as "The Larry Baby," and created a fantastical AU in which he was the time-traveling son of Larry Stylinson who had come from the future to get his Larents together. In addition to Shelley and Union J, competition acts District3, Only the Young, and Ella Henderson inspired fannish activity including fanworks, Twitter wars, and fanfiction. Over the course of the series, winner James Arthur and One Direction's Louis Tomlinson first formed a friendship and then a bitter hatred and rivalry, publicized through Twitter, which encouraged fans to take sides and engage in antagonistic behavior. This series was also the public introduction of television personality Rylan Clark-Neal.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
James Arthur 24 Boys (Scherzinger) Winner
Jahméne Douglas 21 Boys (Scherzinger) Runner-up
Christopher Maloney (Wildcard) 34 Over 28s (Barlow) 3rd place
Union J 19–24 Groups (Walsh) 4th place
Rylan Clark 24 Boys (Scherzinger) 5th place
Ella Henderson 16 Girls (Tulisa) 6th place
District3 18–19 Groups (Walsh) 7th place
Kye Sones 30 Over 28s (Barlow) 8th place
Lucy Spraggan 21 Girls (Tulisa) 9th place
Jade Ellis 25 Girls (Tulisa) 10th place
MK1 20–25 Groups (Walsh) 11th place
Melanie Masson 44 Over 28s (Barlow) 12th place
Carolynne Poole 32 Over 28s (Barlow) 13th place

In Fandom

Notable Fanfiction

Season 10

Season 10 is most significant for introducing, as individual contestants, Barclay Beales and Tom Mann, who would return the next season and become a popular The X Factor RPF pairing. Both auditioned in the Boys category and were eliminated before Judges' Houses (final auditions). Mann was eliminated in a tearjerker (fellow contestant Giles Potter cried at Mann's expulsion) in the last round of Six Seats Challenge. Series 10 contestants Tamera Foster and Sam Callahan dated for four years following this season.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
Sam Bailey 36 Over 25s (Osbourne) Winner
Nicholas McDonald 17 Boys (Walsh) Runner-up
Luke Friend 17 Boys (Walsh) 3rd place
Rough Copy 24–27 Groups (Barlow) 4th place
Tamera Foster 16 Girls (Scherzinger) 5th place
Hannah Barrett 17 Girls (Scherzinger) 6th place
Sam Callahan 19 Boys (Walsh) 7th place
Abi Alton 19 Girls (Scherzinger) 8th place
Kingsland Road 19–25 Groups (Barlow) 9th place
Miss Dynamix 16–22 Groups (Barlow) 10th place
Shelley Smith 35 Over 25s (Osbourne) 11th place
Lorna Simpson 26 Over 25s (Osbourne) 12th place

In Fandom

Season 11

Season 11 was the last significant season of the British X Factor franchise in fannish culture, with boy band Stereo Kicks getting a fair amount of fanfiction, fan votes, and other features during this season and for the following year until their disbandment. The fan rivalry between Stereo Kicks and fellow Group act Only The Young was aggressive and often reflected in fanworks until a member from each group, Casey Cody Johnson of Stereo Kicks and Betsy Blue English of Only The Young, began dating and were a minor British tabloid supercouple for three years.

The most popular ship of the season was Barclay Beales/Tom Mann, both of Stereo Kicks, but there was heavy tabloid speculation and therefore some minor fanworks about Charlie George of Only The Young/Lauren Platt, a solo Girl contestant. The villain of all Series 11 fics was Wildcard contestant Stevi Ritchie. New Hope Club's Reece Bibby made his public debut on this season of The X Factor and was a member of Stereo Kicks. Ben Haenow, the series champion, was friends with One Direction's Louis Tomlinson and attended his charity ball. Additionally, contestant Jack Walton so impressed Tomlinson that he signed Walton as the first act on his production label when he was eliminated from the show. Walton was frequently paired in fandom with fellow Boys contestant Jake Quickenden in the pairing JacknJake. Parisa Tarjomani of Only The Young was a canon/real life friend and sexual partner of Union J's George Shelley before both came out as lesbian and gay, respectively, and she features in many Stereo Kicks, Chauren (Charlie George/Lauren Platt), and Union J fanfiction.

This series is also notable for two One Direction connections: Concept, the boy band featuring Harry Styles' cousin Ben Selley, made the final round of auditions in Barbados, and absolutely ridiculous One Direction tribute band Overload Generation were added to the show as a Wildcard act and very promptly voted out by the public.

Act Age(s) Category (Mentor) Result
Ben Haenow 29 Over 25s (Cowell) Winner
Fleur East 27 Over 25s (Cowell) Runner-up
Andrea Faustini 20 Boys (Mel B) 3rd place
Lauren Platt 17 Girls (Fernandez-Versini) 4th place
Stereo Kicks 15–21 Groups (Walsh) 5th place
Stevi Ritchie 34 Over 25s (Cowell) 6th place
Only The Young 17–21 Groups (Walsh) 7th place
Jay James 31 Over 25s (Cowell) 8th place
Paul Akister 25 Boys (Mel B) 9th place
Lola Saunders 20 Girls (Fernandez-Versini) 10th place
Jack Walton 18 Boys (Mel B) 11th place
Jake Quickenden 26 Boys (Mel B) 12th place
Chloe Jasmine 24 Girls (Fernandez-Versini) 13th place
Stephanie Nala 20 Girls (Fernandez-Versini) 14th place
Overload Generation 18–20 Groups (Walsh) 15th place
Blonde Electra 22 & 24 Groups (Walsh) 16th place

In Fandom

Notable Fanfiction

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15

  1. ^ Let You Put Your Hands On Me In My Skin-Tight Jeans by aimmyarrowshigh and spibsy| Original Post on LiveJournal, 19 September 2012
  2. ^ Let You Put Your Hands On Me In My Skin-Tight Jeans by aimmyarrowshigh and spibsy| Repost on AO3