James Arthur’s Journey from ‘The X Factor’ to Mainstream Music

Jill O'Rourke
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James Arthur performs on stage at Motorpoint Arena CardiffPhoto by Mike Lewis Photography/Redferns

Singer James Arthur rose to stardom after winning The X Factor UK in 2012. He’s since found success in the music industry, releasing four studio albums in under 10 years. Some people may have even forgotten that he got his start on a talent show.


James Arthur Won ‘The X Factor’ in 2012

Arthur competed on Series 9 of The X Factor UK in 2012. For his audition, he sang “Young” by Tulisa. At the time, he shared that his estranged parents had reunited after 20 years to see his performance. He later joined the Boys category and was mentored by judge Nicole Scherzinger.

Throughout the competition, Arthur performed songs such as “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO and “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys. In the finale, he joined Scherzinger for a duet of “Make You Feel My Love” followed by his winner’s single, “Impossible” by Shontelle.

At the end of the season, Arthur was announced as the winner against runner-up Jahméne Douglas, who was also mentored by Scherzinger. The judge stood between the two singers on stage as host Dermot O’Leary announced that Arthur was the winner.


Arthur’s cover of “Impossible” was released as a charity single after the show and ended up topping the UK Singles Chart in the first week. The next year, he released his debut self-titled album, which featured “Impossible” and his second single, “You’re Nobody ’til Somebody Loves You.”

SEE ALSO: ‘X FACTOR’ WINNER JAMES ARTHUR PERFORMS NEW SONG ‘EMILY’ FOR HIS FUTURE CHILD

Arthur Has Released Four Studio Albums

Arthur’s time in the spotlight hasn’t been without controversy, including backlash over homophobic lyrics in 2013. Even Simon Cowell spoke out about it, saying, “Somebody should have told him to shut up and just put the records out.”


The singer ended up parting ways with Cowell’s label Syco. In 2015, he signed with Columbia Records, and the next year he released his second studio album Back from the Edge. It featured the lead single “Say You Won’t Let Go,” which became a massive hit. The music video currently has over 1 billion views.

Arthur ended up re-signing to Syco in 2016. When the label ceased operations in 2021, he signed with Columbia Records UK and Columbia Records Germany. He’s released two more studio albums, including 2019’s You and 2021’s It’ll All Make Sense in the End.

Now 34, Arthur has gone from being a talent show contestant to having his songs performed by other artists on talent shows such as The Voice. He also recently made an appearance on American Idol to duet with contestant Fritz Hager in the finale.

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